After a very busy few days in Rio de Janeiro, I finally had the chance to relax and explore the very famous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. A bunch of the others went hang gliding above Christ the Redeemer. It would have been cool to join them, and I may have done it also if it weren’t the most perfect and hot day to explore. So, I stuck to meandering along the beaches with Greg. I was really impressed by the waves – they were the biggest I’ve seen. The ocean was absolutely full of people surfing and swimming.
We took our time and walked from one end of Ipanema all the way to the other. We came across a coconut stand and ordered a drink. The vendor simply hacked off the top of the coconut with an axe, stuck in a straw, and we were good to go. It tasted very . . . earthy. And a little mealy. But it definitely wasn’t sweet as most coconut drinks are. It was completely natural so it was very refreshing. We kept walking along until we reached Copacabana, where there was a little bit more action going on. There was a giant musical performance going on in the streets, with many people dressed in big, colourful outfits. We spotted a cactus with someone’s name carved in it: Carlos. A pretty interesting way of leaving your mark. I would have never thought of it myself.
After a whole day of walking along the beach in the sun, we stretched out on our towels, eyes closed, enjoying the warmth with an occasional cool breeze coming off the ocean to refresh us. The sand was scattered with vendors who had loads of stuff on their backs and draped over their arms. Walking on sand is pretty difficult as it is. I couldn’t imagine walking around in the direct sun all day with an additional 40 pounds of stuff on my back to sell.Very frequently we would hear the clinging and clanging of a vendor walking by and yelling, “Coca-Cola! Agua!” And although at times it was kind of annoying to be constantly approached by a vendor, I started to appreciate their dedication and hard work when one of them tried to sell me a Brazilian themed beach towel and shook it out, twirling it before me with a big smile.
After a long day at the beach, we went to a soccer match in the early evening. As you may have noticed from previous posts in Italy, or Europe in general, I’m not exactly a huge fan of soccer, and find it rather annoying. However, while being in Brazil, I really wanted to experience the soccer life and see what it was all about through their perspective. It was a pretty interesting experience, that’s for sure. There were dozens of army guys on patrol with German Shepherds at their sides for the whole game. The stadium does not sell any kind of alcohol. This sternness all derives from how rowdy and insane people get during soccer matches in Brazil. Seeing how rowdy it is with no alcohol being sold, I can’t imagine the level it would escalate to otherwise. It didn’t take long for the crowd’s energy to rub off on me and get really excited when Brazil scored a goal! And believe me, there was insane energy.