Brazil

Getting Drunk and Lost Part 8 : Brazil

After drinking our BA airways flight dry. We arrived tired, jet lagged and hungover at Rio de Janiero international airport around 9pm.
We battled with a cash machine that refused to acknowledge our bank cards then we managed to get a taxi, getting to our hostel in Cosme Velmo around 11pm.

Having seen various news clips of the Olympics and being told to watch our stuff because Rio is dodgy as.
Immediately we were greeted by two small boys clearly from a near by Favela.
Shirts off and begging for money.
It would of usually made us sad to see such as sight but the lack of enthusiasm from them plus our hangover allowed us to shun them and head straight inside.
There we were greeted by a full on party blaring!!
I was not in the mood for this city!!
Proper getting too old. We should of grabbed some beers and got into the swing. Instead we both passed out.

The next morning, with a good night sleep under our belt, we ventured out.
35c!! And not a cloud in the sky
This is more like it.
The beach was calling and Rio Jesus was overlooking us from a perfect blue sky.
Brazilians don’t do mornings so we had them to ourselves but from late afternoon onward, any day of the week has a reason to party.
To get up to see the big man, you have to take a fifties style tram that winds its way through mountain jungle until you reach steps that take you up to Christ the redeemer.
He is huge!! And probably bombs the most selfies ever.
The view of the city is unbelievable and we were so lucky to have a perfect day.
Even despite the huge crowds.
A couple of days later and we moved over to Botofogo.

Next up sugar loaf mountain and more selfies! Including some scary moments on the cable cart! I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to heights.
Botofogo was a relatively quiet area in retrospect. But we did venture out to both the Maracana stadium (closed down and in ruins) and a night in Lapa (basically a street party with very cheap Caprinhinas – booze and a splash of lime)
The most interesting part was trying to move hostels again and the heavens opened!!
Light flooding then hit Rio, well not a city know for rain so the streets
were very fun to navigate.
Dodging the cockroach river into our hostel at Copacabana and we soon realized that the famous beach really was overrated.
Maybe we had been spoilt by Asia but I personally was really disappointed. I mean there wasn’t any topless anywhere!!!! Gutted.
Maybe Carla had made sure we hit a certain section of the beach.
However, We did see one of the best sunsets ever for Ipanima beach (the next beach over)
Settling just of the mountains it was spectacular, ever the locals applauded its decent.

Next up Ilha Grande
Pitched to me as this amazing island just of the coast of Brazil, a short trip from Rio.
What we didn’t know is that we’d have to catch what was essentially a life raft to get there.
Arriving at a small wooden pier it had extended beaches and a small beautiful town. Reminiscent of a sleep coastal town back in the UK.
This pleasantness however did not last as finally getting to our hostel and it being the worst yet. Cramp, dirty and a partial building sight. Then came the rain!! This was supposed to be paradise but was turning out to be hell.
When the rain stopped it was quite Picturesque. With a cute and tiny church and a little coffee shop on the beach.
What ever happened we were gonna make the best of it here.
The next day was promising, the sun was out and we had read about a waterfall close by.
Armed with a few snacks and wearing our flip flops we headed off.
2 hours and a full on jungle trek later!! We found a freezing cold waterfall.
Queue the shampoo advert pictures. (Mainly me in my pants!)
The following day turned out to be just as traumatic.
Spending the morning on a packed out beach until Carla saw the dirtiest black cloud heading our way.
So we got a head start before the heavens opened and we took shelter in said coffee shop.
Cue the torrential rain that followed along with the rest of the soaking wet beach dwellers.
Oh well… hopefully Paraty will prove more fruitful.

Another mini bus and another long journey before we arrived in rainy and flooded Paraty – Sigh!!!!
Skipping over puddles and dodging cars we got to our hostel before immediately being turned away because it was over booked.
That’s a little over exaggerated.
They apologized profusely for the overbooking and said it was only one night. Then we got put up in a near by hotel at the same cost. But still I was annoyed at being dicked around.
Oh well a few beers and an early start tomorrow.
Carla had been talking about horse riding for ages. She’d contacted a company and all was booked.
Meeting the owner in his jeep he explained it’ll be 45 minutes up into the mountain range and the countryside. We chatted away as best we could in his broken English and he got Carla very excited for the trip when her started talking about the horses.
30 minutes in and he started getting agitated and frustrated with the jeep.
“Look the red lights on again, I keep getting this fix but the mechanic he rips me off”
He stops half way up the hill and starts to apologize.
15 minutes away and he turns around heading back to the hostel.
Both of us gutted.
All very strange circumstances, and a hour wasted.
Carla was massively pissed off, so the only thing we could do was head into town to take her mind off it.
The cobbled old town was beautiful.
We mooched around the trinket shops before heading back to finally get our hostel room.
That night did perk up with an awesome BBQ and a crazy Brazilian guitarist who has everybody laughing and clapping along. The horses were soon forgotten.
Over the next few days we spent dodging rain.
A beach day was rained off.
We are amazing Falafel we stumbled across while trying to book bus tickets and most of the the time we spent the day lounging around in a hammock.
Carla made a new kitten friend and we had pizza to a 90’s dance music sound track – which we played “can you remember this” to.
There was probably tons of stuff we missed out on here but we were getting so pissed off with things going wrong that we took the time to sit still and let it pass us by.
Back to the city again with São Paulo, so trying to make the most of the peace and quiet of the countryside.

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Next stop was São Paulo and after an uneventful bus ride from Paraty we arrived in the huge city and then commenced the usual issue of trying to find out where our hostel was. We decided we could handle the tube and for the most part it was fine until it did some kind of emergency brake just before the station and me and my 18kilos of backpacks fell right on top of some woman! She was so lovely about it and I decided SP people were great and I haven’t been contradicted since. We got to the hostel just in time for the rain that would dog us for the entirety of São Paulo and decided to make homemade Caipirinhas. They turned out okay, mixed in a big sprite bottle and drunk out of mugs like pros.

The next day we decided to do a free walking tour of the old downtown. Our guide was great, super enthusiastic and fun and we managed to learn loads about the city and Brazil in general. One thing you can’t avoid in São Paulo is the large number of homeless people, the highest proportion I’ve ever seen which I recently found out include a lot of previously employed people who have fallen prey to years of recession and a lack of safety net. To confront the elephant in the room one of the stops on the tour was the amazingly beautiful São Paulo cathedral. It’s simply stunning. And simply excessive. And while the protest against austerity outside picked up volume I couldn’t help but be disgusted by how much money religion takes from these countries that have so little. Rant over. We also discovered it was the anniversary of the birth of the city so most people were in an extremely festive mood (protesters aside), the sun was shining and we decided to join them. We found a little bar just down from the hostel that was packed and selling litre bottles of beer for £2. Naturally we had 3 each and that’s all I remember of that night! Safe to say the next day was a right off involving a chronic hangover and even more chronic rain showers.

Fully recovered the next day we set out for the football museum which was really fun including some highly competitive table football (which I lost) and simulation penalties (which I really lost). Les had his heart set on getting a São Paulo team shirt and after trying a few on and dicking around he chose one. However when we got to the counter our cash-card didn’t have enough money and he couldn’t remember the pin to the other. Now I also think I’d be a strict parent but at that moment I had a flash forward to what I would really be like. I literally emptied our wallet onto the cash desk and including shrapnel we had just enough cash to buy the shirt but nothing for lunch! Smug Les swinging his bag home and me thinking I’d just been conned. In the evening we wanted to head to the Jardins area which we had been told was the nice bit. We had a couple of beers outside and headed to a pizza place. However a) pizza is a serious and therefore overpriced business in São Paulo and b) we’d spent food money on this fucking new shirt. So we ordered one instead back at the hostel and despite the assertion that São Paulo has the best pizza outside of Italy (some even say including Italy!) it didn’t get my vote as it suffered from the usual pizza in South America problem: the 10:1 cheese to tomato sauce ratio. Sort it out!!!

For our final day we headed to Villa Madelena and wandered about looking at the street art. It was a very cool part of the city but like everywhere in South America Sundays have this sinister feeling because no one is around but dodges! Overnight bus to our next destination: the much anticipated Iguazu Falls.
On arrival in Foz Do Iguacu it was boiling hot! We had to get a couple of buses from the main terminal to downtown where we were staying. Buses in Brazil all have a little railing and you pay first and push through. Never a joy with two backpacks and definitely the point at which you envy all the holiday makers who can just frivolously get taxis! Sigh. However nothing was going to get us down as we’d been looking forward to visiting the falls for weeks.

We’d been advised (thanks Chris) to visit the Brazilian side first. Unfortunately we had read online that you just ask at your hostel about local buses to get etc. We took this at face value and then when no one spoke any English at all we had to try and figure it out. Eventually we discovered the bus went from right outside our hostel and went straight to the falls. Super easy. We spent about 2 hours walking around exploring and dodging the gorgeously cute (but supposedly super dangerous) Coatis trying to steal food and get into bags to do so. We got what we thought was an amazing view of devils throat, the most impressive part of the falls from a platform.

The next day we wanted to cross to Argentina and see the falls from that side but this was proving tricky to organize. In the end it was fine, we got an international bus to the border and checked out of Brazil where another bus heading to the falls picked us up about 10 minutes later. On arriving at the park it was clear this was a much more serious business than the Brazil park. After two excruciatingly slow train rides we finally arrived at the devils throat station to check the big man out from this side. The closer we got the louder it was until we stood right by it and it was unbelievable. The noise and the speed made my heart race and it was the most phenomenal natural site I had seen. The rest of the day was spent walking along trails and spotting massive waterfall after massive waterfall and was incredible. It was also nice to practice some Spanish and realize how much better we were than Portuguese! After such an amazing day our bubble was bound to be burst. We discovered we could only get a bus to the center of the Argentina town and would have to get another from there to the Brazil border. This wasn’t too bad in itself just involved a bit of a wait. However after getting these two buses we were stuck (with about 20 other travelers) at the Brazilian border for 2 and a half hours waiting for another bus. Got to try and get used to this South American way of life.

Next day we got another overnight bus to Florianopolis (or Floripa) for some beach time. After negotiating another packed bus with all our stuff (getting expert) we got to the hostel which was great and got immediately chatting to the guy about football. Always a popular subject in Brazil! After wandering around we had some beers on a lake and headed to a food truck venue for some burritos. Ah yes people it was Shoreditch in Brazil. The next day shit on our plans and decided to rain all day. We’ve since discovered this was the wettest rainy season for years in South America but at the time we just felt victimized! We then decided to resort to the food and drink option and discovered a new Brazilian fave: the weight buffet. I may have gone to far and ended up spending about £15 on my food but it was awesome. We then decided to check out “the black swan” as the name sounded promising and sat in the covered beer garden drinking the day away!

Yay! Blazing sun greeted us in the morning and we headed out nice and early to head to Praia Mole beach. Like true Brit’s abroad we were there by about 10.30 complete with picnic and beers. The beach was amazing and full of locals and tourists alike and while Les played in the huge waves for most of the day I watched surfers and Brazilian bums in equal measure. It was incredibly windy ( I got hit by a rogue umbrella for example) and I think this contributed to our rather pink faces and we admitted defeat and got a very very sweaty and crowded bus back.
Back home we medicated with aloe Vera and Heineken.

A bit of sunburn wasn’t going to stop us spending our last full (and very sunny) day at the other beach we had been recommended. This one was even busier full of locals and we managed to secure a little spot for us and necessary umbrella. At some point during beach day Les had managed to secure my agreement to watch super bowl Sunday. I think I’d seen about 10 minutes of a NFL game before (so 0.00001% of a match!) and was a bit daunted about the prospect of hours in front of a game whose rules I didn’t understand. In the end I loved it! Cheering for the Falcons all the way – for the possible not legit reason that they were just “cooler.” After my new team were defeated in spectacular style by the patriots 34-28 we got 2am hot dog from a dodgy street cart as Les lowers his standards massively once alcohol has been consumed. The next day we were headed to our final Brazilian home – Porto Alegre. We had previously described this as the worst overnight bus ever (due to constant stops and bumpy roads) but have since revised this and will probably do so again as we explore northern South America!

However at that point at 6am when we arrived we were pretty knackered and grumpy. So much so that when we found a cafe to grab breakfast Les put salt in his coffee! We had decided to stay in a little self contained flat and as we had definitely spent Brazil’s budget, the plan was to stay put and chill and explore the city. Well, the less said about Porto Alegre the better. What a dump! Even our flat didn’t have the internet as promised so we had to sit in the bus station and use the free Wifi from the buses waiting to leave! Anyway we were excited the next day to move onto to Uruguay and have some beach time. We had a great overnight bus and fell asleep in some comfy seats for a change. For me this changed somewhat when I woke up at 1.30am with a sinking and familiar feeling. A disc in my back had slipped again (a big fear I’d had for the trip) and painkillers were under the bus in our big bags. Shit. Safe to say it wasn’t the best night of my life in massive pain and wondering how the fuck I was going to manage traveling when I could hardly move!