| Entry 47 of 77
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As always seems to be the case, whenever i arrive in a new place i am absolutely exhausted, arriving in Rio yesterday was no exception. I had been up all night with the gang playing cards drinking a variety of drinks, making a midnight dash to a sushi resteraunt for dinner and then, of course, a secret randevou with the bar man...hehehe and then to bed with Elise at 5am! All in all it was a wonderful holiday on Ilha Grande.
We paid $20r for our boat trip back to the mainland...i wanted to go the way i had arrived as it was faster, just in case we asked if there would be a bus waiting for us at the other end..and we were assured there woudl be..But surprise surprise, there was no bus. Luckily we met two argentinian girls also trying to get to Rio and so we split a cab for 160r. I tried to sleep most of the 2 hour journey on the boat which was great but in the car i got talking to the girl next to me who was full of advice about travel in Argentina. We got a flat tire on one of the many multi-lane freeways (Brazil has incredible roads compared to the rest of South America). Our very new, clean and fast car (which was very comforatble) took us straight to our hostel whcih was a wondeful relief. I kept looking out for dodgy things but ...there appeared to be none which was a sigh of relief.
Rio is enormous, there are so many different areas to explore. Elise and i are staying at the Sun Hostel in Impanema. The beaches are wodneful and full of people is brightly coloured swimmers (both men and woman). There is no need for any other clothing here as the weather is hot with a lovely cool breeze. Interestingly there is no topless bathing to be seen, but the bums of the swimmers are terribly skimpy! Elise and i are going to go shpping tonight for a new bikini...thousands to choose from.
30'12'06 Today we went on a tour of a Favela (slum). It was the largest in Rio and an really intersting. Amazingly it is safer inside the favela than it is on the streets of Rio. The drug gangs that control the favela's do not stand for crime (other than their own) because the people that live in there protect them from the police. At all the entry points to the favela there are look out posts where, if the police are going enter, flares are set off and all the criminals get about a 15-20min warning and hide. There are often shootings inside between gangs or with the police, but the biggest problem is poverty. This favela is restricted in area because of a national park on one side and a mounatin on the other. So they build up and ontop of each other. Places are very small, the streets are extremely narrow, full of rubbish and dog shit. The smell is sometimes unbarable. But on the other hand we saw really happy kids everywhere, people sitting and taking, they have free electricity and water, the land is owned by the government and they do notr get taxed and, if they live in a nice place they can have a reasonable life co'mpared to living in the city where they have to pay so much for everything. So there are not only extremes betewen the Rich in Rio and the poor, amongst the poor them selves there is also a world of difference. Some people have TV, internet, stereo and kicthen appliances and others literally sleep in a whole.
We were taken through by Marcelo, from ¨Don't be a gringo be a local tours¨. We arrived in a samll car which we left at the entrance and then we all jumped onto motor bikes and weaved our way up the street, amongst cars and buses and trucks and people to the top of the favela, near the top of the mountain. It was great fun. Once inside we met many people that Marcelo sees everyday. They like to have their photos taken and Marcelo seems to be doing a good job at helping the people in the favela. He never gives money but undertakes building p'rojects, provides a child care centre, help set up an art gallery (from which i made a purchase) and teaches the children things as he goes along. It was really great and never did we feel unsafe. The only time we were not able to take photos was where the drug gangs are around and on the look out for intruders (police or rival gangs). When this happened, he would just tell us not to take photos.
Tomorrow is New Years Eve! There is a huge stage being erected on Ipanema Beach and fireworks will be set off on Copacabana Beach. Elise and i are just planning to wonder around and see what fun takes our fancy. I hope you guys hav ea great time. I'll fill you in on the adventure later.
New Years Eve
New Years Eve was a huge success. We had our doubts early on as the rain had not stopped all day and the air was cool but after a frantic rush back to the markets in the pouring rain and a impulse purchase of a white dress, the night was kicked off and it just got better and better from then on!
Everyone in Rio wears white for New Years Eve and so I bought myself a very-Rio white dress for the occasion. We later discovered that people also wear yellow which was a great surprise for Elise who had bought a nice yellow dress earlier that day. We had intended having a rest after our mission shopping expedition to the markets that day. Elise and I had to physically remove ourselves from the place because we had gone completely bonkers and were buying anything and everything we liked. I bought not one but three bikinis, not one but three bags, jewelry of every description and the list went on ...but for those of you that have known me for a while, you will of course love my ultimate purchase ...a pair of shorts that are in competition for the reputation of none other than ...the vagina pants. I know one of you was responsible for their disposal and you have had your way for a long time...but those days are over and I have been reunited with brightly coloured shorts once more...they are brilliant.
After a wonderful talk with Clare in London and three attempts at calling Polly, I returned to the hostel to find a rabble of excited people gearing up for the night ...it was important not to peak too early, so we watched a video and went for a swim in the pool but by about 6pm the wine started flowing and within 20mins the bottle of champers was blown open. We had a great crowd for the night. Two Irish boys from Dublin, Paul and Damien, a Canadian, David, 22 from Toronto, Andrew 21 Medical student from Brisbane, 2 crazy Argentinian girls Kiki and Melissa and a very tall girl named Clare from Erskenville. There was also another group of people we spent time (Emma and Chris from Glasgow Scotland, James from England, A couple from NewZealand and Finland and a few Americans) with but we lost them as soon as we left the hostel. Elise and I made some food for ourselves in the kitchen at the hostel. Freddie gave us some free shots and after donning our matching sparkly necklaces (which Elise bought us for Xmas) we made the move for Copacabana Beach to see the fireworks at midnight.
There were thousands of people. The beach was a sea of white dresses, shorts, t'shirts and singlet tops. Elise stood out like a beacon of colour amongst the white and at the sighting of a group of boys in yellow she was drawn to them and them to her. In true south American style, one was a model and adored Elise and her night was kicked off with a romantic kiss amongst the crowd. Intermitently, people would wonder into the waves and throw flowers into the ocean. As the time grew nearer the pack got tighter and we all moved into the waves, the bottom of my dress was drenched, and my hair was drenched from the rain. At the silent stroke of midnight (no counting down could be heard from where we were) the fireworks boombed into the sky. We all cheered and kissed (I think I kissed at least 20 people of whom most I did not know).
At first the fireworks lit up the sky with bright reds and yellows, the rain continued to fall but noone was bothered by this at all...especially not us. Elise had gone highschool style with vodka in a 2ltr sprite bottle for all of us to swig at our hearts content. Half of the group threw themselves into the ocean and watched the fireworks fill the sky from amongst the waves. The crazy Argentinian girl was particularly excitable and a great laugh. The lightshow was a little obscured by smoke after a while and our view was more of a colourful storm at sea but this again did not bother any of us.
Along with millions of people we moved off the beach and made our way to Ipenema Beach to see the Black Eyed Peas playing, we lost Paul before the fireworks had even started but could not stand still for all the people. We had a quick stop off at the hostel for the people who went swimming to get changed, had a quick discussion about a strategy (as there would be even more people at Ipenema) and we were sucked back into the crowd making its way up our street.
We had not been wrong about the crowd. At least a kilomentre away from the stage the crowd was tight and as we neared, our little group was being wripped apart. I could not see anything and was not strong enough to push my way through. I had a monkey grip with Kiki and I held on as long as I could but we were stretched apart until I could not see her and only feel her hand slip away. I was left with David , Elise and Damian. We pulled together tightly and they were all holding me as strongly as they could but all of a sudden it got a bit serious. My neaklace was wripped apart, the top of my dress pulled off and my arms where being wripped from my body. Elise and David were not letting go however, I had no hands or even breathing room to fix myself up and so my boods were brushing up against anyone that was trying to squeeze past. Elise yelled out for us to abort and we all agreed. There was not a blindingly fast getaway however as we were like tinned carrots...it was crazy...I was being lifted off the ground by the crowd and could not walk at all, Elise was very worried that one of us would fall and get trampled as there was no way you would be able to get back up. So, as has been done in previous moments of crisis - Elise went into military made. With her mighty grip, she got me into a bear hug from behind and, with all her might (and a whole lot of boob power) dragged me single handedly out of the crowd. The boys were struggle from behind but we all got out.
We decided to give the crowd a 2 block clearance and headed back into the streets away from the beach. This way we could access the concert from a long way behind and further away from the crowds coming from Copacabana. This was a success! After a quick stop for some street beef (I am amazed I survived that meal and a drinks top up) we got a great little spot, danced away with the black eyed peas to the end. At the changing of the band to a DJ, quite a few people dispersed and this was our opportunity to get closer to the stage. We moved right forward, which is when I lost Elise and Damien, leaving me and David. The two of us stayed till the end by which time we were a little tired, very wet and required food, sleep, drugs or more alcohol ( I know what I needed at 4am - sleep). So the two of us went back to the hostel (where we found Elise), refreshed our diminished money supplies and went to a service station which was allowing 2 people in at a time to by snack food. We waited a long time, got a hot dog each and returned home, watched a bit of TV with other tuckered out party goers then bed by 5 am....TERRIFIC!!!!
1 January 2007
None of us wolk up until 12. The room was really dark which was great and the airconditioning had been on all night. I made omlettes for Elise and myself and then we strolled into the streets to find an internet café open that would make CD's. The internet was down almost all over Ipenema, but we could use their facilities. That afternoon we all watched movies. The rain still did not let up so we had a few games in the pool and chatted about our evenings. Everyone held up very well!
That night Elise and I returned to a resteraunt Andrew had introduced us to 2 nights before. It is like the Brazillian equivalent of Yum Cha. There are a few food by weight places here which are great but this was the ultimate. You pay 18.90r and get all you can each salad, sushi, pasta, fried foods, stews and soups PLUS all you can each meat which is served by a fwarei of waiters walking around with all types of meat on scewers and give you however much you want on request. Our favourite was a boiled meat that just melted in your mouth, a bbq chicken, and beef rounds...understandably we were stuffed after that.
Elises second last day on our journey was yesterday. The sun had still not come out but we got ourselves onto a City tour of Rio. But first I had an exhilarating call to Qantas. After over a month of pain with British Airways and lots of money spent of phone calls, Freddie let me call from the hostel phone and I successfully changed my flight to extend my travels in South America for another 3 months...Yippy!!!!
Even thought the bus was late to pick us up, I was in a particularly good mood and so ddi not care. We met a few Australian girls, a couple from Chile, And older couple from Brazil and a strange little man who we all avoided. It took a good 1.5 hours to pick everyone up. A) because the traffic was bad (rain and peak hour), B) because the streets are all one way in Rio and getting around in a car is always complicated and C) because we seemed to return to a few hostels to see if the people were coming on the tour or not...CRAZY. But once we got going and our guide Val got started both Elise and I were suitably impressed. He was one of the better guides we have had on this trip and was able to answer any question we had about Rio's development, management, problems, beauties and people. We learnt quite a lot, and visited the football stadium, the Centre for Carnival, the cathedral and climded up to one of the many volcanic peaks that surround Rio to an enourmos statue of Jesus. The rain did not stop and so unfortunately we did not get to look over Rio from this well known and brilliant vantage point.
The Cathedral in Rio is the best I have ever seen. It is completely modern, built of concrete, has a pyramid form and enormous beautiful stain glass windows that tower above....just beautiful. That afternoon the rain really started falling and so we watched another movie or too (Freddie has a brilliant collection). In the evening I got a call from Mark and James which was a wonderful surprise. They agreed to meet us for dinner and so we finally got to go to Sushi Leblon (which was recommended to us by Eve). After that Elise and I were also excited because we were going to see a show, carnival style.
The boys picked us up at 7pm. James, we discovered, had gotten very cosy over the past two weeks with a Sweedish girl and was all a flutter (may have also had something to do with the sweets) and Mark had written himself off with alcohol a few times and so was taking some time to get his brain cells moving again. But within a few minutes we were back to our little party of four. The food was all Eve had raved about and was just delicious. It was the boys first time and I think converted to the world of raw fish. We ended with a nice drink and had a rushed departure for Elise and I to get to our show in time.
The Show was called Pataforma, in Leblon. Lots of tanned dancers in sequin numbers, amazing grandious feather constumes, capoiera, tap, samba, salsa, skirts and lights and drums. It was excellent.
And today, 3 January 2007, was Elise's last day in South America and the beginning of a new traveling adventure for me. We got up a bit late, wondered around aimlessly to find somewhere for a nice breakfast (they are never good at breakfast here but we were luck enough to find eggs and bread with nice juice), rushed to the internet and low and behold...we were late.
I arrived back to the hostel for our 20minute cab ride, to discover Elise in a bit of a pannick ...its 50mins and costs 50r...grabbed a cab, grabbed more money, grabbed her bags and off we went. We arrived on time thankfully, checked in at a leisurely pace and I went forth to British Airways to get my new ticket (as organized). Why I thought I had had success I have no idea. There were two English girls at the counter, desperately trying to get the lady to stay (she was leaving and was not going to be open till 3pm ...sounds familiar doesn't it). British Airways had advised that there tickets could be issued on the day of their flight from American Airlines but when they turned up last night for the ticket and the flight, this was not allowd so they were not alowd on the plane. They were told to return at 1pm (like me) to get it sorted at the airport. They were fobbed off to someone else, saying that they would just have to wait for an available space on a plane (I know that there are no spaces to London for months!!!) Poor things...anyway so I tried to keep her form leaving and had to have a bit of a tanty, assisted by 5 other people who had turned up (all being advised that they could have their problems dealt with at 1pm). She was not keen to do anything and when she looked at my request she said that it would take half and hour and that that was a problem (but someone had to do it!!!) Anyway ...all would have actually been sorted HAD I REMEBERED THE TICKET!!!! Yes in all the rush I forget the ticket. But she said that there was no need for me to have even gone to airport as I could get it issued in Buenos Aires (she was passing the buck AGAIN...). So, no ticket in hand, I walked with EC to the gate.
We hugged and kissed and I was genuinely sad to loose her. With all of our troubles over the past weeks she is bloody good fun and a positive person who I will really miss. Characteristically, she had acidently left something behind ...so I will send a parcel for her back home (along with a terrible amount of stuff to lighten my load). And ...now...I am alone.
8 January 2007
Waht a tiem to be alone. Since I got of the internet to write that last entry on the 3rd i have been sick and confined to the hostel. I was running a terrible fever, had a horribly soar throat and could not sleep at all. It was just awful. For two days i was boiling hot and then freezing cold. A few people were helping me in the hostel, especially Clare (from Erskenville) who got up at 1am to get me pain killers, went to the chemist to buy me losengers and went to the supermarket at 11pm to get me some food that i coudl swallow. She was so wonderful i hope to be able to replay her one day. Once she had left a nice girl from Buenas Aires foudn me in the sink in the bathroom trying to cool down. I completly dilusional and so she wet my hair and then took me back to bed, made me a cold towel to put on my forehead and then checked on me through the night. She also communicated with the hostel late (Veronica) who then went all mothery and shuved pills down my throat every four hours through the night. My temerature was through the room and i felt like i was melting the mattress below me. But on Day 3 i was feeling a bit better, the antibiotics, other drugs and time had finally kicked in and that night i slept 11 hours. Thank god..so i have been recovering \for a few days and waiting for Rio to open (everything is closed on the weekend, which is when i came to). My shoes are trapped in a shop in Copacabana waiting to get new soles and i had to get rid of 5kgs at the post office beofre i coudl continue travelling. but now..health and baggage in check i am going to get out of Rio tomorrow and head for Foz de Iguazu.
| Entry 47 of 77
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