Music and passion are always the fashion (brasil)

Trip Start Feb 18, 2004
Trip End Dec 05, 2005

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I awoke on the banks of the Parana River having survived my barrel ride over Iguazu Falls. Not the easiest way into Brasil, but the quickest. Climbed up to the road and caught a bus into the city which just happened to have all my bags onboard. Foz do Iguacu is a much bigger city than its counterpart on the Argentinian side. The bus driver said something about bus station so I got off...only it was the city bus station and not the intercity station. So I got a taxi from there to the intercity bus station. Bought my onward ticket for the evening - it was A LOT more expensive than the same type of transport in Argentina (like 3 times the price!). Put my bag in storage and caught a bus back to town. I didn't have any Brasilian money so had to go looking for an ATM. Wasn't too hard finding an ATM, but was very hard finding an ATM that would take my card. Had to try at least 5 banks. Once I had some money, I went by a place for a sandwich. Got the bus to Iguacu Falls from the bus station. The setup of viewing the falls on the Brasilian side is much different. You catch a bus from the main visitor's center out to a walkway that takes you lengthwise along a part of the falls. It provides a lot of panoramic views but you don't get as much variety as the Argentinian side.

It's always interesting to see how pictures you have other people take of you turn out. The guy who took the above picture was going to take it of me with the refreshment stand in the background 'til I pointed out I'd rather have the waterfall. And then he centers me blocking out a portion of the waterfall. Most people do just center you in the photo and take a picture not understanding that it's often better to put the person to the side with the attraction in the background still visible. Anyway, I stood in one of the nicer spots and just took time to appreciate being at Iguacu Falls. (Figure I need to do more of that as the trip is coming to an end.) Caught the bus back to town and had dinner at a biergarten. Bus back out to the intercity station then it was time for my overnight bus to Curitiba.

Slept ok on the bus. Arrived in Curitiba early in the morning and just went to a cheap hotel across from the bus station (it was in LP). Spent the morning sleeping. Went back by the train and bus stations to buy my onward bus ticket to Sao Paulo and train ride for tomorrow. Portuguese is definately different from Spanish. I don't understand much of anything people are saying to me and probably vice versa. Walked into town and by a mall for lunch. Yet another place where people don't seem to listen when I put in my order. I end up just getting a drink and have to order the sandwich again. There was a puppet show going on as I was leaving so I watched a bit of that. Wandered and found the old town area of Curitiba. It wasn't too exciting. Some cafes and bars but not much other life. Walked to Rua 24 Horas and just found more cafes. Not too exciting a place. Went on i-net for a bit to update the previous Travelpod entry. Back to the hotel for bedtime.
In the morning I caught the scenic train to Paranagua. There were some pretty hills and greenery, but really wasn't too impressive. Trees blocked a lot of the better views. The train actually stopped in Morretes and since I don't speak Portuguese, didn't have a clue what was going on. Found out that the train wasn't going any further and a local person recommended the town of Antonina over Paranagua (industrial port) so I took a bus there. Antonina was cute. I walked around checking out the town and enjoying the sunshine. Sat in the park and read my book most of the time.

Caught the bus back to Curitiba. Wasted time at the mall in the evening before catching my overnight bus to Sao Paulo.

Sao Paulo is the third largest city in the world (17 million people). From what I read it has little to offer and a high crime rate. Seeing as I'm not a fan of big cities with nothing special, I decided to skip Sao Paulo and just keep movin' on. I arrived before 6am and got a bus to Parati and 8am. Parati is on the coast and is a cute, historic town. It has cobbled streets and some old churches.

The beaches there were kind of nice with restaurants to hang out at. This being my first Brasilian beach experience, I was rather disappointed in the ladies. There were far more unattractive people than pretty girls...could find better in Florida or SoCal. One of the restaurants on the beach had some people just jamming on instruments so I sat and listened to them. In the evening, I went out to see what was going on and found a bunch of people drumming. Makes the hippie drum circles back home look like toddlers beating on plastic buckets. These guys were good. Wandered around looking for somewhere to have dinner. The places I wanted to go were full so I just went to a buffet place where they charge you by the kilo. I inadvertently got myself some "mariscos del mar" thinking it was chicken stew and promptly was suffering from an allergic reaction (though I don't think I actually ate shellfish, just something that was mixed with shellfish). I was feeling rather awful while wandering around town and figured if I was going to die I ought to do it back at the hostel so went there. Ended up getting sick (first time that's happened from an allergic reaction) and felt a bit better. Just laid in bed 'til I fell asleep after that.

Had a nice breakfast at the hostel then caught the bus to Angra dos Reis. From there I got a boat to Ilha Grande. LP says Ilha Grande is where you go if you want to get away from the city. The main town of Abrao on the island is small with mostly restaurants and posadas (hotels). The hostel I stayed at was way up on the hill. After checking in, I explored the beaches and town a little.

In the evening I met some English girls, Helen and LeAnn, plus a couple guys. I had a late dinner then came back and played cards with them while enjoying some caipinrinhas (like a mojito).
The next day I went with Helen and LeAnn on a hike to Lopes Mendes beach. There was supposedly a guide, but he just showed us to the trailhead then said he'd meet up with us in a half hour. We saw him a couple hours later on the beach. We spent the afternoon just hanging out on the beach as the sun came and went behind clouds. We were going to catch a boat that was about to leave for town back but our "guide" insisted we take his boat. We ended up having to wait for an hour for his damn boat to leave. Hung out with the English in town in the evening and saw something like a martial arts show. It began to pour rain though so the show ended early. I went back to the hostel and had a bbq dinner there. Most people at the hostel were Brasilians traveling so I'm not understanding what they're saying. I chat with a couple other English girls since I can actually communicate with them. There was a cute little kitten at the hostel so I was playing around with it too.

Barely made the ferry from Ilha Grande to the mainland. From there, caught a bus to Rio de Janeiro. Hopped on the metro to get to the area of Botafogo where my hostel was. People I encountered on the way were friendly and helpful. The hostel was ok - dorm room had triple bunks with a fan, and was rather hot and stuffy. The reception guy at the hostel said it might rain tomorrow so suggested going up one of the scenic hills today. I wandered thru Urca and took the gondola up to Sugarloaf (though pricey at $17). There were a bunch of Americans up there. They were asking me why I was taking pictures of a stuffed monkey. Got some nice sunset pics then back down.

My LP friend, Hayli, came and got me at the hostel and we went out to Lapa with a group of her friends (none of whom speak English well). Apparently this is where the locals go on the weekends. They just pack the streets and party. This weekend there was a stage and bands playing. The first bit I heard just sounded like regular rock music but then some more samba-ish bands came on. I thought Brasilians would eat late like their neighbors, but apparently not. I hadn't eaten dinner and was hungry all night. Once the bands were done, we wandered the packed streets. One of her friends had his wallet nicked in the packed crowds. Even I knew better than to carry my wallet and what little cash I did have was covered by my hand over my pocket. Later we went to a poolhall and to play some game similar to billiards just with 4 balls each (hit in all of your own first). In one game I was doing really bad but did well for a couple shots which attracted the attention of a very drunk girl at the table next to ours. She actually spoke English well and was kind of funny in her drunkeness. Bus back to Botafogo with the gang and to the hostel in the wee hours. It was a fun night. Hayli's friends were a lot of fun.

From what I can tell, there doesn't seem to be any issues with race here. It's nice to see friends of various races hanging out. It's refreshing to be able to be somewhere like this. In the U.S., the media inundates us with the belief that race is an issue when it simply doesn't have to be. The current terrorism paranoia doesn't help things either. Why can't we all just get along?

Clear and sunny the next morning. Took my laundry in and got a haircut, though the guy didn't cut much off. Went to Copacabana beach and was disappointed in the hotties there too. I'd heard so much about the Brasilian women I'm expecting like every one of them on the beach to be lovely. Definately not the case. Though the Brasilian women that are lovely are very beautiful. And, of course, there are a lot of people you don't want to see in much too skimpy swimwear.

Back to Botafogo for a nap at the hostel. The clouds moved in and it started to pour rain in the evening. The hostel had a bbq which I stayed for. Hayli and her friends weren't doing anything 'cuz of the rain and being tired. Most the people I met at the hostel weren't all that friendly. The guys seemed to be trying to prove they're better than you. There was a cute Spanish girl I talked to for a while. Her French boyfriend was rather an ass though. I travelled all through France and thought they were nice contrary to the American stereotype, and I get to Rio to find they really can be pompous asses.

The beach at Botafogo isn't nice and I couldn't take the hostel any more, so moved to a hostel in Ipanema with air-conditioning.

"Short and furry and young and lovely
The monkey from ipanema goes swinging
And when he passes, each one he passes goes - aaahhhh
When he swings, he's like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gentle
That when he passes, each one he passes goes - ooohhh"

I wandered around the Ipanema area a bit checking it out. Early in the afternoon I went back out to Botafogo to meet up with the guys for a game of futbol. We played indoor (5vs5) with three teams and the winning team getting to keep playing. The team I was on was good so we were playing a lot, but that made me tired so I'd sit out every now and then. I made a couple goals and some good passes. The guys would call me "el gringo". Back to the hostel to shower and get cleaned up. I met my dorm roommates, Julia and Stephanie, both from USA. Went out to Copacabana and met up with Hayli and friends for a concert on the beach. We danced samba in the sand and had a good time.
Spent most the next day hanging out on Ipanema beach.

I took the bus out to Corcovado to see the Christ statue but there were clouds so I didn't go up. Had dinner at the hostel then Julia and Steph came back and we had drinks. Went over to a British pub across the street for some live music. We were singing along to a U2 song so the guy handed us the microphone to sing...we all kind of went silent then. We met a guy from California named Charlie that was cool.
I was up early and caught the bus to Corcovado. There were a bunch of tour groups ahead of me so I had to wait an hour for the cablecar ride up. Got pictures of the Christ statue and Rio then hurried back down to try and get on the next tram down.

Opted for a taxi back to the hostel and barely made it back in time for the afternoon boat party. Hopped in a van that took us to Copacabana to pack in even more people then it took us to the boat. There were people already on the boat who had been eating and drinking before we arrived. Seemed to be about 5 guys to every girl. Why is it always like that? And most everyone was of the drunken idiot variety. The majority of the girls on the boat, though there were few, dressed as if pretty, but weren't. Once out of the marina the DJ blared the music so you could barely hear. The food on offer was alright and the drinks were free. I spent most the time with Julia, Steph and Charlie.

The boat crew took us out to a bay where you could see trash floating in the water, but people still jumped in anyways (drunken idiots trying to show off). The sun came and went but was never intense which was actually kind of nice. The boat party lasted about 4 hours and I was quite happy for it to be over. On the van ride back we got to enjoy the company of an incredibly annoying French guy (with an English accent). We made it a point to avoid him as best as possible the rest of the evening. Had a brief rest back at the hostel then to dinner with Julia and Steph. Had some drinks at the hostel and a couple of the nicer guys from the boat ride met up with us. We moved on to an Irish pub but thought it a bit too overrun with gringos. The staff there gave us some recommendations for places with more locals and we got a taxi to take us to one, only he didn't know where he was going. We circled the same block a couple times then he dropped us off at some restaurants and said these are better. By this time we were a bit tired so just had a quick drink then back to the hostel. Not exactly a wild last night in Rio but it was alright.
My last morning in Rio I went out to Ipanema beach for some last sunshine and summer. Said goodbye to the girls then caught the bus to Botafogo. Met up with Hayli for a quick goodbye then got a taxi to the airport. On the way to the airport I got to see a bit of the favelas (slums) and the other side of Rio. Spending my time around the beaches, I only saw the wealthier bit of Rio and missed out on a bit of the real experience.

Well, this marks the end of my round-the-world trip (though technically I still have a bit of time in England). I'm definately sad that it's over. I'll miss seeing new places all the time and meeting new people. The little breaks I got along the way helped me from getting burnt out. Having been home in September, it doesn't feel like I've been away too long. It will be nice to be home for Christmas and to be amongst family and friends again. I'm broke so gotta get a job asap to start paying off the bills and debts. Yap, reality check. How am I going to handle sitting in a cube when I've been gallavanting around the world for nearly two years!?! I already have plenty of tasks for myself (like sorting through 15,000 pictures!) to keep me occupied. I'll be back in Seattle December 5 and down to Portland soon after that.

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