A day on the beach in Rio
Every time I go out, I am energized by the pulsing of music and the gleam of wide smiles. When the sun shows his face, I am caught up by the frenzy of the beach culture. Even if you are out at work and without a bikini, everyone runs to the nearest thrift stand to buy a R$20 suit so as not to waste a moment stopping back at home and losing valuable time spent on the sand.
It is amazing the urgency I feel, even though I know the sun will be out for hours, to get the beach as quickly as I can. Throngs of people stream to the buses and Metro, heading to there favorite Posto (the beach is divided into Postos, each with a different general populace; my favorite is Posto 9). Those headed to the beach can be spotted carrying folding chairs, umbrellas, coolers, and tell-tale “beach purses” which withstand the sand much better than your every-day bag. SMS messages awaken your cell phone as everyone you know attempts to convene in one spot, where we rent a group of chairs and an umbrella from one of the various barracas for pennies (although I have found the prices increase as Carnaval approaches). Then we sit for hours, while vendors circulate selling matte or beers or coconut waters, fried cheeses and pastels, biscuits and bathing suits, jewelry and sunscreen. I continue to wonder at the men and women who pace the beach all day under the sun, advertising their products at the top of their lungs, heavy tins or coolers slung over their shoulders or even perched upon their heads!
Sitting on the beach, you can see those from all different walks of life. Women stand, coated in a white paste to bleach their hair, and turn like your average rotisserie chicken to hit all angles. People flip like pancakes from one side to the other, attempting to get an even tan. In a never-ending dance, people rotate between sitting in chairs to lying on cangas to standing with their backs to the sun. In this way, the Cariocas maintain their legendary marquinhas de biquine, or tan lines, unless they aren’t careful and pass over into the land of the camarão (sunburn). Tattoos, a Brasilian fetish, are displayed in varying levels of complexity and sensibility, and bikinis range from the conservative (usually worn by the gringo) to the almost non-existent. When the heat becomes too strong, one runs to the waves for a dive, floating in the crisp water and enjoying a brief respite from the shouts and clutter of the beach. Upon returning to land, it is time to shower off the salt and sand at one of the various showerheads set up along the beach, then head back to the group who has so kindly kept an eye on your belongings while you were away. And so the cycle repeats.
As the sun dips behind the hills, the audience on the beach claps. As darkness falls, those manning the barracas begin to collect chairs, umbrellas, and trash. Men with garbage bags gather empty cans to sell for pocket money. The people, tanned and full of matte and Biscoito Globos, grab their gear and head to the sidewalk, where they jump and stomp their feet in an effort to shake off as much sand as possible before replacing their havaianas. And then we pray that tomorrow, too, will be sunny, so we can do it all over again.
Adventures in Brazil (AIB) offers passionate travelers an opportunity to experience the natural and cultural wonders of Brazil through the eyes of a native Brazilian. We offer small group tours that guide travelers off the tourist-beaten path.