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Day 49: Rio de Janeiro

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Keeping it clean. Behind-the-scenes staff at the love motel.
Michael Palin - BrazilLuhanna and I (and the film crew) check out the Presidential Suite, one of the very few rooms unoccupied on Children's Day. At the top of the steps leading from the garage a door opens to reveal a world of bright lights, mirrors and a softly gurgling jacuzzi. Besides a bed, and the aforementioned jacuzzi, Presidents also get a bathroom, a white marbled bathing area with plunge pool, a small disco floor with flashing lights and a dining room with a table laid, rather demurely, with china featuring British castles. White imitation leather armchairs are scattered about.

There are two room service menus beside the bed. One offering food and drink, the other a sex menu, aids and devices like vibrators, dildos, creams, lubricants and a seduction kit, as if that were really necessary. Everything that's ordered is delivered through a hatchway so the staff, and there must be hundreds of them in the bowels of the Panda, never come into contact with the punters. The whole place is most odd. An hermetically sealed village where no one knows anyone else's business.

Luhanna, a tall, droll, affable girl, whose twenty-seventh birthday it is, has, for the past three years, been presenting a show on a late-night cable channel called Papo Calcinha, literally 'Panty Chat', in which she and two or three other girls talk 'about everything to do with sex'. They take a different theme each week, like group sex, or oral sex, or sex toys just recently the star of the show was an incredibly lifelike sex doll called Gladys. 'She was my size,' Luhanna adds, in some surprise.

Though Papo Calcinha has become very popular, especially amongst the young, it would, unlike in Europe, never be allowed on a mainstream channel. I return to Brazilians and their bodies. Is it just health or is it mostly sex? Luhanna considers for a moment. She nods. Yes, she thinks that Brazilians probably do have sex more often than most. The heat, the beaches, the lack of clothes (or 'clothies' as she pronounces them rather endearingly) all create a need for places like this. And they're in every neighbourhood, rich or poor. She herself has used them and many of her friends as well. The necessary secrecy may make for a rather sinister first impression, but the rooms are clean and comfortable and not expensive, and we both agree that it's much better to have sex above a car park than in a car park.

A bell sounds, indicating that what we've ordered from room service has arrived. It's a birthday cake for Luhanna.

When we step outside the Panda love hotel I take one last look at the forbidding frontage of grey stone and reflecting glass. A Toyota with darkened windows slips inside. Behind the Panda a mountain rises. At the top of the mountain is a statue of Christ the Redeemer spreading his arms out over us all.
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Celebrating Luhanna Melloni's birthday with a cake and a naughty room- service menu.
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  • Series: Brazil
  • Chapter: Day 49: Rio de Janeiro
  • Country/sea: Brazil
  • Place: Rio de Janeiro
  • Book page no: 204

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  • Miscellaneous
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  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day 34 
  • Full Circle
  • Day 22 
  • Pole to Pole