By Sherrydayne Antunes
Close your eyes. Don’t you dare look at the beaches, let alone the beautiful bodies that flood them. Don’t look at the smiles, at the pearly white teeth, at the beautiful bronzed bodies. Don’t look at the sun, period. At any time of the day, but particularly in the afternoon as it turns then sky into a fiery scape of reds and orange. Don’t see the beauty in simplicity, and certainly don’t watch as children with nothing but a long string and a piece of plastic battle with each other in the sky on the rooftops of their village. Don’t appreciate the originality of childhood- it will all just be a bit too much. Don’t admire the smile after smile after smile as you walk down a busy street. Don’t reply when someone asks you a question, and don’t replicate the passion that they show with every. single. word. Don’t look at the price of beer; the price may shock you so much that you buy more and more and more. But if you must buy one, drink it all to yourself, because sharing will just be inviting yourself into their culture, and why would we want to do that…
Block your ears. Don’t listen to the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, and don’t hear the laughter of everyone, everyday, enjoying their lives in the sun. Don’t hear the shouts and cheers as locals play volleyball on the beach, and by no means invite yourself in to play. That same goes for slack line, futebol, bike riding or dancing forro and samba in the streets. Honestly, you won’t be welcome. Don’t listen to the music that floods the streets as the sun begins to set, you may want to start dancing and then you might break a hip. Seriously. Don’t dance with friends that you just met under the influence of beer, capirinhas and your general happiness- I mean if I were you I wouldn’t. Ignore the whistles and the kisses thrown from pursed lips. Don’t even turn to look. Don’t give them the satisfaction of a smile, because you’re not looking for any kind of entertainment, any type of pleasure, any fun in any form. Don’t say hello to anyone. Oi, ola, tudo bem, bom dia, because the reactions you get will be unbearable.
Pinch your nose. Don’t let yourself smell the wafting scents of the kiosks on the beach, you will want to eat everything they have to offer. Don’t let the sweet aroma of sugar and bread overwhelm you, it’s a trick. So are the bolinhas. Frango, Carne and Bachalau. They are not the best, really, you won’t like them. Don’t walk to close to any other human being, for their smell of coconut mixed with endorphins will intoxicate you.
Don’t even consider swimming in the beach; you will hate the warmth and the serenity. Don’t even walk on the sand, for the temptation will be too strong to get into the crystal blue ocean. Don’t let an inch of your skin be exposed, you may get addicted to the warmth, and if you do, don’t look in the mirror at the horrible glistening bronze colour of your newly transformed skin. Don’t let anyone sit next to you on a bus, be that obnoxious person with you bag on the seat. It’s a sure-fire way to avoid any friendships that may be made, or better yet, don’t take buses. Stay in your 5star hotel away from anything even remotely Brazilian. Don’t go anywhere alone because you will be approached strangers, willing and able to help you if you get lost, or willing and able to allow you to laugh. In fact don’t laugh; because you might just make new friends, friends that will be with you forever- and nobody on earth could ever want this. Believe that everyone is dangerous and that everyone will murder or rape you. Isn’t that what everyone says will happen?
Close your mouth. Don’t put the colourful tropical fruits in your mouth, the strawberries, the mangoes, the passion fruit, the papaya. You will put your mouth at the risk of an explosion from the taste. If someone invites you to go to a barbeque, don’t go. The incredible company will just be too much for you. The meat, the beers, the people; you will just hate it. If you see a capiriniha, close your eyes. That delicious mixture or cachaça, sugar and lime- no one needs that kind of temptation. Don’t try açai. Just don’t. It’s a refined taste and you probably won’t like it anyway. In fact, give it to me. I’ll get rid of it for you. Don’t eat the fish, don’t eat the national dishes, and whatever you do don’t eat food off the streets, you’ll get food poisoning after all… isn’t that what they say in the guide books? Don’t try the farofa, its poison and you will want nothing else. If someone offers you feijoada, don’t put the spoon to your mouth. It will make you reconsider everything you have ever eaten before. And definitely, please, do not indulge in the sweet taste of a Brazilian mans lips; because he will take care of you, feed you, fuss over you, and make you feel like the only person in the world.
Handcuff your hands, or better yet, wear a straight-jacket, a helmet, a beanie, ear muffs, blacked out goggles. Suffocate yourself in order to avoid these treacherous experiences. Even if you open just one of your senses, or have just one of these experiences, you already run the risk of falling in love. My advice to you is this: Don’t board that plane, that bus. Don’t get in that car. Because this is the only possible way you will not be able to fall in love with Rio de Janeiro.