Excursion 7: Ups and downs

Monday, August 11, 2014

This pen has served me very well – facilitating so many notes throughout the trip and even helped to write the names of 100 residents of Isidoro (who will likely be evicted from their homes today) as part of Chica’s portrait project.

Realizing that I feel better with limited connection to the internet – I don’t need to be on there all the time and when I’m not, I have more energy, sleep better, and generally feel more positive when I engage in the regular old real world. Smart phones often act like a tool to take you out of the here and now.


I passed this tree on the bus.


The Square. The image of the tree cropped for the default format of Instagram.


Textured impressions of sidewalks, rubbed in with a scrub brush, aluminum foil?

Excursion 7: Ups and downs

We got a fair start this morning after stopping for a fresh juice and breakfast on Rua de Bahia (we’ve run out of food at home), trying to find a dry cleaner for Pilar, and catching a bus to our destination: Ava de Contorno and Av Cristobal Colombo. We stop into a couple of the fancy stores around Savassi to look at some crazy shoes on our way to the Contorno. There are a few more streets with shops on the Contorno and then things seem to empty out a bit, roughly where we ended off last Friday with Pedro when we stopped at the place on the corner to have a beer.

1.Drawing_sm_IMG_3745 2.Window_sm_IMG_3748

Inside the roll gate of a shop under construction, a man took his work boots off and is taking a nap in a makeshift bed. I don’t take a photo of the man or the bed, but rather the propped up roll gate and his work boots.  On the outer rim of the Contorno, there’s a large building with a central pillar that looks like a red and white striped candy cane, and yellow elements that create an intense contrast with the bright pink Ipe tree.

3.Nap_sm_IMG_3762 4.Colors_sm_IMG_3765

Back on the inner side Contorno there’s a brightly colored office wide open to the street. Looking inwards from Avenue do Contorno the center is a canyon of large buildings. Here, the Contorno makes a steep incline. There are some restaurants and a striking looking business with an illuminated facade, stating gas + laser.

5.OpenOffice_sm_IMG_3767 6.Canyons_sm_IMG_37718.BambooChains_sm_IMG_3776 9.Glas_sm_IMG_3786 10.Glas_sm_IMG_3787

In some ways this feels like one of the least engaging parts of Av do Contorno that we’ve encountered so far, so I start to pay attention to some of the more mundane architectural details such as the paving stones and the way the buildings are constructed on extreme inclines. 

11.Incline_sm_IMG_3789 12.InclineSteps_sm_IMG_3795 13.Patterns_sm_IMG_3801 14.Patterns_sm_IMG_3803 15.Patterns_sm_IMG_3808 16.Patterns_sm_IMG_3813 17.Patterns_sm_IMG_3815

There’s a lot of attention placed on ornamentation of the sidewalks and it’s interesting to see how the decorative borders continue even on the extreme inclines. There’s also a tremendous amount of patterning in the facades of the buildings, and even in the containers for the garbage.

19.ConstructionFence_sm_IMG_3819 20.ConstructionFence_sm_IMG_3821 21.Patterns_sm_IMG_3825 22.Patterns_sm_IMG_3829 23.Patterns_IMG_3836 24.Checkers_sm_IMG_3839 25.TrashPattern_sm_IMG_3840

Av do Contorno is all uphill until we reach Av Alfonso Pena, which is a plateau and then it goes downhill again. The buildings here are relatively nondescript, but there’s a trench in the curb, where pedestrian islands had been built out, that looks like it was built for water drainage of the sidewalk.

26.Patterns_sm_IMG_3841 27.Patterns_sm_IMG_384428.Drain_sm_IMG_3848 29.LunchBreak_sm_IMG_3852

We pass a construction site at lunch hour, with a bunch of guys sitting around on the street. There’s also a smaller group of men and women dressed up in suits who appear to be investors and or other professionals involved in the project who stand outside of the construction site. On the other side of the active site of construction, there’s a man selling ice cream bars, and we stop to get some too: coconut flavor – delicious!

I stop to take photos of a smaller constructions used to block off the work site. I’m attracted to the beauty of the simplicity of the materials. It’s strong and functional, yet there is an intensity of the colors, and in this case there’s also a striped pattern that contrasts nicely with the painted stripes in the parking area.

31.ConstructionStillLife_sm_IMG_3855 32ConstructionStillLife_sm_IMG_3856 35.ConstructionStillLife_sm_IMG_3861

Another interesting use of materials is colored gauze like fabric wrapped over poles in the street, the posters underneath are still visible behind the screen. It seems these may have been put up by the restaurant to draw attention to the place.

36.Stripes_sm_IMG_3867 37.StripesMilkshake_sm_IMG_3871 38.Stripes_sm_IMG_3872

There are lots of motor bikes parked in this area, some with large boxes in the back for deliveries. I like the black vests with bright yellow reflective stripes that many of the moto delivery people wear.  Here a delivery guy makes some notes.

40.MotoParking_sm_IMG_3879 39.Messenger_sm_IMG_3873

A girl sitting outside looks bored, maybe she’s on a break from work or waiting for someone?


While still feeling a certain sense of vacuum of inspiration, the reflections in a shop window became fertile ground for photographing. And then there’s the one old small house nestled into all of the surrounding towers. There’s also a very large construction site on one of the narrow triangular lots, which I tried to film as a second “Dance with Construction Fence” but for some reason the camera shut itself off after just a minute or two.

42.Promocao_sm_IMG_3902 44.Reflections_sm_IMG_3919 46.Reflections_sm_IMG_3922 43.Reflections_sm_IMG_3906


For a moment, I thought I’d lost Pilar because I didn’t see her anywhere either in front or behind me. We eventually find each other and are both pretty much done for the day, tired and Pilar ran out of camera battery. We walk back to Alfonso Pena along Av Getulio Vargas, where we stop along the way and got Pilar a pair of shoes. At this point it’s already 2:15 and time to head back. We’re at the intersection where we came a to visit the doctor with Pilar, and then the fancy bakery. Walking back towards the center to catch a bus or collective taxi, whichever came first, there was a mattress stuck in a tree. It looks like whoever sleeps on it may have stashed it there for the day. From here we catch a bus back, just in time to eat at Bem Natural.

47.Bed_sm_IMG_3938 48.Yellow_sm_IMG_3943

Back at the studio now, not quite sure what to do with myself. For some reason the gopro stopped recording midway through the second dance with construction fence.

I went to Kalunga with Daniella this evening and she told me a bit about the “Portuguese sidewalks”. They were brought over by the Portuguese, initially created out of imported stone and then they appropriated the style with local materials. She went on to explain that there are distinct styles/patterns of Ipanima and Copacabana, etc… This will require a bit more research but I feel like I might be onto something!

In order to catch the ball, you have to want to catch the ball.” John Cassavetes (Actor, Film Director, Screenwriter)




This entry was posted in Av do Contorno. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s