Right on Rio

Trip Start May 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 30, 2006

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Monday, November 28, 2005

I got a nice flight to Rio, and a hearty welcome from the man in customs.
¨How long will you stay in Brazil?¨
¨Maybe a month¨
¨How will you support yourself here?¨
¨I have an ATM Card, and some cash¨
¨How much cash?¨
¨I´m not sure, perhaps a couple of hundred dollars¨
¨What do you mean ´perhaps´?¨
¨I´m not sure how much I have because it´s in a mixture, of currencies¨
¨Well, I´ve some British Pounds. US, Australian, New Zealand and Singapore Dollars. Some Chilian Pesos, Malaysian Ringitts, Indonesian Rupiah, and some Thai Baht¨
He was quite rightly amazed at this and just blew a heavy sigh out through his nose.
¨I´ve been travelling through these countries and haven´t got round to......¨
*Stamp* ¨Next!¨. I don´t think he really wanted to hear my tale of woe, perhaps this is also a good time to finally get to the bank to convert my loose currencies.

Rio, a city that I´ve been a little afraid of so far. I took the airport bus into town towards my hostel that I´d booked on-line. I managed to get off at the correct spot and walked down the street, perhaps in the right direction but trying to look confident. I got to the end of the street and didn´t find any street names at the junction. I decided that I was lost enough and just hailed down the next taxi. I gave him the paper with the address of the hostel and he drove off. 50 meters later he came to a halt pointing at the side of the road. The meter still said 4 Reais (one pound), so I handed him a 5 Reais note. He then pointed back and forth between himself and the note. ¨Ok then you keep it, you´ve worked hard for it afterall!¨. I didn´t really care, I´d got the the hostel safely.

One of the first stops that I chose was Sugar Loaf mountain, a conical hill right at the entrance of Rio´s bay. You need to take a cabel car up to the top, it´s a little pricey (35 Reais) but the view that you get from the top is amazing. Right over the bay, copacabana, El Christo. Superb.

After this I tried to get a bus over to Copacabana, I had a little trouble after I got on the first bus as the conductor basically said he wasn´t going there and I had to get off. I had to enlist the help of an old lady at the bus stop, I told here in Spanish that I don´t speak Portuguese followed by the word Copacabana, pointing at myself. She motioned that she was going there too and that she´d look after me. And then it became apparent that I was a good candidate to have a conversation with. She could have been talking about the weather, her budgie, perhaps even the war on terror, I didn´t have a clue. This didn´t deter her though and she kept it up for almost half an hour, what fun!

The security in South America is much better than in Asia (probably because it needs to be). In the hostels you get a metal locker to use, I have a lock that I bought in Australia which I use. After one particularly hard day of sight seeing I headed up to the room with my camera. Opened the locker, put the camera inside and then locked it shut. I then looked down at my hands and found that my camera was still there. What had I put in the locker? yep - my key! It´s ok thought, I have a spare one in my wallet... which is also in the locker... Mmmm. I had to go down to the front desk and fess up to what I´d done. He had to call a locksmith out for me who came to the hostel and was in the locker before you could say ´Obregado´. I´ll need to be more careful in the future.

In the hostel I found myself to be the only natural English speaker, not usually a problem but no-one else spoke much English. A guy in my room called Wilson one day said he was off to ¨Wash the television¨, not that I can laugh after Chile. But it did make it a bit quiet in the hostel. I decided to move out and down to Copacabana to see if I could find Lola the showgirl with yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there.

This was the best move as instantly I had some friends to talk to, people to go to the beach with and have dinner with. I spent most of my time with a couple of South African sisters. Bless, they weren´t the brightest but they were still fun to hang around with. They did bug me one night though when we´d gone out for dinner and on the way back they talked to *everybody*. Including some people who were collecting cardboard to make some money, ¨Are you having fun?¨ she asked. Somehow I don´t think they were.

As well as the beaches of Rio, I had to head to see the biggest art deco statue in the world, ´O Cristo Redentor´, ´Christ The Redeemer´. I took a minibus from the hostel in order to see it at sunset. Wow, the statue looked great but the view from there was far better than Sugar Loaf. You could basically see much further and the sight of the sunsetting was just superb. Definetly a great time to go.

I had my first experience of the electric shower head. Where the heating element is in the shower head itself. I guess that this will be mostly fine, but there is just something in me that is a little worried by it, especially when I see the quality of the wiring of some hostels. I was also a little confused by the power socket in the shower. Handy for charging my camera I guess!

Myself and all my possesions managed to survive Rio, thankfully, not only that but I had a great time here. The whole city scene is a bit tiring though and it was off to a tropical island next for a few days for some amount of relaxation! Ahhhh, I can hear the waves already.
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