The story so far
Right, this is my first blog so you´ll forgive me my basic blogging errors.So, we´re here now in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, the weather sucks and thus I have time to write.Anyway, I´ll give you a brief summary of whats been going on so far.
Hmm, ok.Well, after the usual hellish flights (all 13 hours), I managed to touchdown in Sao Paulo international.So far, so good.Passport control hadn´t given me a once over and I hadn´t managed to get mugged yet.Unfortunately Janelle´s flight from Toronto wasn´t due to land for another 5 hours after mine!At this stage I´d been up almost 24 hours, having had very little sleep on the plane on account of being sandwiched between two less than fresh smelling Brazilian men.Nice!Anyway, I managed to stumble around the arrivals hall, ordering tasty cappacinos and jealously gaurding my backpack lest some opportunistic thieves sneak something away while my back was turned.Well, after an age of waiting she got in, as frazzled as I was.We quickly got a taxi to our hotel on downtown Sao Paulo (or Sampa, as the locals call it) and on the way discovered that driving in Brazil is akin to an extreme sport, albeit one which we´d failed to realize we´d signed up for.Our driver even rear ended some poor big Brazilian woman right outside our hotel much to her surprise and dismay.Out she popped with much Portuguese curses (I can only guess).Luckily, there was nought but cosmetic damage and she allowed us on with a shake of her head.First impressions of SP are hot, impossibly large, poor, crazy.All of which you´d expect.
Anyway we got our room, slept for hours, ate local food (you pay by the kilo, and just heap what you want on a plate from the buffet - very tasty and very economical) and slept some more.I was a little more affected by jet lag that Janelle due to me crossing a couple of time zones while she had a pretty straightforward flight from TO.
The next day was straight to the metro, working out where to go and arriving at the large bus terminus in Tiete Station.We booked onto a fairly comfortable coach for the 6 hour drive to Rio and killed some time in the nearby internet cafe.Brazilians have this strange habit of requesting your passport no at every turn, even when ordering food it seemed.Anyway.The ride to Rio was not uncomfortable;we had nice reclining seats and they even gave us a carboard toy bus filled with snacks etc.Sweet!Nice scenery along the way too; lush green fields, impossibly blue skies, multi coloured shanty towns, large ornate churches.We had one brief stop during which the driver made some announcement in Portuguese.Seemed we´d have to take a detour for some reason.And so we did.We left the main highway some time later and found ourselves traversing winding backwards dust roads in no name towns somewhere deep in the overgrown jungle.Nice sights tho - more impressive then the now boring side of the road on the main highway.However, it did add on an hour and a half to the journey, by which time we were numb, tired and a little cranky.Our arrival in Rio was by nite, so all we had time to view was the hills lit up by streetlights and the heavy, heavy traffic of the main roads.I must point out that we had arranged for a driver from the hostel in Rio to meet us at the station due to the seedy and very unsafe nature of the area.And so, arriving late, we were sure he´d have left ages ago.Not so!We were greeted by a smiling Brazilian man holding a Brazil Hostel sign.What a relief!He took us past a snaking line which was for the local taxis which was longer than you´d really want it to be.And so he took us to our hostel, past the darkened favelas, the street kids on corners playing football in near dark, the Maracana Stadium where the local futbol matches are played.We arrived, greeted by 2 smiling girls and shown to our (for the plave) luxurious double room complete with fan.
Anyway - Rio.Rio is big.6 million or so people call this home.Rio is hilly, surrounded by sheer cliffs looming out of the early morning cloud.Rio is loud, fun, mad, bad and dangerous.Our hostel is proud to boast that only 41 ppl staying there in their 5 year history have been mugged!Hmmm...Crime is a real problem here, and you don´t take anything out with you that you can´t afford to lose.You´re recommeded to bring a special wad of cheap notes with which to hand over in the event of a mugging.How´s that for a friendly welcome.Anyways, we´´ve had fun here, and relaxed a bit as the days go by.We´ve lept from Pedra Bonita hill (at 591m) attached to nothing more than an A frame held together with strong canvas and worringly frayed ropes.My instructor kept saying it was his first time too.Cheers!We spent the nite drinking the local cocktail, caprihainai, a very strong mix of rum and lime, not unlike a mojito, whilst watching a reggae band play in a corner up in the picturesque hills of Santa Teresa.We also whiled away an afternoon in the Jardim Botanica surrounded by tropical plants, flowers, trees, bamboo orchids, monkeys etc.And we´ve been caught in unexpected but by no means unseasonal rain showers for the past 2 days, scuppering our chances of relaxing on Copacabana or Ipanema beaches and spending the day ppl watching.Ah well.We´ve another day here after this one, and we´ve yet to witness the splendor of Cristos Rendento (Christ the Redemor) and the Sugar Loaf (Rio´s iconic landmark hill, reached by a precarious cable car).And after that....ugh.....a 22 HOUR bus ride to The Iguazu Falls, on the border of Brazil and Argentina.Not looking forward to THAT I tell ya.I´ll be back in touch after I have more news and happenings here in South America.Enjoy.