Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Some final thoughts (ramblings) on Rio and things before I jump on my plane to Salvador.
Hanging out on the beaches of Rio is sure to give you two things: Brown skin, and an eating disorder. There are all shapes, sizes, and ages on the beach, but it's hard not to notice the 5% that's absolutely gorgeous.
Some of the most attractive women on the beach are as black as midnight, and quite striking against the color of the sand. As a beach boy I've seen my fair share of sunbathers, but the sight of black bodies enjoying the sun is a fun sight that I've not seen in such numbers.
A week in Rio and it looks like I never once ventured out after dark to observe the nightlife here. I'm sure it's fine, but with Carnival around the corner, I feel no need to explore this aspect of the city. I'm also not particularly comfortable here (safety wise), and don't think much would have been gained from the risk.
Copacabana—for being one of the most densely populated neighborhoods on the planet (400,000 people here), it doesn't feel like it. The burro is block after block of apartment buildings, but most are at the same height (15 stories or so). Without large variations in building height to the coastline has a rather normalized feel to it.
Occasionally I'll catch one of these massive cruise ships leaving the city just before sunset. The view off shore is a nice one, with Copacabana in the foreground, and the Christ statue in the background with a setting sun. The light is low enough to trigger the flash of a point-and-shoot camera, and it's neat to watch the strobes blink randomly from all over the ship.
You can take an Israeli out of the army, but…
Rio de Janeiro is a South American hub city—a stop on the round the world trip tickets. There's a huge population of newbie backpackers here in Rio with two weeks of travel or less under their belts—many of whom are Israeli, relatively fresh out of the military.
Both the young men and women of Israeli are required to serve for a few years, and many habits and routines seem to continue to manifest until they get a few months into their journey. For example, there was a pair in my room that would wake up and go out of their way to meticulously tuck and fold the sheets of their bunk bed each morning (in a manner befitting regulations). An Aussie and I dubbed another Sarge, as the level of his voice never dropped below a controlled yell—calm down buddy.
There are so many youths from Israeli traveling that it's easy for me to benchmark and form opinions from a wide sampling of personalities—hundreds and hundreds have been encountered and observed. What I haven't seen is what they grow up to be, though—none that I can remember have been over the age of 30.
So the youth of their nation runs around the cheaper parts of the world, many acting like they're being filmed for an E! Wild on special. But I suppose I really can't blame them for their behavior—having just lost three or so years of their youth/freedom, without choice. If our roles were reversed I'd probably spend at least a year traveling, growing my hair long, and partying it up as much as possible myself (and Rio is a good a place as any do to just that).
Well, it's been some time since I've been on an airplane. The flight I took was when I hopped from Panama to Colombia, back towards the middle of last year.
I shelled out BR$40 for the shuttle from my hostel, and expect to have to pay at least BR$60–70 for my midnight taxi back into downtown—the transport adding another US$50 to my "inexpensive" US$85 flight.
…Quite silly when you look it. My flight is running me US$85 for an hour of transport, compared to US$150/hour for taxi service (if extrapolated out). Many of the costs in this country are back-assed to a degree I've never seen.
Brazil isn't particularly high on my list of places I'd return to. I'm hoping the NE of the country will razzle-dazzle me a little bit. I can't wait to start getting into the smaller towns, and away from these megalopolises. I'm tired of the city.
I told a friend of mine that I'd love to find a little spot in Thailand where I can spend two months focus on learning Thai, improving the health of my body (it'd be great to have access to some weights), and (of course) getting tan on the beach. I'll be there, hunting for that spot soon enough—perhaps in two–three months time.