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Beach Life
Here present the greatest experiences from the worlds` most fabulous beaches. Neither words, photograps nor films do the world`s places justice - they must been seen, heard and touched.

Meeting the Cariocas at Copacabana - Brazil

2004-01-05
Living the pleasure of life. That`s what the people do in Rio in Brazil! Could the life be better?
Nowhere else is beach life enjoyed like the famous beaches of Rio. Copacapana, Ipanema, Leblon, Flamengo, Botofoga are packed with pleasure seeking Cariocas any day any time

How to live like a Carioca?
To find out more about this I took a walk on the Copacabana, one of Rio`s famous beaches. It is their way of life, and they have their own funny rituals! Copacabana is often referred to as the world's most famous beach. It runs for 4.5 km in front of the densely populated residential area of Rio de Janeiro.

Photo. Copacabana street is full of life, but it is more interesting to take a step further to the beach. 

Long before, but also after that I read about the famous British train robber Ronald Biggs` licentious, sweet life in Rio, I wondered about how the life there really was. Finally my boyhood dream became real.

In 1993 I set my first step barefoot on the famous Brazilian beach Copacabana in Rio. The smiles, girls and joy at Copacapana are something quite overwhelming and impossible to resist. Whether you want to take it all in by the eyes or engage in football or other activities, the life and sheer pleasure really gets to you.

Copacabana is famous for its pretty and nice girls. There are many of them uniquely lush, and golden beauties. You can meet them from different races and colours as brancas, negras, mulatas and morenas. Don't forget to smile, and you will get a smile back. This beach is the main place for Rio's famous New Year's celebration. It attracts over 2 million people from all over the world.

During the summer, international championships of beach soccer, volleyball and other sports are arranged in arenas along Copacabana Beach. If you don't want to sunbathe, you can ask the Cariocas to join them in playing football or attend in other kinds of activities. Foot-volley is very popular. It is similar to volleyball. You play it with net, but you are not allowed to touch the ball with your hands.

Photo. Playing football together with the Cariocas. 

Samba is the Carnival beat, but you can hear the music all around, throughout the year. This music and dance is an important part of the Cariocan lifestyle. Caution! Theft is a problem at the beach. Don't take any valuable belongings to the beaches, or walk down by the water at night!

Some beach kiosks are open around the clock, which offer refreshments and snacks. There are also many street sellers who walk around and offer some things to eat and drink. You can cross the street and explore the beachside cafes, restaurants, hotels and night clubs along the street Av. Atlantica. Sitting outdoors at a restaurant, both in the daytime and in the evening, attracts many strange people who want to sell you everything.

I have never in my whole life met so many strange people and got so many strange offers. In the beginning I considered it a form of entertainment, it was a little bit funny, but after a while it becomes annoying. The best way to avoid too much traffic is to look another way. In the worst scenario, if they interrupt your dinner, be polite and make it clear immediately that you don't want anything.

Photo. Street sellers sells everything, believe me, I mean everything literarly! 

Cariocas lifestyle
How are the Cariocas really? According to linguists, the term Carioca, as locals call themselves, is not derived from the word Rio, as in carioca. It is actually a Tupi Indian term (kara'i oca), roughly meaning "white house", or "house of whites". This name is used on the houses built by the Portuguese. For some reasons the Portuguese started to think of themselves as Cariocas.

If you want to make friendship with the locals, there are some things you should be aware of. First of all, you have to be patient with these people. Be aware that unless you are talking about business meetings, half an hour late means on time. The Cariocas are very flexible regarding appointments, which can drive you nuts sometimes, but cool down and try to solve the matters in the most appropriate way. The Cariocas are very open about sharing feelings, and they like to touch each other. Two kisses on the cheeks are how most boys and girls greet in informal situations. You should be prepared for showing them respect in that way.

Photo. Copacabana beach is for people who want to have great fun. 

Night life
The nightlife around the Lido quarter is something unique. Not everything will match everybody's taste here, but anyway take a look in to a strange world. In the area you find some of Rio's most famous strip clubs and bars. Over all you can see neon signs at the doors, and photos of dancers in erotic postures. In other parts of the area you can find pubs and bars as Boite Holiday, Frank's Bar, Cicciolina, Pussycat, Scotch Bar, Niko's.

There's enough variety for everyone's desires. It is said that the name Copacabana has a Bolivian origin. Historians trace it to a XVII century image of Our Virgin Lady of Copacabana, and brought by the Portuguese from a small village around distant Lake Titicaca. It was set up in a chapel that became demolished for the construction of Forte de Copacabana. To better understand the diversity of the colourful beach life here, I suggest that you take your time, and spend many days exploring all possibilities.

Copacabana has many things to offer, and is a place where everyone can have fun. You can take a walk along the beachside to get a quick overview. You don't have to be born in Rio to be a Carioca. All you have to do is relax and adapt to the city's lifestyle, and soon you will become one. And you will get many new friends, especially on the playground Copacabana…. Don't worry, be happy!

Stein Morten Lund, 17 August 2000

Additional information
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