Freguesia, Ilha do Governador, Rio, Brazil

(Rio District) Although I (Karla Evelise Cabral) was born in the Bairro da Tijuca neighborhood, very close to Maracanã, I grew up in the charming Freguesia neighborhood of Ilha do Governador, where my maternal grandfather was a city guard and where my mother and her sisters grew up.

I grew up in this incredible place, my son was born and raised there, and now my granddaughter is growing up in the same place.

In this neighborhood, from kindergarten to the old CA, I attended a private school called Colégio Freitas, which no longer exists, but I was able to learn to read and write and finish elementary school at one of the oldest public schools on Ilha do Governador, Escola Rotary.

The director of this school was a lady of a certain age, and Dona Cortês was a true legend at the school.

She made a sound with her mouth that was reminiscent of air escaping from a pressure cooker, and for generations it was not forgotten by any of the students who studied there, and that sound made us shudder.

It's worth remembering that she was a teacher, and then principal, even at the time when my mother was studying there, when I went there she was still principal, so you can get an idea of how she worked there until she reached a very advanced age.

Freguesia was the neighborhood where my parents met, and in my childhood it was one of the most popular beaches in the region for bathing, even by people from neighboring neighborhoods, because of the clear, calm waters of Guanabara Bay, which in my childhood was full of life, such as seahorses, shellfish, crabs, dolphins and colorful little fish.

Since it was the bus company's terminus until the mid-2000s, entire families from all over Rio and the Baixada Fluminense would travel there on weekends to take a refreshing dip in the sea.

Built in the 18th century and listed by the Historical and Cultural Heritage Institute (IPHAN) in 1938, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Help makes Calcutta Square even more beautiful.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, the old cemetery of Ilha do Governador operated on its right-hand side, which was transferred to the Cacuia neighborhood in 1904.

In 1950, a larger church was built right behind the Sanctuary, the Church of Our Lady of Help, where the functionality of both buildings has been preserved to this day.

In front of the Shrine and around Calcutta Square, there are several imperial palm trees that frame the place, making the square one of the most pleasant spots on Ilha do Governador.

This square was the venue for the June festivities and the competitions of the "quadrilhas" so famous and eagerly awaited every year. The super colorful chintz dresses, patched pants and "checkered" shirts served as costumes for the participants in the June quadrilhas, and the party took place right there in the square, strategically decorated with colorful flags and full of stalls with typical seasonal treats.

The story of the girl who was going to marry a young man at gunpoint with her father, and when it was time for the wedding, she ran off with someone else, causing quite a stir, was told in a humorous staging by the dancers.

And how can we forget the various carnival parades where we would go with our parents in full costume and the various ball-battling groups that made the children apprehensive and cling to their parents.
The "bate bolas" with their identical costumes, groups of more than 20 people, men and women, with their masks, their colorful dresses and capes, a doll in their mouths and the dreaded plastic ball attached to a rope thrown firmly to the ground, making a noise that gave us goose bumps, but without harming us!

On weekend evenings, the waterfront is home to the many restaurants with live music that marked the 80s generation, where queues of cars jammed the area as they drove slowly past the crowds that flocked to the various kiosks, where flirting was almost everyone's aim, or to swim in the sea at night to cool off on hot summer nights.

On sunny Sunday mornings, the place was very busy, with fishmongers on the pier offering their freshly caught prey, people coming out of Mass, queues at the bakeries for bread for the family breakfast and lots of people at the neighborhood supermarket securing meat and beer for the Sunday barbecue, as well as the many bathers with their buoys arriving for a day of swimming.

Freguesia is truly the best place for a child to grow up, no wonder we've been in this neighborhood for five generations! Which, by the way, is a characteristic of Ilha do Governador, a totally family neighborhood, where the vast majority of people know each other.

Freguesia - Photos

More about the author 
Karla Evelise - Published titles and biography


Rating: 5 stars
1 vote

Add comment


There are no comments yet.