We taxi it to the fringe of the Lapa street party at the base of the aqueduct that connects St Theresa with the Centro. The streets are humming and so am I. The smell of BBQ wafts through the air and the rhythm of drums accompany it in a harmony of sensory exhilaration that would enthral and electrify even the most seasoned of travellers. We push into the heaving crowd soaking up the colour and vibrancy of movement, dogs and children weave underfoot and flags and streamers frame the azure above. Canopied street stalls and bar entrances to buildings from the 1800s line the street with live samba, choro, rock and reggae tunes emanating and possessing any space between the movement of mocha skin from locals and tanned tourists alike.
We find a less dense area to stand and drink, suitably appropriate to a beer and sausage stand while placing us in the middle of same minded locals well and truly in party mode. Caipirinha, a fuelled mix of cachaca rum, lime, sugar and ice is the perfect chaser to Batidas straws of fruity and milky elixirs that surely need to follow a refreshing Brahma Chopp.
We indulge and before long have conversations with multiple groups of locals most of who can speak English and others who are just keen to communicate with a series of nods, smiles, and the little Portuguese we can muster. We mingle in and out of dancing groups and sidle along side all who look friendly or interesting. Herman is seeking out a Brazillian with a brazillian.
I am talking to some brazen young shirtless local men who have the potential to be dangerous if not simply intimidating but I am suitably inebriated and any unfounded prejudgement is placed aside and partially substituted for a friendly enthusiasm to marinate in their culture. I glance over my shoulder to check Herman is ok. He is throwing his hands about in an animated fashion, three tourists watching on entertained. I turn back to the group. After the obligatory introduction via comments on the crowd and our respective origins, we engage in the finer and more important discussion topics.
“You guys have some hot hot women here” I complement.
“You need to have one” Estevan, the ringleader of these amigos who seemed smoother than a rat with a gold tooth, replies enthusiastically. He is a tall confident well groomed guy who I was happy talking to for now and who seemed friendly enough, but whom I wouldn’t trust my wallet or sister with. “Which one do you want?” he continues.
“Ha, you talk like you own them” I respond with a laugh.
“I don’t own them my friend but you don’t have to be so slow here in Rio, you see a girl you like, you just walk up to her and take her.”
“Sim, beijo … kiss her”
“Yeah right” I laugh “We have a name for that at home”
“Serious….. look I will show” Estevan struts into the path of a pretty brunette walking with two girlfriends on her wing, and presents long enough only for a quick “ola” before leaning in and kissing her. Abruptly halted, the brunette girl reciprocates his advance and after a good 10-15 seconds of passion Estevan spins on his heel and returns to the fold. “See…. Now you.”
“Hold on there fella, as impressive as that was, how am I to know that wasn’t your friend or girlfriend, or wife…… or sister” I announce cheekily to the laughter of the boys. Estevan punches my shoulder softly and playfully for the sister comment as he is slapped on his back by his mates.
“I tell you I don’t know that one” he says
“How about I pick a girl for you to just walk up to and kiss”
“No problem” Estevan replies. I turn and scan the party.
“How about…” my finger points out towards the crowd
“no touristas” Estevan adds
“Ok how about….” Finger still scanning, “this one” my finger stops on a girl standing close to us and then quickly shifts at the last second to a girl over a little. “Yes, her, the short hair white singlet shirt”
“Which?” Estevan says “oh, yes, no problem.” Estevan, swagger in check parades to the target and within seconds is engaged in an embrace and kiss suited more to a honeymooning couple than that of a chance encounter. He returns and all eyes are on me
Their eyes eager in anticipation of my move in this game.
“Ok, at the risk of looking like an absolute idiot in front of you guys, I’m going to give this a go….. Just walk up and kiss them you reckon.” I start towards the crowd saying over my shoulder “Promise me, you will help me out if I am attacked by a jealous boyfriend or if this girl slaps me.” The guys laugh again. I’m in trouble aren’t I, cant back out now though. I spot a very pretty girl in jean shorts and big boobs snuggled into a midrift crop top. I stop directly in front of her and look into her eyes, she is beautiful.
I say only one thing. “sorry” and then I lean in and kiss her. She kisses back to my absolute amazement and so I pull her in close. We kiss again after a quick turn and wink to Estevan and his amigos.
“Herman, Herman” I stop kissing and grab my kissing partner by the hand. “Herman you can kiss any girl you like” I am so excited, I drag her towards Herman.
“Mate, what are you talking about” I have his attention.
“Seriously, you can kiss any girl you want”
“Just go up and kiss a girl” I squark
“Mate, listen to me and stop saying ‘what’, this place is different, you can just walk up to any girl you like and kiss her, those guys told me to, I did it and now I have….. hey what is your name”
“Hee hee you funny” Mariana was pretty in a worldly way and with confident eyes that more seemed to take pity or amusement in my courting attempt. Sympathy hook up or not, I was stoked it worked.
Herman was onto it and in minutes came back with Ana. I was a little bummed, Ana was hotter than Mariana. We introduced the girls and celebrated our revelation between us secretly before taking their hands to further explore the street party. Now with dates.
We drank, ate and danced until late and thoroughly enjoyed the company of the girls who taught us about Brazilian culture, music, dancing, drinking and anything we noted that seemed different from home. Not once did it occur to us that we had just been given the key to pick up any girl we wanted, presumably, and that we were stopping with the first girls we found. We are idiots.
It was getting late and not being ones to head home early we ask the girls to take us to their local gaff and all pile into a taxi. Mariana gave the cab driver directions and although the ride was only about 15 minutes I was happy it was over since Herman had somehow swindled his way into the back seat with the ladies whiles I sat up front with an unwashed driver who looked a little like a Brazilian Steve Buschemi. The driver chatted the whole way through stained and crooked teeth and didn’t seem to comprehend that I couldn’t understand a word he said. I smiled a lot and nodded, if he pointed at something I said “si” and pointed to it as well. This seemed to suffice for company for this guy and he appeared very satisfied with our conversation when we arrived at our hole in the wall destination faring us goodbye with a hearty hand shake.
Inside the décor was simple, wooden tables with bench chairs and scattered in coasters. The walls dirty with beer posters and old notices for bands that obviously didn’t perform here. I order a round of drinks, the girls go to powder their nose while Herman and I reflect on what a great night we had and lay some anticipations about what the rest of the evening would hold with the girls. I look around “mate, do you notice their seems to be a lot of pretty young girls in here with some not so good looking older guys… and one of them just smiled at me and pulled her tit out the side of her t-shirt”
“I was just going to say the same thing, I have seen two sets of cans since we came in” Herman responded, but we didn’t have time to extrapolate any theories from our observations, the girls were back and our attention was focused back on them. Mariana and Ana come back to the table only this time Mariana sits on Herman’s knee.
“What are you doing?” he said confused
“We changed” she replied
“What do you mean you changed?”
Ana sits down next to me “Well we were in the toilet and she says she like you better than him and I like him better so we change” She responds matter of factly to Herman.
“Ha” I rock back in my seat and clap my hands together over my head, “The old switch-a-roo”
“I’m not sure I am entirely comfortable with this… I’m not happy about this at all” Herman glares at me across the table.
“Mate, not my fault, if the girls want to swap, what can we do about it? We kinda have to swap” I laugh and pull Ana to my lap. We start to kiss, Herman sits there with a bemused look.
Reluctantly Herman accepts his new girl and before long, Mariana is whispering in his ear and a grin came over his stupid looking face from ear to ear. Mariana calls something out to a friend of hers in the bar as Herman leans over the table and mouths the word “threesome”. Within seconds Mariana’s friend is sitting on the other side of Herman whispering in his ear also. Herman has a thousand mile stare and his eyes are starting to slowly roll back in his head.
“Your friend does not know does he?” Ana says
“That girl is a prostitute”
“Really? Um… are you a prostitute?”
“Ha ha no”
“But you are friends with her?”
“No I don’t know this one. I meet her when I meet you”
“How do you know she is a prostitute?”
“She tell me when we were walking through the street party”
“OK but I don’t understand ….. I mean …. I walked up to Mariana and kissed her and she kissed me back… because she is a prostitute obviously…. but why did you let Herman just walk up to you and kiss you?
“I think he is funny”
And why did you come with us?”
“You all look like fun”
“And you are sure you are not a prostitute too?”
“No, I am not a prostitute”
“Shit, I have to let Herman know” I look across at him, he was in his happy place. “I had better give him a bit of time before I break it to him” Ana agreed, besides we had a lot more kissing to do.
30 minutes and another round of beer later I had a drunken moment of clarity and there were a couple of local guys that seemed to be watching us intently. Maybe it was time to wrap this up.
“If you will excuse me ladies, I just have to use the mens room. Herman, would you like to join me?”
Herman squints at me like I am crazy “No mate, I would not”
I nod in the direction of the toilets, he nods in the direction of Mariana.
“Um, I think you do want to join me mate”
“Robbo I’m pretty fucking sure I don’t”
I lean in and stare a bit more intensely at Herman nodding slightly, he stares back shaking his head subtly and quickly. I respond slowly and with intent. “Herman my retarded friend, I couldnt be more obvious if I grabbed you by the scruff of your neck, please, get the fuck up, I want to talk to you.”
In the bathrooms I explained our situation to Herman. Herman met my status update with the appropriate amount of suspicion.
“This is not like the time you convinced me the girl we both liked was a white witch? Im on a threesome out there”
“Well let’s just think about that now Herman, in all your travels have you ever known girls to behave like the ones here in Brazil. They are all kissing us and showing their breasts, playing pocket snooker and inviting instant thresomes. Don’t you think that it is a little unusual?”
“I just thought we were hot in Brazil. I was planning on moving here for good”
Herman replied but leaving the events that lead to now with him for the briefest of moments reality sure enough sunk in and a look of utter devastation hit Hermans face.
“Have you ever met a brazillain prostitute’s pimp?”
“Neither have I but I really don’t want to and wherever the pimp is watching on from, I don’t want to be arguing the toss with him as to whether we owe him for a nights services from the two girls you were getting your jollies with at the table”
“Ok then, fuck, Im way to drunk to be dealing with this. How do we get out of here then?”
“Its ok, I have a plan”
“Robbo, your plan sucks”
“Hey, you haven’t even heard it yet……Now we could have just walked straight out the front door but that will arouse obvious suspicions with the prostitutes. So…. Herman, you climb out the bathroom window here and I’ll go back to the table. The prostitutes will think you are still in the toilet. Maybe I will mention you have some sort of diarrhoea bug.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Because its funny, what do you care, you aren’t seeing them again are you? Then I will pretend to take a call on my phone, Ill meet you on the next corner”
“Why can’t you be the one who climbs out the window?”
“Because I came up with the plan and also because I am not the one that needs to escape the pimp, my girl isn’t a prostitute”
“She was my girl first!”
“Semantics Herman, quit living in the past. Now get to it”
My plan worked to perfection. Herman had to scale a fence after being terrorized by a dog, but with minimal subsequent whinging he met me on the corner.
“Did they suspect anything?” he asks
“Mate trust me, I was as smooth as a rat with a gold tooth” Just then some high pitched prostitute yelling came from up the road. A lot of Portuguese and some English that says you owe me money. We start running in the other direction, the prostitute being joined by two other prostitutes. My girl wasn’t there, I was proud of her. Those prostitutes were quite quick, they were no doubt catching on us when Herman stopped for a moment.
“What are you doing? Lets go?” I yell
“Don’t worry Im creating a diversion” Herman shoots back. Herman pulls out a bunch of centavos and scattered them across the ground, throwing a couple of 2 Real notes into the air before returning to the chase.
Seamlessly we approach the next corner and slide straight into a cab, turning to see the prostitutes half a block away scurrying to pick up Herman’s change on the road. And we were off, laughing our arses off into the Brazilian night.