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Dreamers flock to Rio: A Sarajevan learns to samba in Brazil

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• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, The views expressed are the author's own.

British train robber Ronald Biggs made Rio de Janeiro famous as a hideaway in the 1970s. To support himself and his family, he used to hold barbecues for tourists, at his Santa Teresa home.

Nowadays foreigners arrive in droves, armed with their own money to invest. They also have ideas and business experience. And they aren’t so much into backyard barbecue as tapasburritosdiner fare, or gelato— novidades for many locals.

Yet Rio feeds all kinds of appetites. RioRealblog’s first profiled foreigner bearing carioca dreams is more hungry for rhythm and melody, than for food.

Born in Sarajevo, raised partly in Kuwait, Devla Imperatrix (her real middle name, honoring the Karl Orff opera Carmen Burana) speaks no less than eight languages.

After years of dancing and teaching flamenco in Europe, Devla came to Rio with samba in mind. To her surprise, a samba school existed by the name Imperatriz Leopoldinense, or Leopoldian Empress. Devla had no doubt her destiny lay in the North Zone Ramos neighborhood.


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