I’ve given up trying to find time to write what I call a decent piece on Copacabana. It’s been a month now since I came back from my trip to Rio and my story is getting stale – and my memory of it, thanks to my highly efficient hippocampus, slowly becoming fuzzy. So I’m settling for the easy, lazy, quickie way: do a hodgepodge of photos and captions
One of the best parts of being in Rio – staying next to Copacabana Beach and waking up to its old but still reliable beauty and to the music of its waves gently rushing to its long, long shore. One of the best places on earth to spend the morning, really. With mountain chains in the backdrop, it was guilelessly beautiful. This is the view from the terrace of my second-storey room at Hotel Sofitel, which is at the side of Copacabana that borders Ipanema.
Sofitel at night (at the closing reception of the event I attended, held by the pool). I don’t know if it was just Sofitel, but my food experience while in Rio wasn’t so great. Their barbecues weren’t bad, but their usual meals with beans as well as those with rice weren’t appetizing to me. I noticed Rio has many pizza houses and restaurants serving Italian and Spanish cuisines. I tried a mid-priced pizza place and two of such restos – I would say the food experience was so-so in general, nothing memorable. Their food tended to be salty as well. By the end of my trip, I lost any appetite and was craving for spicy, tasty Asian delights so much that when I reached Dubai, I had three plates of vegetable rice with hareis at the Emirates’ VIP Lounge at 2 in the morning. Haha. No wonder I slept throughout the flight from Dubai to Singapore and reached home with swollen feet!
Sofitel Copacabana. Old but still lovely. Its terraces are a real treat, with each having a view of the beach.
A view of Copacabana from Sofitel, which is from one end of the beach. The stretch of lights is the whole expanse of the 4-km shore.
Busy night down the area with some dignitaries arriving for the Rio+20 summit, the 20th anniversary of the first Earth Summit held in Rio in 1992. For several days I could hear and see helicopters hovering over Copacabana or ferrying dignitaries and officials attending the summit. Many of the main streets were transformed into special lanes for cars carrying these VIPs with tens of other vehicles in convoy. I wondered how much fuel and resources they spent for an event that 20 years after had achieved so little of its goal – to have countries commit to sustainable development. It’s about time they rethought this “tradition” (which often involves thousands of participants) of convening regularly in certain places to discuss, debate and do all that jazz and in the end get little or no result.
Speaking of the devil, er, helicopter…
Another. It was a long hubbub. I had to close the doors to the terrace to be able to get some work done.
Walking on the sidewalk pavement of Copacabana across Sofitel, I came across this old man sitting on a bench by himself late at night. I found out he was Carlos Drummond de Andrade, considered one of the most influential Brazilian poets of the 20th century. He said, as written on the side of the bench: “No mar estava escrita uma cidade” (Rough translation: “At the sea was written a city”). Very appropriate ‘cos really, Rio seems to have been “written” at the sea with its several bays, including the oceanic Guanabara Bay, which when first encountered by the Europeans on January 1, 1502, looked like a river to them, prodding them to call the area “Rio de Janeiro” or River of January.
Mountains, sun, seas, simple life and warm smiles. They outdo what some outsiders describe as Rio’s decadence. In many instances, it felt like I was back home.
What better way to spend the Sunday morning than to while away at Copa? Most people don’t even swim or dip into the water. They would just bring a beach mat or rent a reclining chair and enjoy the sun, sand and sea with a coconut drink and some company.
And what better way to get those bodies worked up than to play a beach game in bikinis or trunks under the sun?
Beach volleyball. Actually, I was just looking for some eye candies to take photos of, and these were (unfortunately) the best male bods I could find at Copa that Sunday morning
Closer. Maybe because there was no special occasion (New Year’s Eve is said to be a major occasion at Copacabana Beach and attracts thousands of revelers), that time, I saw more old folks in bikinis and trunks than young ones.
Is the predominance of old people in Rio a sign of Brazil’s aging population and increasing longevity – said to be one of the biggest risks both developed and developing worlds are facing? Brazil is now one of the 10 countries with the largest population of elderly people. By 2050, at least 30% of its population will be at least 60 yo and life expectancy will hit 81. Hmmm…
Anyway, it was good to see people of different age ranges, waistline sizes and quantity of flab comfy with their bodies and didn’t mind showing them off.
Women comfy with their skin and body size – loved it. I wish it were the same in Asia, where a svelte figure is the norm and “oversized” bodies are not supposed to be shown off.
Massage service on the beach, US$1 per minute, minimum of 20 minutes. He seemed to be having a great time, singing along with the music on his radio while rubbing and kneading his fast asleep customer.
A native American Indian peddling trinkets on the sidewalk.
Another beachside peddler.
Of course, a souvenir shirt peddler. I noticed that unlike in many other cities, peddlers at the touristy areas of Rio weren’t very pushy. Many of them would just say thank you if you said no.
This was an observation also made by a colleague: The beaches in Rio were surprisingly clean despite the large number of people who flock to them especially on weekends. You would scarcely see any litter on Copacabana’s long stretch of shore.
I noticed that Cariocas would hit the beach without bringing food items or drinks with them. I hardly saw anyone eating except those at the snack bars on the pavement. Some would just sip coconut juice, that was it. I reckoned it was one of the reasons the beach was generally free of litter.
The sand wasn’t bad – fine but not so white. I didn’t get excited about it or the sea though, having spent the first 15 years of my life on an island, a stone’s throw away from the sea.
There’s the breast, er, Sugarloaf Mountain in the background (middle). It was called Sugarloaf obviously for its resemblance to a sugar loaf. I heard someone saying though that it looked more like a woman’s breast than a loaf
Another tourist said, “It looked more like a saggy breast.” Enough said. All I know is that it offered a great view of Rio and I loved being on top of it.
A Sunday morning empanada stall across the street from the beach. I guess, besides the pricier snack bars on the sidewalk, this is where Cariocas nosh before heading for the beach.
This is where you could find litters, a Sunday market nearby No, Rio was generally clean and, in many areas, orderly. As another visitor aptly said: “For someone who had never been to Rio, I expected to see a lot of decadence. But the city’s still lovely overall.”
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