So I did end up going to the Botanical Garden, the Planetarium Space Museum (hey, can┤t help it), Christo Redentor, and Comtemporary Art Museum in Niterˇi
. Damn near an expert on getting around this town now. The Botanical Garden is right up against the rain forest, is pretty big, but is much different than Brooklyn┤s because that is more subdivided into different themes. The Christ statue is technically in the rain forest park. You take a tram up and get to see pretty much all of the city. Can see the Lagoa, Botafogo, Centro, MaracanŃ, the favelas, just a ton. Is higher than PŃo de Ašucar I think, but more crowded. And the statue itself is huge. A little chapel below that you can enter. Going to Niterˇi, you take a ferry then another bus, and it was crazy just how much better the ferry was here than in Salvador (going back and from from the city to Itaparica). A running theme of the difference between north and south, the difference in money and in turn, the cities. Of course, I still have almost no pictures because I don┤t like bringing the thing everywhere anymore. Sorta wish though, I had some from Christ or Sugarloaf. Saw MaracanŃ and the Sambadromo.
Old friend from SŃo Jorge took me down the coast to some really cool spots. On the way back, passed a mall called "New York City Center" so we stopped in just for the kicks. There was a TGIFridays showing the NFL playoffs. Awesome! Wanted to go to Tijuca Rain Forest but there are all these unwritten rules because it is known to be a place where armed robbers jump people
. So you have to go on a sunny day and on the weekend, when there will be lots more people out there. Unfortunately, that combo never existed since it rained every day after Christmas.
Eventually, after deciding to leave for the 2nd time, friends convinced me to stay another week and head up to B˙zios. A couple hours away. Kind of a rich kid┤s playground. Beautiful area. The cities in the southeast get a lot of name, and the beaches in the north/northest, but truth is that the beaches are absolutely gorgeous in the southeast as well. Might have to do with the mountains. Lots of good surf and stuff. Four of us drove up, then met four more coming by bus and we had a heckuva good time. There is a main strip where everybody hangs out, and wouldn┤t you know it, on Sunday I saw another playoff game. This one between was the Colts-Pats game so it was a good one. Watched it w/ some Aussies who halfway understood the game. Dang that was a good weekend. Your typical out-late-with-friends thing.
After coming back to Rio, had to spend one more night there because the buses had already left. So one more party! Not kidding. At this point it just became a big running gag. Chris was never gonna leave. Next day I did, though, and arrived in Prudente about 4am
. Good to see folks again as I think it will be the last time in quite awhile. Just Lilian, Fer, and Vitˇria here now. The Rui┤s are up at the farm. Headed out to a B-Day party, and just been kicking it here. Still missing Rio. Although it is not raining every day here. Just really hot. Going to Foz Iguašu tonight. 9 more hours. The falls are gonna be awesome. One of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World. In case your keeping score, I have had 3 different exit flights from Brazil. After I figured out I couldn┤t leave and re-enter for Carnaval, the only other option was to leave when the visa expires or stay illegally. *Right now* the plan is to leave on the 6th of Feb. It really was sad leaving Rio. Have to start coming to grips that I will be leaving Brazil soon, and not for a week. For at least 6 months, no seeing folks, places, or things that I┤m gonna miss. Really is a bummer after being here for so long.
So, the whole malaria thing went away. Still taking medication, but its not really an issue anymore. Started having a whole lot better time in Rio again once that went away. Still working bar/reception a couple nights. Making caipirinhas in my sleep now. Not really going to try to do a play-by-play on my time in Rio. It all kind of mushes together. I had a completely unreal time there. I was really actually sad when I left. They ended up throwing me 4 different going away parties because I kept on deciding to stay a few more days until eventually leaving! You literally have to drag yourself away from that city. Procrastinating on details because I don┤t know where to start. The whole party/joke/bar thing I┤m just gonna avoid. Shoot, I was there for over a month.