Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rio, Part One.

As night fell on the sparkling city of Rio, the elevator doors opened, and I approached the empty bar at the, (aptly named!), Bar D'Hotel. I was looking for something.

I believe that something was called 'trouble', if memory serves.

Glancing to my right, outside the floor-to-ceiling windows, lay a perfect sliver of Ipanema Beach with loaves of sugary mountains jutting into the dark-red sky from the depths of the ocean below. The last of the volleyball players, perfectly chiseled silhouettes at this point, were packing up and leaving for a night of dancing and debauchery.

I could almost hear the waves crashing below, but the window glass was too thick for that. Even without the sound effects, one had to admit that God broke the mold when he made Rio. Somewhere in the distance, Christ the Redeemer, with his protective, massive, and outstretched stony arms, nodded in agreement as he kept watch over his beloved Cariocas.

Bar D'Hotel was listed in the Lonely Planet as one of the hippest bars in Rio, but not THE hippest. That honor went to an establishment just down the street named "Bar Londra". Bar Londra, on a good night, was $40 US dollars just for entry. That's pretty damned obscene in a city where that amount of money is more like a monthly salary. Hell, even LA didn't really have bars like that!

But this particular bar where I began my evening was the soiree of choice for soap actresses, reality TV stars, successful business men, and of course: models. And let me tell you something about the models in Rio: they do NOT look bad. Very, very, very not bad.

My attention returned to the laminated drink menu on the bar in front of me.

"How are you tonight?" the bartender asked me in heavily accented English while polishing a glass.

Thank God, I thought to myself. Somebody in Rio speaks English. It had been two entire days of near-silence. Portuguese is not an easy language to learn.

"Fine, thanks. You speak English?" I asked hopefully.

"A little bit. I can get by." he said with a smile. "What would you like to drink?"

I pretended to think long and hard about it.

"I think it's going to have to be a Caipirinha."

"Good choice!" he replied, as a nod to the signature drink of Rio.

A word to the wise: a Caipirinha is made from Cacha├ža which differs greatly from rum. Cachaca is made from fermented sugarcane whereas most rum is made from molasses. A few of these drinks will have most people speaking in tongues. In any case, it's a fact worth remembering when you find yourself in Rio with a lot of time on your hands. Which...will be EVERY time you find yourself in Rio.

TO BE CONTINUED...