Leslie Tucker Walker Returns to
I first went to Brasil in July 1963 for 7 weeks
(with the Lions Club Youth Exchange Program) to live with a family in Rio de Janeiro and visit Valeria Aguiar (the Brazilian exchange
student who lived with my family) and her family. I had always wanted to return, and finally did in August 2009.
This time my husband Ron and sons Matt and Ryan were with me.
The picture at top left is of Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) and Copacabana Beach as
seen from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio.
Ron and I are in the mountains near Sao Paolo, our
first stop, visiting with Valeria's sister, Viviane, and her husband and son. Left to right--Nelson, Leslie, Viviane,
and Gustavo. Ron is behind me. This area is a popular jumping-off point for parasailors.
We are having lunch at the "Garota de Ipanema"
(Girl from Ipanema) Restaurant near Ipanema Beach in Rio. This is where Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius
de Moraes wrote the song, inspired by a young girl who, they say, walked by each day as they drank their cafezinho.
From left: Ron, Leslie, Ryan,
Viviane, and Matt. Viviane was our faithful companion, guide, and best friend, and went with us almost everywhere
we went in Brasil. After lunch, we took the cable car to the top of Pao de Acucar--Sugarloaf Mountain--for a spectacular
view of Rio de Janeiro.
Ipanema Beach as seen from our hotel window. August is winter in Brasil, but the weather is warm and the beach
is full of people. On the hillside in the distance you can see a cluster of houses. This is a favela (slum)--one
of about 700 in Rio. They are mostly on the hillsides, which means the residents have the best views of the city.
We're on top of Sugarloaf with the spectacular Corcovado
mountain topped with the statue of Jesus Christ in the background. The city spreads out among the mountains and hills that
give it such natural beauty.
We flew from Rio to Vitoria, Valeria's home town, and had dinner in the home of her sister Vania. From left--Valeria,
Leslie, Matt, Ron, Ryan, Vania, and their mother Dona Dalva. We spent several days in Vitoria, visiting the
family and seeing the sights. Valeria is doing very well.
We went back to Rio for a couple of days before
going home. We went on a tour of Rocinha (Hoe-SEEN-ya), the largest favela in Brasil, with about 70,000 residents.
The tour company gives money back to the favelas on the tour, and supports a school there. Many of the residents
work in the city as maids, drivers, and construction workers. It is said that the samba originated in the favelas, so
their contribution to the culture is significant.