Getting naked in Brazil = Complicated!

So in a few days, we’ll leave our home in the ‘US of A’ to take on the world.  As it happens, I have been granted an entire year to read, research, and write, and you can do all of those things almost anyplace.  Most of those things can also be done naked… at least if it’s warm enough!

So we’ve been busy getting ready to see the world through naked eyes.  I’ve already outlined the first three months of our journey in a previous post (“Blowing through Europe…”), a journey that will take us across the southern region of France and down the Adriatic coast until the weather starts to turn.  At that point, if all goes according to plan, we plan to explore the southern hemisphere with visits to lesser known naturist places, such as Harmony Nature Farm and Sun Kissed Villa in South Africa, a couple new naturist places in Thailand like the Oriental Village near Chiang Mai, and the Lumra Resort (which is advertised naturist, but seems to be a work in progress) on the rail line to Phuket.  Can one work on no tan lines all year long?  We’re going to try!

But the big project as of late has been trying to find a way to get naked in Brazil!

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You wouldn’t think this would be such a difficult endeavor in a country that is famous for the unabashed practice of removing unwanted pubic hair, but as it turns out, though Brazil is a big country, Catholicism is rampant, and naturist resorts are few and far between.  (Seems to be a South America thing!  Naked is REVERENT…?)

My first round of investigation led me to what appears to be a lovely mountain retreat about 90 minutes from Rio called Recanto Paraiso.  A nice place, perhaps, but despite the simple and beautiful bilingual website, my emails inquiring about summer accommodations went unanswered.  Either they’re closed for the winter, or foreign visitors are just too much trouble.

Then I found Praia do Pinho, near the city of Navegantes, several hours south of Sao Paulo.  Turns out this would be the winning ticket… I hope!

Pihho 3

Located about an hour north of Florianopolis, (a major tourist destination for foreigners and Brazilians, alike!) this naturist village apparently lies adjacent to one of the finest naturist beaches in all of South America.

Easy booking via webform?  Not really.

Accepts credit cards, American or otherwise?   Nope.  Gotta send money by Western Union MoneyGram.

Easy to reach by direct flight from Rio?  Well… no!  Either an airport change in Rio, or a connecting flight in Sao Paulo, or most likely – BOTH!  Two hours in the air will require several hours in various airports, dealing with security, body-scans and the like – all in Portuguese, of course.  (Haven’t a clue how to speak Portuguese!)

Pinho 1

And who knew that Americans need to have a visa  – an expensive visa – to visit Brazil?  You can slip in and out of Colombia, South Africa, or Thailand with just a passport, but a visit to Brazil requires a visit to the Embassy, which we may well have to manage in Paris – in French!  All this, as my wife reads to me about the current political unrest in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Are we crazy? Probably.

But, indeed, the place does look amazing!  Even the Lonely Planet guidebooks say these are some of the best beaches in the world, and by the time we get there, it’ll be snowing in Germany and New York, but it’ll be the longest day of the summer in Brazil!

And it seems that organized naturism is just now catching on in Brazil, which makes sense, as they seem to be taking the lead as the emerging economy in South America. (What a great place to stage the Olympics – naked, eh?) If they figure out the naturist tourist thing, it seems half the world would be eager to doff their big furry coats and thermal gloves to celebrate a blue Christmas.  We’ll let you know – when and if we can figure out how to get there!

POST SCRIPT: We’ve been working to wire our deposit to Praia do Pinho, the resort on the southern coast.  It’s been three weeks now, and it seems Western Union has cancelled the transaction.  No foul play, I believe, but just confirming that it’s difficult to navigate such transactions from the US to Brazil.  I’m still determined to figure this out.

Documentary Video about Ile du Levant

Ile du Levant family

Naturist family enjoying the view from Ile du Levant

This will be our first stop on our naturist journey this summer.  Counting the days!

Click on the photo to the left see this brief, but excellent (in French) documentary about this extraordinary island off the southern coast of France

Getting naked on facebook

So I’ve been experimenting with a naturist facebook page. Admittedly, not my REAL facebook page – the one that’s connected to all my family and friends and professional colleagues.  Can’t really do that.  Not gonna do that.

La Chiappa, Corisca

Contemplating nakedness… on the internet!

I opened a naturist facebook page for two reasons.  First, I wanted a place where I could “like” some of our favorite naturist destinations, or various naturist organizations, thereby, the news of the day comes up on my newsfeed, and I’ve made some really interesting discoveries that way.

But secondly, I keep hoping that I will meet a few rational people that share some of our values related to naturism.  We are not swingers. And at least by our definition, we are certainly not exhibitionists.  No judgement intended upon folks who embrace either of those ideologies, but I have to say, when I click through on a potential ‘friend request’ to find some, shall we say, incredibly provocative (thought facebook didn’t allow that!) photos, I immediately bounce back and shudder… “Maybe this isn’t a very good idea.”

Of course, facebook is designed to create a world of obscured identities.  At least in platforms like Second Life (though I’ve never done that) you know that you don’t really know who you’re talking to. But on facebook, it’s all over the map.  While many participants are quite altruistic in their naturist ideals (as according to my definition of what I think that should mean – an admittedly biased statement!), they are simply in a situation similar to my own.  While I am in no way ashamed of my naturist endeavors – it simply isn’t a good idea to go public with those if I wish to remain gainfully employed in a profession I’m very committed to.

So there it is.  Are you a “real naturist?”  (Sorry… there I go again!) Well, you can find me on facebook, and we can share a few tips on the best therme in Bavaria or that little beach in Hawaii that nobody really knows about.  But I gotta say, if it gets too weird out there, Daniel O’Naturale will vanish in the haze, having meandered off to a social network fraught with fewer mine fields!  We’ll see.

The Meandering Naturist – Daniel O’Naturale

Naked is REVERENT or Naked is SIN?

My blog has been quiet for the past few days given my preoccupation with a business trip to South America – my first visit to South America – where I witnessed in person a seldom discussed truth that seems to have undermined the possibilities for so many potentially stunning naturist destinations, where shivering immodest explorers of the northern hemisphere would gladly unleash truckloads of naked tourist dollars, should there only be a viable opportunity to do so.  If only there were a few more attracive options that weren’t essentially disqualified by the admonition that “nudity is deeply offensive to the locals, based largely on their fervent Catholicism.”  (France, albeit a tepidly Catholic county, boasts about 300 naturist destinations; while all of South America, including the Caribbean, can only produce about two-dozen such opportunities – significantly fewer if you are seeking a formally recognized resort with overnight accommodations!) Apparently, when you get south of the equator, nudity and religion are simply not simpatico.

Admittedly, I have a long way to go in attaining any sort of cohesive understanding of the role of the Catholic Church is South America, particularly in those regions that find their modern roots (ethnically and culturally) in the colonial conquests of 16th century restless Spaniards seeking a brand new world.  Quite ironic, given that today Spain, itself, has found its place amongst the most tolerant of all nations is the acceptance of social/pubic nudity, even though the Catholic Church retains a significant influence there as well.

This morning, I was struck by the momentary ritual of a young man who crossed himself as the plane accelerated for takeoff from Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport; a fleeting reminder that despite all the conflict, violence, and uncertainties related to the safety of walking down the most well lit city streets, the influence of peoples’ religious convictions in Columbia is pervasive!  The ascent to the church of Monserrate is said to be the road of an annual Passiontide pilgrimage of suffering, where devout believers reportedly make the two-mile walk on their knees in an effort to experience the suffering of Christ.  And the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, though mainly a secular tourist attraction, is loaded with religious imagery, including a remarkable depiction, in 3D sculpted relief, of Michelangelo’s famous painting from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  In neck-craning mural form, the genitalia are barely discernible.  In the replicated sculpture that lies at your feet, it seems downright graphic.

Sculpture in Salt Cathedral replicating the creation of Adam

I am not Catholic, so far be it for me to pontificate as to why or how nudity in Art in the most holy of places resides without question amidst the most holy of other historical artifacts, but dare a tourist attempt to enter such a sanctuary in Bogota, Buenos Aires, or “how dare you?” Venice or Rome, with even a shoulder or kneecap exposed, she will surely be turned away at the door by an indignant curator.  Adam can be naked.  Mary can be caught breast-feeding, and even Christ might be draped in the loin cloth that would be deemed le minimum in the South of France, but even the elbows and thighs of living humans are deeply irreverent, and thus forbidden, when visiting such exhibits that feature such explicit nudity!

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Botero: Adam & Eve

It was also during this journey that I learned that the work of the famous artist, Fernando Botero, brings a great sense of pride to the people of Columbia.  Perhaps you don’t recognize his name, but reprints of his work can be found at nearly any tourist-trap-poster-shop in the United States.  In this case, I couldn’t resist the urge to purchase a street market facsimile of his depiction of Adam and Eve.  Particularly enduring about his work is not only the prolific painting of nudes, but almost without exception, the subjects of these portraits always have a quasi-animated quality about them, and as evidenced here, they are rarely svelte and seductive as one typically sees in the ‘more sophisticated’ celebrations of the naked body.  From this, I have drawn my own subliminal conclusion that not only does this artist consider nudity a fact of life, (Another favorite is the female standing before the bathroom mirror – below) but that even those bodies with additional curves and bulges are to be celebrated as part of God’s creation!  While avoiding a statement of my own religious convictions here, I find myself, in this case, simply trying to calibrate the perception of nudity in a culture that is predominantly religious, but at the same time, apparently finds a person sunbathing on the grass more provocative than so much of the imagery that adorns the local museums and the most sacred of spaces.

As an interesting aside, the women traveling in my group were informed that Columbian women never wear shorts in public, even when the weather is warm.  Indeed, I observed two pairs of capris, several skirts that scarcely exposed the ankles, and all the rest of the women in full-length pants.

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Botero: Woman in Bath

Suffice it to say, this meandering naturist did not tempt fate by wasting time to seek out a naturist venue in Columbia.  There was neither time, nor desire to do so, especially given the sense that one is quite vulnerable when wandering about the city park, even when fully clothed. (Perhaps a potential mugger would leave you alone if it was evident you had no pockets!)  I can even understand the issues with social nudity in Italy, living so close to the Pope and all, But here, half way around the world, in a society where the ancestral cousins are haggling over the right to walk around naked in Barcelona?  I just don’t get it.

Maybe one of my readers can explain to me this dichotomy, that defines the divine sanctity of seeing the infant Jesus a Mary’s naked breast, rendered in a $2 print, hanging next to that of a nationally celebrated artist who brings a humorous acceptance to artistically familiar nudes.  But should a female be caught baring her breasts, even in a ‘responsibly remote’ location, never mind genitalia, the punishment will likely be decisive and swift.

Of course, there are similarly double standards in the US.  How lovely would it be to spend the morning in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) pondering a nude photography exhibit, then take a picnic lunch a few blocks north to sunbathe in Grand Central Park without inciting a riot that would surely culminate in the heroic arrival of the mounted police.  But Americans are quite outspoken about their prudery, but at least proportionally, less outspoken about their religious convictions.  Have we really reduced the acceptance of social nudity to the legend of two people in a garden, a serpent, and an apple?  Or have we simply come to assume that God loathes the very creation that artists have revered as the epitome of beauty; most worthy of celebration for the entire history of Art as we know it?

Gotta say… I think it’s all very confusing.