18 Apr 2015

Beach bum

Tall and tan and young and lovely they were indeed, and not just on Ipanema. But also at Lebon, Botafogo, Urca, and of course iconic Copacabana, where we installed ourselves for a few days in the sun. It was Easter weekend, and that of course meant that a trip somewhere was in order.

At the end of what was one of the coldest Québec winters in recent memories, an escape to someplace sunny seemed like a tantalizing idea. Rio had long been on my list (and no, not just so that I could finally tick off this song). With 2015 being the city's "gap year" between hosting the soccer World Cup and the Summer Olympics, timing was auspicious, so off we went.

It did not take us long to fall into the easy rhythm of Rio's sun and beach lifestyle, although our skin tone and swimwear certainly set us apart from the local crowd. As we installed ourselves in our beach chairs, coconuts in hand and sunscreen generously applied, we started to take in the scenery. The perfect 4km crescent of Copacabana offers an almost surreal panorama, with 700m mountains jutting out from the depths of the Atlantic ocean, protecting a wide sandy beach which, on a warm Sunday, was abuzz with activity.

Kids frolicking in the waves, teenagers playing beach volleyball and futevolei, joggers, bikers,snack vendors, and retirees doing crossword puzzles under a parasol - everybody was out in the open. They were mostly locals, we surmised, since the boys and the girls all looked like they were born in swimwear. Albeit very little of it.

This may seem odd in such a devotedly catholic country as Brazil. And in Rio, it all happens under the ever watchful eyes of Christ (like us a redeemer, although presumably not of frequent flyer miles), perched high atop Corcovado. This being Easter, we naturally had to make a pilgrimage to him as well, and it was perhaps the peer pressure of the beach fashion that encouraged to do it on foot. As any true believer could have told us, the path to Christ was steep and rocky - but we prevailed. And in a twist that would have surely pleased Darwin, we found Christ's domain to be co-inhabited by... monkeys.

Yes, this may be a very rose-tinted view of Brazil, written while basking in an afterglow of sunburn and Bossa Nova. There may be crime, there is startling poverty and inequality, the government is mired in a corruption scandal and the Real is going under faster than a nonswimmer in the surf. But no matter how bad the country does, at least in Brazil, the figures are perfectly rounded.

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