Things are progressing quite nicely in terms of wedding planning. There are 11 days to go, and I'm thankful that we're not completely stressed out and running after a hundred different things in a frenzy. Instead, we are reaping the benefits of early planning. We started preparing for our wedding a year and a half ago, and while it ate up some of our vacations during that time, it was certainly worth the effort as we are able to enjoy time with friends and family now.
My mom arrived, and we've been enjoying the Casa Rosa together and constantly marveling at what a good investment we did 8 years ago when we bought the house. Back then Santa Teresa was a bit run down, had a bad reputation for violence (though in my opinion it was no worse than any other area of the Rio, it just had an image problem amongst cariocas), and was full of hippies and musicians and students. There were a few prominent families in the neighborhood who maintained beautiful mansions, but not that many foreigners and not that much new construction or revitalization.
Now, the scene is completely different. Santa Teresa is enjoying its moment in the spotlight, with multiple articles in the Rio newspapers talking about how the neighborhood has undergone a cultural, architectural and commercial revitalization and has grown to be one of the secret corners of sophistication in the city. You can certainly see the evidence of this evolution - there is construction everywhere to restore old villas and transform abandoned palaces into hotels and restaurants; the movie theater on the corner is thriving; there is music in the streets every night, and people milling through the shops and eateries nearly every day of the week.
There has always been a steady flow of tourists in Santa Teresa, but the big difference I see is that now there are many more cariocas in the mix, and not just the bicho-grilo hippie types that hung out here before. You now see well-to-do, chic carocas up here on the hill to enjoy an afternoon stroll, or out on a date, or whatever.
The coolest part is that, for now at least, it doesn't seem that Santa Teresa has succumbed too much to the dark side of gentrification that plague other historic neighborhoods - the essential character of the neighborhood is still in place, along with the traditional residents and long-time characters of the bairro. It is super encouraging to see the direction in which Santa Teresa is going, a direction I intuitively knew would happen since the day I set foot in the bonde for my fist trolley-car ride back in 2000.
I remember back when we bought the Casa Rosa, many of my friends from college told me that 1) we were crazy to buy in such a dangerous neighborhood; and 2) that none of them would come visit me, pick me up, or drop me off anymore after nights out. I had to make the schlep down the hill if I wanted to see my patricinha girlfriends. At the time, I understood where they were coming from, but couldn't help being irritated at the incredible closed-mindedness of my friends. Now, 8 years later, and after Santa Teresa has been featured in novelas and has made it onto the "cool" list for Rio's socialites, the story is wholly different. Now the same girls that wouldn't dream of setting foot in Santa are gushing about how trendy our wedding is, how amazing the Casa Rosa is, bragging about how they know the family that owns the pink palace in front of the bar and the church. Ah, how things change...
Enfim, the house and neighborhood both are looking great, and we are all just counting down the days for the wedding. So far we've gone to church service and met briefly with the reverend, bought shoes for Rico to wear with his Italian suit, picked out ties for our groomsmen, and scheduled a series of meetings with the caterer, the dj, the photographer, the awning and generator people, the wedding planner and the makeup artist. Today I am going to get a haircut (yay!) and we are going to have lunch with a friend of Rico's up here in Santa. We were supposed to meet with the caterer, but she called off at the last minute to a buffet for an event downtown that the Prince of Japan will attend today. Brazil is celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants, and I imagine this event must be part of the official commemoration of the two countries' history.
It's cold in Rio - to the point where I'm wearing boots and a jacket and pashmina every day. However, the weather can change at any minute, and I'm secretly hoping to be able to use our newly-refurbished mini pool in the courtyard before the wedding to get a little bit of a tan to go with my dress.
Hope you all are well. More news from wedding planning central soon. :)