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Published: September 30th 2017
Geo: -22.9035, -43.2096
Carbon nanotubes - the strongest substance on Earth, in terms of tensile strength, strength provided by its unique molecular structure. So what does this have to do with Brazil, and why am I making reference to something seemingly out of a Star Trek episode? Because I suspect there is a link between carbon nanotubes and something that for foreigners, is the undeniable cultural symbol of Brazil. So what am I talking about? Fio dental of course, the Brazilian name for the barely-there string bikinis that can be seen on the beaches here! In English, fio dental translates to dental floss; and while never being much of a supporter of the use of dental floss to maintain proper oral hygiene, I have decided that Brazilian fio dental is definitely something that I can get behind. Pun intended!
I've done some research (OK, I admit - a lot) on the subject while here, first by discussing the subject with locals. It turns out that what most foreigners think is fio dental, actually isn't - most locals agree that the proper definition of this lovely creation is that it must be no thicker than a finger. Of course, the exact finger
thickness can be brought into question ... there's obviously a big difference between the width of a small child's finger, and that of a male bodybuilder. From what I've seen so far, I suspect that you might find some with a thickness resembling something more like the former.
And like any good scientist does, I've performed much research through observing the numerous species (i.e. - generally hot Brazilians) around the country that proudly wear this national uniform. My findings lead to one inescapable conclusion - that fio dental must be made of some space-age, super-strength material. To paraphrase what a Brazilian once told me - "Us Brazilians have a whole lot of this, and a whole lot of that!", as she gestured to ... ahem ... certain parts of her body ...
Simply put, no natural material on Earth can possibly have a high enough yield strength to withstand the incredible stresses that are exerted upon fio dental. Not only are there the static stresses imposed by the generally ample supply of, for lack of more proper terms, the Brazilian boobies and booty, but also the dynamic forces to contend with.
Brazil has some of the best surfing in
the world and for the casual beach goer, the waves can easily knock you down if you haven't braced for them. So imagine poor little fio dental - already stressed to the breaking point with the static loads, and then to be subjected to the dynamic element of the waves crashing down upon the wearer of the aforementioned fio dental? If it was made from any lesser material it would simply snap, causing all kinds of destruction.
What if your child was standing nearby when the fio dental snapped, and the floss whipped around so quickly that it took out an eye or even worse, sliced open a major artery? What if the resultant force of the tidal wave of Brazilian body parts is unleashed on the poor child's head, causing a massive concussion or even more tragically, a broken neck? Oh, the horror!
Obviously, this is a topic I am quite passionate about, but only because of concern for the 's safety. Though there has never been any documented case of injuries caused by exploding fio dental, other than perhaps whiplash, it is imperative that further research and work be performed to bring the next generation of advances in material
science into the world of fio dental. Just because nothing tragic has yet occurred we shouldn't rest on our laurels, thinking it will never happen. People said the Titanic was unsinkable, but it happened, and we have a terribly over-rated and overly-melodramatic James Cameron movie as a reminder. Do we need a tragedy of that magnitude to wake everyone up to the potential dangers of fio dental explosions?
People everywhere, I implore you, do not let this happen! So do your part and send me your donations and like fio dental, no amount is too small! With your financial assistance and moral support, I'll pursue a Master's Degree in Fio Dental science here in Rio - your help is desperately needed, let's make the world a safer place for our children, and our children's children. In fact, since today was my last in Rio, I made sure I conducted some further research before leaving, down at Ipanema beach.
Beyond obtaining some further data on fio dental, today was an absolute success - the sun finally came out in Rio, and the views from Pao de Acucar were phenomenal. Not just because of the beautiful day, Pao de Acucar was far more
enjoyable than Cristo because its proximity to the coastline made for better views, and also because there's simply more to do here. The cable car stops at an intermediate point where there are great views of both Rio and Sugarloaf, with more viewpoints than Cristo has to offer, and neat features like a little forested area with wild animals running about. In fact, I enjoyed the intermediate stop more than actually being on Sugarloaf itself.
But by far the most interesting part of the day (beyond the fio dental research) was actually a conversation I had with a local on the bus headed to and from Pao de Acucar. I hate taking city buses because you never really know where you are, and you generally don't know where to get off, even when going to a massive landmark such as Pao de Acucar. So I'm sitting on the bus, trying to trace our route on a map, and a guy sits next to me and starts laughing, asking me if I was giving myself a tour of Rio.
Marcelo was his name and though hailing from Poland, his family has been living in Brazil for a number of generations. I explained
what I was doing and he agreed that it was a good idea, because sometimes you can accidentally get off in a dodgy neighbourhood, such as what happened to him a few years ago traveling in Israel. It was late at night, and he had lost his bearings on the bus and stepped off in the West Bank. Marcelo is Jewish ... and he was wearing his Jewish hat ... a bit of a problem ... luckily, he was able to quickly find a taxi and get out of there.
We ended up talking about how great the multiculturalism in Brazil is, about how it seems that here everyone is Brazilian first and foremost, and their country of origin is somewhat secondary. Marcelo proposed a rather interesting theory about why this is - back when Portugal first attempted to colonize Brazil, they weren't able to send a large contingent of settlers since they were a small country with only a small population to draw from. So ships filled mostly with mostly men were sent, and they immediately started to mix with the indigenous peoples, with part of the plan being to rapidly grow their population here to be better able
to resist the imperialistic threats from other countries such as France and Spain, who were definite obstacles to the Portuguese plans for Brazil.
Since the Portuguese were so eager and willing to mix with the locals right from the beginning, there's never been a fear of integration as other ethnic groups began arriving in Brazil. Then Marcelo summed everything up by saying he doesn't know if he's 100% correct, and saying with a smile "And you know ... the Portuguese men had to f*ck someone, and only the locals were available, right?" Exactly the type of response I expected from a Brazilian man! Or any man, for that matter ... it's just that Brazilians are more blunt about this type of thing!
I actually later ran into Marcelo at Carretao, a Brazilian churrasco joint I went to with Terrence, a Chinese guy from Vancouver (surprise) who is here for five weeks to train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (an actual surprise). He doesn't have the look of a typical MMA athlete, with all 125 lbs of him, but it's something he's seriously training for, even going to the lengths of quitting his job to do this. Props to him, nothing like having a
crazy dream that may not end up being so crazy after all, if you can actually commit to it and find a way to make it happen.
Terrence had mentioned wanting to head to a big club in Ipanema with some of the Kiwis tonight, but secretly I was hoping that they would have left before we returned, as I would've preferred to do something different. Luckily, they were already gone! And as always happens with backpackers, eventually you run into people you met elsewhere, and I ended up seeing Ani and Vij from Tucano House standing in front of Hostel Harmonia. I vaguely remembered them mentioning that they would be here for New Year's and noticed a third guy with them, further remembering that they were stopping in Sao Paulo on the way to Rio to pick up a friend. Funny ... many times backpacking can be such a blur, and running into these guys again was a bit of a way to pause and digest some of the experiences of the previous two weeks. It's been a whirlwind!
They both looked absolutely wrecked (the third looking to be in pretty good shape, having only been in Brazil
a few days), obviously willing victims of Brazil's insane nightlife, and were thus seeking a simpler evening - perfect! We popped over to a place recommended by Adam of Hostel Harmonia, which ended up being packed, so instead it was Emporium, which would have been our planned second stop of the night.
It was a bit of a dive bar that played all kinds of killer rock tunes - my kind of place! It quickly went from being packed to being crazy packed, with us eventually spilling out onto the street in front. At some point, there were probably nearly as many people out in the street as there were inside. It was another one of those memorable Brazilian nights, spent at a great little dive that despite being overflowing with people, somehow managed to feel cozy and intimate. To me, this was the perfect way to spend my last night in Rio.
The Floripa connections continued here, as Terrence ran into a guy he met at Tucano House, a 7-footer whose name I can't remember. I learned a valuable lesson this evening - apparently, I am 6'-2". At least, that's what the 7-footer told me, who insisted
that he had a great eye for height, despite my protestations that I was barely 6'. So perhaps the better lesson for tonight is not to argue with 7-footers who weigh in excess of 260 lbs when you're only about 6'. Even if he told me that my name was Princess Peach and that I'm involved in a love triangle with Mario and Luigi, who am I to argue with someone like that?
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