Cidade Maravilhosa

Trip Start Apr 08, 2012
Trip End Sep 25, 2012

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Thursday, May 31, 2012

After a 25 hour bus ride with a driver who seemed to think he was in a rally car, we finally made it to Rio de Janeiro.

From the moment we crossed the border into Foz de Iguacu it was obvious that there was going to be a bit of a language barrier.
While Portuguese might look a little similar to Spanish in writing, listening to someone speak it is a completely different story, it sounds like a weird mix between Arabic and Japanese. The pronunciation is so different it might as well be a different alphabet. 
An X makes a SH sound, an A with a tilda (~) next to an O makes a OWNG sound and an RR makes a guttural sound similar to the Spanish J or Dutch G.
We were told that we while most people will at least understand Spanish, some might find it offensive to do so without asking first. As if we just assume that because we're in South America, everyone will speak Spanish. 
So every time I want to ask a question I must start with Habla Espanol o Ingles?
So far, everyone has spoken at least one of them and some even choose English over Spanish. So far, the blank, glazed look I get when listening to Portuguese has gotten some people to switch to one of the above.
Our hostel is situated at the top of 100 steps (not fun with a massive backpack) with the Atlantic Forest coming down from the mountain above. So while we were eating breakfast on the deck overlooking the city, we had some tiny Common Marmosets hop onto the branches just a couple feet from us. They are about the size of a squirrel with a long, ringed tail and the cutest faces. They didn't try to steal any food, it seemed that they were there just out of curiosity. 
They make a god awful noise though. One opened it's mouth right next to us and let out a high pitched screaming whistle. I don't know how something that tiny can make that much noise.
Today we walked to Copacabana and then walked along the beach to Ipanema. It has been cloudy and rainy since we got here so we're waiting for a clearer day before we go up Corcovado to see Christ the Redeemer and up Sugarloaf Mountain for a nice view of the whole city.
Between Copacobana and Ipanema beaches there is a nice rock peninsula that you can climb up which gives you a nice view of both directions. 
I got quite a few new bird species in five minutes, including the Brown Booby, Arctic Tern (which I got photos of diving into the ocean), and the Magnificent Frigatebird.
Walking along Ipanema we decided we had to stop and get a coconut to drink as they're sold every 20 metres along the road.
I don't recommend them, it tasted like watery sour milk. 
A lot is happening in Rio in the next few years. First is the Earth Summit at the end of June where international delegates meet to discuss (and only discuss) environmental challenges. 

Next is the 2014 Soccer World Cup and then the 2016 Olympics (the first to be held in South America).
They already have a massive stadium here so unlike every other host country, they won't spend billions of dollars on things they'll never use again.

Hopefully the weather is better tomorrow because it's our last day. Today we kept an eye on Sugarloaf Mountain and the clouds would have obscured any and all views from there. We have yet to see Christ the Redeemer - the mountain is higher than the rest and has continuously in the clouds.
But we're going up there regardless because you can't come to Rio and not do so.


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