The town of a thousand parties!

Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
Trip End Aug 16, 2006

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Friday, March 3, 2006

Hi everyone, sorry for taking so long to write the first proper entry but its been slightly hectic for the last few weeks. So much has happened I probably wonīt remember half of it but Iīll try an recall the best bits.
We arrived in Rio on the 19th feb and went to our first hostel (a really cool place in a non touristy part of Rio called Botafogo- they have monkeys who sit in the trees outside!!) The weather was and has been around 30-35 eveyday and dropping to about 27 at night and it took a couple of days to adjust to it. Rio has two main beach sections Copacabana (massive, dirty water and crowded) & Ipanema (cleaner and generally better). We went to Ipanema on the 20th and spent most of the day on and around the beach. Needless to say I got quite burnt even though I put lotion on and became known as the pink english guy at the hostel for a few days. We went out to a club in a posh part of rio called Leblon that night with some other english guys we met during the day and a crazy brazilian bloke who called himself Alex the spider and claimed to be a brazilian cop which I could believe because everyone who worked in the club seemed slightly afraid of him. Went out to various clubs in different parts of rio for the rest of that week and walked up half of the mountain called sugar loaf which had an amazing view (we would have gone up the rest of it but the cable car guys were on strike which apparently happens every year around carnival so they can go out and party).
After spending 5 days in the first hostel we went to another cheaper one in ipanema for the carnival week as prices quadruple for that period. This one was undoubtably the worst hostel I have ever seen and we decided to spend as little time there as possible. Luckily the people staying there were really cool so that made up for it. So anyway, the carnival!! Basically an excuse to have a week long party over the whole city. I couldnīt quite believe how mad it went, everywhere you went there we groups of people dancing and playing music, sometimes just 10 sometimes thousands! The funniest ones we saw were a group of about 100 who decided to have a party in the middle of a road junction in ipanema regardless of the cars that were trying to force their way through. Also one night when we were down on the beach and it started raining, a good few hundred people ran under a shell petrol station and continued the party there. The salsa rhythm is infectious and its hard to stop yourself from dancing all the time! Since most of the carnival parties are at night time we became practically nocturnal for the last week and didnīt see much of the sun. Its a bit surreal when you are at a party on the beach and suddenly you see the sun coming up. Our group always seemed to end up going swimming at 5.30 in the morning in the sea as it gradually got lighter, then stumble back to the hostel for breakfast at 7 before going to bed. There were a couple of blokes at the hostel from cheltenham and a couple of girls who were at uni in birmingham at the same time as me, although we didnīt seem to know any of the same people.
Another highlight of festival week was going to the Maracana stadium to watch the football (Botafogo vs Flamenco), the cariocaīs (people of rio) were so passionate about the game but there wasnīt any animosity as you often get in England.
After the last night of the festival (Tuesday 28th) rio went so quiet and I think itīll take everyone a week to get over the hangovers and catch up on sleep. We are back in the original hostel today for our last bit in the town as it has such a good atmosphere, and are going to try and catch up on some of the touristy bits of rio before we leave- we just been to the the ībig Jesusī who overlooks rio, quite stunning!
Iīm gonna try and upload some photos but donīt know if itīll work so you may have to wait till I get to another hostel. Unfortunately there arenīt many of the parties as crime is so common here we didnīt want to take our cameras although some other people are going to email me the photos which I should be able to post up soon.
It doesnīt really feel like we are travelling yet, just an extended holiday although when we start travelling across brazil Iīm sure weīll feel more like proper backpackers. Should be moving on the next few days towards bolivia althogh we are still unsure of our route as every traveller we meet tells us īyouīve just got to go here`, or `you canīt travel south america and not go there` (gets a bit frustrating at times!)
Its been good to hear from those of you who emailed although I havenīt been able to reply to you all.
Keep in touch and Iīll probably do another one of these in a few weeks.

Just a short rio update. Iīve managed to upload a few photos before the connection in the internet cafe went down (typical!!). Weīve booked our coach tickets for Campo Grande due west of rio near the bolivian border and we leave at 13.00 tomorrow (9th March). The trip is 21 hours stopping in Sau Paulo, but weīve been assured its a decent bus with water, coffee and snacks. Plan on doing a few days safari in the Pantanal before crossing into Bolivia. Weīre both quite excited and apprehensive about it as ítīll be the first bit of real travelling! Got a big night planned tonight at a local club and have persuaded most of the hostel to come along, just got to make sure we get up in time for the bus tomorrow!
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