Rio – Escadaria Selarón

Day two and our first (post breakfast) trip is to the Escadaria Selarón, a gorgeous piece of art and lifelong achievement of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón. A series of too-many-to-count steps sandwiched between the Lapa and Gloria districts, much like a dollar bill in a strippers G-string. It runs up from the street level of Rua Joaquim Silva before dog-legging about four fifths of the way and terminating at Ladeira de Santa Teresa.

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Every step and most of the walls of the entire area are covered in tile. Most are simple bold colours collected from construction sites and assembled patchwork style, but others are unique with many being donated from travelers around the globe who had heard about the steps.

The scope of the project beggars belief. Simply walking the steps made me start to get grumpy thanks to the 36 degree heat (and not at all my general level of fitness). Constantly bending over to apply pieces of tile to over 200 steps over the course of years… admirable. Not for me though. That’s why I’m sitting in a air conditioned room writing on a laptop with no pants on.

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Two of a long series of tiles involving a pregnant African woman – The artist said it was “a difficult time” in his life and never elaborated

But every artwork has its critics and its defenders. Soon after we arrived some truly despicable piece of human garbage decided that this was the place to relieve all that Carnaval acquired beer build-up. “Hiding” behind a much-too-small tree on the side of the steps, he decided he’d just take a piss in full view of several hundred people.

As I said though, there are always defenders. To the credit of Brazil and 20-somethings everywhere, as soon as this happened a young local guy jumped up and screamed what I imagine was some fairly strong Portuguese invective. The man, ashamed, tried to pinch his cock and stop the flow. Foolish, as any man can tell you. Alternating between quick squirts and trying to get his pants back on, he shamefacedly clambered down. Finally he was shoved away from the stairs under the gaze of a further expanded crowd, while still subject to stinging tongue lashings from our local boy.

Great stuff. Art and a show. Would definitely visit again.

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The urinator begins (centre)
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GTFO! The expulsion of the urinator.
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