Riding Without Trying

        I somehow put a good ~44 miles on my bike today without even making it out of Rio. How? The first driver was a damn text string that could be out of a secret agent movie: S22(degreesign)56'11.0" W043(degreesign)11'43.2". I quickly scribble this down from the internet cafe computer's monitor, making sure I've got the exact location of Climb Rio which, appropriately enough, runs climbing trips in the Rio area. I've decided I'm a climber, and I'm eager to get their advice on my itinerary. I've also decided that I'll try geocaching, or finding something at a given, exact latitude and longitude point with a global positioning system (GPS) device.
        Sounds easy and maybe even like a cool little treasure hunt, right? Not so much. It's tedious and almost makes me crash, staring at the changing coordinates on my GPS watch representing my changing position. Many miles into this process I think I've arrived: the street name's right, latitude's right on, and it's almost the right longitude. Unfortunately, I don't see anything remotely resembling a Climb Rio sign and the address is way off, 26 instead of 1526 Rua Alice. After more confused zigzags than I'd like to admit, I finally realize that, appropriately enough, I have to climb a hill to actually find this place.
        It's worth the ride. Daniel, one of the guides, speaks solid English and knows tons about the outdoors in this area. I even get suggestions about what coastal towns to stop in if I actually pull off my Rio - Sao Paulo bike trek. I leave with tons of free advice and planning to call tomorrow when I want to climb Corcovado's K2 route.
        A lot more mileage riding to random beaches, blowing some money on rock climbing shoes in the process. Too many specialized sports; with flippers, sandals, and tennis shoes also with me, I've got almost as much weight and space in footwear as rest-of-body wear. Throw in my 2 pairs of sunglasses, contacts, and glasses and I'm focusing a bit too much on the top and bottom relative to the rest.
        I try to hike up Sugarloaf way too late in the day. The sun's pretty much set by 6 here, and I'm in little light by the time I'm even a tenth of the way up. Aborting, I see people climbing on a short slab. Hardcore is using your cell phone for light. I butt in, providing a headlight and using their rope for a lame attempt. Their broken English is so superior to my nonexistent Portuguese that I can communicate some of my mostly bold and totally tentative plans; they respond with advice and an invite to a meeting of Rio-area climbers scheduled for tomorrow night. Definitely too interesting to pass up.
        I've never been as disappointed that a food didn't hurt me as I was at dinner. I paid too much for manicoba, which I think is supposed to be poison manioc with pork. The rainforest root's supposedly supposed to numb one's tongue so much that you sound like you just got a gum full of Novocain. Other than having a bad meal, the texture of which isn't unlike soggy tofu, I notice no effects.
        Alcohol, of course, is different. Caipirinhas are the national drink, made of cachuca, a nasty barely-filtered liquor, with lots of sugar and limes to make it approach suitability for human consumption. Caipirinhas play a prominent role in my solo, biked, 5+-stop bar spin.

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