0 Brownie Points
| Random observations? The orthodontist industry would find it very difficult to survive in Brazil. There are plenty of dentists, more than plenty – the competition must be incredible, although they must specialize only in molars, the smiles of the citizenry are almost beyond belief, the exact opposite of what you expect to see in the UK. Better still, the smiles appear genuine, and that's good. Bus drivers, however, rarely smile. They're too busy drag racing that guy next-to-you, and this is business to them! Speed-shift back to third on this incline for that momentum, 'n screw the pot-holes! The bus company mechanics must be veritable wizards to keep all that machinery on the road. Suspensions, clutches, and brakes especially take a terrible beating, but the Grand Prix of Copacabana goes on 24/7 anyway. |
The bus trip through SaoPaulo? Saw very minimal poverty, and a thriving, prosperous economy. It's more like three huge cities, casually joined, with three big-downtowns-with-highrises. Impressive! The outskirts we flew over had the pools and hillside homes (estates?) -- but the Paulistas don't smile quite as much as Rio's Cariocas -- or so it seemed; that second (in town) airport was a madhouse -- more like a very crowded subway terminal.
There are still those obnoxious vans picking up people in competition with the bus system(s) -- creepy people yelling, trying to solicit passengers. BUT they're NOT offering free rides to some hostel, a food-kitchen or someplace like that. No, they're in real competition with the busses and have the fare posted "R$2,00" as well as the where they're going. Insides they're sardines -- reminded me of a Bahamas bus. But the yelling to get paying passengers? It sucks.
Another bus observation or three – aside from the fact that the drivers are certifiable maniacs, they really are polite and friendly, mostsly. I finally saw my first traffic accident, after three weeks in Rio – not the actual fender-bender, but the aftermath, and, no, NO busses involved, no taxis either! Two private cars in a left-turn rear-ender; minor. Truly amazing. The subway has not yet broken through to Ipanema as yet, but there is now ('07) a third stop in Copacabana. Next stop, the General Osorio Plaza, home of the Hippy Fair (although there's an ongoing version for locals downtown, right by the Uruguiana Metro [subway] station), with plans for extending the subway in various directions to outlying communities...
Rio's bus drivers speed-shift and take corners at Lambourgini speeds, thinking they're Mario Andretti, Ayrton Senna or one of the other legendary Brazilian Formula One drivers. One has to, literally, hang on tightly in order to be spared a spill in the aisle. But this system could NEVER happen in the US -- some dippy pressure group would sue: almost being run-over (?), bruises from an aisle-spill on a curve, heart palpitations; being unfair to some beleaguered class, or something. Lawyering in Brazil hasn't caught up yet. But when they do, watch out... the wonderful (bus and others) transportation industry as known in Brazil will no longer exist... Then, the pilots of the Brazilian TAM regional carrier in their 737s apparently think the same way – they drive their planes “flat-out” as well. And when they slam in those "reverse-thrusters," wow!
Nowhere I've traveled, with the sole exception of Alaska, have the passengers been a such a joyful bunch – telling jokes, laughing, having a goodtime! Not ill-behaved or obnoxious, no. But, as is typical of Cariocas especially, joyful (that word again), able to enjoy and be happy. That should read “HAPPY and JOYFUL” in capital letters! Alaskans share that type of attitude, and alcohol is not a necessary ingredient; they're people who generally refuse to take themselves any too seriously. Or perhaps they were relishing the start of a weekend? Hard to say. Brazilians, especially from Rio, always seem to be having a great time!
Incidentally, while Brazilian carriers are known for being notoriously tardy; one 15:44 flight was totally full, but didn't leave the gate 'til 16:15, a half-hour later. Then, on that 34 minute flight (from take off in Sao Paulo to landing at Rio's downtown Dumont airport – I counted) TAM's four flight attendants served soft-drinks and complementary Hot-Dogs! Really. That's not all – a flight that short certainly isn't long enough for a movie, but they showed funny, entertaining commercials the “entire” trip! Brazilians smile, lots, and are not summarily shunned if they have the audacity to actually smoke on the street, or the beach! Political Correctness and the mandated conduct thing has not yet happened in Brazil. Yet. Pregnant women aren't afraid to wear bikinis in public either -- something that might inspire a terminal case of angst, the vapors or heart palpitations in some Southern Baptists and/or Muslim mullahs. Without doubt, the single word describing the Brazilian female is “cleavage.” Brazil has, perhaps, the best-looking women per-capita, and I'd guess, more C and D-cups than the world's average. I've become convinced that most women want that "line" down the front of their chests, where boobs meet. The undergarment industry has gotta be alive'n-very-well! Those who don't have what their "more-generously-endowed" sisters have, certainly utilize the padding/push-up, push-together skrunchers to create that illusion, even if not totally valid. A word of caution: a guy who has been confined to a seminary could suffer severe dehydration and "drool himself to death" while venturing down Ipanema's beach. There's also some recognizable narcissism where the sense of "fashion" becomes ridiculous -- like the woman (mid-40s or so?) with those gotta-be-very-uncomfortable (and, to some, like me, ugly) pointy-toed hi-style stiletto heels, with a crutch. Looked outlandishly dumb. Or strange. Out-of-place? Hell, she probably twisted her ankle in those shoes, hence the crutch. Additionally, great legs – where we see our share of fat legs or skinny legs, again, there are more good-looking leggy women in Brazil than 'bout any place I've visited recently... Sure can't say why – maybe it's the genes? Yet, the competition among women has gotta be severe. So many very attractive, pretty or flat-out beautiful women – 90% I'd guess have dark brown or black hair (2% light brown, 2% legitimate blonde, 1% gray and 5% dyed/bleached or “changed”); the majority wear their hair pulled back and in a ponytail. Competition is intense! And, speaking of ponytails, there are still a few males who “sport-that-rather-obsolete-fashion” (if that's what it is), often old, gray and balding; probably about the same strange percentage as in the US?
Saw a guy with the Copacabana sidewalk “wave” pattern in black-and-white tattoo'd on his bicep. Beats “barbed-wire” and some of the other things I've seen. I recognize that it's a kind of “fad” or youthful trend these days, in Brazil, the US and many other countries, but something which has confused me for quite some time is the proclivity some people have for getting tattoos or even piercings. It may be my age, or possibly intolerance, but I have never seen a woman who looks better with a tattoo. Most often they detract, drastically! Then, the idea of having to pay someone for intentionally disfiguring you - - inflicting cruel and unusual punishment upon your person by making puncture wounds? It's beyond me – in at least 98% of the cases witnessed thus far. One rather ugly woman had a chain running from an ear to a nose ring, but she was so impossibly blah looking, hardly mattered. Perhaps she just needed someone to pull it, to complete the job...? That wasn't in Brazil – oh no. 'T'was in the outskirts of Seattle, Washington.
Kids still play dodge-ball, and swing on swings -- they're not afraid to actually tag/touch another kid on the playground (lest the Political Correctness radicals rear their ugly heads and suffer extreme Teeth-Gnashing); teeter-totters still are used and, heavens, kids fall down in the dirt sometimes while playing! The restaurants can still use that "better-tasting" fat to fry stuff in -- the fries taste good. No one throws a hissy-fit because beef Bar-B-Q is more popular than legumes or tofu. In fact, fast-food companies aren't compelled to put stupid VeggieBurgers on their menus by some goofy "activist" bunch I brought along one of those little hand-held compasses to see just where it would point (because there's a Southern bunch of magnetic iron too down in Antarctica) -- but, no, it still points North. Isn't that exciting?!?!? (sorry, but some of this trivial crap interests me) Flying down, the HUGE RIVERS to be seen!!! My God, compared to the wimpy ol' Mississippi or Missouri -- and these were a good thousand miles (or, in some cases, many hundreds of miles) inland, not anywhere near the ocean where you'd expect them to be wide, in the midst of the Amazon (jungle and state, not the river) and Mata Grosso; most do flow into the eventual Amazon RIVER (tributaries), but, can you say "Gigantic?" Okay, so much for geography.
Turned on TV on a Saturday night hoping for some futebol scores, but one of the famous (or infamous Brazilian Novellas/Soap Operas was on. Heard the tinkling of music and looked up to see a formally-gowned older woman at a Grand piano, and a younger couple dressed in evening attire with glasses raised as they strolled across the lavish setting. The song being played (not so terrifically well) by the woman at the piano, whether by humorous design by the not-so-serious, fun-loving Brazilians, or just because the music was “handy” (or because it was the only song she could play?) – was from Monty Python legend: “I'm a Lumberjack.” About all that was missing was the bazaar lumberjack tempo, Canadian costumes and the Pythonic lyrics.
Alas, it gets worse - - - was pushing buttons another time when I heard something in English? Kinda English, anyway -- Liza Minelli plugging some dumb concert she's doing in July in Rio. What a mess - - makes all Americans sound crass and junky (hell, means about the same as crass, right?), telling the interviewer what he should tell his viewers/listeners. Ugh!
That building on Duvivier from the movie "Bossa Nova" is no longer an impressive office building. There's a semi-open-air meat market where the grand entrance used to be; looks like apartments above....? And "Fisk" is a real company teaching English; saw a sign elsewhere. The deck where Tai-Chee was being done, toward the start of that movie, is right there, on the East side of the Lagoa, near the swan boats -- and Mary Ann's hospital room is actually the Clinic of Lagoa; they shot the exterior scenes of ambulance and cars driving up elsewhere. Beggar-kids are a bit more pushy than last year -- or maybe more hungry? That's mostly in western Copacabana. There are still quite a few street sleepers (and street-sweepers). And on that topic, I'd wager that there are more street-sweepers-per-capita in Rio – and, of the street sleepers, one was reclined next to a dumpster with the ear-pieces in, dialing up his IPod thing, really. Thinking about countries and economies -- the not-so-often-seen thing about Brazil (today's pseudo-history lesson) is the fact that probably 85-90% (my guess) of the working stiffs are barely "making it" -- stuck in dippy, unrewarding “busy” jobs like doormen, taxi-drivers (who'd rather sit around than pursue a fare) ticket-takers, waiters (where there are almost always too many for the number of tables/needs), an overabundance of clerks, and "care-givers." They're just above starvation wages, just. Or so it appears -- and most of them will never advance above where they are now, that's the rough part. Content with their status? With rare exceptions, that about says it... At the same time, you'll see more people than you'd guess wearing Yellow-and-Green, their patriotic colors; they're very proud of their country, aside from those occasional futebol foul-up's. In discussions that touch on politics, about all they can think of is Removing The Constant Corruption. Then, when I remind them that there's a whole lot of corruption everywhere, they agree, sigh, and shake their heads.
Noting the always (seemingly) excessive personnel in most jobs, probably it's to keep employment up...? They normally have 2 or 3 more than actually needed. They're repaving a lot of the ocean-front streets (for "appearance" sake? As a way to fill the budget-for-ther-year? Make work? They sure didn't require it!) and there's usually a bunch of 8 or 9 guys on each of those jobs, most actually working. BUT, because of more modern, superior equipment the same operation in the US would require only 2 or 3 guys - - - - but would still have 7 or 8 others watching..... the bureaucracy, to be sure they “get it right?” Politically, and interestingly, the Brazilian president (from a pretty extreme leftist background) has not stifled the growing, bustling economy! "Thriving" is a most appropriate word to use, and they're happy to let capitalism merrily roar along. Yet, in the US, a wimpy pseudo-conservative president allows more government growth while congress seeks more restrictions on how we live, more concerned with "global warming" (or, has it now switched to cooling?) than preserving our freedom, borders and national integrity. Kinda gives one pause.
Then, sometimes you have to wonder if they're keeping the Brazilian economy so “UP” through “smoke and mirrors” – look at the thousands of kiosks, each with thousands of magazines, all in competition with each other, and sometimes with two or three on a single block. There certainly seems to be more magazines in Brazil than our United States, many niche/specialty types to be sure. Yet, I never have seen such competition for consumer dollars (or Reals).
Competition is also severe among the “professional working-women.” Because of my lifestyle and living hours, I hadn't had an opportunity to see many away from the Mala Pataca on Atlantica, Hooker Headquarters. But, while doing e-mailings at 6:45 to 7AM, you'd occasionally see one apparently heading home after a rather long night; habits were also altered some by the “Live Earth” interruption of business, and the pending PanAm Games as the cops “clean-up the streets.”
There's another thing this country has in abundance - style, or a sense of style. I've spoken about how impressed I've been with the art, graphic design, the signs; spoke with that seatmate on the plane (owner/president of an office furniture company in Porto Alegre) about the impressive style of Brazilian office furnishings -- even his personal business cards are beautifully simple, elegant. Then, while walking along, the furniture stores have some gorgeous designs, and a wonderful modular approach for kitchens too! Very creative. Have seen nothing remotely like it in the states -- small shops with some excellent ideas! Architecture, too, is excellent; functional and very good-looking. Some of our American firms could learn a great deal about design – appearance and efficiency, from the inventive Brazilian designers. (on my return flight, my seatmate was a young lady from Porto Alegre who was going to study anthropology at Brown University; her first trip to the states. The daughter of a doctor/heart specialist, she was but sixteen!)
Have read in several places that the men in Brazil treat the women in lousy fashion. Maybe true, I sure don't know – but I have noted that guys growing bald sure don't seem to mind. Bosley and all those other hair-transplant people would not do too well down here. Brazil's a dynamite place to visit, but our USA (despite Dubya, Kyl, McCain, Pelosi, Al Sharpton, Teddy Kennedy, et al) still has a lot more going for it... and nobody comes close! Despite our warts, although those aforementioned clowns (and a number of other bastards) are doing their damndest to screw us up, we still haven't been caught. That said, our US Dollar was worth 1.64 Brazilian Reals in '05; slipping to about 1.78 when we were here last year -- and now has grown to 1.92 Reals to our (onetime awesome) buck.
Copacabana is big and long. And mostly high. Then add in Ipanema and Leblon -- all the way down to the end where that unusual peak (like an ice cream cone upside-down?) signifies “the end of things” as we know it, right? Oh no, there's a lot more beyond. Barra du Tijuca is about a 45-minute very fast bus-ride from Copacabana with an Andretti-type driver -- maybe longer. There's another Copa, Ipanema and Leblon in Barra du Tijuca – it's HUGE, and the biggest Mall in South America, with a Statue-Of-Liberty and Outback Steakhouse nearby; whether part of the complex itself or not, can't say. Never bothered to go into the mall itself; “shopping” is for the ladies – I'd rather get a root-canal. There is, however, an 18-screen Cinema – and all the major, expensive car agencies (Land Rover, Jag, Mercedes, Audi & Chrysler 300s too) nearby, all 'way out there, through one loooong tunnel and another one or two smaller ones. While flying from SaoPaulo, I saw a whole bunch of apartments/high-high-rises out there. Now I'm aware of what it was, a whole 'nother city, almost tacked on as an afterthought. On the return, saw my first shacks/ultra-slums in Zona Sul (like small storage things, or a bunch of packing crates side-by-side, holding each other up, and people living in them........ Some bus drivers allow Professional Beggars on board. The guy who came in to pitch his woes was right next to me -- showing a healed bullet-hole in his thigh and crying for help -- said something that sounded like Gangrene. Don't know how he did, what he netted, but it sounded a bit contrived and scripted to me. Don't think the rest of the customers/audience was overly sympathetic either.....
Other recent sights: A dog walking down the street with a rubber chicken. Really. His toy? Or a warning to vendors? And a guy who seems to show up most mornings around Ipanema's Posto 9. About 5'10" and weighs 120 max, in a Speedo with Jesus-like stringy hair; the Scarecrow!
A Che Guiverra Booth (for Fidel Castro's bastardly assasination-guy) selling T-shirts and Che-crap at the Hippy Fair in Praca General Osorio in Ipanema? Finally wore my "Che Is Dead - Get Over It" T-shirt... even though the booth keeper was such a disagreeable, grumpy and violent looking nasty-man, he looked like the most genuinely unhappy person I've seen in years. Literally. Survived...
They haven't just confined Tom Jobim to renaming the airport. Now the full park surrounding the Lagoa is named for him as well. His apartment was only two short blocks away... that was even before he became very successful; where he wrote Girl from Ipanema. Interesting - - with the exception of maybe the modern shopping malls and a few new buildings, there is no Central Air Conditioning. Rather, those so- called "window" units, rarely stuck in windows themselves...
Without a doubt, the SMARTEST THING I DID about this trip was bringing those two large jars of Jif peanut butter. Of course I could've eaten other things, but this made things so much more simple! There will not be very much left (if any!) when I depart on Wednesday afternoon..... Made that jaunt (via subway) down to Cinelandia and the “Toonerville Trolly,” called the Bonde. Kinda fun, saw the sights. Virtually all the others, to the best of my hearing (which is marginal?) were speaking Portuguese; I think I was the only American, although some were not familiar with the geography. Some very impressive buildings!!! Not just the new, but some of those "stately" old structures. And, up in the hills, the electrical madness! Hundreds of lines strung together from pole to pole = spaghetti. We've seen it before, elsewhere, but the fact that they have power is sometimes amazing. Took a few pictures.... But, when I hit the Lotto next week, I may seek a “vende” in Urca, the nicest little community within Rio I've seen; every other person you pass smiles and says “Bom Dia.” Second place goes to the fictional Inspector Espinosa's neighborhood called, I believe, Peixoto, in north-central Copacabana – a little out-of-the-way, where many locals live – smaller structures, quieter, friendly and just nice.
In the meantime, (7/7/07) Rio was preparing for its participation in Al Gore's “Live Earth” bullshit fiasco -- and then, the following week's PanAm Games. Police and military types are patrolling the streets with their AK-47s and bad-looking weaponry. They're friendly and smile -- but they are alert for trouble. Hell, with all of that PanAm crap (AND, on top of that, this dumb "Live Earth" crowd-control???) to protect, yeah, they have their hands full. And it wouldn't have surprised me at all if the favela bunch blew out of their slums for a nasty raid or something -- opportune timing for someone dedicated toward causing trouble (much of the blame goes back to the judges, who allowed the crime-bosses unlimited use of cellphones to run their little [or big?] crime operations from their jail cells, call for "hits" and whatever crime bosses do.....) Bet they're very relieved that this pressure subsided and all that crap is over; the police chief deserves a medal. Alas, I did waste two pictures from that 27-in-the-camera -- because Al Gore had no Prius, no 4-bangers from Honda or Toyota (or even Volkswagen, which they make here in Brazil), and there were no 3-cylinder Geos either. Ever the hypocrite, top-of-the-line V-8 Mercedes Gas-Guzzlers were set aside for "VIPs" associated with Al Gore's "Live Earth" fiasco in Rio -- at least seven of them! There were a few vans for hauling the gear, properly labeled "Diesel powered with Biofuels" (to soften the negativity of V-8 Mercedes, maybe?). And how many VIPs are there to ferry-about? Can't they share-a-ride and Car-Pool? After all, that would be the ecological thing to do....
What an afternoon! There at The Allegro around 12:50 and "they started without me" - barely. "If You Could See Me Now" from ballad to bossa nova to doubletime... and back to a ballad coda; 7-8-9 minutes -- Green Dolphin Street... Miss Jones... Stella By Starlight (see first song, above for how they did it), and some Bop, like Frank Morgan did in its infancy in '48, and Bird originals. The pianist has phenomenal left-hand (his right ain't chopped-liver either!); and the Phil Woods type alto guy???? His son, Jamal, as translator told me that his latest CD was (believe it or don't) DEDICATED to Phil Woods!! Told him (during the break) I'd like to buy it --- HE went looking, found they were sold-out at the store, BUT said he'd send me a copy by mail. Offered to pay - - he declined, 'cause, guess I "made his day." His name is Idriss Baudrioua, originally from Paris, moved to Rio a couple years ago. The bassman and drummer work with Michel LeGrand when he's in Brazil, each excellent! And the pianist, again, another Red Garland, Alberto Shimelli, wonderful! So, the aforementioned – plus other musicians who remind me of Vince Guiraldi, one of Lou Levy for some reason, and a Grover Washington, Jr. type tenorman, among others? This was the second of two truly remarkable Saturdays. No cover – no minimum, imagine! And they're charging up to R$250 per ticket to hear some romantic singer named Roberto Carlos? Not for me, thank you. Paid R$35 cover last year to hear Marcello Lappa and Renata Arruda do some wonderful Bossa Nova, and that was fine - - but, almost non-stop music for several hours for the price of a few Coca-Cola-Lights? Mercy! During the second break, was introduced to "the" jazz DJ from Globo, who also is a columnist/critic... nice guy named Arlindo Coutinho, speaks fine English, and we compared notes. Then - this is going to sound silly..... but, I'd brought along, as a semi-gag "gift," one of those JackInTheBox antenna balls. The guy I'd originally brought it for originally "no longer qualified" so I asked Jamal Baudrioue if his dad owned a car. He said "yes" -- and I handed over ol' Jack..... explaining.... and they loved him! Hell of a "trade" - a CD for a JackInTheBox thingy. (oh, there's also a Chinese take out [obviously] called "Chinese In A Box") So, another dynamite afternoon: about 3-1/2 hours of music (not counting breaks!) that's World Class! Sitting in, in addition to the aforementioned quartet, a French Soprano Sax player, and one of the country's best known drummers; never got his name... I just listened and was exhausted (again). The Allegro features jazz and/or bossa nova also on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays (MPB or something else on Mon-Tues). Aside from one surly waiter, terrific people, all very positive.
On the other hand, though, this quote from the supercilious French actress Catherine Deveuve: “Brazil doesn't attract me. It's too consistently carefree.” Guess you have to consider the source - - -
To this point, I've written about generally “light” topics – but was e-mailing Pete Hamill (a super novelist [Snow In August among others] and columnist, whose “Piece Works” touched on several racial issues as they apply to the US) and responded to him on the Brazilian situation. Now, I've read some of their history and have paid a bit of attention to what I've seen; I certainly don't claim to have any or all answers, and I certainly could be mistaken -- but several things seem to stand out, a lot! Brazil imported SIX times as many slaves as the US (sugar cane, the mines, coffee plantations; city and home help) until outlawed in 1888, almost 25 years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. And, while there have been a few “troubled times” in the past, especially in the Northeastern parts of Brazil, generally speaking, blacks seem to be doing very well in Brazil -- Rio, Sao Paulo and the Southern regions especially. The problems today appear to be economic ones, education (or the lack thereof) and “class.” And that transcends color! Whatever problems they're having don't seem to be racial, and I'm not aware of any Affirmative Action either. The reason, as I see it, one word – assimilation. Intermarriage or mixed marriages? Lots of that, absolutely. Blacks in Brazil aren't blacks, they're Brazilians – they've assimilated! Can't overemphasize that. And I don't even know whether the word “reparations” is in their dictionary – it's certainly nothing you're likely to hear in Rio. They may have “quotas” in hiring, but they deal with numbers of people, not the color of their skin. But again, that magic word is assimilation – and I don't have the vaguest idea how to import that concept to the US from Brazil.
“Al Capone Pizza” (guess it's a Brazilian franchise?) is lousy. Worse than lousy, overpriced as well. “Mister Pizza,” however, ain't too shabby. Have had better, but, not bad! “BiBi's Crepes” were a surprise too. Sausages and beef Bar-B-Que are exceptional. Period. End of food critique.
It's funny about languages. Okay, “funny” is the wrong word, but in retrospect, I'm not at all sorry that I didn't learn more Brazilian-Portuguese. It's a rough language – may seem similar to Spanish, but (aside from a few words) sounds nothing like it! Maybe closer sounding to Italian, maybe? The “Ms” sound like “Ns,” “N's” sound like “Ms” – “Rs” sound like “Ds,” “Hs” and occasionally “R” – “H” is “Y” – “D” is “G” – and that's only for starters. My “Bom Dia,” “Boa Tarde” and “Obrigado” are sufficiently genuine-sounding to have some thinking that I'm actually “one-of-them” and not a gringo; yet I'm able to back-out from any unwanted conversation, and I really don't need to talk much. Understanding “enough to get by?” Not really, but I'm getting by anyway. Brazilians are patient people, and if you know a few key words or phrases, they'll go out of their way to assist, accommodate - find someone who really can translate (if it's that important, which it probably isn't). And, even if you don't speak their tongue, if you appear genuinely interested in their country (which I am) they like you. That “old dog/new tricks” stuff is real – and, candidly, although it may have stemmed from terminal laziness or lack of aptitude, no regrets. This may be my last trip to Rio, and it would've taken more effort than I wanted to use to actually learn more than I did. A linguist from Denmark may well disagree, but, despite myself, it's all worked out – so far! Doubt if I have added more than 8-10 words to my Brazilian vocabulary, but got along great despite that perceived laziness (or lack of aptitude?). There were 19 druggies were killed during a major police crackdown (6/27/07) in the Northern Rio slums/favelas. You'd've never guessed it by the attitudes of the people on the street the following morning; downtown was busy, thriving and bustling as usual. Alas, the graffiti kooks have caught up too much of Rio... wish they'd take time to remove so much of the crap -- makes a neat place look so damned ugly.
If that helps anyone, great – it's based on six weeks (last year and this) in Rio & environs...