RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Pedro Ribeiro lives just one block away from Copacabana beach, one of the world's most celebrated stretches of golden sand. But almost every weekend he drives nearly three hours to soak up the sun on his own terms — in the buff.
Following a two-decade battle Ribeiro helped spearhead as the head of a local nudist association, Rio de Janeiro has its first beach for nudists, which may surprise some given the city's renown for its hedonistic Carnival celebrations and anything-goes attitude.
Abrico beach, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of central Rio, was officially made a nudist beach last month.
While Brazilian beachwear may be as close as one can get to being nude while ostensibly clothed, for Brazilians those tiny spandex triangles covering private parts make all the difference.
Nudism outside of Carnival parades is widely frowned upon in Brazil. On the more than 7,400 kilometers (4,600 miles) of coastline, there are just eight official nudist beaches, now including Rio's Abrico.
That's compared to over 200 nude recreation areas in the U.S. under the care of the American Association for Nude Recreation, and even more common nudism in Europe.
"It's still very taboo. Most people here continue to mix up nudism and free love," said Ribeiro, as he strolled the sand in his birthday suit, accessorized with a cap to shield his head from the sun. "In Rio, you have Carnival celebrations with nude or nearly nude people parading in the samba schools. But Rio residents only accept that during Carnival."
Surrounded by tropical vegetation, Abrico is isolated from neighboring beaches by outsized rock formations. Because of its seclusion, Abrico has been drawing nudists since the late 1950s, Ribeiro said.
The municipal law passed last month requires police to patrol the beach. But so, far none have showed up, according to Ribeiro.
"Back when it was illegal to go naked here, the cops were here all the time, threatening people and shaking them down," he said. "Now that we need them here, they're nowhere in sight."
Claudio da Silva, a 53-year-old who was one of a handful of people defying the overcast weather to let it all hang out on Abrico this week, said that "unfortunately, Brazilians are not yet psychologically prepared for nudism."
"These attitudes don't change overnight," said Silva, sporting just sunglasses. "But I believe this law shows we're slowly, slowly making progress."