24 February, 2012

An alternative way to travel to Rio de Janeiro

Imagine you’re planning your trip to Rio de Janeiro. A few days before you leave you write down your packing list including the usual items: shirts, shorts, socks, underwear, a swimsuit, pyjamas, sandals, tennis shoes, etc. That is exactly what Jesse’s list looked like before he travelled from Georgia, United States, to Rio. However, when he arrived at Casa 579 the only thing he had with him was a tiny, plaid purse. So what happened to his initial packing list and what made Jesse do something so brave and odd?

“I was in San Sebastian, Spain, and was about to leave for Paris when I wanted to go to the beach one more time. I had already packed my bags and took two of them with me, one on each shoulder. When I arrived at the beach everyone looked at me because of my two big bags. It was very obvious that I was a tourist because no local would go to the beach with two big bags. I felt so strange and uncomfortable and that’s when I realized I didn’t want to travel with that much luggage anymore, it was just too annoying.”

Jesse’s dislike for travelling with too much luggage was strengthened even further when he arrived in Paris and met someone that influenced him in a major way…

“I was in Paris during my Europe trip”, tells Jesse, ”when I met a girl who was only travelling with a small purse. The clothes she was wearing were the only ones she had. She took two showers a day, washed her clothes at night so they would be dry in the morning, and whenever she needed something new, she bought it. I remember being so impressed by that and thinking ‘Wow, that is so brave!’. Ever since then, I wanted to do the exact same thing but it was always only in the back of my head. I actually didn’t plan on coming to Rio with just a purse. But when I wrote down my packing list I stopped at one point and thought ‘I don’t need any of this.’ So I took this random purse that I’ve had for three years and packed it.”

For most of us, travelling to a foreign country or pretty much anywhere with a tiny purse is simply unimaginable. What about all the essential items you need? Why would someone decide to travel without luggage?

“It’s very simple”, explains Jesse, “I don’t want to feel like a tourist, like a traveler. I want to mix with the local people. I want to feel like there actually is a possibility of me living here. Travelling without luggage is something that completely frees you up.”

By now you might be wondering what Jesse actually has in his tiny purse...

  • his passport
  • a wallet
  • a small booklet with Portuguese phrases
  • a camera
  • a toothbrush and toothpaste
  • a nail file
  • a small journal to keep track of expenses
  • another journal to take notes (“I enjoy writing”)
  • about 20 condoms (“I heard American condoms are better than Brazilian ones…”)

“I should have brought more underwear and another pair of socks. And if I find a bigger purse on the way, I might buy it but it won’t be much bigger because I would get tired of carrying it.”

And what about Jesse’s next trip? Is that how he is going to travel from now on?

“I met a guy in France who was travelling with $ 5.00. He was dependent on the kindness of strangers. I am not sure if I have the courage to do it but we will see…”

10 February, 2012


„Tudo começou com o bondinho…“ says Getúlio. You might not know him in person, but if you have stayed at our pousada or if you have walked down the Rua Alexandrino towards Largo do Guimarães, I am sure you have seen his colorful bondinho and all of his handcrafts on your way. Getúlio, who is originally from Minas Gerais and moved to Rio as a 15-year old, has been at the same spot in Santa Teresa for 26 years creating his artwork from recycled materials only.

His outdoor atelier is filled with a variety of creative, interesting and quirky things – each of them unique. After working in a variety of areas, Getúlio finally settled down and built his bondinho in which he stores his material and creates his handcrafts until today.

“I get all my materials from the street. Anywhere I go, I find something. I take everything I think I could use for one of my next artworks.” Getúlio tries to economize even further by picking up nails wherever he can find them so his only expenses are paint and utensils. “I have always had a passion for art and simple things and the material itself inspire me. “ The inspiration of the tourists in Santa Teresa is very obvious in his portrayal of a foreign family who he tried to give weird and funny names. Even though Getúlio is working by himself, he is not alone thanks to the phone he installed in the middle of the mess in his tiny bondinho. His creativity is visible everywhere. Do you want a truly unique and authentic souvenir from Santa Teresa? Getúlio is your guy!