Great news: as of this morning, the rain has stopped, and the sun is shining in Rio! And you know what that means: go to the beach, go straight to the beach — do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Fortunately, since my hostel is only a 5-minute walk from Copacabana (Rio's biggest and most famous beach), this was quite an easy task. Armed with little more than my towel, my boardies, and a large supply of sunscreen (although not large enough — never is, eh?), I spent the better part of today swimming at the beach, walking on the beach, and (more than anything else) just lying on the beach, basking in the ferocious Brazilian sun. This is more like it — this is what I came to Brazil for, in the first place.
I randomly met an English dude over brekky this morning, back at Stone of a Beach. Since the two of us were both planning to spend all day at the beach, we decided hell, why not go together? This was a very good idea, as it allowed us to watch each other's stuff — and believe me, on Copacabana beach, your stuff needs watching. If possible, whatever you bring to the beach needs armed bodyguard protection, a no-go landmine perimeter, and several layers of high-voltage electric fence around it as well. Seriously, there are guys walking up and down this beach all day, and whatever they see, they will nick with impunity. Don't think all those smiling local dudes are just there to sell you ice creams and a pair of sunnies: they'll take more than your R$2, if you give them even the teeniest opportunity.
Turned out that we weren't the only two backpackers who'd decided to go to the beach today. We saw pretty much the entire hostel there, out on the sand — not surprising, seeing that it was the sunniest day Rio's seen in a while! As well as us backpackers, Copacabana beach was absolutely packed today, with locals and tourists alike, all the way from one end to the other — and considering how bloody long this beach is, that's no small accomplishment.
I started out by going for a quick dip this morning — I was hoping to swim on a few waves; but it turns out that the surf here is way too rough for mere swimming, and that it leaves you looking (and feeling) like a cluster-bombed Iraqi city after about 10 minutes. So I went for a stroll down the beach, to see if I could find any calmer sections. Well, I didn't find anything much calmer (slightly smaller waves further down, however still a bit insane) — but I did see plenty of interesting sights.
Walking along Copacabana beach is a must-see activity for anyone visiting Rio. The people-watching around here can be awe-inspiring, nauseating, and erotic; although most of the time, it's just plain hilarious. You see the super-buff body-builder guys, jogging up and down the beach with their iPods blaring death-metal rock into their ears, and doing pushups and weight-lifts by the hundred. You see the obligatory wrinkled-and-crinkled old farts in their Speedos — not as bad as what I hear Miami beach is like, but they're still present — floating in the shallows, or cooking themselves to a cinder on the sand. You see the much-worshipped Brazilian goddesses: a sight for sore eyes, in their thong bikinis, and with shampoo-advertisement-like hair down to their asses; and all sporting a pair of knockers so fantastic, that you don't give a damn how blatantly fake they are (by the way, did you know that the richest man in Rio is a plastic surgeon? :P). You see couples playing racquet-ball for hours on end. You see groups of jet-black little boys engaged in frenetic games of fútbol, or kicking around a hacky sack with unbelievable skill. Basically, you can find pretty much anyone and everyone on Copacabana beach.
After I gave up on my quest for swimmable waves, I completed the long walk back to the top end of the beach, where I promptly lay down, and spent several hours letting those rays pour down on me. Got a little bit burnt — didn't put sunscreen on enough parts of myself, and I don't think it was strong enough stuff either — but all things considered, not too badly burnt. And that, as far as I can recall, was pretty much my day.
PS: if you were expecting photos from today, then think again. After what I've described in this blog entry, I hope you can understand that there's no way, not in a thousand years, that I'd take my shiny new digital camera to Copacabana beach. I've already had two cameras fall victim to South America, and bringing a camera today would have been a pretty sure guarantee of upping the count to three.