South America Trip Day 19 – Rio de Janeiro

After such a big day and a heavy night, today was a day for some serious relaxation. Ipanema beach it was then, for a day of sunbathing, ogling, frisbee throwing and whatever else constitutes a proper ‘holiday’, something Alex and I had been keen to avoid.

Ipanema is an incredibly beautiful beach, and the people on it are similarly blessed. The beach is divided into Postos (posts), and each post appeals to a different kind of beach-goer. Posto 10 is a sporty post. Posto 9 is supposed to be where all the beautiful people hang out, and is also the gay section, clearly visible by the huge rainbow flag on the beach. Posto 8 is for the favela kids. Other posts appeal to older hippies, families, or people of other persuasions. Alex and I headed straight for Posto 9, and had to walk through the rainbow section to get there. Though pale and certainly not beautiful by Brazilian standards, the men and ladyboys were still giving us catcalls, which boosted the confidence if nothing else. Now if only the ladies did that……

We found a spot in the middle of the bronzed sunworshippers with string bikinis leaving little to the imagination, and lay down our towels and chilled out. Except that, on Ipanema, you can’t chill out. Beach vendors file past in their droves selling coconuts, caipirinhas, nuts, ice-cream, corn…anything you could want. They like to yell their wares at the top of their voices, and no more than 10 seconds passes between one vendor and the next. Groups of young locals bring their stereos and blare out samba. So it’s just a matter of closing your eyes and trying to focus on other sounds – idle sing-song Portuguese chatter, the Atlantic waves crashing on the beach – that kind of thing. We chilled for a while then went for a bracing dip in the Atlantic, which was coming in aggressively with some very high waves. It drops off really quickly, with a horrible undertow, and no more than 10 metres from the beach you can find yourself in trouble as I nearly was. Still, exhilarating fun. The sunset was beautiful, and Alex and I felt thoroughly refreshed after our day of doing hardly anything. You need that on holiday sometimes!

After this Alex and I had something very important to do. Pick up our laundry. We hadn’t been in one place long enough to do it before, and finally in Rio we’d had the chance. The first time in 2 and a half weeks, but at least tonight we had choice! It was our last night in Rio, but we were spent after 3 nights of late (6am turn-in at the earliest) and heavy partying, and at least 50 caipirinhas each. We turned in surprisingly early, after making a brave effort in a couple of bars in Ipanema. After falling asleep in the second bar we knew it was time to go back and give our bodies some rest. Goodnight Rio. And thankyou.

Author: Neil

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