o delírio

One night two years ago, I dreamed of Rio.

The city I traveled through then was a hallucinogenic mishmash of film scenes, with me sliding from the apartment buildings of Central do Brasil to the hills of Orfeu Negro to the Jardim Botânico of A Hora da Estrela. At the end, as I wrote in my first post for piauí, I fell on my knees in front of Maracanã and wept.

By this point, dreams of Rio are the rule rather than the exception; and in these dreams, as opposed to that first one, I have a very precise sense of the city’s geography. Bizarrely enough, however, it looks far less like the real Rio than the landscape I dreamed up years ago. When I’d never seen the city my subconscious reproduced picture-perfect shots of Arpoador and Santa Teresa – but now that I’ve lived there, my sleeping mind warps it in almost unrecognizable ways.

Botafogo and Copacabana are both stuck in a perpetual rainy night crisscrossed with headlights, and me trying to catch a taxi with little success. Through a tunnel in Saúde there is a massive warehouse of antiques and, down a rickety, curving staircase, a basement speakeasy where you can still hear Noel. Centro is sometimes graced with magnificent old churches, and in the Praça Paris there is a glistening granite fountain older than Stonehenge overlooking the bay. In the dreams I never go to the beach, but I have seen the sunken city in the mud on the bottom of the Lagoa.

Glória is practically swallowed up by ivy and rhododendrons behind which you can make out peeling paint; Laranjeiras is one long, impossibly narrow street packed with colorful shops; Jardim Botânico has an elevated highway running over it where joggers jostle with taxis and bicyclists. Leblon is a series of warmly lit wood-paneled rooms. Polar bears roam around the bus station, Gávea bristles with futuristic high-rises, and instead of MAM, there is a six-story casino. But Avenida Rio Branco, for some reason, remains fairly true to life.