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Ace's Adventure A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles

Half way round

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 15 July 2010 | Views [730]

Iguazu falls was the next stop, lying on the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The falls are visible from the Arg and brazil. We decided on just seeing the Arg side as we had heard from most people that it is better and we were running out of time and keen for some beach time before London. So after a fairly long bus due to a road accident we found ourselves in the Park walking towards the devils throat, the first water fall on our agender. Walking along the metal walkway over the river system, it was very Jurassic park like, people passing us the other way were soaking wet...where were we heading.....On arrival we came to what I can only describe as a hole in the earth. It was like the old cartoons where you see a character pull the plug out of the bottom of the ocean, as a mile wide river system drained over the falls into an almost complete circle of falls about 60 m wide. Masses of water, 000's of tonnes every second explode into the abyss sending huge plumes of spray that then fall like a heavy rain every couple of minutes. So we got soaked like everyone else and took some sick photo's. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the rest of the park and the 200+ other waterfalls. Packed into such a concentrated area of rainforest, I am told by the boys it looks alot like Avatar which I havent seen yet. (at least they didnt quote a twilight their other favourite films). A highlight was the platform at the base of a 50m wide fall, a spot where you could definately feel the power of the place. It was an epic spot, as you can probably tell by my description where I have just realised I have likened it to 2 fantasy movies and a cartoon.
That evening we crossed the boarder via taxi after our first arranged van broke down. The bastards at the hostel didnt help much either despite it being organised through them. A bad review on hostel world coming there way I think. Anyway it took 40 minutes to cross the border, dropping us at the bus station to get another overnight bus to florianopolis. It was here at the station we bid farewell to JK as he was off to the UK to attend to some family matters. But he would be back in 5 days time to meet back up with us. On arrival in florianopolis we found a hostel over looking a lake like lagoon, and just 5 mins walk from Priar Mole a beach at the bottom of the hill. It really was a beautiful spot and the next 6 days were spent in a pretty similar fashion, but it was a satisfying routine all the same. Visiting priar Mole once or twice a day to surf and watching the world cup (NZ, Brazil and Eng games especially) occupied our days. With the cold nights spent keeping warm with cheap brazillian vodka, usually ending up at the local clubs in the area. Highlights of the nights were the shapes cut by myself and Stonnell in VIP, and the inability of Scaz to remain in the club or make it out at all with the vodka getting the best of him.....Thorny wasnt far behind. One night of the Brazil game we had a druggy come through our room in the hostel. Unfortunately they zonned in on Thornys locker and bag. But fortunately the owners knew who it was and his glasses were returned. Thank god he didnt take the whole bag as passport would have been gone too. It worked out in the end. It definately was a good time down at the beach with a fun beach break, and I did my best to give as much grief as I could to the Brazzo's in the surf. Payback for the crap they try and pull at every spot they visit outside brazil and in NZ. (dale you would have been proud). JK arrived back in town in time to join the boys in me beating them in poker, not without a bit of cotraversey at the end.   We had done our time in Florianopolis and it was time to move on too the next spot, Rio de Janiero. 
So as always it was another afternoon night bus to RIo. We arrived a little dissappointed to our hostel Mellow Yellow, especially after the hype about the place. We were in a dorm with 25 beds, stacked 3 bunks high. Couldnt complain about the location though. We arrived at ten thirty and in 30 mins Brazil were playing Portugal. We walked the 4 mins to the Copacobana beach where there was a huge set up for the world cup. With Two massive screens set up, one in the closed Fifa Fan zone and the other open to everyone on the beach over 200,000 brazillians are on the beach for each game. It took me back to vancouver and the olympics. With the patriotism, passion and love they have for their team and the game was much like the canadians for hockey. Ofcourse there were a few obvious differences namely the half naked girls in thongs and the lack of snow. So we pilled in with the rest of the crowd and got our beers from the venders and settled in for the match. Being a 1-1 draw however it was a bit of a non event (im an expert on football now you see). The rest of the afternoon we sharpened our body surfing skills in the dumpers on Copacobana beach under the blue skies and bikinis. 
That early evening we were on a tour to see christ the redeemer on the top of the hill over looking the city. So after a too long of a tour by the tool of a hostel manager, we found ourselves at the feet of christ as the sun went down over Rio. Now perhaps you could have an ipifany, confess your sins and become catholic, but its a bit hard with the 00's of tourists all clambering over the same small viewing platform trying to get their cringe photo's with the big man. So you end up getting caught up in the hype and snapping photos of the view and the 70ft statue. But even still it is definately an inspiring place when you do find the time to take in the gandure of the location and the committment to carve a statue like that. It does raise a few questions and make you think, ofcourse that is in between laughing at thorny snapping a photo of scaz sucking the statue off haha, culture boys. You couldnt come to Rio and not see it however it is awesome. 
Our first night we had planned to go to the Lapa street party as organised with the hostel. A place where you can party on the street of the district and the many bars and clubs in the area. It is said to be a bit dangerous so we were careful to a point, not taking anything too valuable. So we got on the bandwagon at the hostel and soon after were being dropped in Lapa. Unfortunately the boys were split early on by a couple of stray dogs. There are many around the town, some are viscious with rabbies. So we had to split Fred and I going one way the others the other. I hear they had a good night visiting the Lapa steps (in snoop dogs video) and catching up with a few english terriers they knew from back home. Freddie and I on the other hand had a different fate. After a dabble on the streets and hitting a club we were back outside, where I managed to catch the hand of a young kid, probably 12, trying to steal the camera of a girl we were with.He did a runner after the surprise of being caught. It probably should have eneded there. However I had have a few and I followed the little prick with the idea of teaching him a lesson or two. I found him with 4 other 12 year olds and 3 or so teenage girls. I stood as tall as christ the redeemer and I thought I could help these lost souls find the light...I couldnt.
Like a reincarnation of Jake the muss the 12 yea old I first encountered picked up a large beer bottle, smashed it on the curb and came at me with the broken bottle. At the same time the girls attacked, one lunging and breaking my gold necklace (prob should have take that off)...but luckily it stayed on somehow. Anyway needless to say I backed up faster than tiger woods, to avoid the bottle and any further lunges at my neck. When I saw two 20 something blokes come out of the crowd (they work in gangs). It was time to bail, I turned and ran putting my Jason Bourne hat and dissappearing into the crowd. Nothing was lost and I remained glassless so it was a win in the end. Freddie however got done by the same gang not long after, only getting 6 reals off him however. It was a headlock mugging combo they got him with, despite his self proclaimed UFC skills. We called it a night soon after and found the safety of the Hostel. With many stories from other tourists being heard from that night also. Probably not worth the effort in the end, pretty eye opening seeing a 12 year old go to those lengths.(thought I would tell you this once I had left South America mum :|).
Next day we beached it up and that night got severly spoilt by a colleague of JK's dad who took us out to dinner. We went to this place called Marius, which was an extremely plush an amazing seafood buffet, if you could call it a buffet as most is delivered to you. Amazing sashimi, oysters, shrimp, scampi, lobster, calamari.....the list could go on and on, ending with prime rib eye carved onto your plate. It was truely epic and the body and taste buds thanked us for sure. Pretty sure the toilets in the place would be some of the top ten toilets of the world aswell, seen to be believed. I was dragged into the womens by a drunk 50 year old american women, was nice of her. The company was great and the host generous. This dinner was followed by some drinks at a friends then off to this huge club by the marina. Driven there by a personal driver in a bullet proof armoured car, the driver having driven hillary clinton he was all business. We arrived at the club, cover paid and realised it was the place to be with all sorts of prime cuts strutting across the floor of the huge marque. The music and people were awesome and at 4am we stumbled out to our driver who had been waiting outside in the car for us....vip....no big deal. 
Next day we hit a market at impanema and enjoyed the sunset over there. That night sam and I backed up, with the young boys unable to keep up and we hit the flavela party. The flavela's are the areas of Rio where the poor and lower socio communities live, mostly in squaller conditions the people suffer poor health and crime is rife. It is the area where alot of the Rio crime and gangs spring from, the clustered shack cities on the hills. You would stay away from these areas however the tours and parties that visit are arranged with the gangs that run them. So we went along with about 100 other backpackers on the sunday night. We arrived to the massive warehouse club. It was a fun night spent with alot of other travellers (who are hearded into a vip area). Whilst also taking pilgrimages into the locals down below for a dance. The brazillian dance moves are pretty out of control, with alot of the guys taking their shirts off and dancing synchronized like some organised performance, think step it up. We didnt partake in that. The girls however have a pretty fun dacing technique too. Very provocative and dirty, but when half of them turn out to be hookers it is a bit hit and miss depending what you are into. Next day sam and I hit the white sand beach of copacabana again, into the fifa fan zone for another brazil game. This time they had a big win and the brazillians sparked up and danced the afternoon away. We met some cool locals who we enjoined the festivities with. That night at the hostel was more of a blokes night however and we did what I think many other blokes do when drunk in RIo, and saw some more of the locals. 
Learning again that you can have too much of a good thing it was time to move on. We shipped up and caught a rather amusing taxi ride (with the driver as high as a kite), then a boat to Ilha Grande, the island paradise 2-3 hours south of Rio. This island is covered in dense rain forest and flanked by pristine white beaches. There are no cars and bugger all buildings. We stayed in a hostel in the busiest of the bays, which had several accomodation options and a small town. There are alot of boats cruising the island and the clear blue warm water is made for swimming and watersports, with one surf beach on the other side I was looking foward to the next week there. First day we resisted the ocean side party in favour of a night to recover, as there was a boat party organised for the next day....what can you do. So at midday the next day we were on a 2 storey open deck boat with about 80 other travellers watching dolphins under the clear blue skies. Soon the bar tenders were turning out the all you can drink caprihinas and the bbq was being cooked. It was an amazing day full of swimming, diving, snorkling and partying till the sun went down. Unfortunately Thorny had a bit of a bad spill when a back flip went wrong and he ended up re-chipping some repaired teeth and sporting a couple of swollen lips. But cant deny how much of a good day it was, definately one to be remembered. 
The next day we went over to Lopez Mendez the ocean beach on the other side of the island. I caught the boat, a beautiful 40 minute ride on a nice old schooner. The boys decided to walk 3 hours hung over...I was pretty happy with my decision and after a 15 min walk from being dropped off, seeing a couple of monkeys on the way I arrived at the beach. It had the finest sand I had ever seen, squeaking loudly under our feet. I paddled out in the fun surf, the water clear and amazing, the waves small and fun. It was a great relaxing day. That night we ordered 5 of the biggest pizzas I have ever seen, it was man vs food, and way more than we needed the left overs being destroyed in the hostel fridge to the boys dismay. The rest of the time on the island was spent in more relaxation, I unfortunately caught a bit of the flu so I pushed myself into a few naps to try and overcome it. I had one more surf day at Lopez Mendez, probably wasnt the best idea when not feeling the best but it was the last surf I would have for a while. So 6 days after we arrived it was time to get another boat and another bus to Sao Paulo to meet our flight the next day to Germany and bid the english boys farewell as they were off to BA for 10 days.
We made the journey, and had a night and morning in Sao Paulo, I would have liked to have more time there as it looked like a nice city. But it was Time to move on, we had seen the gems of south America, been robbed and met some life long friends had too many hang overs but just as many surfs. It was a action packed 3 months, and the 2 before that were amazing too. We were about to be about half way on our trip, perhaps, we dont know where we go from here. But made sure we were on that flight, frankfurt for two days then london. But First a few facts from our travels so far:
In total we have done
45 hours flying an average of 14 flights 3.5 hours long
234 hours on buses an average of 31 bus trips 7 hours long, the longest being 26 hours
24 hours by car an average of 6 car trips 4 hours long
and 16 hours by train, 4 trips at 4 hours long
So there was a total 319 hours of travel being 13 days 7 Hours and 12 minutes. A long haul in any ones book, this was for a trip that lasted 175 days from Auckland to London, we have visited 13 countries on the way. Staying in around 50 different beds.
SO, we hopped on our plane leaving South America to Europe. The Germany soccer team injecting a bit more excitement into our trip with their performance against argentina, meaning we could watch them play Spain in the semi finals in Frankfurt. The flight was ok, valium made it bareable with a few hours sleep. I watched a movie and a half. I was sitting between a brazillian pilot and the brazillian version of nan and pop, with good battle for the arm rest ensuing  with the old bird, just like it would with Pierriette. But we got there and were surprised by the warmth when arriving to the airport. We caught the train to town and found a hostel, nestled in the bottom of town, between two sex shops. It was a good location, also, because it was a short stroll up the road to the centre of town. We spent the days, walking the streets, checking out the sights, old and new architecture, having a few german beers and of course a brotwurst or two. We hit a few shops continuing to restock our wardrobe also. We thought brazil was expensive, and it was compared to bolivia and peru. But the euro and the pound were going to take a bit of getting used to with the exchange rate going the other way again, will try not to dwell on it though. So we had two sunny days in frankfurt, I was surprised at how late it got dark, twas to be the same in london about 1030pm. In south america we were used to about 6pm. On game day, we had organised to go with a lovely young girl from the hostel and her sister to watch it at frankfurt stadium with about 15,000 other Germans. It was an awesome atmosphere, we had our facepaint on and backing the germans. Unfortunately it wasnt meant to be, they lost and we were with a drunken disgruntled crowd back to the trains. The night could have been very different should they have won. So we got to bed and the next day we had a flight to london at 1030 am. We arrived to a driver holding my name up, no big deal (haha cheers nick). Soon we were in southfields looking at our new home for the next month or so. It was good to see big bro and catch up on everything, with too many stories to tell and alot to catch up on. Hearing his tales from home in Whiti i got a little home sick. However that night we went out to dinner at what was to be an amazing restaurant, Nick definately welcoming us to London in style. We kinda blobbed out the first few days as we had been on the go for so long and it was nice to throw the anchor down and sit on the couch and watch a few movies. We did catch up with Horse and my cousin Simon for a saturday night out in London. Hitting the pubs in Covent garden and then the walkabout it was a very funny night. 
We were pretty overwhelmed at the contrast from South America to europe, used to seeing Flavela type settlements and poor 3rd world type settlements surrounding cities, here we were seeing BMW's, Mercedes, ferraris and Lamboughinis whilst seeing some of the flashest hotels and apartments in the world. Something tells us we will  be needing to update our wardrobe more still for this change and find some more money in the near future. It was a huge change to get used to. We had days of sun at riverside cafes, at the park and at BBQ's for our first 4 or so days, London in all its glory I imagine. Yesterday we paid the £25 and did the bus tour, after days of sun we managed to chose a dreary rainy cloudy day for the tour. However we had enough visibility to see all the sights, big ben, the abby, tour of london, buckingham palace...all the usual stuff. It is all very fascinating, the tour informative on all the history. However much like classics and history at school my attention span isnt the best with these sorts of things so after the highlights and the facts we found ourselves ditching the tour for a pub lunch. What can I say. We ticked all the boxes though, realising were were actually pretty close to it all in the dark on saturday night. I am usually good with my bearings, but strugging to get them in the monster that is London. Everything is so spread out and you travel by tube so you often dont see where you are heading, there are bugger all hills or land marks aswell so that also makes it difficult. However with the bus trip and a few maps I am getting a rough idea. 
So where to from here...it looks like we will stay here annoy nick and take in a bit of London for the next few weeks. My birthday coming up this saturday (incase you forgot), so we will be organising a night out for that. But the next step is look for some work on boats in the med, we have no visa for London so are limited here. We will however try to get a good idea of London though as it wouldnt be too hard to whip home to get a visa if we wanted to. There are also alot of people we know in london so we want to catch up and spend time with them also. Inevitably we will probably head france and spain way in August maybe for a surf trip then on to get in the super yacht game. Till then we need to get off the couch and see a bit of the UK also.
So there it is, we are now half way, we have had an amazing time and still have so much more ahead of us. I look foward to catching up with those of you who are Europe bound as I know there are a few planning trips. For the rest, I will keep you up to date on our Euro trip as it progresses. 
Till then....
Love Ace xx

Tags: brazil, london, uk

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