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When I speak of São Conrado, I become a woman possessed. As a child I considered São Conrado beach entirely mine, for it was here, when the sands were deserted, where I played hide and seek with the crystalline ocean waves that caressed the fluffy sand dunes, which at that time were embraced by the most beautiful virgin rainforest.

Pedra da Gávea and Dois Irmãos mountains, like two immense sentinels, protected that little paradise from evil forces. If there is truth in the saying that Deus é brasileiro, they forgot to add that God is a carioca and lived in São Conrado. Who else could have created such a utopia and, like every paradise, one that must be preserved for eternity.

After three decades, I found my way back to São Conrado, however a São Conrado that had matured; In my absence, taking advantage of this God-created paradise, mankind had embarked on its own creation, one that had transformed my little paradise into both a Vinicius de Moraes dream and a Dantean inferno.

São Conrado Photo: Ricardo Cabral – https://www.flickr.com/photos/ncabral/4471095214/in/photostream/

What had once been my sanctuary is now enhanced by the beauty of cariocas flirting and parading on the sands of São Conrado beach while appreciating the majesty of human birds flying free in their sublime silence before touching down on the soft sands of Pepino Beach.

Today, the beauty of the sand dunes has been substituted by a thoroughfare, roads, bicycle paths, and sidewalks. That I can forgive; It’s progress.

Yet, having created the necessary infrastructure for real estate development, the investors shamelessly took advantage of every centimeter of land available, having true cosmic orgasms with each square meter that could be sold — space that had previously been occupied by the oxygen inhaled by the inhabitants of our little paradise. Thankfully, in 1921 at least a portion of the immense coffee plantation that had once dominated São Conrado’s landscape was transformed into a golf course, thus its grassy fairways, sand traps, hills and trees preserve a modicum of green, organic nature.

Unfortunately, not even the sentinels of my childhood were powerful enough to protect this little paradise from the audacious real estate speculation that exploded in the Barra da Tijuca, the only (and largest) area available in Rio de Janeiro. Taking into consideration the chaotic growth, it’s paramount to remember that to get to and from the Zona Sul to the Barra, one must pass through São Conrado. Consequently, as a result of the infernal traffic, we have become prisoners of our own Eden.

It’s up to us to find a way to reconcile this little carioca paradise with today’s reality, thus laying the groundwork for generations to come to enjoy a paradisiac dream and not an urban nightmare.

Editorial (translated from Portuguese): O Globo Barra