Yesterday, amidst all of the World Cup Mania here in Rio, Camillo and I escaped into a different world; well away from the blaring horns, screaming fans, and fire crackers popping out on the street. We didn’t have to leave the city to find this different world. We found this glimpse into Rio’s past practically right in our own neighborhood.
In the heart of the barrio Jardim Botanico, at the base of the Corcovado Mountain, home of the Christ, less than a kilometer from the noisy entrance to the Tunel Rebouças is an oasis called Parque Lage.
Once a part of a sugar plantation with sugar mill, then the “home of industrialist Enrique Lage and his wife singer Gabriela Bezanzoni,” and now the home houses a school of visual arts. The parque is fully supported by the proceeds from the school.
For me this park had two separate and distinct parts, both great ways for a family to spend a Sunday afternoon. There is the art school, the Lage home, which is open to the public. The house (school) can be explored inside and out, you can stop in the café for a coffee or a sandwich, or just lounge around in the classic surroundings; reading a book or your Sunday paper, joining a Buddhist prayer group or just sit in the cool shade and hold hands with your favorite man (woman).
The other part (the best part for me) is the trails through the natural growth, sub-tropical forest. I love the botanical gardens with its landscaped trails, but this is wilder, more natural in its feel and look. The park also feels safe and contained; a place where city children can learn to love the forest, to respect it, to run and to laugh.