The Happiest City in the World… Zoomed In

September 5, 2009

Last night Scott and I went out to dinner in Ipanema.  When we were finished we wandered over to a confeitaria to get dessert, and then continued roaming Ipanema, trying to figure out what to do next.  One club on the top of Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz looked like H. Stern built it, and was filled with heavily made up girls in sequin mini-skirts and heels, and their bald, wealthy boyfriends.  Most of the other bars were filled with blooms of 20-something cariocas that crowded around tables or spilled out onto Rua Maria Quitéria.

We thought about joining in with all of the laughter and chatter, and then decided to walk down to the beach, the Itaipava kiosk still brightly lit.  We bought some $1.50 beers and sat on the wall and looked out at the waves crashing on the beach as a few couples and groups of friends filled the yellow plastic tables.    A group of six or seven kids a little younger than us somehow materialized a soccer ball and began to juggle it in their circle, Chuck Taylor sneakers filling with sand.  Directly next to us, four or five guys a little older than us shared a bottle of Smirnoff and a 2-liter bottle of Coke, alternating swigs.  One of them, at one point, walked off a few to go pee in the sand and came back with a tambourine that he beat like a drum and jingled, too, and these men broke into singing bossa nova tunes.

Life felt pretty perfect as the songs filled the space around us and the soccer playing kids laughed and people walked by, strolled, smiled.  Every once in a while one of the kids would come sit next to us, dressed to go out to a bar or a club, but seemingly magnetically pulled back to the praia, untie his shoe, empty out the sand, peel back the sock and wipe the sand from there, too, put his shoe back on, and rejoin the circle.

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