An article in the weekend FT last month by the fetchingly-named Tyler Brûlé (surely made up?) had the author in Rio. His own experience - aside from noting what we have as well, ie that the locals are extremely easy-going and very helpful and friendly – concluded with an observation about the amount of flesh on show. On this basis alone, he concluded, how could the IOC not award the city the Olympics for 2016? Aside from the fact that I believe Mr Brûlé is most definitely of a gay persuasion (pun intended), and hence impressed by the number of young, firm and rather fit-looking men that abound the length of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, it has to be said that otherwise any shape or size is fair game here.
It would be easier to state, as a matter of fact, that spotting the 'beautiful people' is far more difficult than I expected. What has been amazing to see firsthand is that the Brazilian melting pot of cultures, races, colours and sexes has given rise to a phenomenal society here. Furthermore, regardless of how you may look or where you come from, your background, wealth (or lack of it), or residential postcode, the beach is one great leveller. Anyone – and anything – goes. Feeling a tad flabby? Thighs like thunder? Boobs seen better days? Belly showing the signs of that one (daily) beer or five too many? Well come on down then to Rio's glorious beaches! No bikini is too skimpy, no bum is too big, no tummy too muffin-like to warrant being hidden away. And does anyone give a damn? Absolutely not. People smile, chat, make easy conversation, laugh and enjoy the sunshine and the waves. It is probably the most unpretentious atmosphere I have come across in a very long time.
And they love the children. How different from Anglo-Saxon society which frowns upon a child being noisy in a public place or pushing to the front of the queue. As BB's husband said to me yesterday, in Brazil children are seen as 'a gift' and are treated as such at all times. Never mind that communication is hampered by the language barrier – I am getting by on a mixture of Italian, Spanish and pseudo-English, with a dollop of French thrown in for good measure, it makes for great entertainment, especially my own – the genuine affection and gestures that accompany comments can be interpreted regardless: how wonderful to have these children.
I feel blessed.