Then Fred took me to Favela Vidigal where 10,000 people live. This favela has been ‘pacified,’ meaning the population no longer has guns. The police are there and they are armed so it is considered safe. What I saw seemed very much improved from the favelas I saw back in 1988. Favela Vidigal has a great view of the beach and ocean. In fact, I can see it from my hotel balcony. Lots of colorful grafitti artists.

That night Fred and I went to dinner with the gerontologist, Dr Alexander, who lives in Rio but came to Sao Paolo for the Longevity Forum and did the interview with me on the stage. Again, a fabulous restaurant with great food—too much food. I think I’ve gained 10 lbs! Alexander Is senior advisor on aging policy to Dilma, Brazil’s president. He works to make cities more age-friendly. For instance, older people rely on and trust doormen so he has a program that trains doormen to be more intentional in their efforts to help seniors, for which they receive certificates. Bus drivers are important for seniors and can make their lives easier or harder, so Alexander has a program to train them to be more empathetic…helping them them get on and off and finding seats. Along the beaches there are stations with exercise equipment such as stationary bikes, bars for lifting and stretching, etc, all as a result of Alexander’s advocacy.

Friday I had a book signing at Livaria Travessa in the area of Leblon. I signed without stopping for 2 solid hours and my hand was numb when I was finished. Yonne, a brazilian woman who has been writing me on my blog, was there in full force and we got to hug. As was the case in Sao Paolo, I have never written so many names that I’ve never heard or read before. Some examples: Alanilge, Arauna, Isaura and Evanio. Then, out of the blue, there’d be an Alice and an Ana. The people who came were all ages from teens to 90 years olds. Boys, girls, men, women. One attractive 64 year-old woman whispered to me that she has been married for 40 years and loves her husband (“he is my center”) and she has had a Danish lover 17 years younger than she for 10 years. I told her she looked very happy. “yes,” she said, “You can see it in my eyes!”

When I got back to the hotel, below my balcony a group of young people were singing Madonna songs, joined by a colorful transvestite (in pink).

Only after I left the hotel for the airport (a 3 hour drive!) did I learn that Madonna was, in fact, staying in the hotel and 3 days earlier, Sophie Loren had been there. Shucks, I know Sophia and like her (Sophia) very much.

So there you have it—my 4 days in Brazil. I hope I come back soon.

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