E and I are in Rio de Janeiro, settled in the upscale Soho-like neighborhood of Leblon. From our room overlooking Leblon and Ipanaema Beach, we can see the locals in as little clothing as possible. The size of the bathing suit I bought to blend in with the cariocas is akin to the dimensions of a packet of Kool Aid. Actually, it could fit inside a packet of Kool Aid, too.
We’re supposed to leave Rio on Sunday, but back at home, a hurricane coupled with two other storm fronts are approaching each other to create what’s been nicknamed “Frankenstorm” for its Halloween arrival and its freakishly powerful wind and rain. As New York prepped for the worst storm in decades, it became apparent our Sunday departure may not happen. How sad. Really, we’re sad (E, can you order me another caipirinhia, please?).
Since we only had enough underwear through Sunday, we hit the streets in search of a lavanderia to prep for our extended stay. After being told wash and fold services wouldn’t be ready in time to pick up by end of day, we decided to do it ourselves in our hotel room and went in search of laundry detergent at a supermercado. Between our college minor-level Spanish and no understanding of Portuguese, E and I could only halfway translate directions we got from a local. In turn, we got lost. And frustrated. Against every travel guide guidance about not carrying valuables on you, E whipped out his iPhone 5.
“Really, honey? We can’t just ask someone?” I said. “Must you look at that thing?”
“Well, you did that and we got lost. So I’m looking it up!”
E took off, looking at the iPhone as we walked blocks around Leblon. Directly at the phone, not at me, or the scenery, or any other town attractions. I know he’s a computer programmer, but he spent more time looking at that iPhone than anything else. Could he not think without it? Apparently not–we’re lost, he looks up maps, We’re hungry, he looks up restaurants. If we’re feeling frisky, guess we’ll look at porn on the damn thing instead of have actual sex.
After walking together in silence, E skipped off to get money from an ATM. I stood across the street taking in the pace of the neighborhood, and my mind started to wander away from my frustration. I found myself sitting in front of a popular gourmet delicatessen, Talho Capixaba. They sold fancy breads, cheeses, olive oils, meats and desserts, and the place was jammed like a samba club on Friday night. “I’m going to buy some goods to make sandwiches for lunch” I told E. I diverted my attention from my annoyance from fighting for attention with E’s iPhone. We stocked up on sandwich goods, hung a left and guess what was next door to the sandwich shop? Yup, the supermercado. Fine, the iPhone came in handy. We bought the soap and enjoyed the walk back to the hotel.
As I made lunch, I watched as E sloshed both his and my dirty clothes in the kitchenette sink, then laid all of the sopping wet clothes on the floor and on whatever free hook he could find to dry. I wanted to wring out every single piece to get out the excess water so the carpet didn’t get soaked. But we had just gotten over our previous tiff over the iPhone. And this was vacation. And I had to let go of control. I couldn’t control the weather in New York, I couldn’t control how many people were able to speak English in Brazil, and I couldn’t control my boyfriend’s addiction to his phone or how he washed his clothes. I just prepped the sandwiches, smiled and let it go as I hung my sopping wet underwear on the bedroom doorknob.
2 small baguettes
1/3 pound roast beef
1/4 cup arugula
4 to 6 slices mozzarella
mayo or olive oil optional (our beef came dressed in what they called a ‘vinaigrette,’ but was more like a mashed garlic tomato tapenade)
Slice the baguette in half. Add condiments if you wish. Layer on folds of sliced meat, then stack slices of mozzarella cheese. Place argula on top, stack other slice of baguette on top. Cut in half on the diagonal. Serve poolside. If you don’t have a pool, fill up your kitchen sink and sit next to it.