We're Never Coming Back

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Day 75 - Rio Gay Pride

brasil So, Rio Carnival would have been amazing. But, leaving england in May meant it was never gonna happen. So, picture me, lying on my dorm top bunk, flicking through the rio guide, when I happen to spot that its RIO GAY PRIDE this very weekend! Love it!

After attempting to round up most of the hostal, but failing, Sam and I headed down to the beach where about 10 floats, decked in rainbow flags, rainbow balloons and rainbow gays, pumped out the loudest house music they could muster. It started pretty quiet on the people front, but by the time we had sunk a couple of beers, wandered around a bit and sam had been to the toilet 3 times, it was heaving.

2 more toilet stops later, we stood and listened to some speeches (in portuguese luckily) then ran off to the toilet blocks again so sam could empty her bladder. again. And on our return, the floats had started moving.

Trannies everywhere, gays everywhere, people EVERYWHERE. I bought myself a rainbow bracelet to show my support, and we followed the vans, sinking caipirinas along the way until the rain came. In buckets. It was a killer, cos the place had a real electric atmosphere. But when you are soaked to the skin, the only place to go is home, so we headed off, had a kip, then planned our route to Le Boy nightclub.

Now, the night was a bit messy. 2 hours in and Sam was too drunk to enjoy herself, so I popped her in a cab and sent her home. and as I returned from the cab, Kelly was suddenly too wasted to move, so I sat with her for 30 minutes before popping her in a cab and sending her home. So on my own with no friends in Rio, I spent a couple of hours dancing and chatting to locals before heading home myself. Not the standard fare for Gay Pride After-Parties, but good fun all the same. Home to bed at 6am, dreaming of a sunny Rio and a day on the beach....if the clouds would ever clear.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Day 74 - Rocinha

brasil After a lazy day soaking our hangovers in the slighty-overcast sun (COME ON, its supposed to be scorching here!), we decided to catch the favela tour here for 15 quid. Sam, as usual, was properly nervous - this time not because the favela kids carry guns, but because we had to ride on the back of a motorbike for 2 minutes - and I was generally quite interested, since we studied this stuff in geography about 10 years ago.

So, after dismounting at the foot of the hillside whilst holds the concrete estate of Rocinha, we had to jump on the bikes and head up to the entrance. Sam got left behind because the guide had told her driver to drive SLOW, but we all bombed up this steep hill, clipping vans as we passed them, narrowly avoiding dogs and kids, and almost losing our exhaust near the top. But we made it, and despite worrying about sam's lack of attendance for at least 4 minutes, she showed, and we started the walking tour back to the base of the hill.

The favela is pretty special. No streets for cars, just alley-ways 5-foot wide criss-crossing the whole place. As we entered, some old, fat woman selling churros grabbed me and kissed me about 40 times, much to the amusement of the surrounding favela people, but we pressed on.

The whole tour has been kinda bigged up by the promoter - advising us not to take photos of people with guns. And at the time, when we saw our first kid with a machine gun, it was pretty scary and intimidating. Whilst the others don't believe, I think it could have been staged. Not because I'm cynical that guns are around here - its pretty clear that they are from the lack of police and the "community" that solves its own problems. But it did seem a bit unrealistic. That said, we didn't take photos, nor look the guys in the face when they passed us.

That said, we visited a grafitti shop and grabbed a view of the whole estate. Its pretty awesome. The guys here don't pay any taxes, so they get free electricity, free telephone and internet. In their tiny concrete houses they generally have a television set (often widescreen) per room, a decent stereo, nice furnishing and good electrics. This place isn't poor and unhappy and backward - they just have a bad sewerage system because they don't pay the council.

Its shocking, all the same. Rubbish lines the streets everywhere. The streets smell of sewerage, because the sewerage is running down the streets. But the kids are happy, and loved having their photo taken. The people look busy and content. The inside of the houses are kitted out and the place is, apparently, pretty safe for locals. And transvestites are respected in the community, WHOO HOO!

It was interesting, and kinda shut me up for a good hour afterwards. But in hindsight, there's not so much to pity. Its not the way of life I would choose, but those guys seem to be getting on with it just fine.

Later that night, a few of us decided to head out to a club that was playing hip hop, drum and bass and samba. I wasn't drinking tonight, so spent the whole time dancing with the girls, being a bit of a knob, and loving the music.


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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Day 72 - Christo Redentor and Pão de Açúcar

brasil Today is Sam's birthday, and after having sat up for most of the night drinking Caipirinias, she was rudely awoken at 10am and presented with breakfast and THE birthday, which I painstakenly handwrote last night from the 60-odd emails I had gathered from people who know her. She was touched - more so by the 100 quid she had been 'donated' by people she cares for. Guys, its my birthday on September 19th. Just thought I'd let you all know...

(see a close-up of the card here)

We spent the day yesterday swimming in the atlantic ocean, soaking up the sun on Copacabana beach, and generally accustomising ourselves to be at sea-level again (you'd be surprised what difference a few thousand meters makes). But today, the birthday girl wanted to do something special, so we booked ourselves on a trip up to see Jesus (you know I love him) and off to the Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf mountain).

The ride up to the big Jesus was amazing, through the largest urban forest in the world. Sam saw a massive cat the size of a dog (of course you did darling), whilst I spent the whole time being a totally knob in the back of the van trying to make peolpe laugh (unsuccessfully). But on arrival, I was pleasantly surprised at his size (he's big - maybe 4 or 5 stories high) and at how cool he looks. And the views from the top were pretty special. The Lying Planet (as we call it) said that from here, Rio is truely one of the most beautiful cities in the world. They're not so wrong this time.


Its stacked with tourists up there, and most of them are trying to take arty photos (its tough - he's huge), small or far away photos (its tough - he's huge and not very far away) or they just stand there with their hands out, imitating christ. Not something I would normally laugh at, but in this case, its was pretty amusing.

Sam and I gorged ourselves on a local delicacy of mashed chicken wrapped in mashed potato and deep fried, then we headed down the mountain to catch the sunset at the sugarloaf.

One cablecar later, not on the actual loaf, but next to it, we were running a bit late, so caught the sunset from there. I'm pretty impressed with my photography here guys, so feel free to email me and tell me how special these are. The city is WELL photogenic. And at this time of day, the place looks magical.

Another much scarier cable car ride up to the loaf, and a change of perspecitive on the city makes it look even sweeter. But by this time, it was getting down, so Sam and I headed down with our new Kiwi mates Justin and Chloe and headed out for an ALL YOU CAN EAT MEAT buffet.


This place is unreal. The buffet alone is AMAZING, for salads and sushi and general non-meat food. But then, every 2 minutes, some guy comes round with a massive skewer of meat, and fills your plate with EVERY type and style of meat possible.



Sick to the stomach by the end of it, we HAD to go out for Sam's birthday night, so the lot of us headed off to a proper brasilian locals Samba club (Democraticos) and, not being able to samba very well, at and drank beer until we needed to go to bed. Did Sam have a good time - yeah, I think so. A memorable birthday all the same.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Day 70 - Rio de Janiero, Brasil

brasil Right, if you are under ANY misunderstanding that I came away to get a tan, you are sorely mistaken. South America is NOT hot all year. Sunny, yes. But NOT tanning weather, much to Sam's disgust. That said, after a torturous 5 hours on a plane with annoying kids binging the hostess button all day, we landed in Rio, and IT WAS HOT. We sweated our way through the hoards of taxi drivers, got some cash, and were whisked through the city to Copacabana. And it was NICE.


Its green, and lush, and warm and humid. The place is tonnes more developed than Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador put together. The bay is stunning. There are stacks of tunnels cutting through the rugged landscape, and the whole time you can catch a glimpse of Jesus up on the hill overlooking the whole city.


We checked in, donned our board shorts, and headed for the beach (just 3 blocks down). I was kinda anxious about Brasil - different language (its similar to written spanish, but sounds completely different, so much so I have no idea what people are saying to me). So approaching the beach, I had a mild fear (its known for pickpockets during the day, and armed robberies at night). But my fears were unnecessary. Flocks of speedo wearing muscle boys, kids playing in the sand, surfers, and sarong-sellers fill the beach, which goes on and on. Sugar-loaf mountain stands at one end, and jesus looks down at the other. We sat in the sand, walked along with the waves lapping our feets, and Sam planned the best way to burn her lily-white skin.




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