A Day in Rio Das Pedras, Brazil
The sun beats overhead and Maravilha dances alone on the stage with humidity heavy in the air – typical of a Brazilian summer. He gyrates and glides with style in precision to syncopated Brazilian samba. While he dances, I think of all the great Brazilian music, and that Maravilha is definitely a pro. Then something catches his eye in the distance. Abruptly, Maravilha halts his dance, turns off the music as disgust washes over him. He looks down, shaking his head, throws his hands on his hips, and stomps his foots to the ground before looking out at the 20 casually-clad women who have been attending his noon dance class. At first, the ladies appear confused. Maravilha then walks to the edge of the stage and mournfully slaps his hand across his eyes to pantomime his disappointment. Then, the women begin to laugh. Of course, it’s all an act.
“No, no, no.” He cries with a huge grin. He then turns his backside to the women and demonstrates how to shake booty. The women laugh and follow along as best they can, though most appear to be doing some kind of misguided hula. Maravilha turns to face them again, applauds encouragement to his students and puts on the music back on, which is simply too good, too inviting. I decide this class needs more testosterone and step out onto the floor wearing swim trunks, flip-flops and a need to bust a move.
After embarrassing myself, and confounding the gods of rhythm, my day continues with archery followed by swimming, basketball and little water skiing. Between sports, I ate a whole lot and enjoyed the tropical scenery that included a glimpse at the playful local monkeys. Fortunately, I would run out of energy before I would run out of activities. Perhaps this is the beauty of a good all-inclusive vacation. I am in Brazil at Club Med at Rio das Pedras. Yes, the same Club Med that an old high school friend would quit his high-paying computer job to teach the flying trapeze to swinging singles (I couldn’t help the pun) in the Dominican Republic. But this was twenty years ago and times have changed. The singles have grown up and now have families.
Club Med has also grown up. Today’s Club Med caters to families. And it does it well. Moms and dads have the options of leaving the kids at ‘Mini Med,’ a separate childcare area loaded with activities for the little ones within Club Med’s sprawling compound. Or do a whole family thing, which might include enjoying the beaches, pools or daily dance classes. Older kids had choices too, which includes silk screening or practicing their live all-kid production of High School Musical. All this activity does build an appetite.
At Rio das Pedras the Brazilian food should be tasted frequently: fresh papaya, queijo minas (minas cheese, my favorite treat and discovery while visiting Brazil) banana milkshakes in the morning, white chocolate bread in the evening, grapes, and traditional manioc flour – I understand Club Med embraces the local fare at all of there 80 locations. While I suggest lounging and playing at the many Club Med offerings, I recommend the excursions as a great way to see some of the local sites. During my stay, I visited Paraty, a charming colonial town, island hopped in the quiet waters of Costa Verde and of course, stopped in Rio for the sands at Copacabana and Ipenema. Yes, all available via Club Med’s excursion office.
Of course, some things have stayed the same. The fun and talented service staff or “G.O.s” (Gentil Organisateurs) still mingle, encourage, and entertain their guests. Later, Maravilha cartoonishly wears a maid’s costume and begins to pretend to wash towels in the swimming pool, surrounded by confused sun worshipers and kids wearing floaties. He’s wrings out the clean towels in the main pool while a hundred swimmers look on, until he lets them all in on the joke. It’s all in a day of Club Med.