Rio Rumba

Trip Start Aug 26, 2009
Trip End Jun 24, 2010

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Where I stayed
Wave hostel

Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Thursday, January 7, 2010

Our bus to Rio, shockingly, was late.  In fact so late that our hostel owner had nearly given up on us and gone to bed.  It turned out that our private room was actually the middle floor between Andre's family on the top and his parents who lived on the bottom floor.  Our first impression of Rio was that it was hot, damn hot.  At midnight the temperature was still in the 30s and our aircon was broken.  It was not pleasant to hang out in our room, which was a major draw back to our apartment, the up side of our apartment was that it was 3 blocks from Ipanema beach, which is a nice area of Rio and pretty safe.

Our first day in Rio was filled with sitting in the HSBC lobby trying to get access to Tim's bank accounts.  Long story short, HSBC had blocked all internet and phone access so that from Rio he had to prove that he was who he said he was by first proving it one of their Brazilian bank staff and then getting them to phone and fax HSBC.  We managed it but only after 5 hours, the silver-lining was that we discovered a frozen yogurt shop that we went to no less than 5 times during our stay in Rio.  That evening we walked along Ipanema beach and enjoyed the view and the sunset. It's a great place to people watch with Rio's overly coiffed rich folk, favela kids and sun burnt tourists all in the same place.

The second day we went to a favela as part of a tour.  It is hard to describe the feelings we had as we walked around the collection of shacks and buildings where the families live.  On the one hand it seems like a tough life with open drains, limited school and hospital support.  The famillies generally live in one room that often they rent from people who have added a floor on top of their own building.  On the other hand they have artists painting pictures, kids flying kites, bakeries that make great tasting goods.  It is a thriving community and not the drug den that is often written about in the English media.  We were told that it is true that the drug lords are the main law enforcement and that the biggest danger to the average person in the slum was a shoot out between the police and the gang members living in the favela.

That afternoon we did our first proper sun bathing on Ipanema beach, the waves there are amazing.  It seem like the water is flat and then just a few metres out they become big, 2m high waves that crash down onto the beach.  They are a little too big to play in for long, but we had fun and survived being squished or hit by flying Brazilians who appear to be completely fearless of the waves.  For dinner that night we had some traditional Brazilian food 'feijoada completa', this is pulled pork, rice and beans.  I would love to say that it was amazing but we found it way too salty and I don't think we will be taking that receipe home with us.

On our last full day in Rio we went on a city tour.  This basically consisted of a driver taking us around some of the main sites in Rio at break neck speed, he was quite a character though so we forgave him for nearly killing us.  The first site we went to was the famous status of Christ on top of the hill overlooking Rio.  It was incredibly busy and you constantly had to duck in and out of other people's photos, however the views were absolutely amazing and well worth the effort of getting up there and working our way through the crowds. 

When we drove away from the statue our driver stopped at the road side for what we thought were more photos, it turned out he wanted us to see monkeys.  He started making monkey sounds and then laid a banana on the railings by the side of the road, sure enough the monkeys came to check it out.  They aren't interested in tourists though, they only stayed long enough to check the food and run off with it.  The other highlight of our city tour was a set of stairs built by a Chilean artist called Jorge Selaron, he was renovating the stairs as a side project and decided to cover them in tiles.  To start with he had to scavenge tiles but after a while people donated tiles to him.  Now it is famous, people send in tiles from all over the world and he uses them to keep updating and changing different sections of the stairs.  We found English tiles of London and Princess Diana on the stairs and pretty much every other country we could think of.

That night we went to the uber-famous Copacabana beach to watch the sunset and check out the vibe.  It was cool to watch the locals playing volleyball and hanging out.  Jemma was happy too as they have street vendors selling popcorn right next to the beach.

The next day we visited the beach one more time and then it was to get a bus to the Iguazu falls.
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lisypoo80 on

Looks like an interesting couple of days! We're soooooojealous of all the sunshine, blue skies and beaches! Its so mingy, cold and rainy here!! xxxxx

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