Archive for September, 2005

Back From Being Back In Brazil

Posted by Robin Sparks on September 24th, 2005 | Email this to friend

September 24, 2005 Back in San Francisco

Well y’all, I’m back from Brazil. I guess you’ve noticed I didn’t post anything while I was gone, much to my self-flogging chagrin. I’m resisting the urge to lay out reams of excuses here, so let’s just say that the world is not yet San Francisco. My plans for being the blazing road blogger went the way of my four-wheel on the dunes of Northeastern Brazil. It sunk.

I did however, write like a maniac . Daily and multi-daily. Even while bouncing up and over shifting moonscapes through lost-in-time-towns, I was seen making chicken scratches in notepad after notepad.

The challenge about writing a blog, and now that I think about it, in all good writing, is how to coalesce scads of material into one or two nuggets of epiphany.

Blogs weren’t meant to be Pulitzer Prize fodder. Yet I can’t bring myself to sign my name to a diary of drivel, grammatical and spelling-errored musings. I respect your time way too much and I am way too vain.

In search of the middle way, I will back-blog a few thoughts, emails, experiences, and perhaps an insight or two from this past month in Brazil. Keep in mind the words a few. Otherwise, I’ll be here until I’m 80 years old writing, for God’s sake, a blog.

It is good to be back….You know you’ve got wanderlust bad when you’re dreaming about the next best place two days after getting home. I have two more trips planned before the New Year. But then that’s another story.

Hang on. Here we go, back to Brazil. Starting at the beginning.

Desperately Seeking Solutions

Posted by Robin Sparks on September 23rd, 2005 | Email this to friend

Auguest 26, 2005

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I took my Apple to the new highly touted Mac Spa in San Francisco. When I picked it up the night before leaving for Brazil, my Mac G4 had received a new brain called Tiger. I added lots of new and improved memory, and a mic so that with Garage Band, it could function not only as my secretary, but as my traveling sound studio.

My Mac had received a new iLife!

Brazil bound and ready to blog!. There´s more than one way to tell a story I´ve been heard to say (a lot) lately.

But when I tried to rouse Mac the morning of our flight, it stirred but would not wake up! It had been too much, too fast, and now it was in a coma. I tried everything to revive it! Then I did a reinstall. Mac opened his eyes and came to. Thank God!

Later on the plane, I discovered that Mac’s memory of everything from its past had disappeared – Names, events, people, Mac remembered nada!

Hopefully it’s all there, buried deeply in its subconscious. And hopefully with the right care and treatment, it will remember everything.

Meanwhile, I’m on a planet called Paraty where I’ve yet to see one laptop, never mind an iPod or a computer rehab clinic.

And so in an internet cafe, I am desperately pecking out this S.O.S. to you.

Any recommendations for treatment? I’m trying to reach the mac docs in San Francisco, but so far no luck. Those Mac Geniuses are great – when they’re around.

And to think I just edited a book called the Portable Professional!

Right. There are a few kinks yet to work out.

Assuming that over the next few day I will have to use a foreign computer, how do i upload audio files, not to mention words, photos, and video clips onto this site? I’d even settle for just words at this point. Can I send files to someone to upload to my site until my computer recovers?

Desperately seeking solutions,

Robin

Reality Bites

Posted by Robin Sparks on September 22nd, 2005 | Email this to friend

Posted: August 28, 2005

Ilha Grande, Brazil

I’m pecking this out during a quick pitstop on an island called Ilha Grande just off the coast of Brazil, located halfway between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. My son, his girlfriend, and I have been sailing for two days among the 300 plus islands of Angra dos Reis aboard the Leo Louca, a private 42-ft. schooner. Ry and Jess will remain on the island an extra day to explore its trails and remote beaches. Reinaldo, Bernadette, and I will set sail for the city of Angra dos Reis, where I’ll check back in with you via the internet. Tomorrow, Jess and Ry will arrive here on the ferry, and together we’ll bus to Rio.

Just moments ago, I read that some kind of disaster – a storm? – has hit New Orleans. Not a word about it until now, despite the fact that Bernadette has received numerous birthday wish calls aboard the boat. It’s unsettling AND a relief to know that it is possible to be out of the reach of CNN and BBC, if only for a few days. I am reminded once again, that the U.S. is not the center of the universe.

Robin in Rio

Posted by Robin Sparks on September 20th, 2005 | Email this to friend

August 30, 2005

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I was out till late last night with Ryan and Jessica. We attended a huge street party in Lapa. THIS is what I didn’t get to do when I was in Rio alone last year. There was olundum drumming and bossa nova and people crowded in the streets and fresh caipirinhas and dancing all night long. And my son sending me home in a cab at 2AM.

Rio a city aptly named Ciudade Marvillosa – Marvelous City. You can feel it breathe, heave like the vital city that it is. It is winter and it is hot – not too bad today as it´s overcast, but I can go out at night wearing sleeveless tops, shorts, and sandals, and not get cold. Love it!

I´m having an entirely different experience in Rio this go-around because I’m in Copacabana among the tourists. Last year I stayed in Santa Theresa, where I will move later today. We’ve decided to stretch our stay here to a week. And so to save a money, I will move up the hill. It will be interesting to see if my experience of Rio changes with the neighborhood.

I now understand all the readers who wrote last year to tell me that they didn’t experience Rio as a dangerous city in the way I had. Even one of my American female friends told me she had a blast when she visited Rio, partying until late in the night. What I am learning this time in Rio, is that your perspective depends on what part of Rio you are living in.

NEXT DAY -

Copacabana – I can walk about safely with a minimal amount of watchfulness. Especially if I gesture, dress, and look Brazilian.

However, there WAS this incident our very first night in Rio, not two blocks from my hotel. As we stood at a street corner waiting for the light to change, a bus lurched to a stop. Inside the lit interior 0f the bus, people were standing, fists flying, shoving, jumping over turnstiles, pouring out of the bus, chasing some hapless soul down the street. Probably someone who got caught picking the pocket of a Brazilian on the bus. It served as a reminder, just a couple hours after our arrival, that Rio is a city that can at any moment break out in song OR a shooting.

Today I’m in bohemian, artist-centric Santa Teresa among the old houses that crawl up the hills, the streets that snake around and around. This old bohemian hood, it’s houses walled off, guarded by rottweilers, is surrounded on two sides by favelas. I ask Louis about the fireworks I hear going off. “Oh that,” he says. “That means that the drugs have arrived.” What about the occasional firecracker?” I ask him. “That’s to signal inhabitants of the favela that the police have arrived.”

I don’t carry my laptop in this neighborhood. Nor anything that I don’t mind giving away at gunpoint or a shard of glass.

I ask Adrianna why an end isn’t put to this terrifying hold that the favelas have on the city. She says that the police don’t do anything because they know that the favelas are as well armed as they are, maybe more so. “How can that be?” I ask. “Some say that there are insiders in the military who are selling arms to the favelas.”" Adriana, a woman who has lived in Rio all of her life tells me that the fear is always there. She says that just two weeks ago favela lords duked it out from different ends of the ????? Tunnel, a heavily used road through the ?????Mountain from Leblon to ?????. “Brazilians caught in the tunnel panicked, abandoning their cars and running for their lives.

There you have it. The Marvelous City. Heaving with vitality and set to go off at any moment.

 

Oi. The Only Macs are at MacDonald’s

Posted by Robin Sparks on September 19th, 2005 | Email this to friend

September 6, 2005
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Oi! (Brazilian Portuguese for hello).

I have a computer bloated with stories and photos meant to be passed on from me in South America to you in North America. But there is a language problem. My Mac speaks a different language than Brazilian PC’s. I spent hours last night trying to get online. Macs are as rare here as glaciers so you can forget about Mac support. The host of the home (castle actually) where I am staying works in I.T., but since he has a PC, he doesn’t speak Mac-ease and I don’t speak PC. He speaks Brazilian Portuguese with a smattering of English and I speak English with a tiny splash of Brazilian Portuguese. We gotta a major communication problem here.

I hired a taxi today to take me “somewhere where there is internet” pronounced internetchi. Through tunnels, speeding along highways, down residential sidestreets, our mission was to find an internet connection! He pulled up in front of “Shopping” – the Brazilian moniker for shopping mall. And he assured me that here I would find internetchi.

I walked the floors of that mall back and forth, first floor, second floor, but no internet cafe. Internet? I asked security. I asked security. They pointed me to a MacDonald’s restaurant at the end of the mall. Huh?, but sure enough, when I stuck my head inside, there were three computers for customer use. Now that’s one way to get me into a MacDonald’s.

I don’t understand. Usually the more remote a place, the more internet cafes. Perhaps the deal with Brazil is that it has gone in the past few years from third world to second, meaning lots of folks now have their own computers, resulting in little need for internet cafes, sort of like in the U.S. (ever try to find an internet cafe in San Francisco?) And so I stepped under those Golden Arches prepared to sell my soul in order to get online. Maybe I could skip the burger part I thought sneaking over to the bank of computers.

But no, a gal with a pointed paper hat motioned to me that I’d have to buy something to earn 20 minutes on the computer. I mentally reviewed the list of menu items. I don’t like coke and I wasn’t hungry. I could probably be bribed into eating a Big Mac – but there was a long snake of a line of eager Brazilians in line ahead of me. There’s only so far I’ll go to get online. I hailed a taxi and returned to Ipanema. Later that afternoon I found a book store with computers. They weren’t cheap, but they were there.

I´ll be in Rio another day or two…

Ciou (Brazilian Portuguese for goodbye.)

.
Robin

New Digs

Posted by Robin Sparks on September 17th, 2005 | Email this to friend

September 2, 2005
Rio de Janiero, Brazil

I´ve just moved into a castle. No joke! I moved out of a non-descript hotel room in Copacabana, to my own little Rapunzel room high up on a hill in a castle complete with everything but a moat. You can see the Valentin Castle from most of Rio and from the castle you can see almost all of Rio – a great place to watch Carnivale, as you have a dead-on view of the Sambadrome. There is a quaint, if noisy trolley car that jerks and sputters up a steep Santa Teresa to its front door. After entering through the heavy wooden door of the castle, you walk down a long, curving underground tunnel which ends at an old metal gated elevator. One day a maid in the castle refused to leave until I walked out with her. She said there were ghosts. I believe her.

The castle has arched doorways, 14 foot ceilings, parquay floors, pointed gazebos, a pool, verandahs. My hosts are Adriana and Louis, a young working couple, the latter grandson of the architect who built Valentin Castle over 200 years ago. Louis’s mother, an government employee, occupies the ground floor flat. She finances maintancence of the castle that was handed down to her and her siblings, by renting out sections of the castle as apartments, and my room, located in the third floor flat of Louis and Adriana. My room including breakfast is $25 less than the hotel room I’ve just vacated. The castle is backed up to a mountain, surrounded by jungle foliage complete with monkeys who steal bananas from the kitchen. The neighborhood is Santa Teresa – bohemian, hip, teeming with artists and musicians. But on either side of Santa Teresa, are favelas, which lend a certain edginess to the neighborhood, especially after dark.

Carlos, a young Brazilian, began the self-sustainable Santa Teresa-based bed and breakfast business called Cama e Cafe, that is responsible for my room in the castle. The idea behind the business is that tourists’ dollars remain in the community that drew them in the first place. Since tourists demand restaurants, shopping, transportation, business, and therefore the community thrives. Best of all, tourist revenue remains in the community that generatged the ambience that drew the tourists in the first place – not to hotel chains. This great concept of self-sustainable tourism, is the reason I’m now living in a castle for less money than it costs to rent a room in San Francisco’s Tenderloin.

The day I am going to move into the castle, Carlos takes me out to a local restaurant. It turns out that eating out on a Saturday afternoon is a Carioca (what they call Brazilians who live in Rio) tradition – that and getting your car washed. Sudsy, wet cars were parked all up and down the streets of Rio surrounded by kids weilding hoses and sponges. We ate an amazing meal of fresh fish, the name of which I forget, and carne del sol (sun-dried meat), feijuadas (long cooked with meat beans), farofa (a fried kasava grain that is to Brazilians, what ketchup is to Americans), rice, salad, and Bohemia beer. All around us were happy boistrous Brazilian families and friends consuming like us, unbelievable quantities of food and beer . We finished with two shots of ginger juice, a traditional Brazilian apertif . Then slightly drunk in the middele of the afternoon, and full to bursting, we walked up and around, and up and around the hill pulling my bags until we had reached the castle at the summit. We pounded on the big wooden door until Adriana rang us in. A long, dark medieval tunnel through the mountain, led us to the elevator. Up, up, up we crept, until the elevator creaked to a stop on the third floor. The door to the elevator would not open. Jammed. Now what? I was trapped in a tiny elevator with a 27-year old guy who´s been coming on to me since the last time I was in Brazil, two years ago.

Which reminds me, Carlos asked me during our meal if I was a virgin. “What?!!!” I asked, almost choking on my Bobo Camarao. “Are you a virgin?” he repeated. Then it dawned on me that he was talking astrologically. Yes, I was a Virgo I told him. He invited me to a rave on a farm outside of Rio for my birthday. I told him I’d have to see. I hadn’t decided yet when I’d be leaving Rio for Fortaleza.

At last the elevator door opened, and Carlos emerged unmolested.

FIRST SIGHTING – FORTALEZA

Posted by Robin Sparks on September 14th, 2005 | Email this to friend

September 9, 2005
Fortaleza, Brazil –

Maybe I’m just tired from arriving in Fortaleza at 2 AM last night only to be told my hotel was full. Or maybe it’s the constant wind. It could be the random sprouting of multi-story buildings blocking the view of what I’ve heard is a beautiful blue-green ocean. But I’m not overly impressed with Fortaleza.

It hasn’t even been 24 hours. I’ll give it another day.

My two contacts in Fortaleza are middleaged North Americans with young Brazilian wives.  "Charlie" emailed me over two years ago to ask for advice about his upcoming trip to Brazil. He’d just gone through a gruesome divorce in Canada and was going to Brazil to recover for a couple months.  Should he take his computer? How much equipment would customs let him enter with?   Charlie does voice overs and wanted to set up shop even if temporarily while in Brazil. Fast forward two years. Charlie emailed me a photo of him and his new wife standing in front of a building where they now lived. The forty year age difference was obvious in the photo, but then so was his bliss.

Since moving here, Charlie has helped so many foreign men do the same, that he’s decided he may as well turn it into a business. I am his first client. He finds me a hotel, shows me the best restaurants in town, gives me recommendations about what to see and do in Fortaleza.

Charlie is driving me around the Beira Mar neighborhood when he points out a very tall apartment building facing the sea. "A millionaire American  lives in the penthouse," he says. "Why?" I ask, wondering why anyone with lots of money would choose to live in Fortaleza. "Same reason anyone lives here," Charlie says.  "He’s 70 years old, and he’s got a 31-year old Brasilera wife, and a nine-month old baby. " Well, of course. What was I thinking.

"Charlie, are you going to have kids too?" I ask.

"Well sure," he says. "Lord knows I have enough already, but why not?  You only go around once. Besides, it comes with the package when you marry a Brasilera."

I brace myself against the wind as we step out of the car . "Is this wind the reason that kitesurfing is so popular here?" I yell. "Absolutely right!" he yells back over the wind. The palm trees look like inside-out umbrellas.

Charlie says, "Fortaleza is the number one vacation spot for Europeans. Americans would be here too but they’ve got Cancun."

I knew something smelled familiar. Fortaleza is Cancun in a convection oven.

I ask about The Thing that Louis in Rio told me was the biggest problem in Fortaleza.

"Are the rumors about prostitution here true?" I ask. "No, there’s way more to Fortaleza," he says. "The Brazilian government has passed strict laws to end it. People vacation here for many reasons."

"So where are the white women?" I ask looking around. I haven’t seen so many middleaged white men with brown-skinned women since Bangkok.  Oblivious to what I see, Charlie continues,"There are 100,000 more women in this city of 2 million than men. The Brasileras come from the interior hoping to meet a foreign man. They actually LIKE older men."

Fortaleza, where men are assured of getting laid without the hassle of three dates, dinner and a movie. Even counting airfare, a guy can save money and time dating here. The girls? I’m guessing they’d call it an even trade. The men offer them hope, otherwise called survival. And they offer the men another swipe at life.

But then, I’m a little grumpy.  I’ll sleep on it another night.

FEAR And LOATHING In FORTALEZA, Part 1

Posted by Robin Sparks on September 10th, 2005 | Email this to friend

September 9, 2005
Fortaleza, Brazil

A man in the hotel lobby introduced himself as Steven. He was a stocky American with a Brooklyn accent, mid 60′s, wearing a wife beater shirt, baggy shorts that ended below chubby knees, and teva sandals. He had a voice that bespoke thousands, maybe millions of cigarettes.

Steven had a project – a yacht harbor he wanted to build near Fortaleza. He’d called me in the US before I left to tell me about it, to talk me into coming to Fortaleza. He hoped that my stories would attract investors, and eventually hordes of foreigners to Fortaleza. Since I’d been thinking about it anyway, I tacked Fortaleza onto the end of my itinerary.

“I have a proposal for you,” he said leaning forward on the couch. “My partner and I and our wives are taking off tomorrow morning to scout out sites. We’ve rented two four-wheel drive jeeps and we’re gonna drive all the way up to Jericoacoara, with a few stops in between. I’d like to invite you to join us.”

I’d just arrived. My clothes were dirty. I needed a bikini wax to go with my new itty bitty Brazilian bikini. (You know the world’s gone global when you can’t find a Brazilian bikini wax in Brazil, yet every Vietnamese-run salon in San Francisco offers them.) I needed a pedicure (make that a sandblaster), and there was the updating of my website to do, not to mention wading through hundreds of emails. But with Northeastern Brazil being known for having the most beautiful beaches in Brazil, some would say in the world, it was a generous offer, and a chance to see a part of Brazil I might not otherwise have the chance to.

Steven suggested I meet the gang that very evening. I accepted. Meeting the players ahead of time, would allow me to switch on my intuitive pilot before taking off for Who knows Where with Who knows Whom.

I met the women, one Russian, the other Brazilian, and Steven’s partner Dan, a Brit. The partner, like Steven, is a mid-life, post-divorce anglo man. He was reserved and seemed more egghead scientist than yacht designer. Both struck me as middle-aged men who had stepped into an adult version of Never Never Land. The kind of place where young exotic women desire you even though you are old and have seen better days. I couldn’t blame them. They seemed to be, like so many other men I’d seen here already, taking a last swipe at life. taking their last swipe at life, Tania, Dan’s “wife” was a towering, buxomy, heavily made up, blonde with hair that verged on huge, and a blouse that opened to her belly button. She was wearing four- inch platform shoes. She rolled herRrrrrrr’s; she was Russian. And yes, that’s what I was thinking too. The group was rounded out by Yvonne, the Brasilera. A tiny, bubbly, chocolate woman who spoke English with E’s on the end of every word: “like-y” and “My name-y is Yvonet-chi”, and who took it upon herself to be the caretaker of us all. Were we happy, would we like this, some more of that? Like Steven, she was a chain smoker. The story of how she and Steven met went like this. She was the family maid in Steven’s US household when he decided to divorce his wife and marry her. His kids were still pissed off, but Yvonne and the ex-wife were now friends. The Frenchman, Dierdre, would join us in the morning.

Steven didn’t look or sound the part of a bigtime bank investor, but it was clear he was in love with this part of Brazil.
“Can you believe this Robin?” he said repeatedly. “Believe what?” I’d answered. “This!” he’d say looking about him dreamily, sweeping his arm, taking in the whole of Fortaleza. “Sure.” I’d answer. Truth was, I hadn’t made up my mind yet. I needed to see more. “The Northeast” – are words that are spoken by Brazilians with a mixture of affection and….and, something else I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Sort of like how one might speak of a “special” relative in the family.

At the end of the evening, they wanted to know, was I in or was I out? I thought about it for a second…

There were the famed white beaches and turquoise waters, the sand dunes waiting to be topped in four-wheel drive jeeps, and there were the five merry pranksters I hadn’t known two hours earlier.

“In” I said. We were on.

Hair SCARE

Posted by Robin Sparks on September 7th, 2005 | Email this to friend

September 18, 2005
Fortaleza, Brazil

I did my traditional foreign country beauty shop visit today. It’s the best way to get the pulse of a place and a cheap hair cut.

I’d asked Francesca to take me to the best salon in Fortaleza, but here we were pulling up to a small shop called Claudio’s in an alley. When we walked into the salon, she pointed out the owner and chief stylist. I recoiled. Claudio was buzzing a guy’s head with an electric razor and he himself sported a comb-over, wore cloudy glasses, and had the body of a middle aged barber. He was not at all a pretty boy like I am used to. The brushes were full of hair, scissors were scattered willy nilly about the shop. I noticed that Claudio was doing all the hair washing, conditioning, coloring, cutting, and styling, chair to chair, client to client. Where I’m from, the shi-shi quotient of a salon is measured by how many specialists it takes to do one woman’s hair. There is one to wash it, one to color, one to blow dry, and then the main one to cut and style. I’ve never really understood why, but that’s how it is.

“This is a barbershop not a salon!” I thought panicked. I began to think up all the ways I could make a graceful exit. But short of being a complete snob, I could not think my way out of this. And so I consoled myself with “It will grow back in” and settled in to wait for my turn.

I stretched my neck over the plastic lip of the sink, surrendering my head for what felt like a guillotine. But it was icy water that hit instead. I waited for it to warm up, and then remembered that it wasn’t going to. In Brazil, there is hot water in showers, but rarely in sinks. Could cold water dissolve oil from dirty hair? I wondered.

For the next two hours, Claudio sudsed, rinsed, colored, snipped, dried, and ironed my hair Around me the neighborhood ladies were transformed into Cinderella’s for Friday night. Claudio’s helpers painted their eyes, reddened their cheeks, lined their lips, smoothed and sprayed their hair. Women that barely looked in the mirror when they first arrived, begin to sneak longer and longer looks at their reflections, to tilt their heads this way and that, smiling at their new selves. The other women circulated around them commenting on their transformations. Then the women began to look at me and to nod approvingly at Claudio, looking at my hair front and back, and then standing back to admire me in the mirror.

Claudio untied my apron and motioned for me to get up. I paid him an inflated price for Brazil, but a third of what I would have paid in the States. Then I walked tall to the waiting taxi with the cutest, bounciest, shiniest, best looking hairstyle I’d had in years.

Brazilian Mating Game

Posted by Robin Sparks on September 6th, 2005 | Email this to friend

Sept. 16, 2005
On a plane out of Rio de Janeiro, headed to Fortaleza, Brazil

A few hours after saying goodbye to my son before he boarded a bus in Rio, I was on a GOL plane headed to Northeastern Brazil. A debonnaire Brazilian man I’d met and spoken to briefly in the airport, tapped me on the shoulder shortly after takeoff. He said he had arranged for the seat next to him to be vacated and would I like to sit next to him? Why not? I thought and followed him down the isle to his seat. The thing about traveling alone is that you’ll talk to just about anybody after awhile. Especially when that anybody looks like Julio and happens to live in the city where you are headed. Talking to Julio on the plane would give me a preview of Fortaleza, a city of almost 3 million located several thousand miles north of Rio on the coast of Brazil.

After I wedged myself in next to Julio, he began to tell me about his business and and progressed to his dreams for his future. I looked down at his hand. (I haven’t been single all that long, and so sometimes I forget.) Yep. There it was, the golden signifier that he was collared. “So you’re married?” I said. “Sure,” he answered, casually telling me that she was his third, and he hoped final wife, and that she’d be at the airport to pick him up. OK, I thought, a little disappointed. Julio, then, was friendship material, nothing more.

The sleeping pill kicked in and I began to nod off. Julio said, touching his shoulder, “You can put your head here.”

I just smiled, blew up my little neck thing and placed it behind my neck. When we arrived, Julio gave me his number and said to call if I needed anything, anything at all.

Julio’s behavior didn’t surprise me all that much. Brazilian men have a reputation for incongruity with monogamy. And Brazilian women are (no surprise) prone to extreme jealousy.

My first sign of what were to me, bizarre Brazilian mating rituals, was at an outdoor musical concert in Paraty. A woman suddenly appeared between me and a man who upon hearing I was American, had begun practicing his English on me. I said to the woman, “Hi, do you speak English too?” She held a clenched fist up to my face.

I took that as a No.

A few weeks later, a Canadian whose business was helping foreigners settle in Fortaleza, had to sneak away from his young Braziilian wife to show me around the city. He glanced at his watch furtively and said he had to be quick. “Why don’t you bring her with you?” I asked. “Uh, she would never understand,” he said.

There was the foursome in Fortaleza – two men, two women , the latter glaring at me when I approached their table to interview the men, who had forgotten to tell them I was coming. One of the women kicked her boyfriend under the table because he kept looking at me when he was answering my questions. Two days after inviting me to join them on a journey to Jericoacora, all four suddenly stopped speaking to me. When I saw one of the men a few nights later at a nightclub, he apologized saying that his wife had become insanely jealous, sure that I had fallen in love with him. Amazing! It would have been plausible if he was anywhere near my age, even remotely attractive, or single.

The Brazilian Mating Game. It’s a game I don’t get.