Josh and I are at the airport, awaiting our flight out to NYC. We spent the last day of our trip in Rio, enoying the beach and the gawking for one more day. The drive back was very easy (Gabe) and returning the car and checking in at the airport was a breeze (Gabe).
I have some mixed feelings about our trip back to NYC. On the one hand, I am excited to be moving to New York, and looking forward to the thrill and challenges that await. Not exactly in opposition to these feelings, I am also a little wistful about ending this part of the amazing journey I have been so fortunate to have been on these past 27 months. This is really the end of a particular chapter in my life and the beginning of another. It was especially nice sharing the last couple of weeks with my cousin Josh, acting as a kind of bridge between these two worlds.
With the weather improving to give us a hot day with a clear view, we decided to do the touristy thing and take the tram to the highest lookout point in Rio, where the Christ the Redeemer statue is located. It is a pretty impressive statue and view of the city, and pictures really do not do justice to the sense of the city one gets when up there. On the tramway on the way down, we met a fun, large, and loud American woman named Peggy, who clearly had our number a few minutes into the trip. She started to break the ice with us by talking about the Bush shoe throwing incident, and then moving on to how much she was missing The Daily Show while she and her husband were on their South American cruise. A few minutes later, she came closer and in what was a more subdued tone told how great a “fag hag” (her words) she had been in previous times and how she missed hanging out with her gay friends. We were so taken with her we had our picture taken together at the bottom of the tramway on the way out.
So we finally had a day pretty much filled with sun. Josh and I hit the beach with several new friends, enjoying the weather, water and view.
Before coming to Rio, Josh and I had both been advised many times (given the economic disparities in this part of the world) to be on the lookout for handsome men plying the world’s oldest profession. It seems that there is a fair amount of prostitution going on, and we should never be sure that advances are genuine. This of course has caused us to lose a small amount of self esteem anytime a cute guy looks our way. As a sad (but, we feel necessary) consequence, we have unceremoniously decided that any man sporting a perfect body and killer face must indeed be a hooker. As there are many such strapping devils out and about (at least in Ipanema), Josh and I have made a small game out of bellowing out the word “Whore!” any time either of us spots one of these beauties. It just makes us feel a little better.
– Maybe it is the weather or time of year, but beach culture here seems a lot like…beach culture in a lot of places. Ipanema and Copacabana are great and all, but I was led to believe that life on the beach was everything here, and that it was quite a bit different from other places. To me, it is quite similar to places in Mexico, Florida, and the French Riviera. I would love to come back at carnival time and see what effect it has on the beach life.
– It is shockingly difficult to find a restaurant for breakfast in areas that should be crawling with them, like Ipanema. There are several dinner places, just not very much for breakfast. I guess people are still recovering at that hour or making something light at home.
-Speaking of restaurants, there seem to be mostly three kinds: Italian, sushi, and stand up at the counter snack places. Outside of that, we have seen exactly one all you can eat meat place.
– Although I have always heard that Copacabana is not as nice as Ipanema, we took a walk over there today and found it to be every bit as pleasant and in some ways better served than Ipanema.
It has been fairly rainy since coming to Rio (although not as bad as we feared from the weather reports), and this morning the fog is so bad we can’t see mountains and hills that are quite close to us. Looking through the information on Rio on the internet, you realize to what a great degree this city relies on good weather and views for a large part of its attractions. After all, what is a trip to the top of Sugarloaf without something to look at? One of the guys we met in a club last night told us that Rio just isn’t itself lately with the weather, and that people are staying in and cocooning while waiting out the rain. Rain or no, I think we will try to visit some of the historic parts of the city today, as well as Copacabana.
The boys from Ipanema go walking.
We are totally loving Rio, even though we haven’t left Ipanema (and to be honest, haven’t even gone very far in the neighborhood). Our apartment is very well located and quite nice, a two bedroom, two bathroom affair in the heart of Ipanema. We went out to a small club with amazing music and energy last night called Galeria Cafe. It was really packed and oh so flirty and it seems that there is more public kissing here than in any other place I have ever been. I think a heavy lip lock often takes the place of a handshake here in Rio. Josh and I danced and danced and before we knew it, it was 5am. Today we eventually woke up and went to the beach, and although it was fairly overcast, we had a very pleasant afternoon, watching all the men go passing and saying “ah”…
Josh and I just had a rather harrowing adventure trying to drive into Rio. A number of unfortunate coincidences conspired to drive a wedge of fear and loathing into us. First, the weather was horrible, with a relentless rain most of the way. Second, the strange deviation that the road took had us ending up in a not so nice part of Rio, a problem compounded by the fact that there were suddenly no signs with any recognizable place names to tell us where to go. The coup-de-grace was some of the worst traffic in human history (making us long for LA), allowing us to move at only a glacial pace, and causing Josh multiple cramping with the car’s manual transmission. In one of our darkest moments, I called our friend Anderson who gave us some tips for finding our way based on the signs we were seeing (“whatever you do, DON’T go to Niteroi!”) and after an excruciating amount of time and a good deal of luck, we finally ended up at our rental flat in Ipanema. Now that we are here, Josh and I are very happy indeed, and are once again on speaking terms. We are now going to treat ourselves to a fancy meal.