Tops

9 de Julho, Rio de Janeiro, Rodoviária
6:30 PM

I watched the sun set as we crossed Rio’s giant bridge. How very zen, being in Rio for a total of four hours and seeing the sun both rise and set.

No direct routes from Búzios or Cabo Frio to Paraty, so we’re forced to double back through Rio. On a trip where forward movement, where progress, is so important, it feels like a capital crime. Which way is forward, you ask? Fools. Forward is any way but back.

Last night was… acceptable. We met some local girls who weren’t prostitutes, which I believe to be the exception rather than the rule. A town like Búzios caters to the wealthy and the spoiled, and as such it offers all the accommodations its guests are willing to pay for. Beaches. Boats. Ice Cream. Underage Hookers. All the things that bring smiles to the bloated and greying.

We found three nice ones, however. Their names escape me. We repeated the same old cycle, impressing them with Portuguese and humor, then hitting them with the surprise left hook and telling them we’re neither 30 nor Italian.

One flaw, or perhaps it’s a blessing, of mine is that I am completely unable to visualize myself from an outsider’s perspective. I’ve been told this is my greatest strength and flaw in the same breath. Time and time again, I’m mistaken for a late 20’s / early 30’s Italian or Spaniard, and yet every time it comes as a shock to me.

It leads me to wonder, then, how others we’ve encountered in our travels view me. Not in any kind of childish, self-conscious, do-they-think-i’m-cool sort of way, but in a broader, more holistic and curious sense.

An example. We met Elizabeth and Meitol and spent a total of about four days in their company. Although we became friends fast, I wonder just who it is they think they’ve made friends with. They know me, us, entirely without context; a single, four day first impression, floating in the void. It would interest me greatly to know how one of them would describe me to an impartial observer.

Strange, metaphysical thoughts in this sanitarium-green bus station. A wound in my foot, minor at first, grows more painful and swollen with each passing day. I fear the feverish, weakened state I’m currently in is a result of some hellish jungle infection, spreading through my veins up my calf like black ink through a tissue. Thus far, a strict schedule of 12-14 hours of sleep her night combined with an insanely high-protein diet has kept me healthy, healthier even than when in the States. Now, however, with a red and festering gash inviting all the world’s bacteria into my bodily fortress, I fear the worst. Who knows what mutant, Herculean germs exist in this feral, savage land. I could catch anything from tuberculosis to lycanthropy wandering barefoot on these beaches.

Nothing can be done at this point. I’ll continue my gorging diet, keep up with my intense sleeping schedule, and lather on the Neosporin.

Sickness is simply not an option at this juncture.

Paraty, here we come.

-T.

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