The South Zone
This is Rio's picture-postcard region. The beaches, the nightlife, the richest neighborhoods, as well as most of the sophisticated businesses have long ago established themselves in the most breathtaking sites throughout the South Zones. The quality of public service and businesses in the South Zone is perhaps the best in the city. The region has several of favelas however; the better fortified and bigger ones share the beautiful view of the sea and mountains with the weathy.
The Cariocan subway system ends where the Zone begins, leaving unattended the famous neighborhoods of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, as well as the more sophisticated districts of Humaita and the Jardim Botanico. The effects of this are mitigated, however, by a vast array of bus lines, most of which roll all night long. Taxis are easily found, and the drivers are more than happy to show a newcomer around town. Whether or not these people are trustworthy is another matter.
The "First String" Beaches
The South Zone's most northerly neighborhood, or bairro, is Gloria. Located next to the downtown business district, Gloria houses one of Rio's few surviving colonial churches on the top of what was once called Mount Leripe and today is known as Glory Hill. Glory Hill practically the only elevation in town which doesn't host a favela. Gloria contains most of the city's radio stations and the district also sports two small beaches; Russel and Gloria, which meet at the foot of the hill.
The small church of Outeiro da Gloria is a fashionable place for rich marriages attended by the jet-set. These have as a backdrop scenic views of Flamengo and Botafogo beaches and French-style gardens cut by expressways. The nearest seaside area, fully visible from the hill, contains the Gloria quays, where serious sailers of Guanabara bay anchor their craft. Ventrue Alan Boggart keeps a small yacht at anchor, snuggled up to the vessels of the pop singer's and investor's.
At the foot of the mount is the seaside Gloria drive, seperated from the beaches by decorative gardens. At night, transvestite hookers vie for attention up and down the length of the drive. John's cruise the strip, eyeing them speculatively before heading further down into the South Zone. Several Malkavians like to hunt here, mingling with transvestites, taking their clients' vitae. They often hold nocturnal parties in the basement of the local police station, one of their strongholds in the South Zone.
The parks of Gloria and Flamengo districts are divided by multi-lane highways. These lead to the posh neighborhoods along the second string of South Zone beaches which begins in Copacabana. The cars zip along the coast, passing the huge recreation areas along Flamengo and Botafogo beaches. There are no traffic lights to slow them down; pedestrians headed to the beaches cross over the highways on elevated foot bridges. Sandwiched between the throughways and the sand is a wide strip of variegated sports courts, including small soccer fields and bicycle paths. This area hosted the public festivities surrounding the Global Ecology Summit in 1992. On weekends, the throughways are blocked to autos, so the leisure area bordering the beaches becomes even bigger. Kindred from the North Zone slums enjoy hunting among Flamengo park's sport-loving kine.
Behind the Beaches
Behind all the lanes and parks, Gloria fades into the Flamengo and the Catete districts. These neighborhoods are the territory of the Ravnos Yanko, who doesn't begrudge the use of his stomping grounds to other Cainites as long as they don't stir up trouble. Yanko is one of the few Cariocan Ravnos with a fixed haven, in the Rua do Catete. For reasons unknown even to him, he's been rooted there for more than a century.
In recent decades, however, dark forces have begun to use Flamengo beach as their playground. A shadow has fallen over the region. Some of the city's grisliest and most mysterious murders have taken place in the silent, solemn buildings facing the park. During the recent dictatorship, authorities in charge of the dismemberment of the left dwelt here. Now, however, the solid walls of the condominiums hide other unspeakable cruelties, perpetrated by the extremely wealthy in discreet, soundproofed apartments. The district's traditional families are seeing their world fall apart, framed by the marvelous landscape visible from their ample balconies.
Before the federal district moved to Brasilia, Rua do Catete housed the Presidential palace. Today, the old palace serves as the Museum of the Republic. It is one of the most utilized Elysiums in the urban perimeter. Toreador enjoy coming here to view the government's collection of paintings. The Signatories of thre Rio Compact frequently hold council there, seated on the bed where Getulio Vargas committed suicide. Some Kindred swear they've seen the ghost of the ex-president roaming the rooms of the palace, bemoaning the destiny of the country and the decay of the city he loved so much. Rua do Catete teems with street vendors and corner bars. Yanko the Ravnos keeps a low profile, but his influence keeps the neighborhood in relatively good repair.
At the Largo do Machado, the South Zone branches out again. While Flamengo beach continues down the coast towards Botafogo and Copacabana, at Largo do Machado the Catete district abruptly ends. One can continue following Flamengo or plunge into Laranjeiras, a long, thin neighborhood bordering the stately Rua das Laranjeiras. Old buildings and streets maintain the French style of the Empire and are interspaced with strips of greenery. The area is quite pleasant, but in recent years has seen incursions of Garou, so undead activity is very scarce here.
The Cosme Velho district begins where the Rua das Laranjeiras turns into of the avenue of the same name. This long, narrow avenue is surrounded by high walled mansions; power can be sensed in the air. Unlike Laranjeiras, Cosme Velho sports an entrance to a shanty town, the small Guararapes favela located on the flanks of the neighborhood's hill. It is rumored that a tradionalist Aje Olo elder makes his haven among the shantys. Some wealthy Kindred also have their havens along the avenue. The narrow-guage railway leading up to the Corcovado Christ statue begins in this district as well, right next to the slums entrance.
Leaving Cosme Velho, passing the shantys and mansions, one comes to the middle entrance of the Reboucas Tunnel. The first entrance is situated in the Rodrigo de Freitas district, deep in the South Zone. Through the tunnel, a trip from Cosme Velho to the North Zone neighborhood of Rio Comprido takes ten minutes by car.
South from the Largo do Machado, Flamengo continues to spread out. It's gloomy streets give a taste of what living in Rio must have been like during the city's golden age in the 1940s. Suddenly, Flamengo Avenue fuses with Botafogo Avenue. Here, as in Laranjeiras, the middle-class still exists. All throughout the district, however, favelas encroach, tumbling down from the hills. While the Ventrue, Toreador and Nosferatu control the "asphalt" neighborhoods, the Aje Olo have undisputed rule of the hills.
The restaurants in this region, especially the steakhouses, are under Antonio das Merces' influence. Lesser minions control the smaller bars along the sidestreets. Some of these establishments have existed here for more than a century. Right behind the Flamengo subway station lies the old Morro Azul, where supposedly at least one very old Aje Olo still dwells, having survived the Castelo purge of the 19th century. Most of the younger Cariocan Kindred consider this rumor to be just another tall tale. Still, the EuroKindred traditionally avoid hunting in this area.
The first string of South Zone beaches ends with Botafogo. In Imperial times, this district housed one of the Emperor's many residences. Today, City Hall is located here, along with the homes of many foreign Consuls and the headquarters buildings for Brazil's hordes of stat-owned corporations. Foremost among these is Furnas, the energy conglomerate. Some of the city's best private schools are also located in Botafogo, and the district's once elegant and calm streets are today overflowing with cars. The favela on Santa Marta hill, two hundred meters from City Hall, is one of the most violent in the South Zone. The army has established absolute control here, and anyone coming or going is at risk of being arrested, especially at night. This doesn't stop the local girls from hanging around and scoping out the soldiers.
Beginning at the beach, the Botafogo district reaches deep into the South Zone. It stretches all the way to the Rodrigo Freitas Lagoon and Jardim Botanico district, passing through Humaita.
The neighborhood shelters Rio's most elegant cemetery, Sao Joao Baptista; one of the only places in the city where the dead seem to have arrived through old age. Botafogo has somehow also managed to maintain the region's old British and Portuguese colonial architecture in the middle of the skyscrapers. For this reason, Ventrue Alan Boggart contiues to hold the district with a very special regard, even tough he had to move his haven to Horto to escape Botafogo's insupportable daytime noise.
Botafogo also contains one of the South Zone's many Racks. A number of cozy bars and restaurants make for a rather tame nightlife, where the more traditional clans' Elders can easily be found, either at somebody's cocktail party or inaugurating the exhibition of latest fashionable painter. The region's bars and restaurants offer a good variety of unsuspecting kine. Nothing to compare with Copacabana, though.
Botafogo is linked to Copacabana by three tunnels. The first of these starts at the southern limit of Botafogo beach and channels traffic into the six lane Avenue Venceslau Braz, receiving the flow from the above neighborhoods.The second tunnel starts across from the Riosul shopping center, the city's favorite consumer mecca. Both tunnels were inaugurated in the end of the fifties and at the time symbolized the city's expansion to the south as Copacabana and the adjacent neighborhoods became more densely populated. Drivers are treated to a beautiful view of Copacabana beach as they emerge near its northern limit.
The third tunnel is completely different. Locally known as the "Old Tunnel", for decades it was the only link to Copacabana and the rest of the South Zone. The Old Tunnel starts in Botafogo district and emerges in the middle of Copacabana, far from the beach. Today the tunnel has two levels to better the vast volume of traffic which uses it. The upper level, however, maintains its ancient appearance.
At Avenida Venceslau Braz, a tunnel heads off to Urca, another of Alan Boggart's favorite neighborhoods. Perched on a tiny peninsula, Urca is fast becoming boring; it's very calm and filled with historical archetecture. The district houses a university, the city's yacht club and the Benjamim Constant Institute for the Blind. It also houses The Superior War College and the Institute of Military Engineering, both important military think-tanks. The residents of Urca prize their relative isolation; among other things, the district is completely removed from any favelas. Many Gangrel visitors to Rio, prefer to stay in Urca but avoid the region's tepid nightlife. The neighborhood is favorited by Navy officers, a traditional herd of the Brazillian Gangrel. Urca's silence and peace is quite seductive for these reclusive Kindred. They also enjoy the mountains' greenery, unmarked by shantytowns.
Urca is also the departure point for the cable car up to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio's most famous landmark. From the top of Sugarloaf one can see the entire city spread out in a breathtaking viSanta Sugarloaf itself is considered Elysium by most Kindred, but as the last cable car down leaves at midnight, sightseeing Cainites will either have to keep a sharp eye on the clock or find another way down its sheer cliffs. In recent years, a nightclub called "Carioca Nights" has established itself next to the cablecar's halfway station on Dog Face Mountain. There, foreign and Brazilian bands play modern dance music. Quite frequently, the city's Toreador community invites Kindred musicians to play there. It is rumored that forthcoming attractions may include Chicago's Baby Chorus... "Carioca Nights" is controlled by Artur Alencastro of the Ventrue.
The "Nice" Neighborhoods
Botafogo descends into Humaita, a small but distinguished district squeezed between the bigger neighborhoods of Jardim Botanico and Rodrigo das Freitas. Some of Humaita's alleys are quite charming, and highrise projects blend with houses from the city's past in incongruous but agreeable patterns. One of the most sociable Cariocan Toreadors, Suely, has her haven here. She has helped established the region's reputation for elegant parties.
The Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon district is also a nice neighborhood. High winds sometimes cover the area with the stench of the dead fish, however, as the lagoon's delicate composition is suffering from rampant urbanization. The district is built around the lagoon and some of the city's most expensive clubs are located on small islands there. People jog and ride bikes along the tracks following the shoreline, always with one eye peeled for muggers. Streets radiating from the neighborhood lead into Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. neighborhoods which comprise the second string of South Zone beaches.
Next to Humaita lies the Jardim Botanico district. The city's largest Elysium is located there, in the beautiful Botanical Gardens which lend their name to the region. are respected by all Kindred in agreement with the city lupines. Inside the Gardens is a vast selection of incredibly diverse Brazilian flora. The Gardens were inaugurated during the Empire and the first trees there were planted by him. Others were planted by international visitors of renown, thus bearing biologic and historical testimony to the city's past. Behind the Gardens, one can continue up to the Alto da Boa Vista, a tourist site famous for its view of the landscape. Few tourists travel there these days due to the site's proximity with many of the most dangerous favelas of the South Zone. Their is an active Lupine presence there, as well, as the Gardens lead on up into the Serra da Tijuca National forest.
The shanties have not yet expanded down into Jardim Botanico largely due to the existence of the very exclusive neighborhood of the Horto Florestal, where, with typically British restraint, the houses don't look nearly as rich as their owners in fact are. This heavily guarded district lies between the favelas and the Gardens, and it is there that Alan Boggart and his personal coterie have their havens. The Ventrue finds the proximity to the Gardens useful as it allows him to pursue his pet project, the study of tropical plants. Home gardening has been raised to the level of a science in the Horto; the British vampire covertly helps the district's kine appreciate Brazilian botanic variety.
Near Lage Park on Jardim Botanico Avenue is a fashionable hang out for the city's Toreador population. The School of Visual Arts is located here, forever pushing each of its students to be more modern than the others. D.Urraca de Souza Falcao has found many of her talented proteges here.
Rede Globo, the fourth largest television network in the world, also has its home offices in the Jardim Botanico district. Some of their studios and all of their production and executive facilities are also located in the neighborhood. Globo's four skyscrapers are an eyesore on the local landscape; they seem to have been transplanted directly from downtown with no thought at all given to visual harmony. No business district skyscraper enjoys the green, lush view afforded from the windows of the TV enclave, however. Globo is clearly Ventrue territory. Mediocre Toreador mingle with the starlets, models and would-be actors vying for a place in the networks next blockbuster soap-opera. The Ventrue, of course, control the business side of the company. Anarch wags bitterly suggest that Alan Boggart has transformed the network's president into a ghoul; at X years of age, the reactionary bastard is still as chipper as ever...
At the southern end of Jardim Botanico sits the exclusive and immense Rio Jockey Club. There the district's main avenue splits in two, heading towards Gavea and São Conrado. Several members of Cainite high society frequent the Jockey Club, betting on the nocturnal races. Many deals go down in the Club's high class environment. Facing the Jockey Club are a number of bars and restaurants which sport a lively nightlife. The city's youth meet in the area early in the evening to score drugs before heading on to the more fashionable nightclubs. The district's low profile rack is frequented by several Brujah, who find it amusing to run their scams in the center of the Ventrue's supposed stronghold. Many of Rio's upperclass mothers wouldn't believe what their daughters do in order to pay for their nightly high...
Gavea is also a very upscale district, housing the Catholic University, the Carmelite Convent, the City Planetarium and some truly lavish mansions which become more and more frequent the further one gets from the Jockey Club. Avenida Marques de Sao Vicente continues going up into the hills. At the point where it becomes Gavea Highway, the mansions become manors; few, isolated and immense. In one of these veritable castles, Tremere Karl Langsdorff has established Rio's Chantry. Rich, bored society women with an interest in the occult are Karl's preferred prey; the demenses along Gavea Road offer him a wide variety of potential victims.
In a typical Carioca contrast, it is along the Gávea Highway that one finds entrances to the biggest shanty town in South American; Rocinha. This incredible complex sprawls across the mountain, emerging on the other side in the São Conrado neighborhood, also one of the richest bairros in the city. The favela runs the gamut from poverty to lower middle class: there are abject neighborhoods and organized ones, complete with parabolic antennas to better pick up CNN and "The Sports Network". Many Aje Olo and Brujah have made their havens in Rocinha; it is one of the safest spots in rio for them. Even Ubirajara maintains an emergency hide-out in the favela. Needless to say, City Hall controls very little in Rocinha.
The Gávea Highway continues further up into the woods beyond Rocinha's summit. After a short distance, it heads up towards Pedra da Gávea Mountain, one Rio's few truly green areas. The higher one goes, the more impressive the view, and the more difficult the climb. Near the top of the mountain, situated in the back of a cavern overlooking the ocean, Qunato, the oldest vampire in Rio has made his haven. Qunato has recently awaken from more than a thousand years of torpor. He is still quite weak and spends most of his energy becoming reaquainted with the world.
The "Second String" of Beaches
Now we come to the beach of Copacabana
Where women are slowly killing themselves for money
And there's the gringos, thinking it's all cool
"Brazil's a paradise; the women are great in bed!"
Shit, gringo, quit acting stupid
What do you outsiders know about Brazil?
-- Gabriel o Pensador, "Rap do 175"
Through the South Zone Tunnels, one passes into Copacabana. The first avenue going straight down through the neighborhood is Barata Ribeiro; the second is Our Lady of Copacabana.
The famous Copacabana beach is fronted by beautiful Avenida Atlantica. It is the most widely frequented stretch of sand in the city. One can see people from all different walks of life there, as the district contains hideously expensive seaside condominiums as well as a couple of big favelas. These latter include Chapíu-Mangueira and Babil'nia behind Leme, and Saint-Romain near Post 6. The human landscape is amazingly diverse. For the most part, however, everybody tolerates one another.
The district is divided by the Salvamar (Rio's beach rescue agency) into six "posts" (lifeguard stations) along the beach. The first post, Leme is really a seperate residential district to the left of the tunnel exits. Leme is basically an appendix of Copacabana proper, which begins to the right of the tunnels, and silence loving vampires usually stay there for short periods when they come to Rio; it's a good place to observe the city from without getting caught up in its agitation.
Lido begins at Post Two. Its first two streets contain one of Rio's most well-known bohemian and red light. districts. This is where tourist kine (these days mostly taxi drivers from the Netherlands or Germany) go when they want to get ahold of Brazil's most internationally known product, the curvaceous Carioca "Mulata". Some of the hookers actually end up marrying one of their foreign johns. Others sell their babies to childless American or Israeli couples. Most just continue from day to day in their position as well paid prostitutes. Lido generates local folklore every day, as there isn't one night when something strange doesn't happen there. Innocent nuns bent on saving souls, scared would-be Don Juans wrapped in bed sheets fleeing enraged husbands, charismatic transvestites, traditional families, drug dealers and intellectuals; all of the above and more can be found rubbing shoulders in Lido at any time of the day or night.
During Carnaval, Copacabana in general and Lido in particular is where visiting Kindred are encouraged to feed; unexplained disappearances are quite normal in that roiling melting pot. Kindred from the world over enjoy the anonomous hunting the district affords them. There, they mix in, at home in the midst of the titanic crowd that turns the neighborhood into a human zoo.
Copacabana doesn't sleep; the region teems with kine and Kindred, both tourists and permanent residents. It is sometimes compared to a hive full of drunken bees. For most of the week, the world famous Copacabana promenade is an almost exclusively tourist area, the place where exorbitant prices are accepted and one has to constantly keep an eye on one's purse or wallet. On the weekends, however, Avenida Atlantica is off-limits to cars and the promenade turns into a leisure area for the city's kine, functioning as an extension of the beach. Some excellent restaurants and hotels face the promenade, providing refreshments for the sunbathers and shade for those too out of shape to risk public ridicule in a swimsuit.
The only nightclub facing the beach is so huge it constitutes a Rack all by itself. "Help" caters mostly to adolescents, though some older men also cruise there. Any loner who arrives quickly gets company; assuming he has money. The drug and prostitution trades consider this spot to be one of their best outlets. Ventrue Ant'nio das Merces considers "Help" to be "his" club, but many Brujah can also be found there on the weekends.
Of course, Copacabana can also be sedate. It is an upper-middle class neighborhood, after all. The classy Copacabana Palace Hotel dominates Avenida Atlántica on one side and Avenida Copacabana on the other, adding a touch of elegance to the its rowdy surroundings. This building is under Alan Boggart's direct control. Some specially appointed suites are always kept ready for the Ventrue leader's VIP visitors. Nearby are expensive restaurants and tourist shops. In the back streets, the traditional Carioca bars and "botequins"abound, with the occasional nightclub completing the bohemian landscape. The streets surrounding Copacabana's center are full of traditional well-to-do families living very normal, if noisy lives. These people do their best to see nothing of the class strife which is tearing their city apart. This means that they've forsaken the beach, now inhabited by the masses and too dirty for their tastes. The Nosferatu Joachim Lebrun makes his haven in the unfinished Cardeal Arcoverde Square subway station. He makes the wealthy of Cobacabana his herd, ensuring that this endangered species doesn't disappear forever. Lebrun's vigilance makes the area surrounding his haven very quiet and beautiful; he has no patience for tourists and enjoys dismembering them whenever he thinksd he can get away with it.
As Copacabana keeps going down toward Ipanema, it becomes rowdy again. The 'Posto 5' neighborhood is discreet about it, and some of the better nightclubs in Copacabana can be found in that region, sharing sometimes the same squares with the seedy ones. Wining, dining and going about town in that region is as expensive as anywhere in Ipanema, only there are fewer options, and a lot of traps which overcharge and don't deliver. This whole region is teeming with offices and commerce that hide the borough's more mysterious angles by day. Many people from other states live in diminutive flats near their jobs, drudging their lives away in the name of Copacabana, a dream whose time was already past by the time the clerks and saleswomen and janitors first heard about it in their states of origin.
When one arrives at 'Posto 6' things get openly wild again, mainfully thanks to 'Galeria Alaska', a well known gay spot that has taken up an entire commercial gallery in the end of Avenida Copacabana. It's become a sequence of gay theaters, bars and nightclubs. Throughout Brazilian society, gays feel the weight of heavy prejudice; so wherever they can establish a 'free territory', they do so with enthusiasm and flamboyance, mixing very liberally among themselves. At Galeria Alaska things are ever more explicit because, located right in front of a Police station, they feel quite safe. When Isidore Ducasse is roaming the nightlife, this is one of his favorite spots.
To finish a visit to Copacabana one must not miss the anachronic fishermen's colony to the beach's extreme south. Having arrived and established themselves there before everything else, and having always lived in their wooden shacks near the boulders that mark the end of the beach, they miraculously have managed to hold their ground and escape even the real-estate speculation. Only, now the shacks are houses. To this day, it is very easy to buy fresh fish from the fishermen in the beach. Now they have a very elegant store in the entrance of the colony and their sophisticated ( as noted before, fresh) product attracts quite an upscale clientele.
The last thing to be seen in Copacabana is the way to the Copacabana fort, something of historical but no practical relevance whatsoever. A good part of it has been turned into a park as it covers the hill and descends on the district of Ipanema by the other side. These days, many international musicians play there for free when they come to Rio on other assignments. This has caused most Kindred to treat the place with a little more respect than when it was an Army backyard. Even in the hottest days, when the two beaches but particularly Ipanema becomes a battleground, within park limits the situations almost never reach a true boiling point. That can be chalked up to Toreador influence.
Copacabana joins and develops into Ipanema through three or four long streets that go straight from one beach to the other. If one follows the coastline, though, it's easy to notice there is a tiny beach between the two big ones: it's the Devil's beach, Praia do Diabo, so named because of the violence of the waves there. Only the fittest among surfers dare to brave its sea, and, when they do it, usually it's to prove their mettle.
The Ipanema beach is also divided in 'postos', and the numbering follows Copacabana's, so the first 'posto' in Ipanema is the 7th, Arpoador. One can immediately see here the social diversity is not as big as in Copacabana. There always are a lot of people exercising near the squat elliptical buildings of the 'postos', with shower facilities. Their even distance gives a rhythm to the landscape. Almost all the Carioca seaside avenues become kine leisure areas on weekends, and Ipanema beach is where one sees the most daring and colorful costumes. Restaurants and nightclubs in this area are more expensive than in Copacabana, also being nearer each other.
The waves in Arpoador, Ipanema beach's farthest reach to the north, are much tamer than in Praia do Diabo. There the show-offs like to impress the gawkers with flashy surfboards and wet suits, but the truth is that it's a friendly sea. Also, the strong pollution makes these once crystal clear waters the symbol of what carelessness can accomplish. The fact that everybody just looks the other way and perfunctory solutions are defeated one after another betrays the presence of some powerful being, or beings, with every interest on the decay of the beach. There is a stench almost like that of Flamengo. As the entire sewer system dates back to the last century and the Nosferatu have discovered the joy of cleanliness in a number of unfinished subway galleries, the mystery remains.
The adjoining squares are very elegant, and in the sixties and seventies it was quite the 'in' thing to have an apartment there and listen to the waves rolling at night. It was during this time that the Toreador Alex established his haven there, witnessing the birth of 'Bossa-nova', the characteristically Carioca music style that became well-known around the world. Alex feels surfing is as much of an art as music, and has always stimulated the sport, in recent times sponsoring some competitions. As the waves are still rolling smoothly despite the foulness in the water, he relaxes and enjoys, in typical Carioca fashion. Anybody else, with his position in Ipanema and knowing there would be no serious opposition from Copacabana, would have tried to turn at least its southern end into part of his domain. But Alex just has a group of 'dudes' that includes the weirdo Cassio. They surf together by the moon and arc light. As a rule they don't feed there.
The region's privileged situation has changed a little in more recent years, since North and West zone denizens have started to come to the beach in Arpoador, in huge numbers. So the well-off and the almost miserable meet each other under the same sun. It's of course an explosive situation in such an overpopulated region. Brujah from the West Zone are thought to be the ones who created the 'arrasto' , a mass form of petty theft and aggression, when gangs from distant boroughs settle their differences upon these world - famous sands, much to everybody else's chagrin.
Alex and other South Zone Kindred are furious, but they never found anything concrete with which to accuse the Brujah or Ajé Olo, much as they'd like to. And opening war over the internationally known Ipanema beachsand would certainly be very bad business, with a lot less neonate blood for everybody. Still, the White Hand has recently taken to patrol the region, so they can trace rabble rousers back to their community of origin and do away with them. Madame Sat wholeheartedly agrees with this, so any complaints from North and West zone Kindred fall on deaf ears.
Down from Arpoador, Ipanema beach retrieves the social flair it always had. Each little 'posto' actually marks an entirely different attitude on the part of the beachgoers, in a kind of ' territorial division' unheard of in the much more variegated Copacabana. So part of Posto 8 is definitely gay; posto 9 is bohemian and one can always see the actresses, actors and directors there, as well as the leftist intellectuals and the health food crowd. Posto 10 is truly aristocratic, located as it is right in front of the city's Country Club, a very exclusive club Alan Boggart and D. Urraca refuse to move away from there. It's their contribution to the unrelenting contrast between the rich and the poor.
By the beach or by the Lagoa in the other end of the neighborhood, the buildings are at their most sophisticated and expensive. Inner streets sport a very upscale commercial area, which makes living quarters near them somewhat cheaper but still expensive. This cosmopolitan neighborhood has magazines and books from around the world in its disproportionately big newsstands. One could almost believe being in the First World, if it weren't for the outstanding number of beggars roaming the busier streets, seduced, like everybody else, by the glitter.
The nightlife offers all the options one can imagine, provided he has money in his pockets. There is a dazzling array of night time fun options, from the cultivated to the wild. All of which under Artur Alencastros influence.
Transvestites have arrived and taken over the sidewalk in some quieter back streets. There they cater to their wealthiest customers, behaving in a much less shocking way than they do near downtown. They contrast with the elegant places whose entrances they haunt, but never get taken in. Their clients prefer to get their cars and go on to less visible parts of the city.
The haven of the Lasombra Gaetano is located near the well known jeweler's corner, so his ages old love of precious stones has found a focus in Rio. H.Stern and others of similar pull have stores there, and the peace they enjoy in this scared and intimidated city can largely be credited to him, who lets nothing untoward happen to the places. Slum dwellers come down thru the back streets, stare for hours on end at the dioramas on display behind thick sealed and armored windows. Camilo of the White Hand also has his haven in the neighborhood, and it functions as South Zones spearhead of that coterie.
Ipanema also has two great public squares, Praça General Osório and Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz. The first one houses what is still jokingly called the 'hippie fair' on Sundays. It started out in the sixties as a truly hippie affair. Today, it has boiled down to a popular artisan's fair, where one finds paintings, leather and cotton clothes, sculptures, woodcarvings and whatnot. As D.Urraca believes this is what popular art is, she takes pains to ensure that as a trade it goes on unabated. It is said she likes to roam the place in the early evening, and choose a painter or two as her dinner .
Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz houses two shopping malls, one old church and some impressive office buildings. These are in stark contrast with the number of beggars there, attracted by the Christian spirit of the churchgoers, most of which of traditional and well off families .
Dividing the beach's length at the center, there is the Jardim de Allah, a very big park, which sports a channel straight through its middle, bringing water from the Lagoa and vice-versa, in an effort to make the mass death of fish in the later one's befouled waters a little less frequent. After the gardens, one arrives in the neighborhood of Leblon. It is is Ipanema's less cosmopolitan sister, but every bit as beautiful and full of misery. The beach is a little more polluted, not only on account of the Lagoa's water coming up at Posto 11 but also because of the Leblon Canal by the end of the beach, also delivering tons of refuse it brings up from Gávea into the open sea. These days the tubes reach deeper into the ocean, so it's not as visible.
Leblon and Ipanema are physically the same beach. They share the architecture and the climate. Once the beach changes its name to Leblon, Av.Vieira Souto becomes Delfim Moreira, a very, very expensive address. There the Ventrue Artur and Glória have their haven. His main achievements take place in the high level night life. In Leblon the kine are better off. In general they have a more conservative attitude and the neighborhood isn't as wild as in certain parts of Ipanema. There are a lot of restaurants, some bars and considerably less nightclubs than in the precedent neighborhoods. Some of these are under Gaetanos waning influence.
All of this leads to its antithesis in the Baixo Leblon, a small section of the district of Leblon which concentrates virtually all of its nightlife. There a number of bars and restaurants are open to the street, and they're all very near each other, constituting a lively part of the city's rack. These days the place is so popular among the young that they stay there all night long and out in the sidewalk if there's no place in the bars. The waiters of course serve them. It's one of the places where the wealthy get drugs, as everyone knows and does nothing about. The region thrives.
This is the handiwork of Antônio das Mercês. He has restaurants and bars and nightclubs all over the city. But he has a soft spot for this neighborhood, maybe because his haven is located quite nearby, in the Alto Leblon. His arrangement with the dealers is that drugs should be plentiful and peaceful for the kine in this region. The organization he's dealing with is part of the Red Commando. They are controlled by the Ajé Olo, but das Mercês doesn't know that and doesn't let on he himself is a vampire, either.
Alto Leblon is an elevated region starting when one crosses Visconde de Albuquerque Avenue, whose percourse is the same as the Leblon Canal's. After that avenue, the ground rises sharply and then the streets become full of mansions. As the thin avenue goes further down, one arrives at the Jockey Club. This area constitutes one of the richest regions in the city.
The Third String of Beaches
Santarting from Leblon's end, a wide avenue climbs the ragged mountainside, taking visitors to the third string of beaches in the South Zone. In Niemayer Avenue live most of the TV stars and executives, but no entrances are visible. There also are a numbers of motels and nightclubs, all very expensive. The view from that avenue/road is of the bluest seas in the whole coastline. The fact that the mountain has no beach and plunges straight into the sea for kilometers on end contributes to the endurance of that situation.
Very close, there is the entrance to the Vidigal slum , a more or less tame neighborhood, as far as slums go.
When the avenue is almost over and one is arriving in São Conrado, some of Alan Boggart's proudest achievements come into view. The succession of five star hotels poised with at least an excellent view of the beach, when not built directly on it, is a breathtaking view. He maintains a secondary haven there, for when his mood is of a sociable turn.
This area is one of the loudest manifestations of sheer power in the city, along with Copacabana Palace Hotel and Globo TV Network headquarters in their own ways. Many international events such as the Free Jazz Festival and the irregularly scheduled but always memorable International Cinema Festival take place in this complex. Hunting is very discreet in that area, and as Mme Sat produces one the city's best 'mulata' musicals, the idea that one should behave is natural. It's of no one's interest that anything should impair these hotels' good names.
On the hill encircling this group of luxurious skyscrapers the frame is composed by the other side of the Rocinha slum, coming down from atop a mountain with an entrance in Gávea. The sheer number of inhabitants in that mountain makes diplomacy a great tool there. It is possibly the biggest slum in South America, and certainly the most epic. With the passage of the years, it has become the best urbanized popular neighborhood. Rocinha is evolving from a 'favela' to a small city perched on two sides of a squat, wide mountain. It has its own economy and drug traffic is discreet. Now that the'favelas' are officially under siege, one could expect that this once explosive community would be a prime target. This is simply not the case, and life in Rocinha goes on as quietly as it has in the last decade, because the Army didn't deign to show up.
The local Ajé Olo are upwardly mobile neonates who have held their own through many a hard time. They dance capoeira and now surf at night, when the tourists are either out in the town or sleeping their safest sleep ... the Consortium here is also at least peace-loving. Sometimes Alex comes up with some 'dudes', and they go to Arpoador. The Ajé Olo very visibly get the better waves, these days.
The São Conrado beach and its sister, the Pepino beach, sprawl across the neighborhood's front end. The beach here is democratic but very upscale. Pepino beach is the favorite landing ground for delta wing flying kine. It's also a great windsurf site. The district behind these beaches is full of houses and clubs, including the Golf club. Huge shopping malls and well-kept condominium complexes are the dominating feature, behind bars. Here, they are prevident.
Inner São Conrado
When one is coming from Lagoa, the shortest way to São Conrado or Barra da Tijuca is the Lagoa/Barra highway, which starts in Lagoa thru the Rebouças Tunnel, a long thin affair housing a number of recently arrived and bewildered Bosnian Nosferatu in its underground galleries. They haven't found out about the deeper galleries yet, the ones where Theodontos is training his phalanx. After one is out of the tunnel, he can turn to the side and descend in São Conrado. Or one can stay in the highway, cross another long tunnel through the rock and emerge in Barra da Tijuca, the southernmost district in the city. The road between the two tunnels is two level, and the second tunnel also is. From it, the epic view of the blue sea is seen very fast. Inexplicably, to the right there are some mansions protruding from the rock in modern architetonic designs.
S. Conrado, which comprises the hotels and elegant surroundings on ground level, also has a number of small winding streets delving into the greenery. This happens in regions to the side of the mountain, well away from Rocinha which is further behind. These streets are filled with houses which, in the fifties, used to be summer cottages.With the city's growth, they've become permanent residences for lots of people, now that transportation is a lot easier.
In a sharp corner, though, begins Canoas Road. In its downward section, its wide track snakes upwards over increasinly higher ground. The neighborhood is full of mansions. Midway through, it becomes primitive as most properties are older and very quiet. The greenery has taken back some of the road's surroundings, and it becomes a bucolic, long hollow in the damp woods. The air is colder, the view is majestic.
Here, to the upgoing side of the mountain, is the Daime church, the largest one outside the Amazonian state of Acre. Daime is nothing but the Brazilian name for Ayahuasca, the vision granting plant. The cult has a strong foothold in Rio. It is usually held by up to three hundred people at once, in a court-like area. The singing and praying usually takes all night long, as the people drink some four doses of the thick, acrid tea. All the while dancing a simple step dance to the sounds of maraca, guitar ,and voice, they all sing the religious hymns.
The area surrounding the cult's ranch has been thoroughly reforested. The city threatened to choke it, in the past. Urban growth encroached with a 'favela' starting a little further up in the mountain. As it is a Garou caern, the two 'local' Uktena immediately took steps to rectify the situation. Very discreetly, they've guaranteed the slum will grow in another direction. They're now trying to work out some mystical isolation. To their chagrin, they've also noticed Cecil, a Malkavian antitribu who feeds on the tea-drinkers. He comes to every major ceremony and seems to have visions too.
Cecil hasn't noticed them, but notices the vegetation is in better shape than in years. The Garou would like to know where his haven is, but Cecil has always been very good at vanishing after feeding, and believes in alertness. Cecil also knows something very, very bad, is happening right now. He can see some terrible shapes are materializing in Flamengo. After he started to drink these people's vitae, he's felt the urge to prevent the spread of that awful thing that may befoul the city, no, the country.
Barra da Tijuca and Nearby Regions
The Joá Road takes one from São Conrado to Barra da Tijuca. This is where the Ventrue are secretly testing their new urban model. There are a lot of closed neighborhoods and huge skyscrapers in that area. Both behind tall iron fences and security systems. There also are enormous shopping malls and supermarkets. Moving around by car is a matter of course. There are some millionaire mansions in Barra.
Managing this project with the utmost care, Ventrue surfboard entrepreneur Vitor de Moura has things well in hand. Being an excellent surfer in his own right, he likes to keep away from Ajé Olo (imagine!) and Toreador surfers. He undertakes a lot of his business right there on the beach, but no one dares crossing him. In that region of the city, with such a strong personality, de Moura is arguably the most respected vampire.
Around the isolated areas, the slums are arriving. For the first time they are already down on the ground, but distances are still long. Everybody knows this won't last, though. Some Brujah tell of having stayed there for a while, but it's likelier they've been on upper reaches of the West Zone, which is linked with Barra's southern end by a number of roads and small neighborhoods. The city's southernmost end is near, as one long avenue after the other follows the long coastline until they arrive on the Rio-Santos highway. All along this way, the pattern of isolated condominiums and huge entertainment or educational or nutritional complexes makes the region almost another city.
The sunlight still bathes all kine from the same angles, every day.
FAVELAS ( box)
A typical 'favela' is housed atop a hill. The majority in Rio is huge. A variety of materials are employed in their building. Most better houses are made of bare brick, because the finishing is usually too expensive. House sizes can vary wildly, but the old zinc shantytowns are common almost only in the West Zone, in Maré and a few other lamentable instances. The 'favelas' still house the most abject poverty, but they also have different social situations in their universes. The best known such popular communities spread across large mountainsides or hilltops. There are some 'favelas' with a thriving economy, their truly miserable days long gone. Today, in the larger ones, it is possible to have a whole professional life, never leaving it. And no relation to the drug trade.
'Favelas' have a very autonomous life. The neighborhood associations, the churches, most bars and stores, are traditional. However, the small time drug lords have enormous pull in their regions. Not only because they pay the 'soldiers' the highest wages anyone has ever heard about, but also because they usually make large contributions to the community's day-to-day life and welfare.
Organized crime, in these regions, is the education many youngsters bring home after a first term in prison, for a minor offence. The two main organizations in prison are the Red Commando and the Third Commando. They spill out into society, but their main headquarters are the prison. Each group has its own territory marking graffitti, and Red Commando members place a wooden cross atop a hill they command. Their motto is 'Peace, Justice and Freedom' and they control a far bigger number of slums than anybody else. The main force guiding them is an alliance between Madame Sat, who does it through his Childe, Ismael and the mysterious Ajé Olo.
In very many 'favelas', the light and the water are not paid for, since the region has never been served by a single pipe or lamp from the official net. The locals just create their own ducts and electrical links from the the nearest official examples down in the asphalt. These linkages are of course protected by the drug trade.
One very important space in a 'favela' is the court. The bigger the community, the bigger the court. It's normally used by the locals for sports and also for the samba and funk balls on weekends. When Carnaval approaches, the courts become a general rehearsal area, for the local samba school. Visitors from the South Zone are also common around this time of the year. These regions have been officially declared Elysium by all members of the Treaty of Rio, since tourism rests heavily on the ability to get visitors what they want.
Right now, the situation in most of these 'informal districts', the 'favelas', is very tense, since the Federal and the Santate Governments have decided to crack down on the drug traffic through the small slum dwelling dealers. Among Kindred, no one knows exactly who is causing this, and the events are so sudden there's no reaction just yet. Those who do know are keeping to themselves... and the events have started just this week.
ELYSIUM (BOX )
Here are some of the most important and representative Elysium in the city. There aren't enough Kindred in Rio to cover its whole territory with big domains. As a result, the number of Elysium is enormous. These are some:
The Municipal Theatre: Dating back to the Pereira Passos reform, it is located in Cinelândia, by the Center's south end. It is the most elegant building in the city, and its precarious situation in recent years is a reflex of the general situation. Even being the Toreador Patrcio's haven, the theatre is on chronic dire straits. Very prim and well kept, it nevertheless is always late to pay the orchestra. International stars are well paid, though, directly by the Mayor.
The Parks of Catacumba and Arpoador: These two parks are the only places in the city where music is systematically played for free, by the best available professionals. One park is by the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, near the shortcut to Copacabana. The other is in Arpoador, beside the fort's reduced area. Some of these concerts go long into the night, and Kindred have taken to respect them also when they take place on one of the big beaches, at night.
All the Samba Schools' Courts: Down in the 'asphalt' or up in the hill, the courts are off-limits.
Sugar Loaf: This traditional tourist sight still offers a very impressive view of the bay. Only in recent years has it become an Elysium, because many feel the view may be on the way to extinction, and mortals deserve to see it while it's there.
The City's Museums: The National Historic Museum, in Praça XV and in Quinta da Boa Vista (here installed on one of the Emperor's old residences); the Museum of Modern Art, the National Library, The Beaux-Arts Museum, all in the region of Cinelândia; the Chácara do Céu and the Laurinda Santos Lobo Cultural Center in SantaTeresa; the Indian Museum in Botafogo and the Folklore Museum in Glória .The Jardim Botânico in the neighborhood of the same name. Very specially, the Museum of the Republic, in Rua do Catete, where Getúlio committed suicide, and where it's said his ghost appears. Lately, he seems to be frantic to impart some deadly information about strange doings in Flamengo. He just doesn't know who to, yet.
THE RACK (box)
Rio has many different racks, and some of these don't even know about the other. Below one can find examples of the main nightlife.
The Sambadrome: During Carnaval, this complex very possibly becomes the biggest rack in the world. The spectacle of the Samba Schools is huge, lavish and lasts all night long. The audience, beginning with the Authorities, sambas like crazy, too, even more so when some foreign personality is visiting the country. Kindred enjoy the whole party so much because they can openly gorge themselves on blood and have it all taken as a joke.
Asa Branca: This big nightclub-cum-restaurant is located in front of the Lapa Aqueduct and is meant to evoke the region's old bohemian climate all the while modernizing it. Romantic crooners perform there throughout the weekend, and the couples dance cheek to cheek. Madame Sat discreetly comes in there every Friday Night. A selected few seek his advice there, and they don't let on they know who he is.
Circo Voador (Flying Circus) : Well known small pop-rock concert arena, this traditional alternative space features from heavy-metal to tame Brazilian Pop for couples to dance cheek-to-cheek. It is literally a circus, also housing a number of community activities bettering the life of those around them in run-down Lapa, a neighborhood in the city's old center. Also under Mme Sat's protection.
Canecão (Big Mug): Located right on the entrance to the second tunnel to Copacabana, it is a traditional beer and concert hall. Movement has improved a lot recently because of Rio-Sul Shopping Mall, which now shares with Caneco the condition of beacon to the area. Its neighbor offspring is the CAVERNA CLUB, an old rambling schoolhouse by day with a big court, which has become the city's 'in' place for new Heavy Metal bands.
Imperator: In the fifties, it was the biggest movie theater in the North Zone neighborhood of Meier. Now it is a concert hall, functioning as a North Zone answer to Caneco.
Metropolitan: In Barra de Tijuca, the Metropolitan completes the trio of huge concert halls in the city. The last two are Das Mercês' province.
Help: The only sea-facing nightclub in Copacabana, this place caters to the youngest and most enthusiastic patrons. There one can find the youngest girls out for a thrill with anyone able to bank her night...
Galeria Alaska and Basement: The gay gallery is an entire rack all on its own, and its patrons used to be very clearly exclusively so. However, recently one of the nightclubs in the gallery has changed its orientration to a alternative and heavy-metal rock club, and both crowds seem to get along nicely. In a show of democratic spirit, the headbangers don't attack any gays there. Located in the end of Copacabana, it contributes heavily to its surreal climate.
Jazzmania: In the very beginning of Ipanema beach, this is the place where musicians come to play for good money, and the patrons are quite respectable.
Mistura Fina (Fine Mixture) : Very classy jazz bar in Lagoa. It's where high level musicians jam with each other after their professional engagements.
Antonius: Mostly a restaurant for the truly powerful and rich, the Lagoa based place also has a very selective dance floor. Antônio das Mercês and Alan Boggart sometimes confer there.
Hippopotamus, Resumo da Ópera, Mikonos and Vogue: Down by Lagoa or in its intersecion with Ipanema and Leblon by the extreme south of Jardim de Alah, they're touted as some of the best nightclubs in town. Frequented by some of the richest in the city.
Banana Café: On the street level, great pizza, great drinks. Upstairs, one of the most expensive dance floors in town. Perfect if you're a yuppie looking for a TV starlet. All of the above are Artur Alencastro's turf.
Dr. Smith: Fashionable and modern patrons flock to that place. One can find some pretty exotic drinks in the first section's very creative bar. Behind it, the roomy dancefloor has walls with blown up panels from comics such as 'The Killing Joke', 'The Fall of Murdock', 'Heartbreak Soup' and 'Elektra Lives'. Located in Botafogo, almost on the entrance to Copacabana.
Sweet Home: It's the slick version of Dr. Smith, for modern and radical people with more than a little money in their pockets. Also down by Lagoa, a decidedly upscale part of town. These days, it's all the rage among TV notables.
Garage Art Club: Undisputedly the city's foremost Heavy Metal club, it is located in the Praça da Bandeira (Flag Square), the official meeting place between Center and North Zone. Here Metal rules, and non-noise loving kine or Kindred are ill-advised to go there. In the night, it is not very safe to leave from there, and one's eyes must be well pealed.
Nightclub Cowboy: Located in Praça Mauá, this nightclub is typical of the district. It has a very explicit sex show like the ones in the beginning of Copacabana. In this region, the patrons are mostly sailors and things can get really rowdy. The Praça Mauá rack had its heyday in the forties, during wartime, when lots of American sailors would come ashore on leave in Rio.
O Bohêmio (The Bohemian) : By day, it's a health-food restaurant, but on Monday nights the Cinelândia located place turns into the city's only and truly surreal Transformist lip-synch /Dance temple. Patrons watch transvestites lip-synch their favorite artists, all the while dancing to their music. The night is always hosted by Laura de Vison, a really fat old hag type who has her ' breasts ' routinely juggled by nylon wielding helpers perched on the upgoing stairway. Thus the night begins. Another Ducasse hangout.
After the first French invasions, Estácio de Sá realized he needed another place to set up the Colony's seat of Government. A place with a view to the bay. Mount Castelo (Mount Castle). The city radiated mainly from there, but also from Urca. Rio's Center is so called not because of actual Geography, but rather History. Yes, it has always been, logically enough, the city's downtown.
The Old Center
The first neighborhood readily visible in the Center is Lapa. Coming from Glória, one suddenly is out in the open staring at a huge aqueduct sitting on century old arches. The little trolley, coming from downtown proper into SantaTeresa, in the hill, crosses right over the two streets that form the axis of this old neighborhood : Av.Mem de Sá and Rua do Riachuelo. They go long and straight until the North Zone.
Lapa is one of the very few regions where the city's History is still visible through its architecture. Century old houses still stand, even if under very bad conditions. It is, naturally, Mme. Sat's home region, and these days her haven most assuredly is there. Throughout the years, she has ensured the survival of the region's identity, as opposed to many of her much more powerful enemies who have seen their History go under without a sigh. The wily vampire already knows the Army occupation was caused by Ventrue from Brasilia, but can sense something more powerful is guiding them. She will take steps and has talked to Ernac about this. They want to confirm their suspicions before acting.
Right after the Arches, there is a street kid charity center where the kids go and eat supper. As a result, the number of muggings in the region has gone up sharply, and in the military operation there is talk of putting a tank there. But defying Mme Sat and the neighboring Ajé Olo is a tough task for anyone. Not that any of these Kindred know about Bola in the midst of the kids.
Transvestites roam the region behind the Flying Circus and in front of the first buildings. Here, as well as in Glória, they put on quite a show, in their vying for customers. No woman prostitute is allowed in this 'belt'.
As one continues going down Mem de Sá street with the flow of cars, the locals already call it Bairro de Fátima, but the true neighborhood of this name is a little way ahead yet. Mme Sat holds the same sway as near the arches. The two streets wind down in surprisingly residential fashion, for an area with such a bohemian tradition. Of course, there are a number of restaurants and nightclubs, beginning with Asa Branca by the arches .The two streets go past the entrance to Bairro de Fátima, a pleasant little neighborhood between Lapa and Santa Teresa. They go on to the Red Cross Square, near a number of the city's hospitals, composing a heavy if dignified atmosphere. The little square itself and the surrounding neighborhood are truly decadent, a fact which only makes the big hospital buildings seem all the more imposing.
Bandits and the Police
The Prison facility at Frei Caneca street signals the end of the region of Fátima and the beginning of Estácio, to one side, and the Cidade Nova (New City), to the other. The whole region is a hive for Police activity, housing no less than five stations or offices of some type, counting from near the arches toward the North Zone. Also, the Legal-Medicine institute is located there and continually overflows with corpses that come in much quicker than the institution can process. It's one of Ducasse's favorite haunts. Sometimes he sees Lílian and other Malkavians there. These days, Ducasse is a busybody, doing his end of the job.
The prison is Ajé Olo territory, as most prisoners are black and poor (like in any prison). They defend the rear end for Sat, and the wall they form is generally known as unbreachable. Only outside does Malkavian influence assert itself. As a result, this and the adjoining regions of Saúde and Gamboa are among the city's very bleakest. Newly freed ex-prisoners leave without a second look, as opposed to establishing themselves as fishermen on Ilha Grande penal colony grounds in the middle of the ocean.
When one keeps going straight ahead, the district of Estácio signals the end of the old Center and the beginning of the North Zone.
Santa Teresa is the single biggest neighborhood linked to the old center. It stands to its right, perched atop the mountain of the same name. Famous for the colder climate, the lyrical bohemian tradition and the trolley coming from the business district, it's a historical area of the city. Because the soil of the mountain it rests on can't hold very tall buildings, most houses and short buildings have been preserved and are still residential. 'Downstairs', the wide mountain neighborhood has access through Lapa, Bairro de Fátima, Red Cross Square, Saúde, in the old center; through Glória, Catete, Laranjeiras and Cosme Velho in the South Zone; through Catumbi in the North Zone. Santa Teresa stretches for as long as the old center neighborhoods put together, and is much wider. Also, it goes up for a very long while, making for a very big region, bigger at least than Urca.
The further up one goes, the better the air becomes. It is one of the least polluted districts, and the fact that three very big slums grow on its sides doesn't make it any less charming, however more dangerous. The 'favelas' of Coroa (Crown) Nova Cintra and Escondidinho (Little Hideaway) contribute with their lore to the region's activity, but largely keep to their own communities.
Santa Teresa is organized around a single long winding street that goes relentlessly up the mountain and from which most others branch out. It has its own distinctive rack, as the local health food restaurants become bars and musicians play in them at night. The world famous Bar do Samuca attracts artists from all walks of life, and he buys their work for beer, sometimes. The walls are totally taken by the drawings and paintings.
Antoine of the Tremere has his haven nearby, so he circulates in and out of he 'favelas'. He's either with his Ajé Olo friends or in his house. Totally oblivious to this contemporary bohemian activity, D.Urraca de Souza Falco also has her haven in Santa Teresa. Only, it's a little museum put up by her family in a better part of the district. She hardly stays in the region when not in her little fortified abode. Laura, a Salubri, has her haven with Antoine, and keeps a low profile. Hyeronimus, a renegade mage for the Order of Hermes, lives near the Silvestre, the uppermost part of Santa Teresa, which explains why the neighborhood has such a strong mystical aura.
The Silvestre is a scenic walk one can do through the greenery, with a great view of the city spreading ahead. Joggers often start there and go down to Cosme Velho through Paineiras Road, breathing thin air and exercising a lot. The Malkavian influenced Firemen station and the few schools near the entrance to Silvestre inspire calm. The region is becoming an Elysium.
Engulfing the old center and three fourths of the elevated Santa Teresa district, there is what today one simply calls 'Center.' It consists of the city's business district, superposed on the city's most historical region. It has been massively torn down and put up again, since the time of Pereira Passos, but preserves traces of what it has been.
The most radical change Passos achieved in that region was the substitution of the Castelo mount by a flat downtown area. The region is still called Castelo, though. It's where one sees some of the most sophisticated business buildings in Rio. The Brazilian Exxon HQ building and the American Consulate occupy the adjoining beach area, giving it a distinctly cosmopolitan flavor. The sixties' styles skyscrapers stand next to the heavy, older French-style buildings in Cinelândia. It is in one of this region's very few residential buildings that Ventrue antitribu Felix Fanse has his haven. From Castelo he can easily and discreetly exert his Mafia style influence, including over the CIA.
Cinelândia and the Public Walk are the Center's main bohemian area. The five movie theaters, surrounded by bars and restaurants of all levels and also by department stores, make also for a big commercial area. It forms with Copacabana, Ipanema, and Tijuca the collective of the city's high profile commercial neighborhoods. In front of Cinelândia, the public walk is a big bucolic French style garden, surviving older times. It acts as a buffer between Cinelândia and the much more modern gardens on its other side, framing the expressways to the South Zone. On weekends, collectors of the most diversified things gather in the Public Walk. It's one of the favorite regions of the Ravnos Wlaio in the entire city. If found there and approached with the right barter, he can furnish more some very collectible information, too.
Cinelândia is also an enormous square, which doesn't face the Public Walk, but the main downtown Avenue, Rio Branco. In this area are located the National Library, the City Council, the Beaux-Arts Museum and the Municipal Theatre. This last one is an old imponent French Style building like the rest of those, but much more beautiful. This opera theatre houses the city's most important international attractions in the areas of opera, dance, and erudite music. Patricio of the Toreador has his haven there and sees to it that the chaotic urban situation around the theatre and its companion buildings doesn't infiltrate them.
On the other side of the expressways that start in the end of Rio Branco Avenue, one can see the gardens continue. They house a number of public sports facilities on their way by the seaside. They also house the small Santos Dumont airport, which these days is almost a consortium of private airfields for small planes. Beside it, there is the huge, epic Museum of Modern Arts, naturally an Elysium.
Avenida Rio Branco, Av. Pres. Antônio Carlos and Primeiro de Março Street constitute this modern region's main circulation backbones. The two latter ones are the same straight line. When the Avenue arrives at the Praça XV's inner end, bringing the traffic from the South Zone, it changes its name to the second and becomes thinner. On Praça XV, there is the Paço Imperial, and it starkly contrasts with all the truly modern skyscapers dating to the eighties and late seventies. It was under Primeiro de Março street, going from the Paço to the baroque church also still standing on the other side of the street, that Felipe and Yolanda of the Toreador had their last argument. Few other buildings from that time remain.
However, the old churches are almost all still standing, and the streets haven't seen much change in their configuration either. So, all the way from Praça XV by the ocean, to the Largo da Carioca, there is only one avenue, Admiral Barroso, which becomes Chile Avenue and arrives at the old center. The rest of the streets are carriage-thin, and these days, with a few exceptions, cars are not allowed in any more.
Largo da Carioca, de S. Francisco and Tiradentes Square are less well-kept regions to the left of Rio Branco Av enue, on the way to the Saara and the old center. In this region there are some theaters and a part of the Federal University, the History, Philosophy and Sociology branches, appropriately housed in an erstwhile insane asylum...
Saara and the Way to the North Zone
Saara is a maze of tiny streets that goes from the Center to Cidade Nova in absolutely personal fashion. It is the only neighborhood in the world in the world where Arabs and Jews live in perfect harmony, sharing the control of an ample commerce in fabrics, grain, old fashioned home equipments and whatnot in general. Kassad and Fadária, two Assamite antitribu, have their haven there and usually don't mind other discreet hunters in their area.
The topmost and one of two ends of the 'Center' is in the Mauá Square docks. There the few tourist ships arrive, nowadays. Their passengers marvel at the pink skyscraper (in purest 90's style) that dominates the region. It is an entrepreneurial center where Felix Fanse is quite at home. The region also houses the old National Radio building, where Getúlio Vargas used to come and speak to the country. An old inner city bus station completes the area.
Praça Mauá has its very distinctive rack. Here, a number of nightclubs cater to the sailors coming down from the ships. Ducasse still shows up there, but as he has no intention of thinking about departures, he tends to stay away these days. Also in Mauá Square, the Federal Police's passport division completes the district's cosmopolitan inclination. Here, Felix Fanse operates direcly under Alan Boggart's orientation, so they control all arrivals and departures.
Behind it, squats the colonial monastery of São Bento and the enormous private elementary and high school the priests run to this day, the Colégio de São Bento. The gold inlaid cathedral is the biggest baroque church in the city. The hill used to have a majestic view of the area, but little by little a wall of of office buildings sprang up from the monastery's very sidewalk, and cut that view away. There is a huge avenue going to Novo Rio bus station and further up north. This avenue is lined with dock warehouses under tight Ventrue and Toreador control. It takes one to the North Zone through S. Cristovo, its less pleasant entranceway.
Avenida Presidente Vargas is a truly enormous avenue that starts at a corner of Rio Branco and goes, straight as an arrow, until Flag Square, the North Zone's main limit on the entire Center region. On its southern end, near the top Rio Branco avenue, it houses Candelária cathedral, simply the biggest religious space in all of Rio. This avenue was built in the forties and is the widest in the Center. It skirts the Center (business district), the Saara, all of the old center the Cidade Nova. On its other side, a string of office buildings gives way to bigger and bigger buildings, such as public libraries and schools or Santate companies' public offices, the further north one goes. Slowly, but surely, Cidade Nova is being revitalized by the presence of the Post Office HQ and the City Administration HQ. The Telematics Building, now under construction, will finish doing for this end of the Center what was done for Mauá Square.