rio’s subway system, how cool

1 May

I took Rio’s subway once before, with a beer in hand on the way to a soccer match, and I rode it again yesterday with no beer, but with Fernanda instead.  We headed downtown to Rio’s biggest bootleg market.  It looked like a chinese container ship had been robbed and transplanted to Brazil.  Fernanda spotted a tee shirt with a condom enclosed by a square window of plastic. The slogan advised to break it only in case of emergencies.  I bought fake headphones and we left almost as quickly as we came.  It was crowded, cheap, and rowdy, and there wasn’t much really to buy.

We headed back the way we came.  Fernanda seemed annoyed at all of the people, I don’t think she was used to riding the metro on a regular basis.  She was an upperclass girl with an upperclass mentality, and I took pleasure in showing her the other side of the tracks.  The platform was crowded and we jostled for space.  She pointed out a vending machine that sold books instead of candy, including a Portuguese-English dictionary.

We looked for the yellow markings that indicated where the subway doors would stop and Fernanda showed me an area where the markings were pink, not yellow.  Apparently Rio had set aside a few train cars just for women.  It protected them from wandering hands, made anonymous by the packed cars.  I tried to board the pink cars, but a security guard was posted at it’s entrance.  I wondered what the feminists back home would think of it all.

Rio’s subway was fast. It was efficient and air conditioned and it looked very new.  Compliments to the engineer.  Some of the larger stops featured two platforms, one side for boarding the train and the other for leaving.  The actual cars, wider than ours back home had bilingual robotic voices that announced each stop.

Rio’s pink and yellow platforms were not the only things color coded that day; each car had a row of brown seats that were reserved for the elderly. Beware of deadly looks if you choose to ride into town in a brown seat without passing it up to someone older, or more pregnant than you.  You won’t get fined but you’ll be the disdain of everyone on the train!

We grabbed dinner when we got back into Copacabana.  Rio’s subway system is a straight line with less than a dozen stops, and to get further to Ipaname, which is where I live, we needed to transfer to a shuttle bus for the rest of the way.  It reminded me of late night subway transfers in New York, riding the metro home drunk and dreamy, forced to wake up to transfer on chambers street.  Rio’s subway system might change soon enough though. The city is trying hard to court the 2016 Olympic bid and is in the midst of several construction projects already.

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