It was the end of 2019 and it was time for me to take Maysa home and for Maya to meet her Brazilian side of the family in Rio De Janeiro.
We took Norwegian airlines from London to Rio De Janeiro. It was the most comfortable long haul flight I had been in in a long time. I didn’t even resent the food and drink not being included because the air tickets were much cheaper than any other airline that I had looked at. Even more impressive was that when we ordered the airline food it was actually edible!
The airline staff were the best too they were really polite and went all out to help us with dropped dummy’s, extra blankets and food.
Even though it was an over night flight it was possible to sleep and we didn’t feel too tired when arriving in Rio. Norwegian Airlines if you are reading this PLEASE bring back your flight from London to Rio! (They cancelled it in the pandemic).
Rio De Janeiro Weather
It was a bit of a shock to the system to leave a cold English December and to arrive into a boiling hot Rio. We discarded coats and unswaddled Maya while standing in the passport line… in stark contrast to English border control the Brazilian passport officer gave us a smile, asked how long we were there for a vacation and said welcome to Brazil!
A quick Uber and we were at Mayas great aunt’s home. he welcomed us in traditional Brazilian fashion with a massive dinner of Moqueca followed by dulce leche deserts.
After stuffing ourselves the Brazilian auntie brought out a copper bowl, called a Tacho de Cobre that she said had been used by the family for several generations to bath its babies. Maya fitted right in there like a little piggie ready to be cooked up for dinner. She frolicked in her cool beautiful copper bowl until bedtime.
Later that night I was suffocating in the heat while Maya was sleeping, so when the auntie crept into bed with us to give Maya a cuddle, I was still awake. I was quite surprised as this is certainly not a very British thing to do! But I could kind of understand her and found her desire to sleep next to the gentle sleep of a six-month baby, kind of sweet.
The next day we woke up to continued Brazilian hospitality of a huge breakfast including bread, cheese, eggs, fruit and strong Brazilian coffee…. Coffee was another thing I could enjoy now that the pregnancy was over and I was thanking god for coffee! The heat, mosquitoes and over active auntie had left me a bit worse for wear that morning!
Much to my regret I had left my electric breast pump behind as I was phasing out breast feeding. By mid morning my breasts were aching and burning to be relieved of their milk. Maysa took me to a pharmacy where I bought a manual pump for £10. It was glorious, perfect for travelling and I asked myself where was this thing my whole time breastfeeding !? It was way simpler than all the complicated electric contraptions I had purchased. I could take it everywhere in my hand bag and there was no need to charge it!
It was simply a suction pump that could be placed easily over my nipple and by squeezing the small air pump with my hand the milk came out easily! Sometimes I think in UK and USA we have gone too far past basics. I would have found breastfeeding less confusing had I had this little contraption a long time ago!
After a little pump and some lunch we walked a couple blocks and took a dip in the sea. It was Mayas first time in the ocean so for me it was a special moment!
I sheltered her from the large waves in order to give her her little “first swim in the ocean.”
Maysa kindly took time out to show us around the centre of Rio. I found it hugely transformed from my last visit there and we went to the downtown area where large warehouses once stood which are now converted into little shops and cafes.
Nearby stood the amazing Museum of Tomorrow and Maysa insisted that we go inside. I am not usually a big fan of museums when the weather is nice outside but this museum is so amazing it’s really worth going inside to see it, whether it is rain or shine. It’s a stunning feat of architecture around the world and impressive both from the outside and the inside. We enjoyed visions of tomorrow and designs that spin your mind. We walked through several exhibits and I enjoyed every single one them.
After the museum we entered the hot sun again and I took an ice cream and a coffee to try to recover from the heat. I was beat and never one to handle the Brazilian summer high temperatures and humidity so well.
We took an uber home and relaxed inside away from the after noon sun. Spending time with Maysa in Rio, and in her home country was awesome. We had reversed the roles and now I was depending on her to be translating for me and showing me how to get around.
In the five months she was with me in the UK her English had made leaps and bounds and was now much better than my Portuguese. I enjoyed talking with her in English and seeing her tremendous progress, and how we could finally talk with ease, rather than with google translate.
The following day we went to the beach again followed by the Cidade das arts in the late afternoon. This wasn’t the experience that I expected. The whole place is a massive outdoors art installation so very interactive and progressive and completely free as well.
I saw a massive trampoline that was placed in front of the skyline and the pink, purple orange sunset that was progressing upon us.
In a moment of inspiration, I handed Maya over to Maysa and started jumping on the trampoline. It was amazing being weightless and free after so long. I never expected such joy, but after being pregnant for months and then struggling with motherhood to be able to jump with abandon in the huge trampoline with no one around to see me making a fool of myself, it gave me a huge feeling of elation. Like being a child again! Life does go on after childbirth!
After releasing my inner child on the trampoline we then went through several other exhibits, a hall of lights, a huge cat, and I enjoyed each one with its unique and artistic spin.
We went home and then planned for the next part of the journey which was to get to São Paulo. Looking online the cheapest air tickets we could buy were in the late afternoon the following day.
We decided to visit Maysa’s sister in Praia da Barra da Tijuca, a wealthy suburb some 30-40 minutes´ bus or cab ride from central Rio on our last day and spend the day on the beach with her. Everyone was holding Maya and buying me drinks, so I truly kicked back, people watched, drank caipirinha and ate the assorted shrimp and cheese snacks from the vendors that kept passing by. There were a group of us all sitting under sun umbrellas indulging in the beach treats.
Eventually I faced the large waves for a refreshing swim without Maya. It felt like years since I had had a dip in the sea and we enjoyed the beach as long as we could, until the late afternoon. After being in Copacabana and Ipanema on previous trips to Rio, Praia da Barra da Tijuca, as a beach really didn’t disappoint me. I think it ranks equally in terms of vibe, and is less crowded which is more appealing.
We went back and had a shower at Maysa’s sisters home and then headed for the airport, as usual in an uber, the best way to get around anywhere in the world.
We had a tearful good bye with Maysa who wanted to stay longer at her sisters place before getting the bus to her home town in Minas Gerais, Raul Soares.
I arrived at the airport feeling overwhelmed with my large suitcase and baby in tow and no Maysa to help. Our spirits were lifted however at the end of our short flight to when the Captain of the flight on Gol airlines invited Maya into the hold to take a look at the aeroplane dash board. She loved the controls in the aeroplane and even got to playing with the gears. It was a real fun experience and yet another example of how friendly the Brazilian people are.
Mayas father was waiting at the airport arrivals to take her into his arms. He hadn’t seen her in almost five months so held her tight before helping with the suitcases.
Check out our post on the Top 11 things to do in Rio de Janeiro with kids here.