Basking in Brazil and Checking out Chile

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Sao Paulo,
Friday, November 16, 2012

 Basking in Brazil and Checking out Chile (Why did we ever check in?!)

 (Please have the Camp Grenada tune in your head)

Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda.

Here we are at Camp Vina.

It is very overrated,

A stress that we had not yet catered
Take me home, oh mudda fadda, take me home

I dislike Chile!

Don't leave me out in Chile where I might get eaten by a stray

Take me home, I promise I will not make noise,

Or mess the house with other toys.

Oh please don’t make me stay,

I’ve been here 4 whole days.

Dearest fadda, darling mudda,

How’s my precious darling siblings?

Let me come home if you miss me,

I would even let you cook some dinner for me. ;-)

Every morning, we say Hola,

They throw us white bread, to make us fulla

It is very disappointing,

If only we could have some fruit one morning.

This hostel has bad showers,

They scaled us and take for hours.

It stinks of incense everywhere,

And the broken internet makes us tear hair.

They are always doing painting,

And the smell makes us start fainting.

Constructions started in the hallway,

And now the hostel has no doorway.

At the hotel where we were to stay,

Lost our booking to our dismay.

We walked for hours around this town,

With our heavy packs to weigh us down.

There’s a street party every night,

Even after we turn out the light.

There are people everywhere,

And pigeons to poop all throughout our hair.

How will we ever escape this place,

All these dramas are a bit hard case.

We hope there’s no problem with the bus,

We just want to get to the airport with no fuss.

Let us explain our South American journey:

Having endured the long bus ride in Peru, a delayed flight from Lima which made us leave at 2.30am (We don’t recommend flying with LAN, all of our flights with them have had problems) we were exhausted by the time we arrived in Sao Paulo on Friday morning, straight to the hostel we went for sleep.

We have discovered young Brazilians are not big on common courtesy. Every night that we stayed in Brazil both in Sao Paulo and Rio, they would (yes it was Brazilians, ironically one of them stayed at the hostel for peace and quiet so she could study, as where she lived was too noisy on the weekends. Hmm yet she went out all every night, bizaare) turn the lights on at 1-2 in the morning and talk loudly, sometimes they were returning from their night out, other times they were just leaving. Anyway it was loud and bright and got rather annoying.

There is not much to say about Sao Paulo, except that it is the third largest city in the world and everyone gets lost often. It really is just a big city, nothing pretty. We did two free walking tours. The first one was okay, a little strange and the tour guides English was hard to interpret at times. We were shown into museums, strange art galleries and pointed out random things such as a giant stamp collection, a bank, taken into McDonalds (Brazilians love McDonalds there is one on every street corner, and they have just the ice-cream stores everywhere, one mall had a McDonalds ice-cream booth on every level!). They seemed a little concerned that Alex wasn’t taking enough photos, so reassured her it was safe. Suffice to say Liz has a total of 7 photos from Sao Paulo. The following day we went back for more (purely because we had nothing else to do). This time unfortunately they weren’t offering one in English, however they had a young girl tagging along who spoke even less English than the previous lady. We lasted a good hour before we were sick of standing around listening to the guide speak in Portuguese with the young girl unable to interpret much. Ie: "The guide is telling them about why the Japanese came to Brazil." That was it. The only reason we lasted so long is because the girl said to Alex “I hope you have your camera ready as you are going to see some beautiful things today.” And we did think the Japanese area would be cool. We did go inside a museum which had some English signs so that wasn’t so bad, but it really was just a lot of concrete we were seeing.

On Monday, we caught a bus to Rio. It was a very pretty drive, we were glad to be out of the concrete jungle and into the Rio jungle. We met with Jesus on a hill, hung out at Ipanema beach and Copacabana, went for a walk around the city centre to see many different churches including a weird cone church, it looks rather alien, and walked around the very beautiful botanical gardens. They have an excellent bus system but by jove you never want to take a bus on in the street. They drive like mad men. You have to flag them down otherwise they will not stop. They have a separate person to collect the money, that way the bus driver can quickly accelerate as soon as the last person has stepped on, and accelerate they do, we are grateful to be alive and grateful that we are young as we don’t know how the old people’s bones can handle the juddering. There is also a turnstile you go through once you’ve paid, they have the tiniest gap so we presume obese people don’t take the bus. However, they do have 3 seats before the turnstile. We however, with our giant packs were not allowed to take those seats, instead we had to take them off, pass them to an obliging passenger on the other side of the turnstile before making it through ourselves. We still don’t know why we couldn’t sit in those first seats.

Friday, we flew to Iguassu where we visited the Iguassu falls. They are truly breath-taking, no waterfalls will ever compare after seeing these, you just want to sit there all day staring at them as there are so many and are so spectacular, our photos do not do them justice! The first day we visited the Brazilian side which was a short, easy bus ride from town. It gives a really good overview of the falls. The following day we got up early to get to the Argentinian side as we had read that it would take a whole day to see these. After waiting an hour for the bus we finally got to the Argentinian border, and although we had read that you don’t need to get a Brazilian exit stamp all the foreigners got off the bus to get a stamp so we thought we better be safe than sorry. Foolish us. The bus does not wait. Even though we took only 2 minutes the bus left as soon as everyone was off we guess. We were fearful we would have to wait another hour and that the same thing would happen at the Argentinian checkpoint, we contemplated walking the 3 km but were told it was very dangerous because there was no walkway (they neglected to mention the 4m wide verge you could easily walk on). Thankfully, we only had to wait 35mins for the next bus and when we arrived at the Argentinian checkpoint, there was quite a group of us English speaking people and we shadowed that bus driver (as he had to go through passport control too) and discovered he does wait till everyone is back on the bus, how nice. We eventually made it to the Argentinian Iguassu falls more than 3 hours after we had left our hostel. We were a little worried we would have the same palaver getting back so we did those Argentinian falls in record time, without getting too wet we are pleased to say. Once again the falls were awesome and we were basically seeing the same as from Brazil but right up close and a few different ones. We highly recommend Iguassu falls to everybody. Getting back was a lot faster than the morning as the bus did not stop at the Brazil checkpoint, we leapt off our seats motioning to the bus driver, don’t we need to get off?? But he waved us away, no problem. Hmm okay. We were rather nervous about being in Brazil with no entrance stamp. But needn’t have worried.

Monday morning, we were up at 4.30am to catch our 6am flight to Sao Paulo zzz. At Sao Paulo airport we made sure we stuck together at passport control and acted very innocent and nonchalant, no problem with our passport mam J. Turns out we needn’t have bothered. They didn’t seem to care that we had no entry stamp, no mention was made and we were just given another exit stamp. Our flight was due to depart at 1pm but it was delayed in boarding (no surprises here, jolly LAN), we just hoped that they would feed us straightaway as we of course had not eaten lunch. After sitting on the plane for 40mins we were asked to disembark, oh oh. They told us they would reboard us by about 4.30. When 3 o’clock rolled around they announced we would get food vouchers woohoo, we were so starving! (We had spent all our Brazilian money) but when 4.30 arrived there was still no word. At 5 they announced the flight was cancelled and we would be put up in a hotel. There were many disgruntled passengers but we gave each other a giant high 5, how stoked were we to stay in a nice hotel rather than a rubbish hostel! They had a free buffet dinner and breakfast, we were still full at breakfast from the previous night’s dinner so weren’t able to enjoy it as much as we would have liked to ;-). The unfortunate thing was we were up at 5am (woohoo a 1 hour sleep in from the previous day) as we had to be at the airport by 7am to book on to our new flight. At the airport we were given a US $200 voucher as compensation, goodness we thought the hotel and yummy food was compensation enough, how stoked were we! When we got to immigration (again without an entrance stamp) we thought it would be no problem so went to different booths. However, this time it was a problem. We were pleased we were able to blame it on the airline and eventually they let us through to the gate. We have now exited Brazil 3 times with only one entrance stamp! So apart from being delayed by an hour (seriously LAN get it together) it was an uneventful flight to Santiago.

Alex had made friends with two Chilean men at Security who happened to live in Vina del Mar, the little beach town where we would spend our last week of travels, and they offered us a ride, sweet deal, so that was very pleasant to ride in a plush air conditioned car rather than an old bus. We arrived at our hostel and spent the next couple of days recovering from lack of sleep and time zone changes (we’ve had 7 in the last 3 weeks), we checked out the inner township of Vina, went to the markets and found delicious shawarma, we were excited.

On Friday we were super excited as we had booked ourselves into a niceish hotel for our final 2 nights. We checked out of the hostel at midday and walked 4 blocks to our new hotel, only to discover they didn’t have our booking, despite us having the booking confirmation email. No one there spoke English and it was very difficult trying to work out what was happening. After 30mins they got an English speaking man on the phone and turned out the hotel had no spare rooms, this man was from a sister hotel and said they had a room for us which they would give at the same price and he would send a car for us. Thus after an hour in this first hotel we moved 4 more blocks to this next hotel. When we arrived we were told, actually they don’t have a room for us but they could take us to another hotel about 6 blocks away, next to a casino, we told them this was not a draw point for us. By this time we were very frustrated and did a quick google search of where they were sending us and all it had was awful reviews. No thanks we told them, we will use your computers to find us somewhere new. Having our airline refund we decided to splurge and stay at the Best Western. The hotel would not give us a ride there however, despite having promised they would take us wherever we wanted to go, nor would they even return us to the first hotel which was a lot closer. We were not impressed that basically all they had done was drag us far away from any other hotel. When we arrived at the Best Western, nice and hot now, it turned out they were hosting a medical conference and they were all booked up, they sent us 2 blocks away to another hotel, but they only had a room for that night, not 2. Thus we sat in their lobby using their internet to find somewhere else, they were helpful and also rang another hotel for us. We found a place online that looked alright, but once visiting, it was really not much better than a hostel and we decided we might as well save money by staying at our original hostel which was sufficient, but no more. Thus after 4 hours of wandering the streets we checked back in to our original hostel for 2 more nights L

Here is a summary of our main complaints about this hostel (for a more comprehensive list please email) - when having a shower you must run the tap for 5mins before hoping in, the water is cold, then goes scalding hot, then frozen cold again before heating up, and at this stage can you then adjust the temperature to where you want, but if you go too far, you have to turn all the taps off and try again. It reminded us of the Katy Perry song –You’re hot than you’re cold. In one of the bathrooms the entire tap just falls off every time you move it. They also love incense. The washing machine is right next to our room and sounds like an angry elephant with a hive full of bees in its trunk. We are also on the main street of town, where on Friday night they set up a stage and basically the party has not stopped, we joined it for a little bit, but it’s really not that great. We think it stopped at about 3am but started up again about 8am Saturday morning, we are listening to the awesome tunes as we write this. Gangnam style anyone? They are also painting the hostel, so we have been breathing in fumes every day. Plus there is construction going on - you can no longer go out the front door as they are dismantling the staircase. The internet stopped working for one of the days and is a little temperamental at times. We have just discovered that it is the one year anniversary of this hostel and at 11pm tonight the party will start and no one will be able to sleep, you must come and get drunk -this is the quote from the owner, oh dear, we will barricade the door and wear earplugs, hats and sleep with our pillow on top of our heads. Chile really is out to get us.

Saturday however, was a beautiful day and after our failed effort of having Friday as a beach day, this was it. We toddled off to the beach along with many others it seemed. It was such a nice time relaxing in the sun after our crazy day yesterday. The water however was like swimming in Lake Wakitipu but with giant waves that would knock you off your feet -But quite refreshing from the hot sun.

Wait a minute, now we’re swimming

Happy bathing, now we’re winning,

Eating ice-cream gee that’s better

Mother father kindly disregard this letter

That’s it for the blog folks. We fly out at 11.35 Sunday night and arrive home 4.30am Tuesday morning. Please form an orderly line outside Auckland airport international arrivals to greet us, ensure your balloons will not inhibit other planes from departing and keep signs within the city council regulations. We are excited about the Queen Street welcome home parade that you have planned for us.

See some of you on Tuesday woop woop woop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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