Trip Start Jun 22, 2009
7Trip End Oct 02, 2009
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All paid up and ready for the off we walked back down the hill to be met by Orlando, our tour guide, in his VW Camper. Orlando was a legend and provided us with an invaluable quote for the trip. Basically, Egg went to get in the front of the van to which action Orlandoi responded ´Can one of the girls sit in the front. I dont want a hairy black man sitting next to me!´. Egg sulked...we laughed.
The first stop on the tour was Christ the Remdeemer on Corcovado. Orlando explained how the statue was built on the mountain, which was originally named the Pinacle of Temptation (given its suggestive shape), by the local Parish as the Cities sign of Christianity to visitors coming an through the bay. It, Orlando promised us, was built by locals entirely on the Cities contributiions all except the head which was sculpted by a Frenchman (but it DEFINITELY was not a gift from the French: ´That´s bullshit!´). The stutue is amazing, 30m in height and made from limestone covered concrete, towering over Rio DeJaneiro. From the top of Corcovado we could clearly see the best parts of the City, including Sugarloaf mountain where we were heading later htat day.
After some standard traveller-gringo-style pictures with the statue and Gary G-GIIIINING from the top of the mountain we headed back to the van ... allowing time for Egg to do some press ups on the way down (´mine´).
After piling back in to the van we were taken to Lapa, which Orlando informed us is locally knonw as ´the shithole´. It was basically a ghetto in the City where there was a Music School which played host to the rich Music students of Rio, the classical music students eventually got together with the local street kids and invented a sort of Raggae/Classical half breed of music which is really rather enjoyable and is the native music today.
After a short drive throught Lapa we stopped at some steps which were very colourful. Orlando explained that the Mosaic steps were formed by a Chilean artist called Selaron who had spent years tiling the stairs as his contribution to the City of Rio. The mosaic has over 3000 tiles, all hand laid by Selaron. He spends his time in his studio right next to the steps painting pictures and plotting new schemes for his steps. Even though Orlando had introduced us to the artist who was sitting on the steps and having his photo taken with us Gary asked me ´Who is this random tramp!?´ typical Egan moment for Elphick.
After leaving the steps and before heading to Sugarloaf Mountain to see the sunset (such a romantis trip for two blokes and their hairy little sloth) we stopped for lunch at a local restaraunt. The restaraunt was really friendly with an extensive menu,. Egan had standard chicken and Gary and I went big with fish and goat (not together but two seperate dishes) the fish was nice, the goat was interesting and pretty soon we were back in the van.
We got to Sugarloaf Mountain with just enough time to hike to the top before the sunset - so we got hiking (after being told off for nearly breaking a seasaw in the park). The hike up the Mountain wasnt too bad but definitely demanded more than just flip flops. We headed from bottom to top stopping when we were allowed, or when Orlando wanted to boast some more of his extreme Brazillian knowledge. One of the stops allowed us to meet the Brazil Tree, which Orlando explained is red in colour and so gave the Indigineous Tribesmen a red tint to their skin when they were working with the wood, this red tint prompted early French settlers to give them the nickname ´Braseirra´ (spelling may not be correct) which means inferno/fire ... hence how the Country gets its name from the tree, not the other way. We also stopped at a Black Palm Tree which grows very sharp thorns which were adapted as killing tools by the Indigeneous Tribes when whey would use the poison from Frogs (Apocolypto?!?!?!)
We finally got to the top of the mountain for an awesome view and a lesson on the name of the Mountain - The region originally housed the City´s sugarcane plantation.
Orlando dropped us off at the Street market along Copacabana Beach where we collected some souveneirs and Gary and Egg got some Havaiannas (which are EVERYWHERE in Brazil - simplest design, dont even come in one size at a time...why so expensive back home? They´re a fiver here). We stopped for a Coconut drink and some prawns and corn before getting lost on the way back to the Hostel.
No drinks tonight, just some sleep after going relatively big all day.
Yeah we did.