Nipples are covered, butts aren’t.
Old, young, firm or jiggly, tiny or more generous, bare butts are everywhere. Brazilian women wear bikinis but not just any kind of bikini: the G-string one.
“Feng, stop staring!” I mutter. I don’t blame him. I’m kind of looking too, although there is nothing sexual here. I’m just wondering how comfortable these bikini bottoms are. I’ve never liked G-strings. Plus, I’m not particularly fond of my butt even though it’s hard to be self-conscious considering that I can see for myself no woman is Photoshopped in real life. Did you know that pretty much everyone has a bit or cellulitis? Now I do. Still, I bare the top easily. Butt cheeks… I like them covered.
Ah! I’ve just realized that these bikinis are not G-strings. Women just wedge a regular bikini bottom in their butt cheeks. I knew it. But why? To tan? Maybe.
I guess it’s just one of these Brazilian things I shouldn’t try to understand. It’s cultural.
Last day in Ponta Negra. I noted that it always takes us a few days to get comfortable in any Brazilian city. By now, we’ve mastered Ponta Negra—or at least our stretch of road and our stretch of beach. Time to do business. We grab our debit cards and look for a bank. Between out-of-service ATMs, daily withdrawal limit thresholds and other mysterious requirements, we both know it will take several attempts to get cash. Santander doesn’t deliver, most ATMs are already out of service and the two we touch promptly shut down as well. We walk to Banco Bradesco where I am usually lucky. This time, the limit is 800 reais. It will do. Miraculously, we both manage to withdraw that much. Okay, we are good for a little while.
Second chore: the laundry. We found a self-service laundromat. We fill the machine with our dirty clothes and head to the beach.
It’s still early and the tide is very low. For once, we have a decent stretch of sand. The beach looks bigger than I had thought and we can even walk to the bottom of the sand dune at the very far end. There are rocks covered with seashells and hundreds of crabs hiding in the holes. It took me a while to notice them but now I see them, barely moving, waiting for Mark and I to walk away. But Mark is persistent. He wants me to catch a crab. No way. I’m not fast enough.
The storm clouds are coming, once again. We escape the first thunderstorm, then get soaked for a minute or two. And the blue sky is back.
I pick up the laundry, stop by my favourite bakery and we head to the modern shopping mall we have never bothered checking out. It’s new, fancy and everything feels expensive by Brazilian standards. I’m used to supermarket prices, not middle-class food court prices.
Two weeks into our trip. It’s time to say goodbye to the Northeast and explore another part of the country… we are flying out tomorrow.