We had an extra day in Brazil after the show, with which we rode a hanging tram car up to Sugarloaf, a monstrous piece of cliff jutting up from the ocean and over Rio. Our tour guide took us to one of the many juice bars in Rio (there’s practically one on every corner) where we sipped on some smoothies made of subtle, creamy, citrusy Fruta Du Conde After all these years living like an ignoramus, I learned that chocolate comes from a seed, the seed of the Cao Cao fruit, and that the Cao Cao flesh surrounding the seed tastes nothing like chocolate (this lesson was taught to me by a Cao Cao smoothie). We went to the “hippie craft fair”, which turned out to be simply a craft fair (I don’t believe there’s many hippies in Rio, not, at least, in the American sense of the word). We took a bus ride across town and discovered that in Rio, there are turnstiles inside of the buses, and there is also a cashier working on the bus, separate from the bus driver, who sits snugly perched in her own little chair/booth. “They don’t trust us,” a local explained. On Ipanema beach, we stripped into our tighty whiteys and scurried into the roaring Atlantic Ocean. The waves in Rio are immense and the current is strong. The band buried me in the sand and sculpted a woman’s body above mine. “We’re so lucky,” Darwin declared, “not even because of these places that we get to go, but just because of all the amazing quality time that we get to spend with one another.”
After all the hard partying, I finally got a good night’s sleep on the day before the flight out of Rio. But, alas, I had to relearn that being well rested on the day of a gigantic flight is never a smart idea. I was up all night on the flight from Rio to Miami, reading my book, in perpetual worry that I was annoying the sleeping stranger next to me with the bright light above my seat.
Now we are in San Francisco, another of the world’s most splendid cities. I love the old vintage signs here, the neon signs, how half of everything looks like it was drawn by Robert Crumb. I love Taqueria Can-Cun, the heaven-sent Mexican cheap eats joint down the street from our crappy motel. I love how there’s more homeless people here than any other thriving city, and they’re all talking to themselves. I used to play this gory apocalyptic computer game when I was a child called Manhunter: San Francisco. Part of navigating the game involved using a map of the city, and so, two decades later, I still know exactly how this place is laid out. I went to the ferry building, to the pyramid-shaped trade center, to Chinatown, the Colts tower, to Ghirardelli Square, to all the places from that computer game that I’ve only known as infested by aliens and full of bloody corpses. It was a fun wander. I tried to make it all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. This is my fourth time in this city, and I’ve still never seen that thing. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that if i’m gonna see that iconic red bridge, i’m gonna need a fucking car.