...the hottest spot south of havana...

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
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Flag of Brazil  ,
Wednesday, December 6, 2006

"Ok Big Man.  Here's your chance.  For redemption.  A chance to prove wrong a lifetime's cynicism and lack of faith.  Mine that is.  Don't let me down.  Ready?  Do it..."

I look down at my bottle.  It shakes lightly in the wind.  It remains transparent.  I unscrew the lid - taste?  Water. 

"C'mon dude.  You're better than that.  Give a poor backpacker a break.  Wine's expensive in Brazil - it's not Argentina you know.  You're meant to be the redeemer.  I have faith in you..."
A moment's patience.  Nada.  Bottle of water still water.  And os it remained, even following numerous attempts, strategic modifications to coerce him into demonstrating his ability for the miraculous.  I even threatened to turn to Allah, until I figured that, of all the Gods, Allah was probably not the God to turn to if I wanted my water turned into wine.  And all the while, the big man stood, arms outstretched, looking down at me with an expression which seemed to me to say 'What?  What do you want from me?  I'm not Jarvis... but I have the same initials...'
 
Whether you're one of those people that constantly contemplates 'What would Jesus do?' or otherwise, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, magnificent upon the peak of Rio's Corcovado, is a moving monument.  He rises above Rio, inspiringly high amongst the clouds, his arms stretched in both a humble and humbling stance - to those of faith - the redeemer of all:  of all the notorious crime and sin in Rio's slums and ghettos - 'the favellas'; of all of the working girls that fill the Copacabana night; of the ultra rich ruling class dining in their mansions whilst many of their neighbours starve.  When not shrouded with clouds, he is visible from almost everywhere in Rio, looking down from heaven, perhaps a beacon of hope for all in this stunning city - from the elite to the not so fortunate.  All except for your poor backpacker that is.  I didn't want wine anyway...
 
I should have known better with the whole water into wine thing.  Really.  What was I thinking?  I mean, he is a Brazilian Jesus after all.  If I had asked him to turn water into a caipirinha, I think I may have had more success.  Caipirinhas in Brazil?  Deadly.  Fuck off deadly.  But of so tasty.  A whole heap of Cachaca - the local sugar cane spirit - mixed with lime, some sugar and who knows what else.  Brilliant.  Brazil has an interesting bevarage culture.  Things that just arent't common in Australia.  Perhaps they should be.  Coconut water?  Awesome. Straight from the coconut.  Custard apple juice?  Sound random but dominates.  And a whole plethoa of juices from fruits that I've never heard of or seen before.  Brazilian juice bars?  Out of control.  On every corner.  Brilliant.  Do it...
 
It's hard to know who the song was referring to.  'The girl from ipanema' that is.  "Tall and tanned and young and lovely".  She was probably from Ipanema, but that doesn't help much.  How do you distinguish between all of the girls that fit this description on the beach?  Consistent with the reputation that precedes it, Brazil's beaches are full of hot chicks.  When the sun is out, the beaches, the famous Copacabana and Ipanema in particular, become a haven for the young and beautiful, the bikinis out, the caiprinhas flowing, the beach volleyball, soccer, frisbee all dominating the beach landscape.  Spectacular enough on its own - an absolutely incredible sight with the dramatic sugar loaf and Jesus providing a stunning backdrop...
 
Rio is, undoubtedly, one of the most spectacularly beautiful cities i have been to - the beaches, the landscape, the climate, the people - all combine to create a city that, aesthetically, has few peers.  Add to that a culture that is famously unique - the wonderful freedom of the liberal, samba dancing, football loving people - and you have an ever-fascinating city able to overcome the many dangers and concers that I initially had on arriving in Rio.  Unfortunately, due to my security concerns, CameraMasterCamera ventured out little during my time in Rio.  However, images, including awesome images of a game at the Maracana, will long live in the memory. 
 
So, to the Top 5.  Well, Brazil's culture.  Yes - as I've said - unique.  An envy of a lot of the world in many respects.  But, given this culture, and the characteristics that it is honed, you can easily find yourself a little embarassed, humiliated.  From my observations and experiences during the last few days, I've formulated a few rules I like to call "Unless you want to be humiliated in Brazil, don't...".  Here are the Top 5:

5.  Unless you want to be humiliated in Brazil, don't drink too many caipirinhas.  As I've said - they're like death.  Of the devil.  Trust me...
4.  Unless you want to be humiliated in Brazil, don't go strutting around the beach with no shirt on if you are a fat dude wearing Speedos.  For the sake of both yourself and the mental wellbeing of those around.  You don't quite compare to the beautiful people around...  Just don't - ok?
3.  Unless you want to be humiliated in Brazil, don't try and speak Portuguese.  Are you fluent?  No?  Then don't.  As much as I like to speak the vernacular, Portuguese is a crazy language, with crazy intonations and pronunciations and just leads to humilitation.  Since when was it so difficult to say 'hamburger'?
2.  Unless you want to be humiliated in Brazil, don't go anywhere near a football.  Consider it a death trap.  I don't care if you are Zidane.  The old, fat dude on the beach will still make you look a fool.  My tip:  If a ball comes near you - run.  Run...
1.  Unless you want to be humiliated in Brazil, don't get into a situation where the police want to search you.  They seem to like to search people, for whatever reason.  Not the most fun.  In fact, down right humiliating...  And if there's one thing that can be said for Rio cops - they're thorough...
 
Peru it up.  Do it...
 
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