I went to Rio de Janeiro and came away almost unscathed.
I say almost, because I was going through my credit card bill a few days after returning and found that someone hacked my credit card for $5,000 at a grocery store. Thankfully, my credit card company said I’m “100 percent covered.”
I also got away unscathed where shopping is concerned. I bought only two small items for our house: a hand-painted picture of a favela with Christ the Redeemer looming in the background from an artist on Copacabana beach; and a delicately hand-carved wooden woman from a shop in the Santa Teresa neighborhood.
My husband (who had finished covering the Olympics) was with me during both purchases and — probably because both items were small, lightweight and inexpensive — he didn’t pepper me with the usual questions about how I was going to transport them home (he knows full well he’ll be carrying them), as well as where in the house I’m going to put them and what I’m going to get rid of (to not-so-subtly imply that our house is cluttered — it’s not!).
One of the woman’s toothpick-like legs broke off during transit, despite being rolled in layers of bubbled packing material and sandwiched between layers of clothing in our luggage. So I glued it back on and you can’t tell she was ever broken.
A nice young man at Dick Blick Art helped me pick out a black matte and balsa wood frame for the favela painting. The opening of the matte is just big enough to reveal a drip of the artist’s paint at the bottom of the image. It’s perfectly imperfect.
The wood woman is hanging in my dining room beneath a small white mirror handmade of plaster that I bought in London and an elephant-shaped opium pipe we inherited from my husband’s 95-year-old Aunt Jane (who knows what she was doing with that thing). The favela painting is hanging in our living room near artwork I’ve acquired on other trips.
They’re just two small items, but they add to the story our home tells about us.