Remembering Rio de Janiero

Remembering Rio...

What I remember about  Rio is it's the most beautiful geography where land meets water I have ever seen. Heretofore that accolade went to Portofino. I recall feeling I could drop my camera in Portofino and if the shutter went off I had a Postcard. Monaco also manifests those feelings within me as well.

Rio was not only beautiful, but ultra sexy, it conveyed rhythm, style, joyfulness and a presentation like no other. I have always loved Brazilian Music and when I departed, I had to add their food to my burgeoning love for this country... I spent over $200 on Brazilian music while we were there, not knowing precisely what I was buying, and as the currency exchange in the 80's will testify to, just how big of a purchase that was sight and sound unknown...

I traveled to Rio in the mid 80's with my then new wife. I booked everything and attempted to make it simple by booking the most expensive hotel available. According to my research (not as simple as it is today) that turned out to be the Rio Palace. It was without a doubt the best location in Rio right on Copacabana Beach but an easy walk to Ipanema Beach, however, the joy began to fade...

                                 

Upon arriving at the Rio Palace, the disappointment became acute. The Lobby looked like a little hole in the wall. The accommodation was average at best but was right on the beach with a fantastic view. To make matters worse, roaches were our new roommates and frankly asked us to leave! We demanded another accommodation, it was a better space with a much more fantastic view but we still had to share it with our former roommates.

We were determined to dissuade our new relatives from nullifying a journey with which we both desired immensely.

The dinning that evening at the hotel was outside and elevated with a view to die for and the food was wonderful. My wife use to surf in California and I never saw her happier than the time she spent on and in the water on Copacabana Beach... However, we were about to begin quite an education of Rio.

She wore a simple black tank suit that did show off her great body but not like a bikini and unfortunately we immediately began experiencing the real Rio... A horde of local men began trailing us relentlessly (within a few feet) making all kinds of sounds and of course speaking in Portuguese. Total disrespect for us! We were livid! Frankly, it drove us from the beach.

That evening, it got worse. Because we were staying at the so called top hotel, we were offered an opportunity to experience the top private club in Rio. We were dressed fabulously and really looked forward to this as I was a member of "Touch" in LA which was a Private Club partially owned by Hugh Hefner and was simply spectacular and I also was a member of the famous Private "Daisy Club" on Rodeo Drive where Nicole Simpson, who worked there and unfortunately was introduced to OJ Simpson whom we met there as well. So this atmosphere was truly a bonus for us.

We arrived and the club was gorgeous, the people were dressed to the 9's!!! We decided to join them on the dance floor and guess what? Every single person left the dance floor. We were humiliated but decided to keep dancing and make a valiant attempt to enjoy ourselves among these little people who thought they were so elegant and precious. We showed them they were simply classless racists with no vestige of sophistication as we truly began to visibly enjoy ourselves and revel in our dismissal of them...

They got the message! They all returned to the dance floor and we had a wonderful evening but we now began to discern what Rio was really all about as the next day we learned succinctly what Rio is all about...

While we were walking along the pavement of Ipanema Beach (in casual clothes), a young Black Man ran up to us. We were fearful as we learned on the plane about the terrible crime in Rio as they had about 2 million children basically homeless, perhaps in the Favelas (the hillside slums) we were advised, you do not dare to wear any jewelry, etc. The crime is spartan there! Fortunately the young man wasn't there to harm us, but just to ask us a question. His question was, "have you noticed how people are staring at you?"

I was amazed as my antennae is always up and I noticed this big time but had not yet associated it with anything we do not experience in America or other countries with some having nefarious intent and others simply admiring two people in love. Well he simply stated "it is racism." It was hard to believe, but after our previous nights experience our education of Rio was solidified yet still unbelievable...

Later that evening we were strolling as we passed by this garden level restaurant that seemed intriguing so I suggested we dine there. Frankly it was the very best whole fish dinner (up to that point in my life; many years later I had a whole fish in Athens that you select live out of the tank, then they escort you across the street to a table on a boat harbor where it is served, that perhaps nudged this one) I had ever had. It was so wonderful that I indulged in gluttony and ordered another whole fish! I loved it, I loved the service, I loved the people in that environment. Wow, mixed messages prevail...

I will always love Brazilians for their contribution to the world regarding music, especially Jazz where they substitute Guitar where a Piano is usually played, Samba Dance, and their joy of life but upon some research I did after we returned home, regarding the shocking behavior we experienced, it left me with a serious depreciation of that country as I began to understand how and why men acted so appallingly toward my wife, as believe it or not, the culture there is so shockingly in favor of males, they can actually kill their wives with respect to certain behaviors and not be prosecuted! I checked this out some time ago so hopefully that has changed. With respect to the racism, which is amazing considering much of the love of Brazilian culture and their gifts to the world were fostered by African slaves, their music and Samba Dance just to mention a few... It all began to make sense as I am a history buff and have read many books on the 2nd world war and recalled so many of the Nazis escaped and where did they go, yup, Brazil...

But Rio is still like know other. The physical beauty of the geography and the people too as they are some of the best looking and sexist people on the planet... My wife and I had our own song back then and even now. It is performed by the great Brazilian Singer Tania Maria and our song is titled "Come With Me"...

In spite of it all, I will always have great and enduring love for the Carioca of Rio...

Glenn Guess Radcliffe