Monday, October 6, 2008

Her Name was Rio and I Danced upon her Sands...

Rio, eh? Don't go there, its so dangerous! Muggers in the streets, murderers around every corner, you'll never get out alive, I tell you, NEVER!
Pah! Tosh and tummy rubbish to that. Don't judge me til you know me and all that. We got to Rio expecting to stay a week, and the folks in the hostel said "Nah, you'll stay longer, everyone does", and of course we replied "no, we will want to get going after a week for sure." Score 1 for the hostel, none for us. In the end, we stayed a fortnight, and to be honest, I wanted to stay longer, but it was time to go.
So what was so great? Well, the hostel for a start was a fantastic place to stay (Stone of a Beach, if anyone is heading that way), with great staff, and a great atmosphere to just hang out and relax, which was exactly what was needed after so long on the road. We met some good people to hang out with, found some good places to drink, and of course the weather and the beaches were great too. Rich went off to Cabo Frio about 200km away to find some windsurfing for a few days, and I stayed in town and did the tourist thing and met some locals and other travelers and had a great time. Visited Christ the Redeemer, of course (according to one of the Irish girls I went with, he has a great arse- she's going straight to hell for that one!), and went up Sugar Loaf mountain as well, so ticked those boxes, but also got a very real look at the other side of the city.
Each Friday, a local Capoeira group comes to the hostel and put on a demonstration for the tourists, who then pay into the hat. The group all live in one of the Favelas in town. Favelas are the 'slums' for want of a better word, but they aren't really slums, just where the more hard up locals and crime lords live. They are probably more crime free than the rest of the city, as there is a code amongst the inhabitants that you don't rob from your own, but at the same time, a lot of folks seem to go around carrying guns and selling drugs. However, if you are escorted in by locals, you are pretty much safe as houses, so after the 2nd Friday's demonstration, at about midnight or later, Rich and I and a couple of other friends were taken to a Favela party (just a massive rave really) by the guys from the Capoeira group.
I think it helped that we were a bit drunk - it relaxed us and stopped us looking too jumpy - but it was a huge amount of fun. People were walking round with automatic hand guns and large rifles that could easily have been AK47s, but I don't know enough about these things, and didn't like to ask! The party was full on, make your body vibrate with the bass, favela funk, with a highly entertaining contest on the main stage where half a dozen girls were vying for the title of "who has the best butt and is best at moving it around". We also stopped in a local bar and played some local rules pool with some guys, chatted away, and again were amazed at how friendly folks were if you just take time to talk to them. I have no doubt that, had we gone up there by ourselves, we'd have been in all sorts of trouble, but it just goes to show its who you know in this world, and once again we fell in with a good crowd.
In the interests of free and open press I should also mention that all those in NZ and UK who predicted I would meet some South American beauty and fall in love and not want to come home, very nearly turned out to be right! Without going into details because its none of you business, I did meet someone that I would have loved to have been able to get to know more, but a whole host of circumstances reared their ugly and unwelcome heads and put the Kibosh on yet another potential love match. It is becoming a pattern for me, and not one I like, but there seems to be nothing I can do to stop it. And in the words of Forrest Gump, "That's all I want to say about that."
I arrived in Rio expecting to hate the place and wanting to leave as soon as possible, but left 2 weeks later with all sorts of ideas in my head about how easy it would be to stay there - something I never expected. Definitely a highlight of the trip to date, and maybe still an open chapter. Who knows? Not I, that's for sure. And as for the danger? Probably the most frightening moment of the 2 weeks was the 10 minutes on the beach in my birthday budgie-smuggler, courtesy of Richard needless to say, but fulfilling a promise I made to myself that I would walk the beaches of Rio like a local. Mmmmm, tight!
So now we have begun the long road south, and so far it has proven a good idea. The roads, as we suspected, are superb without the rain, with specatcular scenery and excellent riding. We had 2 nights at Paraty, allowing me to go island hopping on a boat for a day, then carried on to Mareis, then back to Antonina, and finally, yesterday, in the pouring rain, to Florianopolis and new territory. We found a great hostel on Ilha Santa Catarina, but had to leave the bikes parked on the road, and for the first time on the trip, they got interfered with. We chained them together for safety, but some clown managed to push them over anyway, which caused my side stand to bend to a position where it is too vertical to properly support the bike, and rubs on the chain when I try to drive it. Because its sunday, nothing can be done today, so we'll have to try and sort it tomorrow. A pain in the arse, but hopefully not fatal. Unfortunately, when we tried to move the bikes to a safer place, involving a stupidly steep narrow alley way up to the hostel on the other side of a pedestrian-only foot bridge (no one looking? great, hurry!), I managed to drop my bike through a garden gate, smashing the rear-view mirror (and half the gate). Had I not been so exhausted from the days riding, I might have cared, But as it happens, I just shrugged, and moved the bike somewhere else. I guess it had been long enough without me breaking something, right?
Anyhow, that's all to tell for now, sorry it took so long in coming, and wish me luck. Just generally. Nothing specific. I just feel like I need a bit at the moment. Now off you pop and go and do something crazy. Lord knows I am, everyday!

1 comment:

ed said...

Good to hear you are ageing disgracefully. That cut-down Borat number must have made all of you wince more than the bright sunshine did.