A few weeks ago, desperate to get out of dodge and with an inviting four day weekend ahead of us, we rented a car for a mini-holiday. Being on the road in any capacity in Brazil is an adrenaline rush because there are no lanes, no laws, no limits. Just eighty million people trying to go the same place you are, with little to no regard for the physics of space and time. It feels like near-death every time. And it’s kind of fun, in an exhilarating “will today be the day I pee my pants in fear?” kind of way.
We loaded up by 9am, stopping immediately at the gas station for Cheetos, the only road trip snack I believe in. Then we drove. I think half of our excitement came just from renting a car, which you probably can’t relate to if you’ve always had one. But we listened to the radio, although we had no idea what the stations were. We went grocery shopping, and bought more than we could carry. We stopped at the self-proclaimed World’s Greatest Cheese Shop, just because we could. (Where we had the classic road trip conversation – “The bathrooms are like, really clean.” “Are they?” “Yeah, I sat down and everything.”)
Arraial do Cabo felt like driving into a postcard – turquoise waters, gentle waves, clean white sparkly sand, red umbrellas dotting the shore, Brasil’s version of pelicans diving into the water. Only five restaurants lined the tiny boardwalk, and I think the entire town knew the white girls were there within an hour (although I was flattered to be thought Argentinian).
Our hotel was right on the beach. We unloaded quickly and headed to the water, where we were promptly spotted by a kiosk hustler named, I am not kidding, something that sounded like “Vagina.” I n Brazil, you can order whatever you want from kiosks on the boardwalk and they start a tab for you, bringing caipirihnas, meat and french fries, calamari, agua sem gas, whatever you want. It’s incredibly dangerous for your liver, stomach, and wallet. It’s everything I ever wanted and more. There are also guys walking the beach with mini-BBQs or ice creams or shrimp on a stick or mixed drinks out of sketchy coolers, or jewelry, sarongs, hats, and toys that break the moment the vendor walks out of sight. We ate and drank and tanned our hearts out, collapsing into bed at 9pm. Ain’t no party like a teacher party because a teacher party ends at a respectable hour because we are always tired. The next am we hit the breakfast buffet, which was SUPER BRAZILIANS with cakes, cookies, sugar-laden cereals, ten kinds of juice, cheese, hams, breads, jello, and incredibly strong coffee. And like, something that might have been yogurt, might have been whipped cream. It was epic.
Then we did more beach. This time I hit up the pizza cart instead of Vagina’s expensive and takes-too-long kiosk. This adorable hippie couple, easily in their early 80s, were slinging pizzas and beer out of a little golf cart. The woman had a bigger mustache than he did, and they had been selling pizzas for ten years on that beach. We made fast friends. I may have told them my life story — you gotta practice the Portuguese. And it’s easiest to do it when literally punch-drunk and sun-dazed.
I also made friends with some old man at a restaurant who dragged me onto the dance floor (occupied by only one other couple and the 9-year-old daughter of our waitress) to dance to some terrible open mike music. I tried to keep distance between his bare beer belly and my twirly dress, but he was sweet and harmless, whispering endearments and making me blush and laugh the way only certain old shirtless men can do that seems non-creepy. The beach is an endless source of entertainment in Brazil – watching parents rinse out their screaming children’s privates in the freezing showers, catching a game of futbol or the special brand of no-hands volleyball Brazilian men play, or observing the extremely popular selfie. There are a lot of selfie-sticks on our beaches, and a variety of poses that are essential when on the beach. Here’s a list of some I’ve seen. Feel free to use as reference for your next beach trip selfie:
- running on the beach like Baywatch (men and women)
- hair down, facing the sunset
- yoga pose, facing sunset
- pretending to hold the sun in hands
- walking sexily out of water (men and women and it never works)
- pretending to throw water up in the air
- holding your baby up in the air with the ocean behind them
- with selfie stick with a wave behind you
- contemplating the water
- toes in the water (ass in the sand)
- holding up your drink with the water as a backdrop
- the “I was on vacation but I still worked out” selfie
We spent two more days on the beach; drinking, eating, tanning, people watching. Wishing I knew enough Portuguese to tell the girl next to us that her tampon string was hanging out of her bikini bottom. Judging bad tattoos, awwwwing all the cute babies, rotating around the umbrella towards the sun, deciding which speedos looked best, and witnesses an appalling amount of PDA. The trip was also amazing because I had an actual warm shower. It was heaven. Here’s to my first road trip in Brazil! The first of many.