Who Gets Their Shoes Shined on the Beach?

Seems odd that in this country where everyone where’s Havianas (the ubiquitous and cultish flip-flop sandals of Brazil), that you’d see so many shoe shine boys parading up and down the boardwalks of Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches. I’d soon find out that these fahvela kids have an incredible scam.

I’d heard about it so when the boys spotted this gringo walking in my Keen sandals, I glued my eyes on them and flashed a toothy smile. “Mister, hey mister?” I ignore the little 10 year old kid. “Look. Look!” He’s working hard to get me to look at him. “No look! You have dog shit on your shoe. I clean for you. It’s my job.” I looked down at my shoe and there was a gooey brownish pea greenish ooze on the toe jam and the straps.

I don’t know who did it. But someone just walked by me and with amazing accuracy squirted some crap on my shoe so that the boy in tow could come up and offer to clean it. I looked hard and mean at him and told him I’m capable of cleaning my own shoes and to get away from me. Some of the fahvela kids hold up tourists with guns, hold up entire buses and for the most part give Rio it’s reputation for violence and danger.

I walk down to the beach and with sand and surf quickly clean the nasty sticky goop – not dog shit – off my shoe. Seems they mostly hang out on Ipanema as I was accosted a few hours later walking back to my hotel. Sure enough. I was ready. So the kid, a different one, and they got me again. I couldn’t believe it. I was like a hawk watching for the accomplice armed with the goop. But I never saw it happen. “Mister, mister! Look!”

This time I raised my arm and extended my index finger and let out a rash of profane English words then explained to the little brat in Portuguese that if I stepped in dog shit it would be on the BOTTOM of my shoe, not on the top.

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Take a seat, or five and chill.

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The boardwalks each of their unique pattern along the beaches of Rio. On the left is Copacabana and Ipanema on the right.

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Walking along Ipanema Beach.

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Have fresh coconut milk at any of the kiosks along the beaches. Here they get their afternoon delivery.

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Biking with Billboards.

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Surfers dot the waters of Ipanema Beach.

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