Kids with Guns...

Trip Start Sep 04, 2012
Trip End Aug 02, 2013

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Sunday, April 21, 2013

Argentina can keep its dulce de leche - Brazilians eat CAKE for breakfast!! They also shout "Oi!" a lot, but they are just saying "Hi!" in Portuguese!! (Our Spanish lessons go out the window over here!).
From Iguazu we had a mind-numbing 23 hourer all the way to Rio de Janeiro, with the intention of then doubling back on ourselves to Sao Paulo, as that's where we fly to Lima from. As soon as we got to Rio, the taxi company drilled us for 52 Brazilian Reals, when it should have been 15!! PUNK!!! It ain't cheap here and the locals can see us comin a mile off it seems!!! Our new hostel, in Kala's words, is "a complete sh@thole!!!! There are exposed wires all over the ceiling, the plug socket is hanging off the wall and there are gaps everywhere so that creatures will get in!!!!" I liked was just a tad on the small side!
After eating our cornflakes out of a dirty pot, cooking by head torch during a powercut with AWFUL pots and pans, and having a centipede like creature crawl over me in the night, maybe she had a point!!! We'd sorted out a favelas tour for the following day. The following day we got stood up for the favelas tour (!!), so we arranged a tour via a different company for the day after that.
In the morning we managed to see the 'Lapa steps' - a load of colourful tiled steps on the street, and got STUNG (again) for a laundry wash and dry for 15 QUID....15 QUID!!!! Dear me!! Rio did not start well!! However, the morning after it got a whole lot better!! Not only was the free brekky top class, but our first view of Copacabana Beach was AMAZING!!! WOMEN'S. BEACH. VOLLEYBALL!! Ha ha!! "Quick, get the camera!!!" We had a watch of that and wandered up and down the beach front for an hour or so. It was St George's day, and they seem to celebrate that better than we do as the whole country was on a holiday and the beach was PACKED!! There were more runners, cyclists, beach footballers, beach tennis players and probably pickpockets than we've ever seen! ACTION BEACH!! Good to see!!
That afternoon we got picked up for the favelas tour. For those of you who haven't played 'Call of Duty' on the XBox or Playstation, the Brazilian favelas are basically 'shanty towns' usually within urban areas. People who can't afford to live in the city, but want to BE in the city, would usually end up in a favela. They had similarities to the 'townships' in South Africa.
So when Rachel, our guide, starts rambling in the bus how there have been massive improvements in the favelas over the last few years, I was a bit disappointed!! "The police have 'pacified' the area now so they are a bit safer....there are no more drug dealers on the streets 'shotting' each other....SHOT SHOT SHOT!! I mean, they were very friendly, just selling drugs on the streets (not the point, Rachel!)....but you don't see them as much now 'shotting' people!!" Music BELTIN out, houses STACKED on top of each other...streets PACKED full of people....this place is CARNAGE!! We were in the biggest one in South America apparently, Rocinha, which is home to 100,000 people. We got down a bit further and there was a typical row of shops.......corner shop, bank, hair salon, fruit stall, live chicken shop - where you chose a chicken and shoot it dead before taking it home!!! Right on the street!!! Wow!! And I'm gonna have to put my foot down soon because there were more satellite dishes than houses!! We're getting SKY when we get home!! Then it got a bit more normal and we saw a smaller, nicer favela with obvious improvements before Rachel wrapped it up and we drove home. Not exactly kids with guns, but still pretty cool to see! Back at the hostel we had their shite tea of beans, rice, green stuff and horrible meat, washed down with.....nothing.....coz we're too tight to buy a drink!!
The next couple of days were spent viewing arguably Rio's two stellar tourist traps.....the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugar Loaf Mountain. 'Cristo' was up first. You get a train to the top and the view of the bay and of Sugar Loaf is superb! The city backs right onto the favelas, which backs onto the jungle. There are mountains, beaches, hills....they really do have everything right there!! The statue ain't bad either!! It stands at roughly 30m tall and DOMINATES the place! (Karl Pilkington was right though....he does have a big chin he he!). Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was impersonating his pose for a photo, with people lying on the floor taking photos 'upwards' so to not get all the other people in! We obviously had a go at that.....badly!!
Sugar Loaf was reached by two cable cars and the scene was equally, if not slightly more impressive and you had the added extra of not having to fight for your photo which was nice! Once up there, there was a load of room just to chill out and enjoy the view over the whole city and towards where we were the previous day. Very nice! Luckily the weather held out for us as the clouds quickly closed in and enveloped 'Christo' in the early afternoon.
Rio is very fast paced and the bus rides were more like rollercoaster rides! In total contrast a small chilled out town called Paraty was next up before Sao Paulo. We got TOTALLY ROBBED AGAIN when we got to our hostel!! We were told that we owed 232 US Dollars upon arrival, for five nights. That converted to roughly 460 Brazilians over here using the 'normal' and current exchange rate......but this hostel strictly uses their own OUTRAGEOUS rate and they eeked out another £20 off us because of this!! BASTARDS!! So, to rob em back, we literally SMASH the free brekky, eating till it hurts, then stash more of it in our pockets for lunch!! HA! Horribly uneven cobble stoned streets amidst a load of cool, quirky places to eat, funky little shops and colourful boats along the river define this beautiful place. It's got a bit of Hoi An (from Vietnam) about it. The two quaint little beaches are where we were for most of our time here, along with a stray dog who kept sitting on our beach towels!! Stupid dog! A bit of chillout before the last couple of months of serious travel here in South America start.
Sao Paulo was a 'get to' and fly out of, so we didn't see much of it. Kala made a real hash of the directions to our hostel so, to punish her accordingly, I dragged her round the football museum here, which was good!
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