Planet Hiker
2005-07-15 Sports in Itacare, Brazil

This may be true for all of Brazil, but in Itacare in particular, sports are fully embraced by the culture. There are well organized soccer games on the beach every day, with a specific time slot allocated for the women's team. Right next to the soccer field there are volleyball courts, outfitted with proper nets and somehow, not vandalized. There is even a crew team that practices on modern fiberglass vessels. Mind you that this is in Itacare, a small fishing village with only one gas station, that most homes here have dirt floors, and that fisherman paddle out in dugout canoes for their daily catch.

As far as sports go, my only disappointment is that there is no gym... But, there is a pull-up bar on the beach, next to the volleyball courts as you may have guessed. Thus, everyday after surfing, I take some rest and head out to THE pull-up bar. The first time I went, there were couple of local guys exercising. Not being new to the sport, I kicked off my own routine, using a wide grip to take the tension off of the biceps and concentrate on the back muscles. After noticing some friendly smirks, I quickly invited them to try it out. To my delight, one of the guys was willing to give it a shot. He made several pull-ups the way I was doing them and then performed some more with the bar going behind the neck - the challenge was on! Soon after we were progressively doing harder and harder versions of the exercise, but not for the purpose of proving who is the strongest. Rather, to engage in a fun game, much like the way children do (we were in a large "sandbox" after all).

After the pull-ups challenge we shifted our attention to other exercises. There were couple of cement blocks just a few meters away and one of the local guys, Charlito (his parents named him after watching a Charley Chaplin movie) proudly performed a few push-ups on them. But since both of the blocks were of the same height, there really was not point of "using" them, as the the exercise was the same as when performed on any flat surface. So I suggested to use the blocks for doing dips instead. I showed them what I meant (no Portuguese required) and they loved the idea that there is something new that they could try. Though, I don't expect to establish something to compete with the gym on Venice Beach, I did haul over couple of boulders with which we worked on shoulders and obliques. Now if we could only get a squat rack and an Olympic weigh set...

Photos by Mariola Box. Here Isadora, Brice, Mariola and I are hanging out at Praya Ribera:

And here is Mariola herself:

Brice and I are cracking coconuts (photo by Avik Shavarshyan):