South to Rio!!

Trip Start Nov 22, 2005
Trip End Dec 02, 2005

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Where I stayed

Flag of Brazil  , Rio de Janeiro,
Wednesday, November 2, 2005

We arrive in Rio midday, where the heat attacks as we come out of the terminal. We hire a taxi driver by the name of Tulio, who tells us everthing about the city. We drive through the 10 million plus population, with all its heaving traffic and rush hour madness, over an immense bridge over the dazzling harbor, with towering mountains dwarfing the city, reaching up into the clouds and seeing Jesus himself gazing over the city. We are in Rio!! Our hotel is a modern boutique inn across the street from Leblon Beach, with an imposing rock mountain ending this stretch of golden sand. Since there are 3 of us, we split the otherwise expensive room rate and are rewarded with an entire suite overlooking Rio's famous beaches. The view out our hotel window is of Leblon, Ipanamema, and Copacabana's glorious lengths of wide sandy beaches, where it seems the entire city is hanging out on this weekday afternoon. In the mornings we have a light breakfast and a stroll on the beach, and fair warning, we spent the entire first afternoon in the sunshine. I paid for this when I went for a walk in the cool water. I thought I applied enough sunscreen to my skin, having prepped by spending two weeks in Florida. But I got the worst sunburn. My shins turned as purple as my sarong. I don't know if it was the south of the equator sun, having my feet in the water, or if my sunscreen was out of date. I guess the reflection from the water onto my shins, but believe me, you don't want this problem! When I went to buy new sunscreen, Brazilians are very astute. The price goes up for each increase in SPF. Other than the sunburn, Rio is happening. On the beaches, you don't need to bring anything with you but your suit, sunscreen, a hat and cash. There are lawn chair men who will rent you a chair. There are towel men to sell you a towel. Actually, you could go to the beach nude and buy your suit there too. Men will come around to you as you lounge in your chair, and ask if you want something to eat, and make it for you right on their handy dandy baby grill. Another guy will show up with a cold beer. At this time in our dollar's existence, this was a fantastic deal. I think a beer was about 70 cents! And boy did it taste sweet on a hot Rio afternoon. The waves are spectacular, and probably dangerous. I stayed in the water for hours - hmm I suppose another reason for the sunburn - but not really as it was just my shins. Nighttime in Rio, was well, what do you think?? Sublime. The food is divine and plentiful in the beach area. Obviously this is not the case in the favellas, which rise up along the hillsides hovering over the city. Meat eaters gorge on Brazilian BBQ that was unlike anything I've ever seen. My carnivorous friends kept looking over and laughing at me, perhaps expecting me to be sick. But a veteran traveler never waivers from soaking up the sight of local culture, especially when it is out of my comfort zone!! I just kept excusing myself to go to the equally extravagant salad bar, trying hard to explain to my smiling, beautiful waiters (we finally learned that everyone in Brazil is exquisitely good looking, which explains why this country is the genetic headquarters for supermodels) that I didn't eat the dripping, never ending morsels of meat they hung off skewers in front of my face. Maybe because of this inexplicable behavior, or much more likely because one of my companions wore an extremely low-cut blouse, (hey, when in Rio!) the three of us accepted an invitation "backstage" to tour the kitchens. We met all the staff, got invited to several parties, and decided the maitre 'd had the hots for our friend. Except we did take note of all the very young female companions (dripping in gold) to the middle to older aged men. We saw this over and over, and finally just decided that sex is a huge part of the culture. We really got clued into this trend when two hot, gorgeous - I'm talking underwear model looks - underage males (if they were seventeen?) approached us on the beach. These boys weren't selling beer!!
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