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"My soul hates the fool whose only passion is to live by rule." -- Santayana
|Episode 8: The Brazilian Sun|
@ Where`s Cherie?
Aug 05 2002 - 16:09 PST
|cherie writes: February 1999|
RIO DE JANEIRONew definition of ghost town = the women's rest-room at a Brazilian soccer match. Kristi estimated the men to women ratio at 200 to 1, but you didn't need more than two hands to count the women at the Macarana, a stadium twice the size of the Rose Bowl.
We tried to fit in, as best we could, darned in black and white jerseys and headbands Willie Nelson would have been proud of. All this to proclaim our loyalty to our newly adopted Brazilian team--Botofoco. My new 200,000 soccer-loving friends looked like they were attending a giant referee convention with their black and white striped apparel. Either that, or they were convicts. The crowd popped up and down in chaotic unison as the ball changed hands (or feet). From the distance the masses looked like the crawling legs of a centipede. Closer, the people appeared to be a different animal, perhaps a savage monkey, screaming unrecognizable obscenities with clenched fists thrust into the sky.
Ironically, these same angry people befriend each other a day later, for the biggest event of the year the "Winning Parade." This is celebration where the Gross National Product for a small country is spent on costumes for 30,000 people--their naked bodies painted, and their heads supporting 200lbs of sequence and feathers. For nine hours they parade down the street, making a spectacle for the same 200,000 ranting soccer maniacs, which are now transformed into dancing fools, giddy and silly. Yesterday's soccer foe becomes today's dance partner.
Copacabana--Barry Manilow's favorite beach, and damn if I can't get that song out of my head--is all that Barry promised. "At the Copa, Copacabana, music and fashion are always the passion at the Copa... don't fall in love." Here in the city of sin, love is alive and public display of affection is expected and encouraged. Tub tops that bear naked shoulders and tan lines, are the latest fashions. And while the women do not go topless, they might as well go bottomless. Everyone wears a close cousin of the G-string, where a tiny triangle patch (no bigger than a toddler's hand) doesn't cover whatever it is supposed to.
There are two main tourist attractions in Rio. The first, a giant statue of Christ which looms over the city, its ominous arms open wide, as if to measure the silence. The second, Sugar Loaf, where a sky tram ascends to the mountain peak for a delicious view of the city--a cacophony of mountains, beaches and ocean front hotels.
We inhaled the view from a mountain peak where we learned our newest sport: Hang Gliding. We were instructed to run off a plank, that was like a tongue sticking out of the mountain's snickering face."What happens if there is no wind?" I joked.With frank seriousness came the reply: Then you fall.Honesty. At times...it is overrated.Running as fast as I could off the cliff, I fell 30 feet until the wind scooped me up like Superman saving Lois Lane. It lifted me up and carried my huge awkward Terridactyl wings; letting me taste the pleasure of unmechanical flight.
Later, I enjoyed something mush riskier...renting a car. Traffic in Rio travels like a gaggle of geese, squawking their horns and simultaneously changing direction without notice. Here the buses think they are cars; and the cars think they are buses. I was the lame duck, in my 89 VW, always trailing behind the flock...my Daddy (the stubborn unforgiving bus) always nudging me ahead. We had thought renting a car would be a good idea after being packed into a subway like cotton swabs in a Q-tip box. The verdict is in: I'd rather be a Q-tip.
Kristi has fought off her latest affliction of Pink Eye and reduced it to Puffy Eye. This city has everything except good marketing. I just can't get excited about a meal when the menu says:"Cow Sandwich with oil sauce."And when I laugh at such language absurdities, people try to identify with me. They smile, their mouths about to explode with teeth. "I know America" then they say "Baywatch...Monica Lewinsky." Just the two things my country is proudest of.
I'll end with a conversation I had with a local travel agent. He was giving me my confirmation code for a recently purchased airline ticket. Showing off his English he began."Here you code. 'C' as Charlies... 'F' as Fuck... 'M' as Ma'am""Did you say 'F' as in Fuck?!!!" I said with the shock of laughter."Yes, I speech English."Alrighty then.... Viva Brazil, Cherie
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