Monday, March 30, 2009

Spanish 101

Tenes muy lindo culo. ¿Sabes?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Good ideas

Putting the house numbers on the street signs so you can work out which block you are meant to be going to.

Catch up part 2

After leaving Iguazu it was time to head back on the over night bus and head off Urugauy, a country that I didn´t even think I was going to until I checked the itinery the day before I left the UK. Unfortunately by this point it was time for my body to finally give in to all the strange foods that I had been putting through it for the last few weeks and as such spent most of the day, which was meant to be spent enjoying the thermal spas of Salto, in bed feeling sorry for myself. As much as the all over body chocolate treatment that Becky had done does sound tempting alas it will have to be saved until the next time I pop in to South America.

From there it was down to Montevideo, a supprisingly pleasent city with decent park, nice cafe culture and generally good atmosphere. As we had a couple of Irish girls with us and it was St. Patricks day it seemed only right that we should head off in the direction of the Irish bars for a drink or three. I have been to many Irish bars all over the world from China to Romania to Krakow and I think that this is the only one that I have been to that didn´t serve Guiness. I´m not quite sure what it was that they were trying to pass off in its place but as hard as I tried I couldn´t bring myself to finish it. Having said that the places were rammed, despite not being able to find a single genuine irish person, and everyone else having to get up the next day to go to work.
From Montevideo it was down the coast again to Colonia del Sacramento for a fairly lazy day running around the streets on golf carts as we are told this is the best way to explore and then finally on the early ferry over to Buenos Aires which is where I am now. As this was meant to be the final night that we were out together as a group we (or at least that is Becky and I) decided that we really needed to go out and go out hard Friday and Saturday which we managed in inimitable style. However sandwiched between the two the group was booked in to a tango show, which included the meal and a free tango lesson which I like to think, considering the 1hr sleep that I had I did supprisingly well at.

And then, as soon as it began the tour was over, and after strolling in from Pacha at 8.30am to pack bags and move hostels things began to slowly reorientate to what is considered to be normal in this part of the world.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Sorry. Really, really sorry.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Catch up part 1

OK, OK, I know that I have been a slack boy and that I have not been keeping this little electronic enterprise as up to date as I ought. But in the great grand scheme of trying to balance going out and having adventures with writing about them I decided to weigh heavily in favour of going out and doing stuff. (And Sells, before you start, I know this is far longer than ideal blog entry length, but I don´t really give a fuck)

To pick up roughly where I left off after leaving Belo Horizonte we returned to Rio to join an organised tour type thing that would take us from there, through a variety of other touristy type places and down to Buenos Aires over the course of just over two weeks. First port of call: Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande is basically a large island down the coast from Rio, full to the brim with jungle, beaches and clear blue green ocean. There are two cars on the island, the police car and the ambulance but even then there can´t be more than half a mile of road for then to use, most places only accessable by walking along trails or by boat. Main highlights included hiking to Lopes Mendes, a stunning beach on the other side of the island where I reminded myself how much more I need to practice my surfing, and the caprihna boat tour. Anything that starts you on unlimited drinks at 10:30 in the morning is going to be a full on day out and amazingly the boats captain only had to dive in to save one person from drowning.

Paraty: Next stop, old colonial town, pivotal in the slave and gold trade futher down the coast. I´ll be honest it was OK, some nice buildings and history but nothing to spectacular. On the second day, more beach time at a beach called Trinadade a short bus trip away including a natural pool created by boulders in the sea discovered after yet another amble along a small path through more jungle. Got the boat back after the fish started biting Becky....

After a short stop over in Sao Paulo, where we finally managed to get up to the top of the highest building in the city for the views (we were turned away last time, went at the wrong time apparently) we headed off on the fun 15hr coach trip to Igauzu falls. Despite having been here before the place never ceases to amaze. As a little treat to myself, like I haven´t given myself enough treats yet, took a helicopter ride up over the falls to get a bit of a different perspective on the whole thing. Will let the photos do the rest of the talking. (EDIT: damn that last bit sounds cheesey!)

PS: Goddam this is hard work uploading all these photos with a 1980´s speed internet connection...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Heightened senses

"I think people here in Brazil have a greater perception of colour than most of you westerners" a Brazilian friend of ours tells us. "We can tell the difference between the traffic lights that you might not even be able to see". I nod, slightly bemused.

"You see this light here?" he says, coming to a stop, "this light is red and so we stop as you would in your country. This light however," as we approach the next junction, him briefly glancing around, "this is not so red" and we sail through, closely followed by a bus that, it would appear can also tell the difference.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Back in Rio

This week on Lapa TV: street caporara!

Under the arches where all the action seems to happen. Compared to the few bits of demonstrations I have seen in the UK this seemed a lot faster and more focused on the fighting rather than the dancing aspect. I'm told there are two types of caporara practiced in Brazil and I think this was the faster of the two.

The problem with not knowing Portuguese

As a break from Rio, before setting off on the tour that we had booked to take us to Buenos Aires, we headed up north to a place called Belo Horizonte to try and see some caves that Becky had seen in someone elses guide book. While we were there a number of people recommended the waterfalls at the Serra de Cipo national park so on the second day, as there was nothing to do in Belo Horizonte itself, we decided to pay it a visit. There were two bus companies that went that way, the first only had buses at 7.30 and 8.30 and the other had them running through most of the day. As we are on holiday we thought treating ourselves to a lie in was in order and took the one at 11am. It turns out there was a reason that the other company only ran early buses. We arrived at the edge of what we thought was the park, ambled up to a waterfall to have some lunch, carried on up the track to the official gate at about 3pm where we managed to find a lady to tell us in broken english what was going on. From where we were it would take 2hrs to get to the waterfall and 2hrs to get back and so that people are not stuck in the park after dark it stops letting people in at 2pm. The bus that we got was a local bus taking people to the villages in the area and just happened to pass by the entrance - the other company was set for people visiting it. In the end they let us in and we made it as far as a stream with some interesting spiders to keep us company before having to turn round, ready for a 2.5hr wait on the roadside for the return bus to appear. Sometimes I really envy people with language skills.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Favela Tour

With only the slightest sense of hypocrisy we paid someone to go on a tour to look at poverty in one of the largest favelas surounding Rio. In many ways it wasn´t quite what i had expected, though my only point of reference being GCSE geography. As one of the other blokes there mentioned you have almost been taught to think that the houses will be of the tin roof and pallet wall variety and while none of the homes are particularly spacious they are all solidly built and most have running water and electricty (though not alot of it paid for, as illustrated).

Occationally you would glace through the window of a house and some times, contrasting the bare floors and the paint peeling from the walls would be a PC in one corner or a TV better than the one that I had at home. We must have passed 2 or 3 internet cafes.

The streets are tiny and everyone is crammed in one on top of the other though everyone seems to have their own, if cramped, space. On the down side the sewers are still open and houses at the bottom of the hill are cheaper than those at the top as this is where is all flows (yes, the do have estate agents for these places)

It is probably in indication of the way my mind works but I felt safer and more at home there than most of the rest Rio. It is still really poor, some of the conditions rough and generally dirty but there does seem to be a nice sense of community. If it wasn´t that the reason it felt so safe to be was that the drug dealers are protecting their turf (too much crime, who´ll buy your drugs?) I would almost recommend it as somewhere to live.

Flying kites over the roof tops

Standard Touristy style visit and photo

Also standard: "only-cloudy-day-during-our-entire-stay-in-Rio".