Brazil is awesome. Beautiful. Many, many contrasts- multi-billion dollar hotels located a half-mile from 20,000 people living in tin shacks with no running water. Beer served on the beach. Teeny bikinis. German tourists sweating on everything. A pair of Nike's will cost you $500 US, but you can stay at a palatial hotel for $150 a night. Which I did.
My hotel is beautiful. We have a suite, a corner room, with an incredible ocean view on two sides. Seriously, it's ridiculous. About 75 feet below us is the ocean, where 6-8 foot breakers have been roaring the past few nights, making sleep a pleasure. The trade winds blow through one of our windows, making AC unnecessary. It's about 85 in the day, 70 at night. The dead of Brazilian winter.
The artistry here is wonderful- I got a massive boner from hanging out at a stoneworkers' gallery (which included jewelry, so the Mrs was also content), where slab stone was made into these beautiful marble and other exotic stone tile floors that are everywhere, as well as tables, vases, etc. Getting a 2,000 lb jade dining room table home might be expensive, though.
The markets are also different- open air buildings, like the old Quincy Market in Boston, are here and there- inside you have to haggle for everything. I spent at least 30 minutes out of the 2 hours we were at the largest market in the city trying to get away from hagglers who were all out to outfit me as Malcolm X's pimp.
The women here are a trip. Empowered. When I got busted checking out one of the most beautiful girls I've ever seen at the Salvador Mall, she stopped what she was doing to eyeball me back, making me blush terribly (and making everyone in my retinue laugh way too loudly). Apparently I give off a wicked American air, what with being blond with blue eyes, with an ample helping of American Patriotism hanging around my middle straining my belt. It felt strange to be the only fat man in a crowd of about 3,000. Regardless, apparently I smell like money, and the Piranas were circling me like a fat kid zeroing in on a donut. The girl gave me what I could conservatively describe as a good eye-rogering, which was nice. I grabbed my wife's hand like it was a lifeline, and she simply shrugged her shoulders and held her ground. It was disconcerting. I defused the situation by simply turning an alarming shade of red that made all the far-less pale folks around me very concerned for my health, at which point I was laughed at. Again.
So, other than being mugged...Oh, yeah, I was mugged. I forgot and wore a necklace out in a bad neighborhood we were transiting through, and an emaciated douchbag got a handful and broke it, getting exactly the clasp and receiver for the clasp for his trouble, and probably costing me like $7 to fix. Lucky break, literally.
Anyhow, So far so good. The locals have gone to the trouble to test and identify all the local fruits that go good with alcohol, and I have been making sure that commerce runs briskly. I may not be leaving my heart in Brazil, but after my first few days here, I can say that I might be leaving at least part of my liver here.