This Rio Carnival float says it all

I love Rio! The world class beachs of Copacabana and Ipanema are beautiful and easily accessible. The unique Brazilian cuisine including the all you can eat steakhouses called Churrascarias (try to save room for the papaya cream dessert) and pay-by-the-kilo restaurants serve excellent fare and are inexpensive by North American standards. Landmarks like Sugarloaf Mountain (great gondola ride!) and Corcovada (the 90’ Christ statue that looks down on the city – great view of Rio and Guanabara Bay) are a must see. These and more are beautiful and thrilling Rio experiences. But it’s the people, who call themselves Cariocas, that will keep me coming back time and time again.

A carnivor's dream come true- A Brazilian Churrascaria

I heard an utterly riveting theory to explain the Brazilian OBCESSION with butts. Let me be clear here, there is in South America a whole nation of millions of people totally and completely preoccupied with derrières. Really, I’m being completely serious. There are butts dominantly on display everywhere you look in Brazil. They can’t be avoided. Butts obviously sell products in the advertising game; big giant hienies wink down at you from billboards all over Rio and shine edge to edge (or is it cheek to cheek?) on local TV and the covers of magazines. ‘Flossers’ are di’regir on the beaches.

Cariocas love the beach, a favorite family outing. We had this model put on more clothes for the photoshoot on Ipenema Beach. Her bathing suit was just tooo skimpy for worldwide corporate audiences.

Ah, but you’re saying ‘it’s no different from the American hang-up with large heaving breasts.’ Believe me, our ‘titilation’ is nothing next to the butt-fest going on in Brazil. In other words, our northern cleavage doesn’t begin to compare with their southern cleft.

And the Brazilian clothes! I don’t see how they stand wearing their pants so tight. It makes ME uncomfortable just to look at those skimpy panty lines disappear into the unknown. And for some rubbernecking kind of reason, I can’t help staring at those telltale panty lines. It’s weird. I keep thinking: THESE PEOPLE SPEND THEIR ENTIRE LIVES DEALING WITH THE MOTHER OF ALL WEDGIES!! And, they do it to themselves – ON PURPOSE!! Do they not feel it? Don’t they mind the icky sensation? How can that be? But it must be so, because I spent days trying to catch someone in the act of ‘digging out’ with no luck.

So photographer husband, Chris, and I met Paulo and Maria, a very nice, typical fun loving, beach worshipping, bikini undies wearing (I peeked in the laundry basket in their bathroom) Rio couple. Paulo is 48, tall by Brazilian standards and handsome. He would not be at all surprised to hear himself described this way. He has two children in college. Maria is 28, witty, blonde, and slim. When Paulo talks about Maria he refers to her always as ‘my second wife’, even in her presence.

Every beach sidewalk in Rio has it's own unique pattern.

Paulo has a theory – no it’s more all encompassing than a theory. A philosophy? A core belief? A religion? Call it what you want, it runs deep. He calls it instinct. I call it hogwash.

Paulo says humanity can be divided into two classifications: Cold climate people and hot climate people. In both types, the instinct for procreation and survival of the species is the number one drive. (So far, I’m OK with this, you too?). Centuries ago – Paulo puts it at 100 centuries – the cold climate people ‘noticed’ that babies who had plenty of food (milk) were more likely to survive the cold. Hence the cold climate males began instinctively to prefer the LARGE BREASTED females over their A cup sisters. (you’re loosing me here, Paulo - size does not matter in milk production).

Rio is a spectacular coastal city, rivaling San Francisco and the Italian Riviera in beauty. Landmark Sugarloaf dominates this view.

In the meantime, in the other half of the world - in the heat of the jungle to be exact - women giving birth were being eaten alive right and left by ferocious beasts. According to Paulo: ‘Thee wild animales sneefs the blood from the birthing and comes for to eat the babies’. Ah ha! WIDE HIPPED females, who were (naturalmente) giving birth faster, were able to get the babies away to safety sooner after dropping them, apparently unaccompanied by Daddy, on the jungle floor.

At this point Paulo slaps his thigh, smiles knowingly and spreads his arms out in a gesture that says ‘see, now even you, a cold-climate female, know how simple it is’. To make doubly sure poor simple me understands he concludes: ‘So jew see, thee males of the yungle they develope-ed una instincto por …’ at this point he searches for the right word. Finally he grabs Maria by the hips and turns her cheeks toward us. Chris, ever helpful, fills in the blank with a resounding ‘Wide Ass!’.

Si!’ say Paulo and Maria together.
Both nod and smile in approval at his ability to grasp the idea.

They all turn to me. I work hard to close my mouth, suddenly realizing my jaw had dropped to the floor some time back. I smile and reach for another bite of the wonderful marinated palmetto Maria has made for us.

So there it is, Paulo’s theory on why North Americans focus on tits while Brazilians fixate on asses. It’s a fascinating thought-train, don’t you think? I couldn’t be offended by it, though I felt somehow I should be. It was just too clever and amusing and was told with such an remarkable blend of passionate machismo and innocence.

This incident and ones like it, would never happen if Chris and I spent all our free travel time hell-bent on ‘sightseeing’. Traveling is not just learning more about historic events or seeing breathtaking natural formations. It’s about seeking contact with other people, making mental connections outside and beyond the familiar. Try it in your travels, you will cherish the memories. And send me photos of it!