There are those who travel to new destinations with a set idea in their mind of what it will be like, as if that idea would make it become a reality anytime soon. But there’s a reason tele transport does not exist; the magic of the journey is sometime as or more interesting than the destination itself. The same is true for books. There are those who just skip straight to the ending in hopes of an instant sense of gratification, while there are also those of us who trust in the writers process and are guided by their words through an exciting forest of narration and storytelling.
I could feel the magic of the photo in my grandmothers book with every beat my heart took. I knew I was facing a potentially life-changing experience. That’s why, once in Rio, I decided to slowly make my way to Petropolis, much like Elizabeth, Lota, and even my grandmother must have done. That’s why when it came time to rent a car, I went for the convertible (just like Lota had) so that I could see the hills and feel the wind in my hair giving me a warm welcome to the city.
I had one stop before setting out, though. I was looking for a lucky charm, a sign of Rio wishing me a safe trip, among its sounds, its smells and its bossa nova: a gift that would allow me to continue my search with renewed hopes. It wasn't hard to find. Walking along the city centre's streets I found the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes and I decided to go in.
I almost didn’t see it, despite his nearly two meter stature. Enormous and enveloping. His unique oil strokes overcame me with different textures and colors that transported me to another era, another life, and another personality. Candido Portinari had achieved this; he captivated me with his scene of the plantation. I imagined him in 1951, returning from exile, as he made his way over to Lota and Elizabeth’s for one of their legendary dinner parties in which, amongst many others, my grandmother may have been.