Because I’m such a professional puker (2nd time in Rio in 4 days – champ right here) I had zero hangover the next morning. Unfortunately I couldn’t exactly say the same for all my companions. When we finally mobilized as a group late in the afternoon we thought it would be a nice trip to take the tram to Santa Teresa. Santa Teresa is supposedly at the top of a hill and supposedly has beautiful views of the city in a quaint and old fashioned part of town. I say supposedly because little did we know, and naught did our guidebooks mention (is that how you use the word naught?) that the tram hadn’t been running in 2 fucking years. Accordingly we spent an exhausting couple of hours sweating and hiking and trying to find which hill would take us up to Santa Teresa and not through a favela where we would be robbed.
On the brightside, getting lost did take us through Lapa which we had all wanted to see anyway, so the day wasn’t a total loss. On the other hand, Lapa is the complete antithesis to what I was expecting from Santa Teresa. Lapa was filled with vendors selling cheap beers and food to
drunk absolutely shithoused partiers on the streets, and in front of a stage by what appeared to be an aqueduct. An “aqueduct” which after doing research to write this, turned out to actually be part of the now defunct tram.
We pressed on a little further and also came across the Steps of Lapa which is a photo worthy staircase composed of mosaic tiles, which, as I also learned a bit too late, leads to Santa Teresa. However, if you do enjoy taking pictures of pretty steps, be sure not to have any crazy, drunk and angry Brazilians in the background because they might start yelling at you angrily in Portuguese and threaten to punch you in the face – even when you’re rolling 10 people deep.
By the time we decided to head back to Copacabana after an amazing dinner at Nova Capela, things had gotten progressively more…interesting, and we saw at least 2 chicks being carried out caveman style. The beer/food/mud/vomit sludge on the street was as thick as our flip flops. If possible, even more people had crowded into the streets of Lapa and music could be heard pouring out of the open windows of the clubs and bars. Even standing in the center of the road trying to get back to the train station, it was nearly impossible to move forward. And the icing on the cake – traffic was still permitted through as usual. Though wisely most people seemed to know to not to drive, there were still cabs and buses coming through the street. Imagine this. Seventh Avenue during the Halloween parade. People are hanging out the windows of bars. The streets are packed with shitfaced people in costumes. There are samba drums coming from every store (okay maybe that part isn’t New York). Now here comes the M16 (is that a real bus?) straight through the middle. If Lapa was indeed the United States at least 20 people would’ve died, another 200 would’ve gotten their toes crushed and there would be a couple thousand law suits for infliction of emotional or mental distress or some bullshit. Yet somehow, in the several block walk I did not see a single person get injured by the bus. Kudos Brazil, I’m impressed.
Later that night around midnight, not wanting to stay in because I felt like time spent in the apartment was time well wasted, a few of us decided to head out to the beach to at least do something. As soon as we walked out of the gates of our apartment a guy wearing an Antarctica Beer fedora stumbled over to us yelling “Feliz Carnival!” Initially happy to have someone that wanted to party we started cheering back at him and the guy started taking a flask of whiskey out of his pocket and chugging it after cheersing to our beers. After about 30 seconds of walking towards the beach, we realized this guy was on a whole next level of shithoused as every 5 minutes he would repeat the same monologue.
My Friends! Feliz Carnaval! Hold on, hold on…whiskey?”
and he would take a slug from his bottle. He also tried to communicate with us in Portuguese which was obviously a fail, and then switched to French. At which point he told me that he spoke french because his mother was from France “et [sa] grand-mere est can-can danseur a la Moulin Rouge.” Word homie. We thought that by walking faster or slower, or disappearing into a random bazaar we would be able lose him but nope, no such luck. Every time all of us would dart behind a different stall he’d appear behind us again, “My friends! Feliz Carnaval….” Eventually, half an hour later we maneuvered him into following another group and we promptly ran to the beach to disappear.
One of the beautiful things about the beaches in Rio is the way they curve making for beautiful pictures from the shore. One of the illusory side effects of this shape is that you think things are a lot closer than they actually are. Like the distance from end to end of Copacabana beach which we decided to walk. Which took almost 2 hours. During which time we saw:
* a lot of people fornicating on the beach
* kids plays soccer
* a cute gay couple standing up and hugging looking at the water
-who suddenly separated and pulled up their pants when they realized we were walking towards them…umm
* a girl that looked like Samara from “The Ring” sitting at the waters edge in her bra staring at the ocean.
– who decided to follow us down the beach when we passed her
– who couldn’t walk straight and kept wobbling into the ocean
– who then decided to walk eerily straight into the ocean as some random good samaritan dude chased her down because she looked like she was going to drown herself
– who then pointed to us probably indicating she was with us
– who then creepily started following the guy up the beach towards his friends
Two hours later we reached the end of the beach because despite everyone being tired I insisted if we were going to waste this much time walking we might as well reach the end. And when we got to the end what did we see? Brown bear, brown bear, looking at me! …or a giant rock, a coconut stand, more people making out on the rocks that smelled like urine and were covered in condom wrappers (R Kelly was in Rio!?). And a bunch of old dudes fishing. Great walk, good chat, where the fuck are the cabs to take us back?
EDIT: I forgot to mention the best part. Eventually we did get 2 cabs back and while we waited for both cabs to empty we saw a guy strolling down the street…
My friends….FELIZ CARNAVAL!
No fucking way.