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WT09 your two favourite gap-yearers make their way around the world armed only with a sense of adventure and a photocopied lonely planet guide to the mekong. wish us luck!

sunburn, capirhinias and statewide blackouts in BRAZIL

BRAZIL | Monday, 30 November 2009 | Views [2153] | Comments [1]

we were a bit torn about leaving europe, mostly because south america represented the final and shortest third of our trip (i realise that's not very mathematical but you know what i mean), so we set off from heathrow on the first sunday in november with that nasty sense of fun soon coming to an end.

 although, as vivienne rightly pointed out we still had 'six weeks in the most good-looking continent on earth' between us and our return to the real world.

and, as ever, vivienne was completely right.

our wishes were granted as we stepped off the plane in rio de janeiro to find it was about 20C warmer and that if the airport staff were anything to go by, the locals were indeed rather attractive.

we spent a great three days in rio- the motto on the brazilian flag is 'ordem et progresso', but it quickly became clear that neither order nor progress are considered to be of great importance in ipanema or copacabana- had 'skimpy clothes, attractive people and very loud samba music, preferably all at once' been the slogan across the flag, we would have had a much better idea of what we were in for.

we never managed to make it to the top of christ the redeemer (an activity known as 'climbing jesus' amongst the backpacker crowd), but we spent a few great afternoons on the beach (ipanema is apparently the new copacabana, for those in the know), organised our trip to the amazon for the next week (more on that in a sec), had a hilarious night out in leblon on the eve of a blackout affecting the entire state of rio (circa 100 million people, was a lot more impressive than a few lights out in 2065) and went on a really interesting tour of a couple of rio's favelas, or slums.

20% of rio's population live in these slums, although the situation is brushed under the carpet by the brazilian government- the favelas are run by drug cartels, so it's either do as they say or else, illustrated by the life expectancy of favela men being barely 30 years old.

the day before our favela tour we had seen madonna (the one and only) stepping out of a snazzy hotel and into a car (not much of a challenge given the hundreds of paparazzi around), apparently in rio on a crusade to improve the favela situation. perhaps considering that a night in her hotel is about what a favela inhabitant makes in 6 months might be a good place to start?

not quite finished with rio but feeling the thumb of time pressing on our shoulders, we then headed down the coast to a gorgeous little town called paraty, where we stayed in one of the best hostels of our trip (misti chill, if you're headed to the south coast of brazil any time soon) and had a really relaxing few days on the beach, at some gorgeous waterfalls and on a beautiful boat trip, the time we'd spent on the beach in rio having really taken it out of us.

so, to be honest, our paraty trip basically involved sun, sand, sunburn on an otherwise fantastic boat trip and many delicious capirhinias, a run-and-lime drink that brazil is apparently famous for (if it wasn't then it is now!). nice.

then, having agreed that despite the effort and expense, we really wanted to make it to the amazon rainforest before it's all turned into car tyres and cigarette papers, we headed back up to rio to catch a plane up to manaus, literally in the very heart of the amazon rainforest.

manaus is, to say the least, a pretty crap town, but after tracking down some malaria drugs (we're pretty sure that's what they were, the instructions were in portuguese but we're both still alive and don't appear to have malaria) and spending most of our day there in bed, we were ready to hit the jungle.

we did a really great 4-day, 3-night tour out of a lodge some 4 hours out of manaus (by taxi, boat, bus and boat), from where we saw and did all manner of cool things- went pirhana fishing, patted tarantulas, held a sloth and a baby cayman (a type of alligator) and swam with pink river dolphins!

our guide ruben was easily one of the most amazing and interesting people we have ever met- he was this funny little brazilian guy originally from a village 14 days' journey into the amazon (made 4 hours seem pretty tame!). we could never quite tell if he was joking or not, and so when on a trek through the jungle he spotted a huge snake high up in a tree and we jokingly suggested he go up and catch it for us, we were completely awestruck when he kicked off his thongs and came back down the tree 10 minutes later with a 2.5m boa constrictor wrapped around his arm!

we also spent a night camping in the jungle, which was great because we were out in hammocks (actually quite comfy) and could hear all the howler monkeys in the morning! we also went swimming in a kind of sludgy lake but quickly jumped back in the boat when ruben saw a cayman nearby- by his accounts it was 'medium sized' but he also described the snake as 'a baby' so we weren't taking any chances!

the flights to and from the amazon made it a pretty expensive week, but v and i agreed it's impossible to put a price on holding wild animals in a jungle that might not be there for our kids to see.

somewhat illogically (you should have established by now that logic is not our forte) we then flew back to rio, where we spent a couple more lovely sunny days and counted the fat women in g-string bikinis (worryingly, we quickly lost count) before flying via sao paolo and lima to cusco, peru.

but that's one for vivienne to tell.

much love.

Tags: blackouts, boa constrictors, climbing jesus, madonna, most good-looking continent, paraty, the amazon



Hey vivienne_and_iona,

We love following your adventures, so we've decided to feature your blog this week so that others can enjoy it too.

Happy Travels!

World Nomads

  World Nomads Dec 9, 2009 3:37 AM

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