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World Adventures- Africa, the UK and South America

Brazil

BRAZIL | Sunday, 14 February 2010 | Views [520]

13.02.2010

I arrived in San Paolo at about 7am with the expectation that I could arrange a cab to my hotel and spend the day looking around town, what I did not realise however, is that Rio De Janeiro is over a 10hr drive from San Paolo. I learnt this from the lady working behind the taxi desk when I showed her the address that I wanted to be taken to. She typed the address into her computer system and showed me the price of the trip in Real, which equated to more than £350. I then went to the bus booking center at the airport to enquire about catching a bus into Rio, but no one there could speak a word of English. I showed the lady the address that I was trying to get to, and I managed to understand from her that I would need to catch a bus from the airport to another location when I could then arrange a bus to Rio. Had I not been traveling alone with more gear than I could reasonably carry I may have considered this option. But given that it was Carnival- Brazil’s busiest time of the year, and that it is rare to find someone that can speak English to help me with the bookings, I decided to arrange a flight if there was one available. I could only find one flight booking center at the airport, and it was for a specific airline, so I went into there and with the help of goggle translate managed to get a flight booked for that afternoon, costing about £340. There was a Brazilian guy in the booking center when I was booking the flight, who turned out to be my Knight in shining armor. His English was limited, but he understood most of what I was saying if I spoke slowly. He managed to explain to me that I would need to buy a bus ticket to another airport in order to catch my plane, as no one flew from the airport that I was at into Rio. He then helped me with my gear down stairs to the bus booking lounge and not only helped me book the bus I needed, but when I could only hand over a $R100 note, he actually gave the booking clerk some coins to help with change, paying for part of my ticket. Following this he helped me find my way to the bus bay, and waited with me until I was safely on the bus. He was so lovely to me, I really wish that I had given him my email address so that I could one day return the favor if he makes it to Australia.

At the airport I had about a 2hour wait before I could check in, and then the flight was delayed another hour, so I spent a lot of my day in the airport. The flight was ok, I scored a window seat and was able to get a fantastic view flying from San Paolo into Rio. It was great to be able to appreciate the landscape from the air, we flew over a lot of rivers and dense forrest, and then over the city, with a view of the famous Christ Statue and Sugar Loaf Mountain. I was surprised at how small the Christ Statue was compared to my expectations, I imagined it to rival the tv towers on Mt. Dandenong- on a massive mountain towering over Rio. I also thought that you had the option of hiking to the top of the mountain or catching a cable cart, but you are driven to a point where you can either get the elevator to the top or walk 220 steps to the top.

My tour company advised me to prepay for a Taxi from inside the airport, saying this was the safest way to get to the hotel and avoid being ripped off. So after landing I collected my luggage and went to the taxi desk. Here there was no problem speaking English, and they explained that I could not pre-pay for a taxi as advised, but would need to just get one from outside the airport. So I joined the que waiting for a taxi, the address of the hotel in my hand. When I got to the front of the que and the lady sorting people into taxis asked where I was going I showed her and she gave my luggage to a driver and spoke to him in Portugese. He was clearly not very happy at all by what she said, and she showed him the address that I had in my hands. I get the impression that it was swear words that followed, but since I have never even heard Portugese before im not positive. Anyway, his body langue spoke volumes of ‘NOT HAPPY JAN’, and I was a little unsure if I should actually get in the cab with him. He put my pack in the boot and ushered me into the cab, and then started driving.

The driving style in Brazil seems to be that of a mentality where everyone thinks they are a race car driver, speeding off as quickly as the car allows, and breaking for red lights at the very last possible moment. It is not a smooth ride at all !  Anyway, turns out that the taxi driver could speak English, so he explained that the area that he was going to be driving me into was partially closed off due to street parades, and it was difficult to get to. He then explained that he would be taking back streets to get there. I made some small chit chat with him, but mostly I was looking out the window at all the people passed out on the streets, or walking round half naked trying to hail a cab. The taxi driver locked the doors and im glad that he did, because every time we stopped we would be approached by about 10 people wanting to get inside the cab, until they finally noticed me in the back and he told them he was occupied.

I got to the hotel and checked in without any dramas, got my bags up into my room and relaxed for a few hours before venturing out to get some water and food. The water was not too much of a problem, but when I went to order some food everything was written in Spanish- and it all felt like too much effort at that point in time. I then went back to the hotel and ordered some room service- which was not expensive when compared to food back home- but more than it was worth locally. It did the trick, and I had a fairly early night, being in bed by about 8.30pm.

All throughout the night street parades passed outside the bedroom window- loud music, dancing and lots of cheering at appropriate times with the songs. If I had of had more energy I would have dressed and gone down to street level to watch the action, but as it was I struggled to stay awake for 5mins at the bedroom window looking down at the street.

14.02.2010

Eilish, my room/ tent  mate, arrived at about 10.30am today. She is from northern London, and has quite a thick accent. Its not a problem to understand her, but some of the terms she uses I am not familiar with, i.e. Gimel / snicket to refer to an alleyway.

Although Eilish had just got off a flight, she was happy to venture outside the hotel with me and have a good wander around town. The hotel where we were staying was in Lapa- which is really not the best part of town, according to a number of web sites that I had read prior to the trip. It was good to get outside- but the temperature was a shock after being in London for the last 11 weeks. It was hot- not a cloud in the sky, and a little more humid than I am used to. We stumbled across a street parade while out and about- and decided to watch it from the second floor of McDonald, as that was the best place to stay out of the crowd and fully appreciate the costumes that people were wearing. There were a number of men dressed as female characters- like little red ridding hood, and a number of people in elaborate feathered hats. My favorite costume from this parade however, was a guy in his 20s wearing nothing but a sign front and back saying ‘censored’.... it made me laugh.

I bought some McDonald for lunch- hoping to get some chicken nuggets,. But they don’t seem to do them in South America, so a burger and fries it was. Its funny what you will eat overseas but not at home, I never choose to eat McDonald back home when there is another option at hand.
After getting back from our walk we spent some time up at the pool and meet some other people booked with Oasis, both finishing and beginning their trip. Then it was time to get ready for an all nighter for the ‘Sambadrome’, which is the biggest carnival parade in South America- one might say ‘The Parade’. This is because over two nights the best Samba schools in the country put the show they have been working on for the past year- which includes dancing, elaborate costumes and floats, all to a specific theme. Each school spends a phenomenal amount of money in both float and costume construction, all for their 1hr performance down the sambadrome strip.

We all meet in the lobby to head off to sambadrom at 6pm, with people both finishing and beginning their Oasis trip in the group. In total there would have been 50+ people altogether. Along the way we passed people selling cushions to sit on, and I should have bought one- as our seats were nothing more than a concrete stand. We got there at about 6.30pm, and the first parade did not start until after 9pm. Due to the location of our seats, being right near the finish of the parade, and quite set back in the stand, we had to wait 45mins of a performance before we saw our first performer, and then had about 15mins of viewing as they slowly made their way to the end. If I am ever in Rio again for Carnival I will spend the money on better tickets. From our seats we could see that there were people in costume in the parade but we could not appreciate the detail of the costume- and that is one thing that I am disappointed about.

The parade went until 6am, with 6 dance schools preforming. I stayed for the first 4 dance schools, with the 1st and 3rd being the best- with the 3rd being my hands down favorite. Im not sure the name of the dance school, but their theme was magic. Each float was carefully planned- the first being a magic act where the dancers changed their dresses 4 times during different illusions, it was so quickly done that it just looked amazing. They also had a float with Michael Jackson appearing out of an alien pod- doing a dance and then returning to his alien craft- it was very cleaver and funny. I have photos of a few of these floats, and this dance troop was the overall winner of all the schools preforming. It was about 4.30am by the time we got back to the hotel, and I was well and truly falling asleep.

16.02.2010

Today I booked onto some local tours- covering the statue of Christ, Sugar Loaf Mountain, the Cathedral and going inside one of the Favellas (slums).    The statue of Christ was much smaller than I expected, and I was also under the impression that there was a hike to get to the base of it. Instead you get dropped off at a point where you need to buy your ticket, and then another car takes you up to the base of 220 steps that lead to the statue. When you get to the base it is absolutely packed with tourists, in fact I don’t think it would ever be possible to get a photo of just you and the statue alone. I think that I prefer my idea of what the statue would be like to the reality of what we saw.

Sugar Loaf mountain was beautiful, again very touristy though. You catch a cable cart across three different rocks to the end point, and it provides you with an excellent view of the bay and surrounding mountains.

The journey into the Favella was intense, as I had to get onto the back of a motor bike for a 15min ride uphill. I don’t feel comfortable on the back of a bike since nearly having an accident when I was on the back on my uncles bike in Perth a number of years ago. Fortunately, I was able to just hang on, grit my teeth and bare it. I think if I had known it was required previously I would have reconsidered doing the activity. My driver undertook trucks going around sharp bends, and drove on the wrong side of the road going around blind corners, it was very scarey, scariest thing that I have done in a very long time in fact. The tour itself          









13.02.2010

I arrived in San Paolo at about 7am with the expectation that I could arrange a cab to my hotel and spend the day looking around town, what I did not realise however, is that Rio De Janeiro is over a 10hr drive from San Paolo. I learnt this from the lady working behind the taxi desk when I showed her the address that I wanted to be taken to. She typed the address into her computer system and showed me the price of the trip in Real, which equated to more than £350. I then went to the bus booking center at the airport to enquire about catching a bus into Rio, but no one there could speak a word of English. I showed the lady the address that I was trying to get to, and I managed to understand from her that I would need to catch a bus from the airport to another location when I could then arrange a bus to Rio. Had I not been traveling alone with more gear than I could reasonably carry I may have considered this option. But given that it was Carnival- Brazil’s busiest time of the year, and that it is rare to find someone that can speak English to help me with the bookings, I decided to arrange a flight if there was one available. I could only find one flight booking center at the airport, and it was for a specific airline, so I went into there and with the help of goggle translate managed to get a flight booked for that afternoon, costing about £340. There was a Brazilian guy in the booking center when I was booking the flight, who turned out to be my knight in shining armor. His English was limited, but he understood most of what I was saying if I spoke slowly. He managed to explain to me that I would need to buy a bus ticket to another airport in order to catch my plane, as no one flew from the airport that I was at into Rio. He then helped me with my gear down stairs to the bus booking lounge and not only helped me book the bus I needed, but when I could only hand over a $R100 note, he actually gave the booking clerk some coins to help with change, paying for part of my ticket. Following this he helped me find my way to the bus bay, and waited with me until I was safely on the bus. He was so lovely to me, I really wish that I had given him my email address so that I could one day return the favor if he makes it to Australia.

At the airport I had about a 2hour wait before I could check in, and then the flight was delayed another hour, so I spent a lot of my day in the airport. The flight was ok, I scored a window seat and was able to get a fantastic view flying from San Paolo into Rio. It was great to be able to appreciate the landscape from the air, we flew over a lot of rivers and dense forrest, and then over the city, with a view of the famous Christ Statue and Sugar Loaf Mountain. I was surprised at how small the Christ Statue was compared to my expectations, I imagined it to rival the tv towers on Mt. Dandenong- on a massive mountain towering over Rio. I also thought that you had the option of hiking to the top of the mountain or catching a cable cart, but you are driven to a point where you can either get the elevator to the top or walk 220 steps to the top.

My tour company advised me to prepay for a Taxi from inside the airport, saying this was the safest way to get to the hotel and avoid being ripped off. So after landing I collected my luggage and went to the taxi desk. Here there was no problem speaking English, and they explained that I could not pre-pay for a taxi as advised, but would need to just get one from outside the airport. So I joined the que waiting for a taxi, the address of the hotel in my hand. When I got to the front of the que and the lady sorting people into taxis asked where I was going I showed her and she gave my luggage to a driver and spoke to him in Portugese. He was clearly not very happy at all by what she said, and she showed him the address that I had in my hands. I get the impression that it was swear words that followed, but since I have never even heard portugese before im not positive. Anyway, his body langue spoke volumes of ‘NOT HAPPY JAN’, and I was a little unsure if I should actually get in the cab with him. He put my pack in the boot and ushered me into the cab, and then started driving.

The driving style in Brazil seems to be that of a mentality where everyone thinks they are a race car driver, speeding off as quickly as the car allows, and breaking for red lights at the very last possible moment. It is not a smooth ride at all !  Anyway, turns out that the taxi driver could speak English, so he explained that the area that he was going to be driving me into was partially closed off due to street parades, and it was difficult to get to. He then explained that he would be taking back streets to get there. I made some small chit chat with him, but mostly I was looking out the window at all the people passed out on the streets, or walking round half naked trying to hail a cab. The taxi driver locked the doors and im glad that he did, because every time we stopped we would be approached by about 10 people wanting to get inside the cab, until they finally noticed me in the back and he told them he was occupied.

I got to the hotel and checked in without any dramas, got my bags up into my room and relaxed for a few hours before venturing out to get some water and food. The water was not too much of a problem, but when I went to order some food everything was written in Portugese- and it all felt like too much effort at that point in time. I then went back to the hotel and ordered some room service- which was not expensive when compared to food back home- but more than it was worth locally. It did the trick, and I had a fairly early night, being in bed by about 8.30pm.

All throughout the night street parades passed outside the bedroom window- loud music, dancing and lots of cheering at appropriate times with the songs. If I had of had more energy I would have dressed and gone down to street level to watch the action, but as it was I struggled to stay awake for 5mins at the bedroom window looking down at the street.

14.02.2010

Eilish, my room/ tent  mate, arrived at about 10.30am today. She is from northern London, and has quite a thick accent. Its not a problem to understand her, but some of the terms she uses I am not familiar with, i.e. Gimel / snicket to refer to an alleyway.

Although Eilish had just got off a flight, she was happy to venture outside the hotel with me and have a good wander around town. The hotel where we were staying was in Lapa- which is really not the best part of town, according to a number of web sites that I had read prior to the trip. It was good to get outside- but the temperature was a shock after being in London for the last 11 weeks. It was hot- not a cloud in the sky, and a little more humid than I am used to. We stumbled across a street parade while out and about- and decided to watch it from the second floor of McDonald, as that was the best place to stay out of the crowd and fully appreciate the costumes that people were wearing. There were a number of men dressed as female characters- like little red ridding hood, and a number of people in elaborate feathered hats. My favorite costume from this parade however, was a guy in his 20s wearing nothing but a sign front and back saying ‘censored’.... it made me laugh.

I bought some McDonald for lunch- hoping to get some chicken nuggets, but they don’t seem to do them in South America, so a burger and fries it was. Its funny what you will eat overseas but not at home, I never choose to eat McDonald back home when there is another option at hand.
After getting back from our walk we spent some time up at the pool and meet some other people booked with Oasis, both finishing and beginning their trip. Then it was time to get ready for an all nighter for the ‘Sambadrome’, which is the biggest carnival parade in South America- one might say ‘The Parade’. This is because over two nights the best Samba schools in the country put the show they have been working on for the past year- which includes dancing, elaborate costumes and floats, all to a specific theme. Each school spends a phenomenal amount of money in both float and costume construction, all for their 1hr performance down the sambadrome strip.

We all meet in the loby to head off to sambadrom at 6pm, with people both finishing and beginning their Oasis trip in the group. In total there would have been 50+ people altogether. Along the way we passed people selling cushions to sit on, and I should have bought one- as our seats were nothig more than a concerete stand. We got there at about 6.30pm, and the first parade did not start until after 9pm. Due to the location of our seats, being right near the finish of the parade, and quite set back in the stand, we had to wait 45mins of a preformance before we saw our first performer, and then had about 15mins of viewing as they slowly made their way to the end. If I am ever in Rio again for Carnival I will spend the money on better tickets. From our seats we could see that there were people in costume in the parade but we could not appreciate the detail of the costume- and that is one thing that I am disappointed about.

The parade went until 6am, with 6 dance schools preforming. I stayed for the first 4 dance schools, with the 1st and 3rd being the best- with the 3rd being my hands down favoutite. Im not sure the name of the dance school, but their theme was magic. Each float was carefully planned- the first being a magic act where the dancers changed their dresses 4 times during different illusions, it was so quickly done that it just looked amazing. They also had a flot with Michael Jackson appearing out of an alien pod- doing a dance and then returning to his alien craft- it was very cleaver and funny. I have photos of a few of these floats, and this dance troop was the overall winner of all the schools preforming. It was about 4.30am by the time we got back to the hotel, and I was well and truly falling asleep.

16th Feb 2010

Today was a tourist day for tourist things. I booked two activities for the day. The first was a Favella Tour- which is basically a tour of a slum. If you have seen the movie 'City of God', that gives a very good impression of what it is like- since it was filmed within a Rio favella. Our guide picked us up from the hotel at 9am, and then after collecting a dozen or so others we made out way to the base of the largest Favella in all of South America (or so the guide said, I think he may have just meant in all of Rio)- known as Rocinha and controlled by the 'The Friends of Friends' drug lords.

The quickest way to get to the top of the Favella is on motorbike, and I really wish someone had told me that I would need to sit on the back of a bike before we left. I have quite a fear of being on the back of a bike after almost causing my uncle to crash when he gave me a ride around Perth. I have a complete inability to lean into corners, and end up upsetting the drivers balance. Anyway- so when it came to my turn I jumped on and held onto the driver around the waist- possibly a bit to close from his point of view given how hot it was and the fact that he had no doubt been running trips up and down the mountain for the last 4hours in full sun.

The next 10mins or so were the scariest of my life for a very long time, not only was I paranoid that I would make us come off around a corner, but I had a kamikaze driver who decided it would be fine to undertake trucks around hair pin turns, overtake cars around blind corners into oncoming buses, and generally drive to fast for my sense of well being. When I got to the top and jumped off the bike, the others in the group were all discussing their own brushes with death as we waited for the guide to come up on the last bike.

We were briefed that we can not take photos willynilly in case we capture the wrong person and to stay in a single file when walking through the passages as there is only room for two people shoulder width and we need to able to let the locals pass us.

Our first stop was the roof of a 3 floor home to get a view of the Favella from the top, which was absolutely amazing- so many houses all crammed ontop of one another, in such a steep area. See the photos I took overlooking the area. The guide said that a number of people are killed each year due to mud slides and building collapse, but they have no where else to go or build, so they just keep rebuilding in the same places, or trying even more unstable ground.

The next stop was a gallery with some local art, which was great, but too expensive for my backpacking budget. This was then followed by a bakery, where I bought a piece of passion fruit cake- dry but nice, and a long walk back to the entrance point on the street below where we first got on the bikes.

The order within the Favella is maintained by the dominant drug dealers, and there is next to no daily crime due to their rules. There were police cars stationed near the entrance when we arrived, but this looks like a standard daily practice, and im told they try to catch people with drugs outside the favella based on information they receive from informants. Our guide told us that for the police to go inside, which happens every 3months or so, they arrive in head to toe bullet proof attire, bullet proof helicopter flying overtop, in no less than 6000 strong. Apparently 5 drug lords were shot dead in the last raid and a HUGE amount of dope was confiscated.

Kites were once used within the favella to signal different things (I was at the back of the group and missed exactly what he said about them), and fire works are set off to signal the arrival of the police.

In all if you come to Rio I would defiantly recommend doing this tour, its very interesting, and provides some income to the poorest of poor in Rio.

The second tour was the city tour- covering the statue of Christ, Sugar Loaf Mountain, and the Cathedral.    The statue of Christ was much smaller than I expected, and I was also under the impression that there was a hike to get to the base of it. Instead you get dropped off at a point where you need to buy your ticket, and then another car takes you up to the base of 220 steps that lead to the statue. When you get to the base it is absolutely packed with tourists, in fact I don’t think it would ever be possible to get a photo of just you and the statue alone. I think that I prefer my idea of what the statue would be like to the reality of what we saw.

Sugar Loaf mountain was beautiful, again very touristy though. You catch a cable cart across three different rocks to the end point, and it provides you with an excellent view of the bay and surrounding mountains.


17th Feb

Today I went to Copacabanna and ipanemia beach- both fairly busy. I was dressed in my bathers but really did not intent to go for a swim, however it was quite warm and one of the girls talked me into a quick dip. The water at copacabanna was greenish and not that clear, in fact there was a bit of trash floating on the top. Ignoring this, the water was very cold, and there was a lot of power behind the surf. I did enjoy the swim, it was nice to cool down. On the beach you can rent beach umbrellas, seats and various other things. I bought a sarong with the Brazilian flag as its print to sit on under one of the umbrellas. We left the beach to go for a wander through the shopping district, and then stopped for lunch at a buffet- where you pay for you food by the weight of the plate. Its an interesting idea, the more you eat the more you pay- i guess it works well for light eaters.

At about 4pm after wandering around with Eilish,  we were headed back to the hotel, no more than a block away, when I noticed a young guy seated with his mates, stand up and walk across the street towards us. He put his hand up under his t-shirt and started to walk and then run across to us. He then proceeded to put on his best ‘mean mugger face’ and demand our money and bags. I think he was about 14 yrs old, but Eilish thinks 12, anyway, as Eilish puts it, I countered the situation with some ‘ginger rage’. I took about 3 steeps forward and screamed at the top of my lungs to ‘f**k off and try it on someone else’, and also gave my best impression of a ‘im going to f**k you up if you get in my way for a moment longer’ body stance. Well- my reaction did the trick, cas this kid jumped a mile, and then ran off back to his mates, who were all wetting themselves laughing. I think I took Eilish a bit by surprise at the time too, as she was dead quite until we got to the next intersection.


The evening was taken up with a Soccer game, which was an amazing experience. It was a semi final, with the champion team for the last 3 years playing another club. I have never felt that sort of atmosphere before, it was electric. Fans had HUGE flags, larger than the size of a mini van, that they had on huge pieces of bamboo- flying high over their heads. There was also a number of flares released each time a goal was scored. Unfortunately the winning team for the last few years lost the match, and there were tears all around us and fans clearly heart broken. Im really glad that I got to experience it.



18th Feb join the OASIS trip
Today we got our gear loaded on the truck, its similar but different to the African truck. The largest difference is that there is not a ‘beach’ at the front of the truck to lie down on and fall asleep on during the long drive days. I was a big fan of the beach in Africa- and managed to get a lot of sleep up there when we had 5am starts. It was also a great place to sit to get photos and to play games. This truck, known as ‘Felicity Love handles’, has a lot more quirks. The windows at the front are tinted- which means that if you have the window open, to see outside next to you you have to really turn your neck- its very uncomfortable. There is also a broken seat at the back of the truck- which causes you to sink a little further into the storage area under the cover.

This first day was a drive to a place called Paraty, and our first night camping. The tents are exactly the same as in Africa- but they have to be rolled differently to fit inside the locker in the truck. It appears that there is a lot less storage space on this truck compared to the African truck.
                       
Paraty is a cute little tourist town, cobble stone streets, lots of tourist shops with brightly colored merchandise in the windows. The town is only a brief walk from where we camp, with the camp grounds themselves overlooking the ocean.

19.02.2010

Boat ride today- to see all the different beaches around Paraty. Went swimming with the fish, saw a turtle, and had a very nice lunch of fish off the boat. The weather turned cold and the rain moved in after our second stop,  we only ended up visiting 4 of the 5 beach stops but this was enough given the weather.

20 - 21 Feb

Two nights bush camping on the way to the Pantanal. We stopped at Servo stations, which was great because they had showers and toilet facilities. Its bizarre here, you don’t flush your toilet paper anywhere in South America, instead you place it in the bin next to the toilet. Apparently the sewerage system just can not handle it.    

At the first camp there was a tree with over a 1000 birds in it, I actually thought there was running water somewhere because they were so loud. It was amazing, I have never seen anything like it. They were the size of a finch, and every so often would swarm into the sky and then back onto the tree.

The next servo stop had a hotel next to it, and so a number of couples from the truck upgraded themselves into a bed for the evening.

22-24 Feb

The Pantanal is like a giant river system with small bits of land dispersed within it. It is full of wildlife, and utilized for farming by the locals in the higher areas. We stayed on a farm and went horse ridding, piranha fishing, tubing, boat wildlife watching, and for a wildlife walk/ night drive.

It was a really lovely farm and I really enjoyed our time there. The mozzies were crazy, and lots of people were eaten alive, especially the people that got stupid drunk and passed out on the grass overnight.

26th Feb.... Bonito

I booked onto the snorkeling trip and it was absolutely amazing!!  It was a natural river system filled with 1000's of fish. We were provided with wet suits and told that we could not wear sun screen or insect repellant as it would pollute the river. It was not a very sunny day fortunately, but I still wore cotton pants over the wet suit to protect my legs from the sun.

The fish were not afraid of us, and the smaller ones kept nibbling on my lips. It was very off putting having them that close to my face, and I did not like how it felt having them nibble on me. It was amazing to see the variety of fish in the river, small to massive. The water was just so clear, and there were fresh water geysers coming up from the river bed causing strange bubbling’s  in the sand.

At one point the guide stopped us, and we watched as a camen (like a croc) sit on the edge of the river bank, no more than 2 meters from us, trying to catch a monkey playing in the trees above. It was a surreal experience, and I really wish that I had an underwater camera to capture the beauty of what I experienced.


27.02.2010

Today has been somewhat of a disappointing day, with nothing going right. First there was my laptop, which I knew was low in battery and got out to charge, only for me to turn it on and it to read ‘fatal system error......reload windows’. As I did not have a windows cd with me (my notebook does not even have a dvd drive), I had to reset it to factory settings to get it working.
Now this did not concern me too much as 3 days prior- I had backed up all my photos and data on my WD passport external hard drive. Unfortunately, for what ever reason, the photos from South America and all the video footage I have to date has not backed up- meaning the only evidence I have of seeing the things I have seen, and doing the things I have done in the past 2 weeks, is in reduced quality on facebook- or lost forever.        

The second thing from today is the 72m absail into a cave with snorkeling in the river at the bottom, that was booked but did not eventuate. It had been a massive drama the evening before just to get a space on the tour, with Dan and I waiting over 2hours at the training venue to find out if we could do the pre trip assessment. Finally, after a few other people were told that they could not do the trip after failing the assessment, Dan and I got the opportunity to try out, and we both passed. We then had to sign some forms, and were told that we would be collected from the hostel at 10.50am. Dan and I waited outside reception for 25mins before we decided to ask the hostel to call them and find out where they were. The hostel then told us that there was no car coming for us, but for $R100 we could get a cab there and back, and we would be going through the cave system after the groups. This is not what Dan had in mind when he booked, so he said that he was no longer going to go, and he thought the taxi was too expensive when we should have been picked up with the group for $R20. Since I could not afford the taxi fair alone, I told reception I would have to cancel- to which they said we would have to pay anyway due to the waiting list. This I was not happy about, especially since I was one of the names on the waiting list and no one else on that list had waited 2hrs at the pre-assessment point to find out if they could go. After much discussion to and fro the hostel reception cancelled the tour with no cost to us, and we walked away at least with our cash.

The rest of the group was meant to be out snorkeling, but due to heavy rains the night before it was cancelled. So instead of wasting the day they rebooked onto a tour of the local waterfalls. I was one of the few that did not do this, instead went into town alone to find the post office and look around the shops. The downfall of the group im traveling with is that there are only 4 independent travelers (myself included) out of 23 people. This means that people make plans with their partners and go off and do things independently- meaning that basically im left to do things on my own- which is exactly why I wanted to book on a group tour in the first place, so I WOULD have someone to do these things with.

1st March.. Foz

Igazu Falls & a Dance Show

2nd March

The Hydro Dam & Paraguay for electrical shopping

Tags: carnival

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