Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Copa, copacabana!

Trip Start Feb 03, 2005
Trip End Mar 04, 2005

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Thursday, February 10, 2005

Chasing after the iconic Ipanema girl image immortalised by Sinatra, we jet-setted our way to Rio de Janeiro, the heart of Brazil.
Despite not knowing a word of Portuguese, with a Lonely Planet phrasebook in one hand, and Amalia in the other, we boarded the first bus we saw at the airport and somehow ended up in front of our hostel. "Janey Lu!!!" I was greeted with by hostel staff, Newton, Andres and Santiago. "Ooh they're nice!" whispered Amalia into my ear... little does she know what the next few days would unfold for her -let's just say that she explored a bit of Santiago despite not visiting Chile (okay, lame, but I've been waiting forever to use that pun!)
Barry Manilow wasn't wrong when he said "music and passion were always in fashion, at the copa, Copacabana". Once carnival hit, the streets were packed with locals... we'd be sitting in a corner bar, munching on a burger, and all of a sudden, we're swallowed by a crowd of locals in a typical carnival street party - old, young, gay, straight, ugmo, hot... all types of people were joined together to drink, dance and be merry.
The Carnival parade was crazy, joined by thousands of others; we cheered on the hot, near-naked dancing Brazilian chicks and the enormous floats that made Sydney's Mardi Gras look like kindergarten production. The lights and colours lit up the sky brighter than a sunny day and beers and paper fans were passed around to cool ourselves from scorching heat - sounds like a typical summer day, only it was 2am, and the party was showing no signs of slowing down.
After spending the first few days, running away from every favela we saw and from hiding money in our bra, we soon "localised" ourselves and were carelessly meandering along the streets and dancing amongst the favelas at their beach parties.
Our first night out was crazy!
At 1am, after binge drinking on Newton's caiprinhia cocktails, we were lining up outside a house, which turned out to be one of the craziest clubs ever. $15 for girls, and $45 for guys -I like how they roll in Brazil! After a few more caiprinhia's at the bar, we soon hit the dancefloor: it was a messy orgy of clubbers drenched in sweat and spilt alcohol, the floorboards of the old house shook as if it was going to cark it at any moment, and Amalia and I had danced harder than ever before -these Brazilians girls may know how to samba, but once the Rnb beats pumped up in the dancefloor, it was time for us to own the room.
The following morning began with a massive hangover and a greeting by two Irish boys, Richard and his friend Anthony. I remember seeing Richard in the corner of my eye across the dancefloor when I was sweating it out in the club and wanted this nice man to save me from the seedy locals. He too remembers me as "the exotic Asian girl who yelled "F*CK OFF" when any guys got to close".
The day was clichéd and beautiful: it was spent walking along Ipanema beach with our feet in the crystal clear water, catching waves and stumbling in the water, chatting and haggling with street sellers "no dinero, manana manana", lounging on beach chairs and chatting away whilst sipping on fresh coconut with vodka. Whilst watching the sunset, with live samba music playing in the distance, we realised it was Valentine's Day (we had all lost compete track of time and date) but it was unanimous that this was most incredible and memorable Valentine's Day ever. The perfect day ended with the perfect night of dinner by the beach side restaurant and drinking and laughing into the night...

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