Max and I pitched up at Ipanema and found a space amongst the multitude and ordered a couple of chairs and an umbrella. While one of us was reading the other would swim, and then we’d switch. After an hour or so a man sat down opposite us. He wasn’t reading, and his shades prevented us seeing exactly where he was looking, but given that we were taking up most of his field of vision we assumed he was looking at us. We continued reading, although the spectre of his package looming out of focus just above the top of the page made it difficult to read productively.
A short while later an older man sat beside him, his package likewise wrapped up in nothing more than skimpy speedos. His face looked like a stretched out piece of leather, on which was printed a fixed look of vague curiosity. For the first time we look around, really look around, and see all around us gay pride flags and men with ripped torsos creaming up their equally ripped counterparts, and couples sitting side by side with matching speedos. I look across at Max, by my side in his short shorts, and he looks at me, the pale and skinny Englishman in his sports shorts, and we both go “ooohhh… so that’s why…”. We’re around Post 9, the gay-friendly part of Ipanema.