Trip Start Aug 09, 2006
53Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Rio is amazing. Absolutely amazing
A "must do" when going to Rio is to visit one of the samba schools. There are like 14 and during Carnaval they compete in the Sambadrome dancing, singing, mania basically. But they have "rehearsal"´s all the time up until Carnaval, preparing for it. It is really misleading calling it a "school" or "rehearsal" when you go there though. Just a huge samba party is what it really is. We went to Villa Isabel, who happened to win last year
Another thing I was told I had to do is go to a favela funk party. Again, had an awesome time here as well. Favelas are the poorer neighborhoods that sneak up the hills of Rio, run by drug lords. And this is definitely not your "Sly and the Family Stone" kind of funk. Pretty raw agressive party music. The lyrics, dancing, and the whole scene really is very sexually charged. The place was very large as well, with a large dance floor, and an upper area (VIP). Thats where they put all the gringos because the main floor can be dangerous (sure enough, it was), but we went down because it was more fun there. One of the gringos I was with got called up on stage for a contest and won the thing - pretty cool.
The hostel is great and everybody who stays and works here is awesome. Too much fun. BBQ party there or night on the town every single night. My sleeping schedule in the Amazon was getting up at 4:30-5ish and going to bed 7-7:30ish (pretty much dictated by the sun). A complete reversal here. In fact, the people are so cool here, they gave me the opportunity to stay and do barman work 2-3 nights a week in exchange for free bed, drinks, and internet for as long as I want to stay. Sign me up.
Took a walk around downtown one day. Along with the beautiful scenery of Rio (I haven´t mentioned yet that it is surrounded by Atlantic rain forest) and the party scene, Rio is a very cultural city as well. Was the capital of Brazil for quite a long time. Lots of cool looking old buildings and praças. Art, theater, the works. I am trying to open myself up to appreciating art a little more. Considering I lived in NYC for 4 years and never went to the Moma or Met, this is progress. Everybody keeps making a fuss over it, so maybe there is something to it. Anyway, so checked out a cool photography exhibit about Angola (in Africa, Brazil is most closely tied to Angola - another old Portuguese colony - so you do hear and learn a bunch about that country here). Saw a convent, bla bla bla, cool architecture...ah, but the coolest thing of the day was the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura. A book place straight out of Harry Potter. Super old huge dusty books stacked to the ceiling, maybe 4 stories, wheely ladders, an old guy carefully copying text out of one...Random but cool. The Cathedral Metropolitana was also a standout - one of the cooler cathedrals I´ve been too. Super modern. A dome-cone kind of shape, seats going circular, HUGE stained glass walls. Just the amound of trapped open air in there was cool. And of course I had to go to Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf). The famous mountain that you take two trams to get to the top of
While I´m thinking of it, in Portuguese you pronounce Rio de Janeiro as "Hee-oh Gee Janiero". They love their juices in Brazil, and I have easily tried 20 new juices and fruits I had never heard of before, but they take it to a new level here. Juice stands everywhere. And you can get them with water or milk. Milk makes it taste like a shake. Soooo gooood.....
Took one day just lay out on the beach with friends. Catching jacaré (body surfing). Sun was killer, didn´t feel any less hot than in the north. But the water was freezing - and I don´t mean the cold that you get used to. I mean the kind of cold in Maine or Lake Superior that makes you go numb or with pain. The beach/water temperature difference is the most I´ve experienced. Renata, my old surfing buddy who lives here, was right about the waves. They are violent. One night there was an employee boat party (there are 3 hostels here under the same company) and since I was gonna work there, I was now an employee!
Well eventually, the 22nd came and that meant time for me to move on. The Coimbras and Dunn families were getting together for Christmas in Camburi and had invited me. Camburi is a little beach spot near São Paulo. But had to do a little homework to figure out how to get there. Anyway, so went out to the station at around 11am to catch a bus to São Sebastião (transfer stop) only to find out the only busses left at 11pm and 11:05pm. How stupid is that. So I just threw my stuff in the Guarda Volumes and went back the hostel to play pool until night came. Its really easy to get back and forth from the station to Copacabana. Well, of course it didn´t leave until midnight, so then a transfer later I arrived in Camburi around 7am. This bus trip was the prettiest bus trip I have taken. All winding mountains and curves going along the coast. Clouds hanging down really low in the valleys between mountains. The Atlantic Rain Forest is really pretty. Maybe moreso than even the Amazon - but the Amazon is more...idunno...overwhelming in size. Doesn´t have the contrast in elevation though. Weather was really wet. Really it was raining or about to rain the entire time I was down there. Nobody was up yet, but it was fun to catch up with everybody when I arrived. Lots to hear from the US and lots that the Coimbras wanted to know about what I did in their country. And yes, a new camera! Anything from the Amazon boat trip, to the jungle, to all I´ve done and seen in Rio is all in my head and I have no pictures. So now I have to get back into that picture taking mood. Don´t have barely any from Camburi either.
Well, this was the 3rd time I´d been there when these two families get together and it is just heavy partying. Plain and simple. Beach all day, party all night. Lots of fun happened...hanging out in Maresias, in Camburi, visiting friends of friends on the beach, santa hats, Christmas log book, making fun of Chris´s side burns, catching more waves, fresco ball, the always fun making fun of other people´s attempt to speak another language (me to Portuguese and the Coimbras to English)...More stuff, too...Good to see Pam, Ken, Amy, Brett, Maria Elisa, Ruy, Lilian, Ruizinho, Vi, and Fer again. One really bad thing happened though. It was raining and lightening, and a surfer got struck. Fernanda saw him and I it was pretty bad. Clothes ripped and torn, his chest without skin. He got the works. CPR. Called the hospital later that night though and he was okay. And the previous day, someone had been pulled out of the water with people flipping out. We were starting to wonder what was going to happen next.
Well, what was next was my LEAST favorite bus ride. Sick, fever, headache, hungry, on a bus taking curves and starts and stops (Ken had puked on the way here), raining, traffic, police search. Took like 4 hourse longer going back to Rio. Very warm welcome back. The atmosphere has definitely picked up. The place is bumpin, everybody getting ready for Revillion (New Years). Friend here has the best medicine ever, and it fixed me up pretty good. All the employees got put into a room with 6 bunks for 10 people until people leave after New Years. Sardines. Last night was my first night working. Thought I would be doing only bar stuff, but as it turns out I was doing bar and reception at the same time. My first time and it was a Friday night. Geez. But there are a few really good things about the work here: it is only for like 3 hours; I am serving and helping my friends (so I´m not dealing with any of that crappy-customer stuff); the only thing people want to drink is a caiprinha, caiprioska, or beer.
So now its the 30th, almost Revillion. And it looks like I will be in Rio until I leave Brazil! Originally, I had wanted to travel around further south because I didn´t want to miss on such a large part of Brazil. But the opportunity to stay in Rio for free during New Years through Carnaval, with all these cool people, and I already had friends here from other places, limited work, close to São Paulo and rain forest, in a city that I still need to explore a lot...I couldn´t pass it up! Hope you guys have a good New Years, and Nick don´t stress the work project too much! I´ll see what I can do about getting pictures up, but like I said I only have a couple. I´ll try to get some from Ken or something - he took a million.