Tuesday, December 09, 2008

South America Update

I´ve been doing Facebook more than blogging this trip - the days have been too packed to sit down and do this properly.

Our group had a mixed reaction to Brazil. I loved it, but I was one of the few who found a life down here outside of the race. For most of them they were Kamehameha CC 100% of the time, from the moment they stepped off the plane. For me, I had met two guys - Marcos and Cim - and spent a fair amount of time hanging out with them. Hollis came down from NYC on the weekend, so we hung also. Friday to Sunday I was all Kamehameha. I think there were some tensions among those who never escaped the group, though I didn´t even notice until I was set to leave.

The breakdown:

Tuesday - arrive, and I am so beat I can barely function. It´s a bit cold and grey. I take a walk along Ipanema beach. I meet one guy, Marcos, and make plans to go dancing later in the week. At night I have coffee with Cim, a friend of a friend of a friend, and we hit it off and also make plans for later.

Wednesday - it´s cold and rainy. I run into Ruby by chance - she had been down here camping - and we head downtown to the museums. They weren´t that interesting, and Rio´s downtown was standard: beautiful old buildings and thousands of people bustling and hustling. That night more of the group arrives, but I can only convince Allen to go out with me. We hit Galeria Cafe, a small art studio that turns into a gay dance party at night. We meet Marcos, and dance until late at night. Everyone dances; there is no standing still. It´s all Brazilian music, and the crowd is cute and friendly and surprisingly normal - no twinks, muscle heads, or fashionistas. Just guys having a real good time.

Thursday - I work out for the first time in a week, then chill with Jake and Allen and Roz at Ipanema´s gay beach. The men are drop dead hot. I get too much sun. That night, our last night of freedom, no one will go out with me. Lame. I have a great time with Cim on my own.

Friday - Roz has us meet at 7:30 for a team work out - core, a bit of strength, and a run on the beach. Ouch! I hurt after that! The rest of the crew arrives, and we head to Urca to get the canoes ready and meet Nicholas, our Rio Vaa rep. The water is big, and it´s an intense trip from Urca to Copacabana and then back to Praia Vermelha. Luckily Mariano turns out to be an amazing steersman, with a talent for riding the backwash of the waves as they crash against the rocks and cliffs. It is either exhilerating (most of my crew) or a bit scary (yours truly). We ride the cable cars up Sugar Loaf after. That night I ditch the crew to hang with Cim. I wasn´t impressed with the restaurant choices, and it was getting too expensive to always be eating with a group at nice places. I love having dinner with groups like this, but it was getting to be too much. Plus, well, yeah you´re seeing a pattern.

Saturday - We put together a Master´s Crew for a 6km race: Jake, Allen, Jake, MC, Steve, Mariano. The water is choppy and confused, and I can´t say that we blended very well together, though it was the first time we had paddled together in this lineup and it was different. We come in 4th. Out of 4. We spend all day at the beach, then nap and later head to a nice Italian Restaurant for our team dinner. I have a Rosa de Bacalhau, a pasta stuffed with codfish in a tomato sauce, and it´s great. The first great meal I´ve had, really. We get to bed later than I wanted to.

Sunday - Race day. And I remembered, once again, and as usual too late, why they call these races "iron." Because of course if it were easy it wouldn´t be iron, or impress anyone. If anyone is impressed. We went from Praia Vermelha to Ipanema and back, and then into the Bay to Urca and back to Praia Vermelha - 42 kilometers without rest through all kinds of water. And I was loving it and later hating it then loving it and then just kind of delerious. Our line up was Eli, Jake, Lance, MC, Steve, Mariano. And we came in last, but I´m ok with that - we were a master´s crew, and the only Master´s Crew that even attempted the full iron course. That night we partied with the Rapa Nui guys at Baixa Gavea, which was basically a standard issue college type party where everyone drinks in the streets until the late hours of the night.

Monday - Ah sweet freedom! No tensions or anxiety, no worries about training, and one mean hangover (Eli and I had to keep one step ahead of Donielle in her caiparinha intake, cause it just would not have been right to let her drink more!). Those two took off to Buzious, the rest of the group took a cab ride to Corcovado, and Hollis and I climbed the mountain. ´Cause I haven´t been physical enough the past week, I guess. It was nice, though it sucked up the last of my body fat reserves. I have abs again! That night I finally got people to come dancing with me - Pam, Roz, Phil, Ruby, Lance and I went to Carioca de Gema in Lapa to hear some live Samba. We ran into the Tahitians, and had a great time dancing. I can, almost, I think, at least in my mind, samba and keep in step with the slower dancers here. Fun times.

And now Hollis and I are in Buenos Aires and a whole new movie has started. It´s a world apart; our neighborhood is cobblestone streets and narrow houses and could be Cervante´s La Mancha if it were on a different continent and you removed the buses running up and down the street. And I´m liking this too, but more on BA later ...

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