Manolo Restaurant – Botafogo.
I’m getting my bearings today, still. Even though it’s 12:41 I feel like I’m just waking up. Actually I got up at 10:30 with a violent skin wound on my foot from all the blood thirsty mosquitos. I’m not complaining. This is a tropical relationship and I accept all skin breaks as confirmations of life. I also accept all the heat, broken sidewalks, ungoverned motorcycles, potential theives, steep rents, green mountains, arrogant women, free spirited bus drivers, strong coffee, passive agressive friendships, intense sex, hospitable homes and a link to my youth. This is Rio de Janeiro, and it’s not to be messed with. I feel a little strange writing this in a restaurant on my laptop, but I’m killing time until Andre wakes up so we can get back into the script. Manolo is what they call here a “galeto”. I could go into this travelog type of description of this place, but I always feel like a sell out gimp humping the tourism vernacular. I don’t care to do that, so if you want to know what a galeto is I suggest you do your own homework. All I’m going to say is that this is a walk-up restaurant with fast paced caricature faced waiters zipping around in white shirts and bow ties. The food is well rounded from a full blast meal of feijoada to a simple fucking melted cheese sandwich with mortadela. Coffee, juice, cigarettes, cachasa, imported booze, ice cold beer and a relaxed enviornment. That’s it. Eat and shut up, you’re in Rio. Ohh, there is a bar too for those who want to pit-stop and cool off. No doors. Walk up. Shut up. Enjoy.
So here I am, Manolos. It’s about 90 degrees and I just finished off a misto quente and a glass of suco de abacaxi. The better half of me is recovering from a hangover and the other just wants to be in an air conditioned environment escaping the pressure cooker outside. I could have eaten a feast but the juice and sandwich did me good. I’ll just wait here and write. Yesterday the cousins : joao, miguel and myself, took to the sea in a motor boat out of the marina club in Barra. We burned out to one of the atols just off costa brava and swam a half kilometer from our anchor-point to the rock. It was a good excercise but it felt like we were Navy Seals doing reconnaissance training. I cut my foot on barnacles and relaxed working on a tan. It was a nice escape from the city, even though it was smack in front of us. You could see the coastline from Recreio all the way up to Ipanema, then Niteroi off in the faint distance. Once we swam back to the boat we took Miguels surfboard, yes, surfboard, and did a little wakeboarding. Joao and I failed miserably but Miguel the sea man was on two feet cutting across the motortrails without a single fall. He could have very well lifted a leg off the board and sang a complicated Chico Buarque tune without a flinch. That kid always amazes me with physical endurance and macgyver like skills. Joao too, but his coordination is much like mine: heady, intuitive and ferociously wild. Miguel is like a floating labrador happy as shit with anything that has to do with water. Me, shit, I’ve only been to the beach twice since I got here. Rio for me isn’t a party on the beach or a fuck-off day in the middle of the week. It’s serious business and I get my kicks mixing with the charging force of survival and thousands and thousands of doors to heaven or hell. Transcendental coffee breaks and flight paths into Santos Dumont airport carry my state of mind. I could give a shit about showing off in Leblon or jerking off in an art gallery in Gavea. Give me the real life, the ants, the warriors mixed with criminals or criminals in recovery. I love this city, makes me appreciate Southern California.