hello there, folks
Rio is a pretty different experience than all the other countries I have been to in South America. You really do feel like a tourist not knowing the local language, Portugese. It makes your world a whole lot smaller when you cant interact with folks on the street. Its kinda intimidating to go to a country and not know a single lick. But Im gettin by, slowly but surely...I know "please", "thank you", numbers, and try to throw some Spanish in there because its at least a little closer to Portuguese than English. Hand movements, pointing at maps, and a nice smile will get you where you need to go most of the time.
The hostel that I am staying at in Copacabana is a coupla blocks from the beach and the folks in the hostel are a little bit weird. Actually its the folks working in the hostel that are weird. One of the guys looks really similar to Private Gomer Pyle and he is always in a grumpy mood. A Dutch guy and I were talking about this at dinner. He noticed how surly and churlish Private Pyle was as well and was like, "If you are not a people person and are grumpy all the time, den why in de hell are you working in a youth hostel?" Good question. The Dutch guy was pretty cool. Yauger is a 25 year old artist who brought some fotos of his works. We sat down with an Argentine guy in the hostel over some pasta, wine, and beer and chatted. Good times.
Another guy staying in the hostel is pretty interesting. Olivier is a Canadian who speaks English, French, Spanish and Portugese. He has a curly hair-fro like Napoleon Dynamite, but that is about where the resemblance stops. We have hung out quite a few times and always have a good time talking about stuff. He invited me out last night to meet up with some Argentine and Brazilian folks somewhere in one of the Bohemian parts of town. This guy has been all over the place in Brazil and South America. He even told me about his hitchhiking adventure through the USA. I forgot to ask him if he made it to Omaha. I can prolly guess his answer "uhhhhh, we drove though it..." thats what everybody else says when they mention Otown in conversations.
So far the beach has been nice. There is a ton of inspiration at the beach. Some times you can feel a little self-conscious after seeing some guys with 12-pack chests. But then you feel alright after seeing a coupla fellas with dunlop disease. Im somewhere in the middle. I have the Taco John's stomach (Six Pack and a Pound). Ive walked up and down the beach and am still in search for that girl from Ipanema. Maybe she speaks Spanish or English. maybe...
So what does everybody think about when someone mentions Rio de Janeiro? Lots of folks think about Carnival, Copacabana, and JC. Well, today I planned to go up and see JC as well as the city below but it was 100 percent cloudy. Bummer. They say that it the weather is better in the morning, so ill give it a shot and get up early and then try my luck up there all day. I did get to catch a Brazilian art exhibit and might get to end up on local tv. There was a small group of folks there that were looking for tourists to film looking at the art. I obliged and did my second film appearance...man, im tellin ya, this film career is gonna take off, one of these days...one of these days.
A coupla days ago I got to go to Maracana, which is the world's largest soccer stadium and got to see some great soccer. It was a perfect night. Around 23 degrees and a great sunset in the background. There was one goal that we saw that was amazing...one of the forwards had his back to the goal and bounced the ball off his knee into the air and did a bicycle kick into the goal. Wicked sweet! The crowd when nuts!!!!
Maracana was the first stadium ive been to in SA that actually sold beer inside the stadium. And the beers are not like the ones in the states. These beers are your normal 12oz cans but are priced reasonably. Beers inside the stadium went for about three Reals and the Skol beer outside was two. Around a buck and a half or so. The food outside the stadium was great! Nothing beats some meat on a stick. And when you are kinda buzzing, it tastes even better!
The beer brings me to another thing that I really like about South America. Down here if you have your own cooler n stuff then you can just go to any sporting event and sell beer! This is great since you dont hafta pay for a license which raises your costs which is then passed onto the consumer. It is a free-for-all of guys selling beers at the game. Forget about open container laws because you can drink anywhere. Open container laws remind me about the time when my buddy Dan and I were coming back from the World's Most Dangerous Road. We stopped at a mini market in Coroico to buy some beer. We were at the bottom of the road and wanted something to tranquilize us a bit while making the WMDR ascent. Dan asked our guide, "Hey, Ian, are there any open container laws to worry about here in Bolivia?" Ian's response was like, "Bro, you can drive drunk here and never have any problems." He also said "Yea, we tell our drivers not to drink while they are on duty." That was nice to know.
The city is full of contrasts and this is what makes it really different. It is different than anything I have seen. For example, the number of folks begging seems to be more than what I have seen. It is always really tough to see folks begging in the street while you are enjoying a nice meal. Especially when kids beg. That is tough to see.
One thing that I have never seen that really makes me cringe is the amount of ladytypes on the street. These are not the type that you want to bring home to ma and pa. These are the ones that you dont even wanna make eye contact with. These are the ladytypes that inspired the hit song "Roxanne" The Police. It really creeped me out when Stan from Australia, Olivier from Canada, Marlyn from South Africa, and I all sat down at a bar. We ordered our drinks and kinda looked around. All of us are around 25ish and the rest of the clientele at both bars we went to along the strip in Copacabana were guys 20 to 30 years our senior. The ladytypes were not. They were younger than us and older than us. Im pretty sure that these guys were really interested in getting to know the girls' personality. That whole Roxanne type thing is just weird and not really the stuff you wanna get mixed up in. We discussed what drives these ladytypes to do this and what drives these men as well. Pretty interesting discussion. We all finished our drinks and walked home. On the way home we would get harassed by Roxanne and her friends. This was unbelievable! Getting harassed by the ones that have broader shoulders than you was also strange. You dont know whether they are chicas or chicos or whatnot. This was strange. Just dont make eye contact and walk briskly. That stuff gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Well, I think Ive cooled off from the 27 degree day here and will head back to the hostel to drink some wine and write in my journal. Tomorrow im gonna get up early for the sunrise on the beach and then head to see JC, hopefully without any cloud cover.