Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sungas and kangas and tangas, oh my!

I went to Rio this past weekend -- heavenly! It was my seventh and last time in Rio -- at least for a while -- and it was a nice way to wrap up with the cidade maravilhosa. I flew up with my friend Nicola on Friday night after work, where we met up with friend Dougal and N's husband, Gabriel, and went to a new champagne bar in Ipanema called Xampanheria. Coincidentally, Xampanheria was across the street from the CHE LAGAHTO youth hostel, on Paul Redfern! Oh, the memories.

Anyway, Xampanheria was what one would expect from a champagne bar in a ritzy area of Rio -- the concept was a bit pretentious and overwrought, but the decor was pleasant and chic. The bar on the first floor was sort of a sunken pit surrounded by glass so the guests, seated on short ottomans, could watch the waiters prepare oysters and pour wine. The main problem with Xampanheria was that the clientele was a tad older and more rotund than we were expecting. Not that old, portly people shouldn't be allowed to enjoy a nice glass of bubbly, but do they have to be crowding the bar at 1 am on a Friday? Oh well.

We all sampled the wares -- first a bottle of sparkling white wine from Italy, delicious -- then Dougal and I cheaped out and went for Chandon by the glass. Chandon is a sparkling white wine that is non-offensive and cheap, so it works for me. Keith, N and G tried more exotic champagne cocktails -- like a frothy yellow concoction with a star fruit floating on the top, and a strawberry caipirinha mixed with champagne. Mmm... afterwards we went nextdoor to a French bistro for some dinner/snacks, then, after checking to see if Bar Code (the Che Lagarto bar!) was open -- it wasn't -- we went to a club called Zero Zero.

I think if we hadn't arrived at the club at 2:30 AM, it would have been a bit more hopping, but it was almost empty when we got there. Dougal and I were approached by an aging surfer who told us about our star signs and energies and such. He said things like, "You are an intuitive person..." or, "You don't like conflict," and then D would say, "oh my God, it's SO TRUE." We all stumbled home at around 5:30 AM, crashed into bed, and woke up feeling fuzzy the next afternoon.

Saturday was spent eating breakfast (at 1 pm), then going to Ipanema beach to sun ourselves and partake in the flesh fest that happens on sunny weekends there. It's a free-for-all of staring and being stared-at. Lots of sungas (male bikinis) going on -- LOTS. There really is only so much of that any American can handle, you know? Bluch. I carefully observed the elaborate ritual of Ipanema beach-going -- I never knew before, for example, that men should only sit in the sand, and women should only sit on a kanga (sarong). Who knew?!

The day was hot, in the high 30s (celcius), whatever that is in Fahrenheit, like a bazillion, so after a few hours of baking in the sun, our hungover butts started to feel very dehydrated and tired, so we left to find food and shelter. We went to a nice little outdoor restaurant for some rice, steak sandwiches, french fries and cokes -- perfect hangover food -- then went home to gear up for the next night out.

Some of G's friends came over for drinks and we sat on the porch, which was hot and sweaty even with the breeze. After a sufficient period of peanut-eating and cocktail swilling, we headed to a club in N and G's neighborhood called Nuth (pronounced Noo-chee). It was absolutely gorgeous! There was an outdoor bar/lounge area that was cooled by a constant mist from above, and an indoor area with a restaurant and bar upstairs, and a big bar and dance floor downstairs, all cast in sexy mood lighting and dark wood. I loved it. However, the music kind of stunk, and there were drunk, obnoxious British girls that were barreling their way through the dance floor running into people, so I didn't spend as much time dancing as I normally would have. We left early because N was not feeling well, and went home to sleep.

Sunday was another wake-up late, eat breakfast at 1, and hang by the pool day. Later, we went to Barra Shopping, one of the largest malls in South America, to check out the merchandise. I wanted to get a Brazilian bikini (tanga) but after trying a few on, I realized that I am just too deeply entrenched in my Anglo-Saxon, American prudishness to be able to walk around with my entire butt hanging out of my bathing suit. It just doesn't look right to me. Plus, the tops are so tiny that the bottoms of your breasts hang out, which to me looks tacky, but apparently that is the look that Brazilians go for. I think for now I am going to stick with my American surfing bikinis with ample coverage -- tangas be damned.

Now I am back in São Paulo, where it is hot as blazes and smoggy. Honestly, if SP had a beach like Rio, it would be the perfect city. Buuut, it doesn't, so I am missing Rio and wondering when I will ever go back.

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