It was July 1973 and time for my one month’s vacation. I wanted to go some place different, some place that I wouldn’t bump into a bunch of Americans or feel I had to stop in a Weight Watchers class and by this time they were everywhere. In any case I decided on South America. I had learned Spanish in high school but only retained the basics and then Pepe, my first lover, taught me some Spanish but it wasn’t the type you would use in public. I did not know how to speak Portuguese but I thought that would add to the excitement of the trip.

As when I took my trip to New Zealand/Australia I was still drinking heavy but this time I kept a diary in the sense that I wrote either Bernie, my partner, or myself letters almost every day. Between the letters and my itinerary, and I still have both, I can more or less put my travel to South America all together, including get lost in the jungle and being so sick I wanted to jump of the balcony of my hotel in Acapulco.

With my gay Damon guide I took off from the Memphis airport on July 15 and via Miami, with an overnight stay, arriving in Rio De Janerio where I was booked into the Hotel Copacabana Palace with an ocean front room right across from the popular beach. I was met at the airport by a chauffer driven limousine who was to take me on a all day sightseeing trip on July 17.

Following are some quotes from my first letter home written on July 18th. Regarding the missing numbers they have to do with sex and gay life in Rio so I am eliminating the X rated numbers–want to know what they are about email me at GreatMartin2003@yahoo.com !

“Some thoughts on Rio after 3 days:
1) reminds me of Miami beach with mountains and without the deluxe hotels. The “Christ the Redeemer” statute known all over the world is very imposing overlooking the Copacabana Beach. (I was suppose to take a ride up to see it but I was too hung-over to take that sightseeing trip.)
2) Buildings on main avenue block the sun on the beach after 3 PM.
5) All the men are on the thin muscular side looking dark, sultry and sensuous living up to Hollywood’s stereotype of Latin men, while the women all look like Melina Mecouri and both wear the skimpiest bathing suits you have ever seen.
6) There are some but not many fat people.
7) I was sick one night after having shrimp in a hot, very hot, tomato and onion sauce.
8) Coffee too strong
9) Many American movies playing like “The Get-a-way”, “Dumbo”, “Sounder”, etc.
10) Not being able to read the menu and most restaurant employees not speaking English I have been guessing so far and I’ve been lucky. (It was then that I put into effect my seeing someone eating alone and asking them if they would like company– not many Cariocas, as Brazilians are called, ate alone and I mostly ate with English speaking people with a basic knowledge of the language on business in the city.