Media Logos

5 All-Together Bad and Marginally Bizarre days spent in Brazil circa 1990 – DAY ONE

Hate starting with bad news…but bad news. Stand at Varig Airline carousel for an hour. No luggage.  How am I going to spend this 2 week vacation with no clothes?

David and I tag down a taxi and head toward our hotel in Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro.

Half hour ride cost $75.

Good news (yeah) Flavio the receptionist says airline found luggage.

Bad News: will take 3 hours to get here and room not ready for check in.

Go to outdoor café next to hotel for late lunch. Place empty except for 2 British, middle-aged, balding men.  Flashback from 70’s—their shirts unbuttoned to their bulging bellies with gold chains.  Hideous sight…getting it on with 2 vavavoom, scantily dressed, under-aged Brazilian girls.

Waiter brings bread basket and menu.  Hard to concentrate on menu when balding men’s eyes glued to under-ageds’ cleavage and lots of leg and chest rubbing.  Three boys between 5-9 years old come and point to our bread basket.  Give them 3 rolls.

Boys giggle and run off.  Come back 5 minutes later with a gang of 10, screaming Portuguese words and pointing to our bread basket.  Waiter runs over and shoos them away as if bunch of noisy pigeons.  Barks at us for giving starving street kids food.

Gasping noise comes from British pot-bellied table. The one with a bad sunburn falls over and foams at the mouth. (very bad news).  I scream.  The under-ageds scream. People scramble.  Unconscious middle-aged is put on gurney and rushed to hospital.  His friend stays behind. Find him to be a bizarre, unethical, back-stabber…stays behind and gets it on with the 2 girls. (Wonder if this will become Brazilian style Fatal Attraction, where the under-ageds will attack him with knife when he rejects them and stops returning their phone calls)  Food arrives, and gang of 10 swarm around us. Too sad. Paid the bill and decided to order room service instead.

Hate being a downer…but more bad news.  Luggage arrive drenching wet. Some clothes had been stolen and someone decided to take a shower with the luggage before giving it back to us. (Now I know how in the film…violated and angry)  But, like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky IV we make a come-back.  We decide on going out to dinner.

Flavio, the receptionist, recommended a Churrasso (traditional barbeque meat) joint.

Asked Flavio if we could walk.  Eyes-bulging-out-of-the-socket stunned.  “Oh, no…you don’t want to walk around at night in Rio.  Those mountains behind us? People from shanty towns descend and mug people at night. You always take a taxi.”  Feel like city is under marshal law or some kind of lock down.

David still curious about the $75 cab fare from the airport.  Asked Flavio about it.  Flavio has lame smile…. “Sorry our cab drivers take advantage.  The fare should have been $30 dollars at the most.”  (feel like ………..again)  Did not just pay for the cab fare but the taxi driver’s lunch, family dinner, and his daughter’s clothes!

Flavio tells us to look at chart pasted to the back of the passenger side seat of the taxi. Has rates based on where you go printed.

“Eye of the tiger” Rocky-style attitude. Ready for battle with the taxi cartel.  Cab driver wants to charge us triple.  Feeling smug, point to the printed fare.  He nods and gives us our change back. (yeah)  Churrasso dinner excellent.  Brazil’s answer to all-you-can-eat buffet. (the beef to-die-for)

Notice cab driver didn’t give the right change. (very hard to see in dark plus different currency….Damn!)