Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 23 – Tchau Brazil!

Chunk o'cow in corner
Last day in Brazil. We take advantage of every minute by sleeping in ‘til about 11:30. For breakfast/lunch, we go to Mabs, a restaurant and bar at the end of our street on the beach. While not quite a buffet, the staff continued to bring us extra food. Pete ordered the filet medallion; and after 20 minutes of trying to finish the gargantuan chunk o’cow, the waiter brought out a second filet medallion of equal or greater value.
Where we went.
With no real goal, we walk, bus, and subway around the entire city. I wanted to check out the Museum of Modern Art because the building looked badass. Like the Jetsons’ home, plastered with priceless pieces of art inside instead of a wisecracking blue nanny robot with a red bow tie. When we arrived at the museum, it looked drastically different than what I pictured. The featured exhibit was uber-weak, a depressing and confusing gallery of pieces by Luis Felipe Noe. I don’t know who he is either. At the gift shop, I saw a coffee table book of Rio sites, and saw the museum I thought we were going to. Pointing at the picture, I asked a saleswoman what that is, and where are we? Turns out, I was thinking of the Contemporary Art Museum, not the Modern Art. Samsonite?? I was way off.
Niteroi - where I thought we were going
The next stop on our walking tour was the Cathedral Metropolitan. It’s a gigantic iron cone-shaped church. It actually looked like an iron temple in the middle of downtown. Other stops included the National Library, where I checked out “The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist”, and the Municipal Theatre, where we saw “The Kardashians on Ice”.
As our fine arts tour wound down, we headed back to Copa to grab some food and head towards the airport. We left for the airport around 8:30. As we waited in the terminal, I ordered an Itaipava, my 5th local Brazilian beer - it wasn’t a Keystone Premium I can tell you that much.
Place got books
Place got drama
As we sat in our cushy coach seats with 9 millimeters of leg room, I looked back at all our amazing pics. Brazil was unforgettable (thanks to detailed notes I wrote down, otherwise I would’ve already forgotten half of it), but ultimately we were ready to head back home, which means searching for jobs in-between jaunts to Phoenix, Seattle, and Whistler.

Place got God

I’m pretty pleased we covered seemingly every crevice of Rio, some areas certainly by accident, and other than being here for Carnaval – there was little else we could’ve explored in Rio. However, there’re some spectacular beaches and geography a daytrip away from the Marvelous City I would’ve like to see, especially Ilha Grande, an island with rainforests, waterfalls, and private beaches, and is so small it doesn’t allow for cars. That could be for another trip. Perhaps bachelor parties in 2015? We gotta at least go back for the supertutes.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 22 – Supertutes (MPAA Warning: This blog contains brief nudity!)


Up at 4:30am. On wonderful TAM Airlines by 6:30am, heading back to Rio from Foz do Iguacu. The flight includes breakfast. Not hungry but impressed that food is offered for a flight that’s barely over an hour.
"Slider, you stink."
We’re back in the hotel around 9:30, grab some breakfast at the hotel (which we’ve been paying for for the last few nights but not using), then head to Copacabana Beach, where we promptly pass out. In between shoreline snoozes, we try our hand at body surfing the enormous waves, but it’s too exhausting and we crash and burn like Maverick’s initial move on Kelly McGillis.
Rio - you been freestyzied.
Brazil needs climbing condoms
At some point in the afternoon, we head back to Arpoador Point, in-between Ipanema and Copacabana Beaches. Seeing as how the area is rather empty, we start bouldering some of the rocks at this scenic point. The spot is romantic enough to be the backdrop of a Nicholas Sparks novel, but we take it 180 degrees in the opposite direction, and make it our own “American Gladiators” set. A lot of the rocks had slight protrusions that seemed like they’d be perfect for climbing; but instead - merely stabbed us. After acquiring a handful of scrapes and cuts, our Tenzing Norgay-experiment was done.
Est. feet scaled: 8,982,286
We returned to the rock-weight gym and met two foreign exchange students from Sacramento. They suggested we head to Lapa that evening. Lapa is closer to the downtown Rio area, which is a little more shady, but where all the locals hang.
Est. speedo count: 8,546,345,256,987,765,422
For the first time in Brazil, the weather started to change from homicidally hot. As we ate dinner at Ibero Bar, a Spanish restaurant near our hotel, it poured lions and tigers. Ironically, we had plenty of time to wait out the storm, as the service was so atrocious it took more than 2 hours to bring us our food. Granted, we ordered paella which takes a while to cook – but not 2 f’n hours! I ended up arguing with the owner over the wait, but it was the most inept argument of all time. This is how it probably translated: “We wait for food. 2 hours. No like. Very bad. Friend to work nice guy. I like him. But I say where paella one hour before? Paella never to come. Tonight is last night in Rio. No want to be here for 3 hours. I no to pay everything. Less money.”
Coconuts? More like cocosucks! See what I did there?
I believe the owner responded with something along the lines of we don’t offer discounts on the bill if you have bad service - no one in Rio does. This sounds ludicrous to me, but by this point we had lost so much time, I paid our bill (minus the tax!) and left. It wasn’t a battle worth fighting.
We got back to the hotel around 9p and tried to sleep until 10:15 to get ready for Lapa. It was our last night so we were ready to go hard like a warlock with Adonis DNA. The foreign exchange students suggested we watch ourselves when we head to Lapa, and not bring a camera. So we left photographic devices at the hotel, which I’m totally bummed about.
Not Lapa. A rainy Copacabana
The area was what I pictured a lot of Brazil to be. It was almost European-style, a couple small intersecting streets lined with bars, live music, and V-necks. There was a decent crowd out for a Tuesday night, but by no means was it crowded.
As we sat outside a restaurant/bar on a street corner, it was great for people watching. Small groups of beautiful Brazilian people would walk by, along with homeless orphans straight out of “City of God” and the occasional supermodel prostitute, or “supertute” as I have coined just this second. A pair of 40-something Brazilian women (not prostitutes!) tried to talk with us, but the conversation never got very far. They would ask us something, then we’d pause, look at each other, shrug, ask them to repeat, pause, look at each other, then finally say, “California.” This arduous conversation continued for much longer than you would think, or hope.
Safest boobs in Brazil. The magazine that is.
After they left, a local military guy sitting next to me started talking to us. He was about to embark on a UN mission and wanted to practice his English with us, so we happily obliged. His English was decent, so we picked his brain quite a bit. We told him about Barbarella, our unexpected and unfortunate “strip” club experience. He laughed at us, then suggested we go to this place called Cuatro by Cuatro. We asked if this was a strip club, and he simply replied – 'you won’t regret it. You will thank me.' We told him we’re not interested in strip clubs, and he steadfastly stood by his answer. He explained that the women there are beyond beautiful, and when you get there they give you a bathrobe to change into. Then you choose a woman, or women, go to a separate room, and have sex (although he dropped a startling f-bomb out of nowhere). After, you go into a sauna, sweat everything out, take a shower, and return home to your wife and kid. Yes, apparently our United Nations friend we thought was so innocent and nice, frequently partakes in going to sex clubs, then returns to his WIFE AND KID! And when did saunas become an effective way of curing herpes? I don't remember seeing any such articles in my daily medical journal readings. I don’t know why he tried so hard to convince us to go there. A strip club isn't our scene, but changing into a robe and going “Eyes Wide Shut”??? Yeah, that's our bag! Rio…. (head shake)
Pete and I walked through Lapa some more, but the crowd was dwindling quickly, so we bussed it back to Copa and saw a huge crowd outside Balcony, the first restaurant/bar we ate at in Rio a week ago. The place seems normal and is swarming with gorgeous women. As I walk into the bar, I see a stunning woman staring at me, let’s call her Giselle. So I smile back at her and she continues to check me out. I’m feeling pretty good about this, thinking whatever attire I’m sporting is working like I’m 70's Burt Reynolds. As we continue towards the bar, another beautiful woman, Giselle Light, is smiling and staring at me. I smile back at her and start to think I’m living a real life Axe commercial. Ego is definitely inflating like Carl Fredricksen’s house in “Up”. As we sit down at the bar, a third model, Giselle Reality, winks and smiles at me, too. Then it dawns on me.
It's actually 8pm!
I’m surrounded by supertutes. Giselle Reality’s smile kills my smile. Pete and I are actually in the hidden lair of the supertute. The bar is more packed than the Mos Eisley Cantina and every female (and probably male) here is looking to clean up on an hourly wage. The search for non-prostitute gorgeous Brazilians is going worse than Jack Nicholson’s search for his kid in a hotel garden maze. And it ends the same way. With failure. Back to the hotel.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Charlie Sheen: Actor, Pitchman, Warlock

You don't mess with a warlock. Exes are one thing, law enforcement and sorcerers another, but warlocks? Nope. Their mastery in the arts of black magic is reason enough to keep clear of warlocks, a term that’s been seldom-used or heard in the last 200 years (outside of Julian Sands-starring horror flicks). But “warlock” is exactly what Charlie Sheen described himself as on “The Today Show” on February 28. In regards to his on-going dispute with CBS, the 45-year-old actor told the morning show his old network "picked a fight with a warlock."

Nevermind the financial dispute between Sheen, CBS, and “Two-and-a-Half Men” creator Chuck Lorre. Nevermind the Golden Globe-winning actor’s ludicrous demand for $3-million an episode. Nevermind his simultaneous relationships with porn star and model/nanny. At what point exactly did Charlie Sheen become more batty than Bruce Wayne?

Sheen’s recent press tour has provided a cornucopia of crazy; an endless cauldron of weird, although a bona fide ratings coup. In that same Today interview, the jittery actor described his 36-hour cocaine bender as “epic behavior.” Then said he’s above addition because he’s got “tiger blood” and “Adonis DNA”, which makes him “special”. Although he did admit to “20/20” in a special called “In His Own Words”, he’s on one drug – “Charlie Sheen.” If you’re curious, the FDA has not approved said drug. “It’s not available because if you try it once, you will die,” explained Sheen. “Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body." Who would’ve thought Sheen’s words weren’t English, but cuckoo? I will give this to Bud Fox – his descriptions are creative. He’s tapped out all the imagery in Roget’s Thesaurus for the Looney.

Sheen’s career has had more than its fair share of missteps, accidentally shooting one-time fiancé Kelly Preston, but this one seems like a Mel Gibson-sized blunder that could ruin his career for good. Forget the awkward chemistry with Michael Jordan in Hanes commercials, Sheen’s awkwardness is more like casting Jordin Sparks in a remake of “Michael Collins”. His famous father Martin chimed in, likening Charlie’s addiction to cancer. The son responded on Radar Online: “Jeez, dad, shut it. Okay, Pop walk through a cancer ward right now and find any of those motherf***kers who look like me.”

Hollywood loves a comeback story, and industry experts believe Sheen’s career still has a shot at redemption. In the meantime, Sheen’s inner circle needs to try to quiet the outlandishly outspoken actor. In this situation, there can be a hero. I’m looking at you, Emilio Estevez. Like in “Young Guns”, when Charlie goes down, you can take the reins and save the day (although with an ironic twist since Billy the Kid should actually be a villain). You showed such promise in films like “Men at Work” and “The Mighty Ducks”, that I’m sure you have the power to vanquish the warlock and bring back the actor everyone loved in “Ferris Bueller”. Seriously, Emilio, help a brother out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 21 - Argentinian Cowboys

Devil's Throat (from the surface)

They say the Argentine side of Iguacu Falls is the best. It’s larger, less commercial. But what mattered to us, was that it’s in another country. Hello additional passport stamp! Not that getting that stamp was easy.

Trapped in an '80s Toyota commercial

We first take a bus around 8:20am (we missed the 7:40 bus because we were in the wrong place) that takes us to the border of Brazil and Argentina. Since we couldn’t communicate with anyone linguistically, we ended up just following others who appear to know what they’re doing. This could’ve been a cultural experiment on how confused foreign travelers throw away all cognitive judgement and morph into cattle.
Chow, this is what I think of your stories
We get off our first bus and follow people through the customs line to get our Brazil exit stamps, then jump on another bus to get our Argentina entrance stamps (fortunately no visa is required). We proceed to sit on a curb (there are ironically no bus benches for border hoppers) for a new bus to take us to Puerto Iguazu, where we have to jump on yet another bus to take us to Iguazu Falls. In Puerto Iguazu, we have to change our Brazilian real into pesos, because few people take credit and no people take real or dollars. If this doesn’t sound like a large enough hassle, we also go through a time change – at this point I don’t even know if we’re gaining or losing hours, and since neither Pete or I have time-telling devices, it almost doesn’t matter. Except for the fact that there’s a last bus that leaves Argentina to go back to Brazil at 5pm. Fortunately, everyone speaks Spanish in Argentina. Unfortunately, my Spanish is unintelligible. Sorry Senora Torkelson. I guess there’s a reason I got a 1 on my AP Spanish test (but yet straight A’s in class… who's your daddy?!).

Devil's Throat (full frontal)

I don't know what this is. But I
hear Richard Gere does. Oh snap!
When we finally get to Iguazu, it’s October. The Argentine side is far less populated than Brazil, but they still have a snazzy train that circumnavigates the park and prevents lazy asses like us from walking.  We take the train to Iguazu’s biggest fall, Devils Throat, which actually looks like a mouth. A plethora of rainbows emanate from the bottom of the falls. Somewhere Youtube-double-rainbow-guy’s head exploded.
I felt compelled to show this dude's
sunburn. He's from Wisconsin.
This makes me have to pee
Up next is our boat ride underneath the falls. On our way over, we get lost, which has become an annoying recurring theme. I don't remember when my navigational skills turned into Columbus (whatever - dude had no clue where he was, then had audacity to identify them incorrectly... and mass murder them). Before we take the boat ride, we go on this jeep tour through the rainforest. It was beyond boring and the guide was worse than James Franco at the Oscars.
The boat ride itself is pretty awesome. The falls are more powerful than UConn women’s basketball. The spray from the falls is so heavy that you’re blinded, so you can imagine what it’s like when you actually go underneath one of them. You actually can’t keep your eyes open because you’re just getting belted from all angles. I was amazed my contacts stayed in. Here’s some Aronofsky-like video Pete shot (I say Aronofsky not ‘cuz it’s good, but crazy angles!):

The view from below

A Brazilian leprechaun was at the end of the rainbow. He asked if we wanted sexo.
After the ride, and considering we took about 5,000,027 pictures, we started to get some waterfall fatigue. I started to veer off the trails wherever reasonable to add some juice to the pics, but ultimately, when you see 275 falls in 36 hours, well… you see 275 falls in 36 hours.

This leaf inspired the Christian Slater eco-animated classic"Ferngully"
Getting back to Brazil proved relatively easy. Although, I think one of the customs officials stamped an Argentina exit stamp over an old Mexico stamp. Come on brosef! I’m working hard to acquire more stamps. This is like taking away $500 in stamp/international travel value.
Villa Park represent. Go Bobcats & Spartans!

For dinner we eat at some Libyan, or Lebanese, pizza restaurant. It was good, but they gave us a pizza with toppings on only one side. The difficulty ordering food continues. It did not however follow us to McDonalds, where despite having just eaten dinner, Pete wanted to try the fries. The meaning behind this is because when Pete went to India for a month or so for work, he had the greatest McDonalds fries of all time. They tasted the same.

At this Mickey D’s though, I found myself infatuated with the tray paper place mat. It had all the different languages where McDonalds are served, with these awesomely stereotypical illustrations. China had a big ass dragon. There was a Pikachu for Japan! Medusa and Zeus for Greek. No America, but some British soldiers for English. The picture for Sweden had a woman with an accentuated chest! This thing was awesome.
Our flight for Rio left at 4:30am, so we headed back to the hotel and fell asleep to some Sylvester Stallone flick in which people are gruesomely killing each other in the snow. No, it wasn’t "Cliffhanger". That movie's a classic. "Season's over, a-hole!" (As Michael Rooker character blasts terrorist with shotgun before throwing him over cliff.) So good.