A day at the Rio Earth Summit

Note from Priscilla: This is my third post from Rio. You can read the full post here.

Entrance to the UN Earth Summit with ticket gates and sign

Early light seeps through the gap in the blackout curtains in this little rental apartment two blocks from Ipanema Beach. The predawn lightning and thunder have moved on, and today, like yesterday, promises to be cloudy and humid, 75 comfortable degrees in the dead of winter in Rio.

Heading out to catch the shuttle bus, I stop at the juice bar on the corner. Two dozen smoothie combos to choose from, plus sandwiches. This morning I try something new—açai with granola. It’s a thick slushy of açai berries dark as chocolate—tons of vitamins in my breakfast.

Tall orange paper cup of berry slush and small plastic bowl of granola

The conference center is an hour away, and to get to the bus stop at a beachfront hotel I run a gauntlet of parked black limos, red-bereted soldiers in camouflage, and motorcycle police with sirens screeching. Usually the bus wait is 30 to 45 minutes. Today I am lucky, and the bus arrives immediately.

Rainy street with people waiting at taxi stand and black & white mosaicked designs in the sidewalk.

On the bus I hear languages of the world. Behind me is a man with an Indian accent. Ahead, African men argue excitedly in French. I recall previous rides. One night a Brazilian high school girl fluent in three languages gave me a Portuguese lesson, and last night I gave a writing lesson to a white-haired man from Rio who spends half the year in Vienna. When he heard me describe my soon-to-be-published book, he asked, “What is creative writing?” We talked about using sensory details, about writing for beauty, about adding emotion and putting yourself in the story. “Ah!” he said, his face lighting up. “I am often asked to contribute a column to a paper. Next time I will show myself drinking coffee. I love coffee!”

At Rio Centro the conference pavilions smell of freshly laid plywood, and the floors spring slightly with each step. Continue reading this post…


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