Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Spider Gets a Nickname, Judo Happens, and The (ugh) King Catches His White Whale

About 10 hours after we got off the plane (and several adult beverages deep) one of my travel companions noted that trips like this seem to break down into three phases: the beginning (I know - shocker, but bear with me here), where the destination is new and you run around with seemingly boundless energy; the middle, where you get complaicent (probably because you didn't sleep enough in Phase 1) and underacomplish as an explorer; and the end, where you realize that you are out of time and need to cram in as much as possible. We've been living in the first phase for the last two weeks (with one or two days where we've all collapsed and couldn't do anything): it's been a freefall of BJJ, surfing, shopping, eating, staying out until 6 am, and sightseeing. We've all got multiple little injuries (sprained fingers, pulled shoulders, bruises, mat burn, sun burn, and I think Spider has heart burn) but no one is ready to leave (Chimmy is, however, ready for the next party)

Some beach views from the last couple of weeks:

Copacabana -

...and more Copacabana (the guy on the right clearly works out) -

Spider, King, and Chimmy have been rolling well over here. Spider so well, in fact, that the locals at our school (did I mention it's about 100 paces away from the front of our apartment) have affectionately dubbed him Monstro (translation: delicate sensitive gentleman) and I'm really hoping this sticks when we get back.

Last night the four of us trained at Gerson's (our BJJ professeur) Judo academy, with the man who guided him through to his black belt. It was a wonderful experience, much more formal than a jiujitsu session, and so much fun. Gerson was clearly being appraised by our performance as we lined up in front of the class and grip fought with every student (about 15 - 16 of them...exhausting!), then each took a couple of turns sparring with the higher belts. This was my first judo experience, and the rest of our crew are novices at best. Things did not end well for us. At the end of the session the head of the school lined us up and (through a translater) told us that we were all tough, humble, and a part of the school now (there may have been more, but my head was still ringing after getting tossed around like a rag doll. I think I brisued my spleen. Seriously.) It was a fine moment, and I think we represented our school and instructors well.

About three months before we left for this trip King and I decided it'd be a shame to visit Rio and not surf. We figured that the issue of us having limited to no surf experience was a trifle and set about teaching ourselves in the pristine Venice Beach shore break. Between 2 -3 three times a week, for the past three months, both of us have been getting beaten, twisted, and nearly drowned in an effort to ride the ellusive wave. Today it all paid off. After commandeering the car, I drove (an adventure in its own right) us to the local surf spot - Prainha (or something of that nature, I'm not a natural "speller"); Here's a shot of the water just beyond the break. It was a perfect day for us, the waves were 1 - 4 feet high, fair conditions, and about four other guys in the water. We were out for a little over an hour when a chest high wave came at us and we started pulling. At this point (as far as I'm ocncerned) it's every man for themselves and I tune K out, but as I get up I hear K yelling like a kid in short pants and see him tearing down to the left of me. I gracefully exit stage right. After popping my head up out of the water, I see the wave but no K. Thinking he fell, I chuckeled to myself (I DO love a good King fail) and started to paddle out again, then see K out of the corner of my eye screaming out of a bottom turn and make one more over the crest of the wave and then look over to make sure I had taken it all in, before falling into the water with his hands raised in triumph. It was another fine moment, and great to see some hard work pay off. We got out shortly after, took a picture to commerate the occasion, drank two coconuts, and scrambled back to the gym for an unbelievable two hour semi private lesson with the rest of the crew.

Here's the pic, I think they rented us the gringo boards, mine has a naked lady on it:

We had another teammate who was supposed to join us on this trip, but had to back out. J - we've been thinking of you and hope all is well, we'll do this again some day.

I'm off to make sure that Chimmy gets to bed on time, that Spider/Monstro doesn't finish the last of our drinking water, and that King takes his weekly shower. Out.


  1. Dear sirrah,
    I must declair that you are the most gifted, insightful blog writer I have had the pleasure, nay - glory, to acquaint myself with. Keep up the good work, you make the King sound like a sophmoric troglodyte.
    The Most Interesting Man in the World

  2. Troglodyte? You anonymous cowardly racist!