Well, perhaps not the end of inequality, but the beach certainly is something of an equalizer. Although the beach has its classes and groups, it is the closest Brazilians come to indiscriminate association.
Perhaps you have a few class indicators, like a pair of sunglasses or a fancy bathing suit, but except for some very informal segmentation it’s often difficult to tell rich from poor, poor from rich. Conversations and activities among strangers intermingle.
Carolina and I observed one little fat white kid playing with a frisky group of black kids, evidently from different class sets. Even though the black kids called the little white one “gordinho,” (little fatty) he served as a half effective obstacle in front of the imaginary goal. His dramatic dives in the shallow water made the gang laugh. He was even invited by one of the kids’ mothers to grab a sandwich and a cup of coke. Unfortunately, he submerged the sandwich in a pool of seawater (but took a bite before it was summarily confiscated).
If you have not been to a busy Rio beach, it is an experience not to be missed. Not only for the diversity of people, but for what they’re selling on the beach, to walk close to the water and witness the heaving mass of multitone bodies gathered where land meets sea.