A Travellerspoint blog

Argentina

Buenos Aires

semi-overcast 23 °C
View Esther's Adventure on spacebooth's travel map.

Hello,

I haven't updated for ages and am dead behind. So much has happened that I'm worried I will not remember all the details of the last part of the trip...plus it's not the same because I don't have my trusty travel companion. Things just arnt as funny on your own. I MISS MMMMMMMM.

So left off with me taking the bus, and M flying to BA from Iguazu falls in Argentina. It's a practice separation for us, and it goes fine. I set off a day before M because of the time the bus will take, over night. It's my first go on an Argie bus and I like it. Big comfy seats which recline nearly to horizontal, a fluffy pillow and a fleecy blanket which has a foot hood (a little hood your feet slip neatly into). Then there's the hot dinner delivered to you "in flight" fashion and a glass of bubbly to wash it all down. Most civilised and surprisingly tasty too. Almost enough to take the worry out of the dangerous and crazy driving. I'd opted to take the upstairs front seat, so had head on vision of the road and the crazy driving. Very scary. This bus driver was taking no prisoners.
I arrive in BA on Friday the morning. I have met a lovely girl on the bus who helps me get myself sorted at the bus station. I'm feeling good after the white knuckle ride, Im quite alert and decide to walk to the hostel. 20 mins later Ive checked in and am all alone in BA awaiting Ms arrival later in the afternoon. The hostel is downtown and doesn't seem to resemble its pictures on the web?! But it's clean and seems efficient. I get on the Internet and try to get in touch with Brendan, Ben's American friend whom I met at Dans wedding in Pamplona watching the bulls run, last July. I potter about and have a wander round BA. It's a grand city and reminds me very much of Barcelona or Paris. It's much more European that any Brazilian city was. It's really smelly though with dirty cars and fumes. Apparently you don't need an MOT on your car, this is obvious by the rust heaps driving around the city. Proper flat tyres and bumpers scraping the ground and lots of large American gas guzzlers. The buses are really cool though, all fifties style with lots of polished chrome. I have a great day just wandering around, drinking some good coffee and people watching. I find myself a pedicurist on a busy street and make an appointment for half an hour later. I then wander off window shopping and completely loose my bearings, I can't find the place where I made the appointment, shit. I find BA very difficult to navigate round? odd. I run round desperately trying to find where Id made the appointment, just as I'm about to give up I spot the shopping centre. Best pedicure evah! I wont go into details! Back at the hostel M has arrived, and I check the net again. Yay Brendan has got in touch and would love to take us out for dinner, for half a cow. M and I glam it up. Well as far as you can with limited supplies. I'm already bored of my wardrobe. We jump into a cab over to Palermo Chico! = dead posh area. Brendan has a top floor penthouse apartment in one of the tallest buildings in BA. The views are stunning. Brendan is a perfect host and we sip vodka tonics (sorry M has a gin and tonic) and watch a BA sunset. Brendan lives with another male, Mick the cat. Mick is our new best friend and M and I lurve him. We are spoilt rotten and taken to Las Cantitas for dinner, to a restaurant called Campo Brava. Yum Yum Yum. Big fat juicy steaks and homemade chips with garlic, parsley and sea salt. Plus lots of red wine, Argentine Malbec. A really great meal. In fact the best yet. I end up staying out rather later than expected.

Its Saturday eve and we decide PACHA is a must! We drag Brendan there too, who hasn't even ever been. We're causing trouble already. By the way typing in South America is quite hard. None of the keys have the correct symbols on them, so forgive me if there are various punctuation mistakes. Anyway back to Pacha, which is pronounced PA - CHA, ie the ch as a tscha...M is wearing the new play suite from Sao Paolo and I'm in my long skirt. Were looking hot and in the mood to party! We don't let ourselves down! We finally leave the club at around 6ish and head back to the penthouse, bliss. Mick is there waiting to entertain us and loves hiding under my skirt. Although Ive had an accident, someone has trodden on the back of it and it has two holes in it! Most distressing. We watch a magnificent sunrise through the clouds and then decide that we really are beyond our best and should head to bed.

It's Sunday and after exactly 4 hours crap sleep we emerge from the hostel to meet Ms second cousin Angie who lives in BA. M remembers meeting her when they were kids but hasn't seen her since, M remembers that the was lots of jumping around and lights being turned on and off, and being told off a lot. Were sure that nothing much will have changed. We're right, Angie meets us at the hostel and immediately were giggling and chatting. We admit our hideous hangovers and Angie is sympathetic. We go and hang out in San Thelmo. A very bohemian quarter of BA with old colonial buildings, street markets, musicians and tango all taking place on the streets. We get lost and find our way to a square with a great antiques market and a perfect spot for lunch. After a couple of beers M and I feel slightly more human and we spend a nice afternoon chatting with Angie and her boyfriend Jesse. On route home we stop off for some helado from Freddo, oh my god delicious.
Brendan has kindly offered that we can stay with him for our remaining days in BA. We jump at the offer. M and I living in a penthouse in BA, we love it. Our own room, our own bathroom, gigantic fluffy towels, lovely kitchen and apple powerbook with Internet...plus Mick the pussy cat, heaven. We go out for some super other meals and M even decides to cook a culinary masterpiece in Brendan's honour. Were very spoilt. M and I are really rather lazy in BA and apart from going to see Recoletta the beautiful cemetery, we do little sight seeing (oh yeah an art gallery too)... Ill just have to go back.

We leave BA slightly later than expected, which means that the following weekend were still there. Asia de Cuba is visited and I hate it. It's full of men and trashy girls. The ratio is about 5 to 1. I love male attention but not sure about Argentine men. We go and stay with Angie and Jesse in her sweet flat in Cabalito for the weekend, and are very kindly invited out to San Isidro (family home) for a barbeque lunch. We head there and meet Angie's brother Mati, who does a mean bbq and we stuff our faces. It so nice hanging at a big house in the burbs!

Because Marianne's birthday in the following week and we wont be together, we decide we will just have to go back to pacha again to celebrate. Brendan has his girlfriend Chris over from the States. We all meet at Bs and have some delicious sushi and drinks. We then head out, M is on fire and has decided shes blagging the guest list queue. We rock straight up to the front and in her poshest English voice she tells the door girl that we are on Jose's list from Ibiza. There is a dead pan silence, "Jose who?" - "Jose Padilla in Ibiza..." - another stoney silence, but all the while shes looking straight at us...I can feel M breaking, but she holds it together. Then we're just about to fall on our arses and give in, when the the girls smile turns into a "yeah whatever!" grin, and she lets us, well all the girls in! Ha ha! After a great night we return back to Angie's flat.

We're in a state of shock. M's flight leaves at 2pm and I have bus to get. We're splitting up! I'm in denial. I'm in a mess, but we cant stop giggling about the evening! Too funny and M is happy her birthday eve went so well, we look like we've been dug up though and this is the vision I have of M finally leaving me. I say bye and we have a last giggle both SOOOO hungover. I'm glad I don't have to navigate passport control, I do however have a 22 hour bus to get my head round. Not till 5pm though so straight to bed for me. I have strange dreams about love bites on boobs...

Last funnies:
The Argentine guitarists, who can sing all Oasis song fluently, but speak no English?
The wrong bus to the wrong place.
Our mission at Pacha... it found us.
The taxi home listening to Guns and Roses, M's a rock chick.
Brendan's morning bar.
The man at the hostel who had a mirror obsession.
The Americans at Pacha, oh my god did we really speak with them?
Sebastian showing me the sights of seedy BA.
The man who doesn't eat or drink ever, and is still alive.
"Basically you're a cock" - Esther to Angie talking about Chinese horoscopes (I meant not a chicken).
Our plastic surgery - see photos!
Media Lunas again.
M's feet being nibbled by Mick at night.

I miss my wife! M where are you??! Oh yeah in my bed!

xxxxx

Posted by spacebooth 17:48 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Brasil

Rio to Paraty to Sao Paulo to Iguazu Falls

semi-overcast 24 °C
View Esther's Adventure on spacebooth's travel map.

Sorry a bit late in coming....

We leave Rio rather confused as to where to head to next. We opt for Paraty an old colonial town about 5 hours south of Rio. We make our way to the 'hodoviaria'. This time the sun is blazing and its about 39 degrees. The beetle backs are heavy and hot, but we're getting more and more used to them. I'm luving my pack now, its getting a travel patina on it. I'm pleased that it doesn't smell anymore but it does have some travel marks on it, which I'M NOT CARING about. We get to the bus station and make our way over to the correct platform. It's lunch time so we get some food and wait for the bus. We then spot the most interesting hair style we've seen so far on our travels a friar tuck mullet! Hideously perfectly BAD. I must upload the photo...

The countryside outside Rio toward Paraty is very lush and green, the bus weaves its way through dense fields of uber bright green, and along the coastal road. The coast is made up of hundreds of islands including Isla Grande, which we've decided not to visit this time (regret, will just have to come back!)... The weather is not great and is over cast, but this does mean there are some very dramatic moody views of the ocean and the sky (cant take photos because the bus window is dirty and splashed). We get to Paraty and jump into a cab to the hostel. The hostel is just out of town on quite a desolate road. We are shown to our room, and immediately I don't really like it. It's very dark and log cabiny. It smells and its between the toilet and the other part of dorm room. This means that the girls, who are Swedish, in the main dorm have to trapes through our room to get to the loo. I see problems ahead. We unpack and go out for dinner. Unpacking my bag means taking out my wash bag. Which seems to just get bigger and bigger. Taking out my walking shoes which take up much more space than I'd like, and then taking out whatever I need to wear. I never actually totally unpack. All my warm wear is stuffed in the bottom of the bag and has only been out of the bag a few times.

M fancies Thai food and we've read about a Thai in town. Its about a 20 min walk into town along a now very dark road. In the dark and surrounded by palm trees and other lush vegetation and cicadas humming it really feels like we're in the jungle. It's very quiet in town and seems to be deserted. We have dinner and then find a delicious sorveteria. We have some ice-cream scoops (bolas) and get pestered by a drunken sailor. This town is weird. It's all cobbles, so walking anywhere is quite difficult, it feels like we've had too many caiperinas. We head home for the night and take some lovely shots on route home of the moon over the sea.

I don't sleep very well that night, it's very hot and I can hear the mossies flying around me. I still don't like this place. Then the following evening it all become clear. I get into bed with my head torch on to do some reading, the light obviously illuminates parts of the bed that have not seem light for a while, if ever. I find an open durex packet down the side of the bed. I pick it up by the corner and mutter to Marianne that I knew I felt uncomfortable in the bed! Then I look more closely down the side of the bed. Oh no! the condom, used (urrrrgh) is also there! That's it, I cant stay here another night. The Swedish girls then keep us up all night being very very drunk. There are also some 18 year old British lads above us and because of the log cabin style hostel, i.e loads of wood. It's very noisy and they sound like a herd of elephants. We decide to leave the next day.

We head for Sao Paulo and Paraty becomes our least favourite part of our trip. It has a really strange vibe and is full of rather odd people. It really makes a difference though to what hostel you stay at and we didn't like that one.

We walk into town to get the bus and stop off for a delish Acai on route to make us feel better.

We get into Sao Paulo around 10pm. A sweet couple on the bus help us with the metro system and get us going to the right place. It all seems very efficient and clean. It reminds us of NYC, and me of Brussels. Sao Paulo is massive, a massive sprawling metropolis. We stay in possibly the weirdest hostel of the trip, in an area called Jardins. Pronounced as you would in English i.e. not with the French twist on it. Its right round the corner from the plushest shopping area in SP. It on a very big main road (try M40 approach into London) and the room is like the worst hotel room you've ever been in. BUT its clean, has simple beds with nothing hiding down the side of them. Plus it has the biggest wardrobes you've ever seen. I properly unpack and realise that all my clothes smell of yukky fruit or whatever the spillage on the backpack was. They need to be washed. We hunt down a laundry and M spots a new playsuit in a beautiful shop. We have a good old nose round SP and establish that we quite like it. Great shopping and very cool customers. Its very different from Rio in that M and I can't not wear the Havainas, but no one else is seen dead in them. We go for Sunday brunch at a lovely cafe down the road from the hostel. Everyone is out. All dressed up to the nines in casual Sunday brunch outfits. We are in our 'havs' and decide we've have 'hav faux pas'd'...it takes us ages to get a table and the looks we get because we're in flip flops is astonishing. We learn we've crossed the Carioca / Paulita line and it's serious! During brunch we get speaking to a SP couple who are surprised we've bothered to visit SP. They're wrong. It's a big city and not the most beautiful. But there is a certain charm in it. Some of the architecture is very striking and the juxtaposition of the buildings is great. M finds her Bartlett architectural heart-strings being plucked. On a particularly adventurous day we head off to watch the traders do their business working on the stock market. It about 11 in the morning and we visit the main trading centre in SP, we are directed to the viewing platform in the building. It's a high level viewing platform and we can see the trading floor through a glass screen. We're immediately spied by the traders as two blonds on the deck and notice that all of a sudden all eyes are directed at us. We're sure we've caused a BLACK Monday in SP because of our innocent distraction! We're both glad we're not traders, it looks crazy. We then visit the tallest building you can get to the top of in SP, the view is staggering. Sao Paulo is three times the size of Paris, it's vast and spreads without end into the horizon.

We've been on the road for over a month now and the tempo has changed. We're both more chilled and also more independent, i.e. we need some personal space. We've both been quite homesick and give each other a bit more space. M's departure and our splitting up is on the cards and this also plays a massive part in our relationship. I for one am quite stressed about it. She been my partner in crime and we've had such a fab time together. So many hilarious situations where we've not even had to speak to one another to understand how we feel. Isn't it great in life when you meet people who's sense of humour is just completely in tune to your own, and just a glance from one another means fits of giggles. I suppose that's what I call true friendship. Laughing is without a doubt the best medicine and I really couldn't live without it. It's my favourite thing in the world. We've had a lot a laughs this holiday and I wish I could recount every one in my blog. Obviously A, I can't remember them all and B, they're to naughty to tell!

We cant bear to spilt up yet so M decides she to will venture with me to Iguazu falls and Buenos Aires. Yay another few weeks together! We get a bus on the Monday to Iguazu falls Foz Do Iguazu (the Brazilian side).

We stay at Pousada Evalina which is a spotless hostel/b&b. It all seems wonderful on the face of it spotlessly clean, air con and more like a hotel. Until breakfast. Now breakfast was included in the cost of our room, all you can eat. So before our trip to the falls in the morning we headed off to the buffet breakfast. Our stomachs have shrunk somewhat on the trip so we each had two small ish rolls with some cheese and ham and some fruit. I then suggested that we take a roll for later on in the day. We wrapped the rolls in paper to take back to the room. Little did we know that we been spotted on CCTV!!! and were then told in no uncertain terms that unless we put the food back we would be charged for it! What?! Ok so I have to say we felt jolly guilty at the time, but now writing this I think what bollocks. One roll - I wish we'd just sat there and stuffed them into our mouths. This of course would have been acceptable. Anyway we check out and although we'd left the naughty rolls on the table, they had been neatly packed into a plastic bag ready for us to take on our day out, AND we'd been charged. We felt guilty all the way to the falls, in fact until we ate them. The falls soon made us forget our woes! Stupendous!!

Later on we made our way to ARGENTINA!!!! A quick trip through customs (luckily no contraband rolls to declare) and we leave Brazil. Undoubtedly one of my most favorite countries ever. I love it (Brazil) I will be back.

We've booked into a place called Hostel Inn which is in Puerto Iguazu on the Argentine side of the falls. Its like a Butlins! We get to our hut where we're sharing with two American girls. Twins from California. M has to move their trekking shoes out into the corridor because the smell so bad. We then meet the boys next door who are Israeli twins. There are beautiful (both sets) and we head over to the main campus for an all you can eat Argentine BBQ. Our first stab at Argentine meat in Argentina.

The next day we head to see the falls again but from a different county. You look at the falls from the top of them and see the cascading over the rock. Much more dramatic, but not good for photos, too wet! I do manage to get a photo of one of the Argentine guides on the train. Mr Rene Fucks! Um not sure if he was joking. I hope he was.

Next Stop BA Baracus...Est on Bus, M on plane!

Notes:

Weird man on beach in Paraty who make me a ring.
Hummingbird at Iguazu.
Una Dos tres SEXO! (counting before you take a photo!)
Learning about Israeli military service (heart wrenching)
Freaky perv taxi driver.
Red earth.
No molesting the animals as we're told in the Iguazu guide.

xxxx

Posted by spacebooth 07:41 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Brasil

Itacare to Rio (again)

sunny 30 °C
View Esther's Adventure on spacebooth's travel map.

Oi Tudo bem? ...

So we're on the bus to Rio and it's OK except that it`s 22 hours. We take our usual tranquilizers and bed down for the night. British airways eye masks and blankets. In the middle of the night, not sure what time, I'm awoken from a deep sleep by a sharp prodding on my shoulder. The bus is pitch black but I can just about make out a woman or girl. she speaks to me in broken English which i can't understand because I'm totally out of it and have a nodding dog head. If she could see my eyes they´d be rolling to the back of my head. I try explain that i don't understand . It feels like I'm speaking with a sponge in my mouth. She disappears to the back of the bus only to reappear about 5 mins later with a letter written on the back of an envelope. She thinks I'm American and she wants to know if I can help her get work there. She has given me all her coordinates and explains she just wants to learn English there. It´s heart wrenching and I'm really not in a fit state to do anything apart from pass out again, I fold the letter and place it in my bag. I'll email her later and explain I can't really help. How desperate. It freaks me out a bit, but makes me realise how lucky we are to have what we've got. When I wake in Rio its feels like the thing was a weird dream, but I still have the letter, a very real dream. We fall off the bus and get our backpacks. Unfortunately mine is dripping wet, and if that wasn't bad enough it stinks of god knows what. I cant bear it, you know what I'm like about stains on things. I'm so upset I can bearly breathe and storm off to the baniero to try and dry some of it off. My new back pack!!! I'm so precious :o( , OCD?! Sort it out Esther.

Ill never know what the spillage was except that I think it was rotten fruit, so at least not milk or eggs or something worse. Although I'm still speechless about my bag, M and I are back in our fave RIO! and we're so well versed now in bus travel we're practically "on the buses". We're old pros! Straight onto a bus to Ipanema and straight to Louis Vuitton, sorry Ipanema beach house. We get there and can't have the original room with the en suite so we settle for room E with air con. Hang on though, it's a mixed dorm??. Ok this is a bit strange. How are we supposed to change? Etc. This is very apparent to M who has realised, well it's been suspected for a while now, that the "travel TOWEL" she bought from Muji. Is actually a travel tea towel. Plus it's like that glossy loo paper that makes you wetter than you actually are. It's crapola. She opts to hire a towel from the hostel for the duration. We also have a new trick up our sleeve which is the bed sheet toga. You get a nice clean sheet from each hostel to sleep under. M loves swanning around wearing hers toga style, plus it makes a good personal changing room.

We have rather a lot of honking laundry to do, so go off for a wander to find Wash Club, a great laundry come internet place. We drop our stuff off and when we come back later to collect it we bring our cameras and some CDs to upload photos on. Of course the computer is all in Portuguese so I have to enlist the help of the nice wash club man to help me do this. Now what are the chances that out of 400 odd photos that I need to save onto a disk, the ones that pop up on the screen whilst he's helping are naked shots of my glow in the dark boobs!! Fuck, I just sit there and go red. I look even more sun burnt. Life is too funny! When I leave he just laughs and says he'll help if I have more photos!

Still haven't uploaded any photos, sorry. I seem not to be able to do it. Every time I try either the internet is shit or it just a hassle. Back in Rio we again do the Christ Redeemer trip. So worth it. Hot day and amazing views of Rio. Its just breathtaking. Promise those photos soon!!!

I'm going through a rather argumentative period with my hair at the moment, we're just not getting on. I wash it and then leave it to dry naturally. It's really wavy and big. Plus the neat fringe cut I got before I went away, which looked great with nicely straightened sleek hair, sort of all choppy. Now in its natural cow lick state, has turned into a sort of side quiff. Most unattractive. M says she likes it (I hope she means it), but I'm just not sure. Even George said..."whats goin on with your hair?!" ... actually he said he also liked it. Don't believe him.

We end up with two boys in our room called Frank and Bram. Frank's Irish and Bram's Dutch. They met in Itacare and are hilarious. Basically M and I boss then about and wind them up. We love it and they love it! So we're all happy.

On the Saturday we organize to do a favela tour. We go with a company recommended in Footprint and head out to Rochina which is the biggest favela in Rio and home to estimated 200000 people. Incredibly it's not marked on any Rio map and the government won't acknowledge its existence officially. Actually the main road into the favela, is now officially recognised as a road, because a bank opened a branch there. The rest of the favela which is massive and covers many hills over looking other very wealthy parts of Rio, just doesn't exist. It's crazy. It's a very enlightening tour and we learn how each favela is governed by drug lords and although there is no normal police prescence we're safe because essentially they need to keep the state happy, so they can continue their drug dealing in safety. Killing tourists isn't good for business.

We are still obsessing about favelas when we decide to do a favela funk party on the Sunday eve. Whata mistaka to maka. Hideous. We get somewhere, apparently a favela but its just a massive dance hall full of about 2000 sweaty blokes and girls all gyrating to crap music. We have VIP tickets which basically entitles us to stand in a cattle pen area. Awful, and we last about 10 mins before we jump in a cab and head home. Oh yeah the DJ is called DJ PHABYO! Say no more.

To do list:
How can I live in Rio? I love it
Photos
Join AA (Acai anonymous)
Update blog better.
Try not to stand on the back of M's flip flops.

NB...
I spend the first hour at the hostel showering my backpack and trying to rid it of smell. I the leave it out to dry in the sun. Its fine now.
M´s ear infection still there, slowely getting better.
M wishes she cuold update her facebook status: "stuck in Favela traffic jam"...
The weather is a bit crap.
Nathan (another dorm recruit) trying to open a velcro pouch slowly and quietly in the dorm, - M´s shout of "just open the fucking thing will you!!!"
I'm peeling and have attractive tan "hole" on right arm.
Time is flying.
Missing everyone a lot.

xxxxx

Posted by spacebooth 21:50 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Brasil

Itacare to Rio

sunny 35 °C
View Esther's Adventure on spacebooth's travel map.

Hello,

Our journey from Morro to Itacare has been quite good, the two German girls with share the taxi with are nice and we compare notes on Salvador and Morro. The conversation turns to boys (typical!), and we mention that we´ve come all this way to Brazil, to meet a cute German and some English boys. They agree with us and explain that they too have met a nice German boy who also has a job in Zurich, same as our German boy... strange? It couldn't be the same boy could it? It sure could, so we all compare photos of Felix and agree that he was obviously sewing his royal oates in Brazil and we were lucky he´d only got some snogs out of us! Boys eh?! Can't live with them...

Itacare is a sleepy surfing haven on the coast of Bahia about 6 hours south of Salvador. We're booked into a hostel in the middle of town, called Auberge de Pharol. We check in and get a nice room over-looking the village square, with a balcony and an en suite(!). We´re sharing initially with a Norwegian woman who´s rather moody, but she leaves after one night, and we get two fun Danish girls. We like it here. The beaches are beautiful and more rustic than Morro, the people are cooler too, hippies and surfers. Plus the sea is proper, I mean big waves and a nice cool temperature. There is lots of handmade jewellery on sale in Itacare, made with twine, leather, bone, and acai berry beads. I buy a pair of earring`s on the beach made with snake and crocodile teeth. Sometimes the teeth accidentaly bite me when I wear them!

For dinner we find a transvestite pizza parlour up one of the streets near our hostel. The lady/man who runs it is super glamorous, and beautifully turned out, she's stunning. The whole atmosphere of the place is electric and as a treat, we order a glass of red wine each. For some reason you can't buy wine by the glass in Brazil, well in the restaurants and places we've frequented. We've been to mean to buy a whole bottle, so when we can just order a glass, it's heaven. We relish every sip. It's a nice Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, mmm. Party animals that we are, we do some window shopping on the main street, and then turn in for the night. In our 6 nights here we're in bed every night by 10 o'clock. This proves quite funny when the two Danish 20 year olds are getting in from the beach / after beach drinks at this time, showering, getting dolled up, to then hit the town again for the night. We get up around 8am ish (sometimes earlier), just when the Danes are coming home! What a change around. I really feel old now, this should be me!!! Sorry this used to be me (us!). We like the Danes and love how cross eyed they are when they finally surface much later in the day. We can appreciate their fun, snug in the realisation we don't need to do all that anymore (much!).

M and I take surf lessons. We'd been recommended that we use 'Thor' down towards the beach. We get a joint lesson but with his brother in law Leandro, who speaks better English. Leandro reminds me of Doug in San Diego. He's petit and has that muscly upper body surf look. He's a good teacher and we have a great first day catching waves and falling off the boards. Unfortunately I bang my knee about 5 times and feel it going blue and squashy with funny liquid (?) , which it's done since fucking it up in Les Arcs, snowboarding in about 1900 and frozen to death (1990?) Every movement hurts. When we finish we're properly exhausted, so exhausted in fact we can't speak or do anything. On route home we find an amazing Israeli falafel place which is also cheap, and can just about muster the energy to eat dinner. Yummy fresh falafels with humous, tzaziki, fresh herbs and grilled aubergine all wrapped in home made flat bread. Delicious! All washed done with, well I have a beer, but M has a lemon and mint cooler. Lemon and fresh mint and ice all blended together with sugar. So refreshing. We hit the sack and are completely oblivious to any Danish antics that night, they could have had a party in our room and we wouldn't have noticed.

On day two surfing I attempt to do it, but the knee is saying no, so I resign myself to sitting on the beach, damn! I get sun burnt. Fronts of arms and legs. Face is also a bit red (not too bad). I shower and after-sun up in the evening, and decide I have glow in the dark boobs. A perfect neon white body bikini. I find it miraculous how skin changes colour and I love being brown.

M and I have become Havaiana obsessed. We can't walk past a shop without stopping and checking on the different styles. They also have a brand here called Ipanema. These in our mind are inferior. Isn't it strange how we've taken that 'style stance' about a foreign product when we really don't know what's cool or not cool in a foreign country. Plus you can buy Giselle Ipanemas. And I actually like them.

We have a day off surfing on the Sunday to allow injuries to heal and to chill (we've been so busy!), I spent all day in the hammock on Saturday. Exhausting. M now also has bruises and cuts. We have afternoon tea at a lovely cafe on the main sleepy street. Delicious chocolate cake and ice cream. Heavenly. Cocoa is grown in the area so is a delicacy of the town. Best quality chocolate in small quantities (well modest quantities ie not a whole bar of dairy milk), is hard to beat. We feel the love and the serotonin transmitters firing in our heads.

M and I attract weirdos. Is this a like attracting like thing? Or is it (we hope it is), opposites attract. So far on our trip we've met many nice people whom we definitely want to remain in contact with. In Itacare we meet John, whom we actually met in Salvador briefly. He decides click on to us and we have trouble shaking him off. He invites himself to dinner one evening after inviting himself to 'lie on the beach with us'... We don't really want him to come, so we sneak out of the hostel and head to the falafel place on our own. Only 30 mins later to be caught red handed hiding behind the flat bead wraps with humous on our lips, by John who basically bollocks us and is angry! What nonsense! We feel like naughty school girls. Honestly, some people. He then tries to entice us to watch him have tattoo, a massive Peruvian cross on the top of his back. We politely decline the offer. He's been travelling too long and has been abusing some South American exports we believe, he's deffo wacko.

On our last day, I still don't feel up to surfing, so offer to translate some of Leandro's shamanism writings. He's a real Carlos Castaneda and has written many stories about magic forests and true love. It's all very deep and therefore difficult to translate. It's heavy going but I'm glad to have helped. M's now been properly bitten by the surf bug.

After three attempts to procure a bus ticket to Rio...we finally get one. Brazillian scheduling is not always very organised. We head back to the hostel to chill and pack up, our departure is 6am!

I haven't screwed the top of my water bottle on securely, so it spills its contents all over my mattress. It looks like I've wet the bed. I advise the hostel and am given a new mattress.

We get up a 5.30am to get organised, whilst M is brushing her teeth she hears a glug glug glug sound. Her water bottle is now emptying its contents all over her mattress. It's so wet we have to pull it out of the room and leave it on the balcony. We leave the hostel, the pair of serial bed wetters!

22 hours to Rio...

NB:

I feel old and creaky.
John - names have changed to protect the innocent/not so innocent.
Green coconuts slashed with a machete.
Forgetting the lock, but not.
Chocolate salty balls.
Suduko.
Ochre soil blue sky.
Feeling quite home sick.

xxxxxxx

Posted by spacebooth 08:56 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Brasil

Morro De Sao Paulo to Itacarè

sunny 39 °C
View Esther's Adventure on spacebooth's travel map.

We´re booked on the 2pm catamaran from Salvador to Morro. This leaves us plenty of time to wake up (having not really slept anyway) and then crash around the dorm room noisily , WITH the light on packing up our stuff and getting organised. The dorm is full of snoring smelly drunken girls (excluding ourselves!) and possible boys. The floor is awash with dirty knickers, shoes, flipflops, discarded feather headdresses and all sorts of other carnival parafinalia.
Once we´ve checked out we establish that none of the normal bus routes are running because of the carnival, so we have to find a temporary bus stop somewhere 'over in that direction'. We get the beetles shells on and get underway. We have to hike about 30mins! to find somewhere, to go somewhere else, to get to the Terminal Touristico, its all very confusing. A kindly gent, one whom we initially eye up as a potential mugger actually turns out to be very helpful and even walks us all of the way to where the buses are. Then he finds out which bus we need! Salvador has really toughened me up to be super vigilant and careful about anyone offering help or assistance. It´s such a relief to be offered genuine and thoughtful help. We get the Terminal Touristico in plenty of time and seamlessly! I love Brazil and it´s people. People just ' are ' , there's no bullshit.

The crossing is about two hours and we´re both looking forward to something chilled and a nice beach. After farting around trying to find a cheaper hostel than one we´d been quoted via email, being exceedingly sweaty, tired and pooped; M and I have our first real row (which lasts about all of 20 mins) and is saved by TIME OUT PLUEASE! and unbeknown to me then, a Ferraro Rocher ice cream. M´s positively chirpy when I return.

We check in the Pousada Genova on beach number 3. Its a small room, but it´s our own, has air con and a good shower. As the name suggests our hosts are Italian but from Torino(?). They chain smoke continually and mill round an outside table (their lounge essentially), and gesticulate a lot; the fag ash Liliana's and Giovanni's. They're very sweet and let us use the Internet and phone (to receive calls) for free, so in fact we love them.
We're woken up in the morning by our Italian host Mr Genova...who is the splitting image of Randy Quaid aka the cousin in National Lampoons Vacation (the one who buys the white slip on shoes for Clark Griswald), loudly honking a big greeny onto the sand. Morning!! Breakfast is however quite good, delicious fried egg baps and fruit.

We hit the beach, wow. Its too beautiful for words, "have I died and gone to heaven?" is about all we can say. We don't speak anymore or stress we just bake and dip into the water when we start to frazzle.

Its quite busy in Morro, so although the beaches are beautiful, really beautiful, it's also very touristy. I feel safer here than Salvador so i'm happy to be here. Plus because of the situation at home in London, I'm glad of the free Internet and calling facilities of the pousada. The accommodation is expensive (because of Carnival) so we try to keep costs down on extras ie food to a minimum. I'm still totally addicted to acai and cheese on sticks. I have a delicious fruit salad made for me on the beach by a man with a trolley. Gosh the Brazilians love their trolleys. All sorts of them go up and down the beach. Some pushed, some pulled by mule, all with some interesting comestible to keep the wolf from the door.

One evening we decide to hit town and there's supposed to be a foam party (yuk?!) at the old fort club up on the headland. It'll be a laugh and it is! After far two many caipirinha's again! Decided that its complete loopy juice and deadly. M and I spend all evening in complete fits of giggles. We have so much fun even when the bigged up party is crap. The venue is amazing, the music and people are not. We manage about two hours then back home. We´ve had a really good time and laughter really is the best medicine. Caipirinha hangover - horrible, end of story.
Whilst in Salvador we hooked up with a friend of mine from London called George and his friend Guy. Both hilarious. They have been in Salvador since we saw them, doing the Carnival properly and partying on down...they meet us in Morro on the Tuesday evening. They've fallen off the wagon since the Thursday before, so whilst waiting for them at a beach bar we rightly surmise that they will be generally white and pasty. Unlike our bronzed selves. We're correct. They've had a cracking time and they tell us all about the silly antics they've got up to. God it's good to be out with some witty Brits. We end up going to another party on the island, but this time we need to get a boat there. So after a couple of Caipi's, sake with sushi, then cough mixture drinks at this party and beer (what?) we get to this party, seem to be the only Gringos and its just a sort of acoustic, samba? (but not that good), music thing on a village green. There's one sound system in the corner blaring out some house-ish music and a man dancing in speedo's - but we're feeling rather drunk (or ill) so decide to head home. The boat trip back turns into a dancing fest when would you believe `put your hands up for Detroit, i love this city...` is played as well as bodyrox??! George pole dances and we`re embarrassingly Brits abroad, but luckily no one falls over board. Back on Morro after our adventure and after the highs of the accidental boat party, we try the Old Fort club once more, better but still crap, cut our losses and are escorted home by the boys. Very chivalrous! On route we stop off for a brazilian 'hot dog' from another man with his trolley. A neat bun holds a rather short podgy sausage, but the treat is you can have peas, carrots and sweetcorn served on your hot dog! He has little tupperwares on his stand and each dog (except m's) is beautifully finished with a neat spoon of each topping. Such pride is taken in this simple procedure, it's the best hot dog ever and we giggle about the peas and carrots for days to come.
We have to be up early to catch the ferry to take us towards Itacarè, fuck. It can't get much worse until we've made it to the ferry terminal again, and they play `When I was young. I never needed anyone. and making love was just for fun. those days are gone ... I never, never, never. needed anyone `on a loop. Please shoot me now. It`s a short boat ride to the the mainland and then a taxi with two German girls to Itacaré.

Footnotes:

Our little monkey in Morro.
The mini fags.
Delishious pasta.
`Alex ` My shouting for his attention.
The cute dog who got aroused.
M's ear infection.
Wheelbarrows taxi (there are no cars so the wheelbarrow transports luggage etc, not sure about people?)
The other party we tried to go to, with the worst music evah. evah. We get there and without a word walk straight out.
I Luv Brazil/Brasil xx

Tschaw xx

Posted by spacebooth 13:22 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Brasil

Salvador to Morro De Sao Paulo

all seasons in one day 38 °C
View Esther's Adventure on spacebooth's travel map.

Ola,

can´t get to grips with Portuguese at all. Its unlike anything I´ve heard before. It may as well be Chinese or double Dutch. Speaking of Chinese, I have a Chinese symbol on a necklace round my neck. It was my one necklace I allowed myself to take with me while away. I´m really missing the one Sarah bought me for my birthday, but I knew I´d probably loose it, so left it home safe. So I have a Chinese symbol round my neck and I don´t know what it means. I´ve had it in my jewellery box forever, Mum did it come from you? Anyway I´m assuming it means peace or good fortune or something. I need to find out. I feel silly not knowing.

We arrive feeling jet lagged in Salvador at 6.30 ish in the morning. Felix joins us and comes to our hostel. Its painted bright yellow and it´s in a beautiful old colonial house. M is worried about Salvador and isn´t sure she likes it. Driving to the hostel (we take a taxi, luxury!), it seems Salvador is just one big favela. I´m looking forward to seeing the architecture...but at the moment, I just need to sort my bed out for tonight. The inefficient girls behind the desk tell us to return at midday because they don´t know what beds they have available yet. We bite our tongues, dump the backpacks in the front room, slap on some sun block, and head for the beach. Not the most beautiful (or clean) beach, but straight at the bottom of the road and quite quiet! (oh yeah its still only 7.30am...).

We flop there till we can check in. We can´t stay in the same room. M chooses the long straw and gets the air-conditioned room...I squeeze into a matchbox room for 6. Its supposed to be for 4 girls, but because of carnival they´ve squeezed in 6, great. Salvador is definitely poorer and dirtier that Rio, I´ve heard so many stories of pick pockets, muggings and other stuff. I feel quite scared walking around (in retrospect this ruins my stay there, we got a lot of attention but I wish I hadn´t felt quite so uncomfortable). We stay in Salvador till the 1st and get in one night of Carnival. One morning we decide to walk to the old centre but take a wrong turn, so we really do end up in an area we´ve been warned about. We have cameras with us and even though it feels like everyone is out to mug us we still take a few snaps. M points out that Kate Adie must feel rather like this.

One of the most striking features in Brazil is the colours. They are incredible. London is so grey! Brazil is so vibrant and the colours are super bright. Whether its the green foliage, the blue sky, the turquoise sea, the buildings and the clothes. Its a feast for the eyes and one I could never tire of. Even in the run down crumbling streets of Salvador; the peeling facades of the architecture brighten the landscape. Mixed with cool graffiti and crazy electrical wiring and dripping rusting drainage and ironmongery. I want to take a million photos, but I´m too scared to take out my camera. I hate this. Luckily our wrong turn ends up in the Pelourinho, the old colonial centre.

Our reluctance to fork out 300 ish pounds for hostel accommodation for the full 6 days of carnival, and the thought of getting wasted for six days (oh my god what's happened to me?!) means we decide to stay for only one night of the carnival. I slightly wish we´d done one more night, but we couldn´t find accommodation and this decides it for us. We put on sensible clothes (shorts and t-shirts, not a whiff of playsuit!), take out 30 real each, no bag, camera or anything. Not even any jewellery. We hit the streets about 6 ish in the evening. Its crazy. Being the only white blond girls anywhere to be seen, we get touched, stroked and our hair felt. Unnerving. We walk about three blocks before we stop next to a Pousada on the main street which has a balcony of blonds sitting on it. Within about 5 mins we´ve been spotted asked if we were aussie and invited up to the balcony, result! Front row seats of the procession. A private balcony with a bar and we meet some nice people! From our vantage point we observer the craziness of the carnival stress free, I wish I´d brought my camera.

Insert: completely forgot about a funny thing that happened in Trancoso! One evening when we´d finished our disco nap and then headed to meet the aussies at their trance pousada. We ended up getting rather drunk?!...then remembered that we had to meet Henry (the English cousin of Caroline who stood us up), well on walking back we nipped into our pousada to freshen up etc. 15 mins later we left and I stormed ahead across the green in the middle of Trancoso completely oblivious to about 100 people sitting in silence watching a movie on an outdoor screen! Luckily one of us has our whits about us (M!) and rescued me in the nick of time. I was about to walk straight in front of their movie, how embarrassing!!! Thanks M I owe you one...

So the carnival was amazing and even more colourful and noisy than I imagined, and such a brilliant atmosphere. We didn´t do a Blocco which you pay 100 pounds for...you get a Tshirt and basically you can then travel with a mobile sound system (ie 18 wheel truck dolled up to the nines with bar, loo and monster bass bins etc...they move along the streets very slowly and when you´re part of the blocco you can dance in the enclave or roped in area around the truck) It all looks very confusing and how they police this i´m not sure. We didn´t do it...apparently the DJ Tiesto Blocco was the bees knees and I´m sad I missed it. Fat Boy Slim did on on the last night too, but havn´t heard about it. We finally get to bed, and are then woken throughout the night by totally wasted girls (don´t know any of them)...being pissed and loud. I awake to a Danish girl trying to work out whether the body in her bed, is a boy or a girl!? This discussion goes on for about 20mins during which they try to wake the person but to no avail. I feel smug I´m hungover, but not THAT hungover. M and I head to the Terminal Turistico to get the catamaran to take us from this craziness. Secretly I wish I´d done the whole carnival FULL ON! I think my mind and body thank me for not though.

Missing everyone!

xxxx

Interesting things:

It was a girl in the Danes bed.
We meet friend George (from London) in Salvador...oh a quick snog??!
We see H in Salvador but then loose her again.
Grilled cheese on a stick, new favorite food.
The search for Greenfields a club, but actually a street.
M´s sense of humour failure.

Posted by spacebooth 11:19 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Brasil

Trancoso to Salvador

sunny 30 °C
View Esther's Adventure on spacebooth's travel map.

Dear blag,

Its pouring down with rain in Rio (21st Jan Louise's Birthday), M and i check out of Ipanema Beach House and head to main road towards the beach to find a bus to the Rodoviaria (bus station pronounced `hodoviaria´). Its 28 degrees and very wet. We´re both steaming. Finally the correct bus arrives after a number of failed attempts. Getting on a bus in Brasil with a backpack is difficult, you have to fit through and a really narrow turnstile. M and I look like beetles. We are gringo beetles. The backpack scenario is exhausting. I´m glad of my minimal packing and my smaller backpack, M is struggling with her´s and she´s slowly realising that YSL wooden platform shoes were probably best left at home. She´s basically carrying around a log. I´m very glad that I posted a box of sundries back home to ma and pa, including my perfume (which I now regret). So we´re on the bus going to not really sure where...I attempt in Portuguese to ask the bus conductor lady to tell us when we get to the Rodoviaria. She looks at me blankly. Rio is massive and it´s seven o´clock ish and getting dark. We´ve been told not to get on buses after dark. We both slightly on edge. M´s blond six footedness is a constant source of male interest, but as she points out she can look quite scary sometimes too. All of a sudden we seem to turn into a favela! Yikes! But then soon after we get to a very busy and very confusing Rodoviaria. All safe and sound and in plenty of time. We only realise this when we get to Trancoso much much later (18 hours) and are told that the clocks went back two days before (we´ve been on wrong time for three days!) Luckily the clocks didn´t go forward, we´d have missed the bus. So 18 hours on a bus full of Israelis and a smelly back loo. Mental note: sit at front of bus where ever possible. We set off and then stop again after about 30 mins. We wonder what ´àre we nearly there yet?´ is in Portuguese. We´ve both got our beer belly money belts on, not very comfy. Thanks to wonderful Claudine for providing Valium from Thailand. M and I take half each at about 10 pm (actually 9!)...We put on out BA eyemasks and crash out properly. During the night we are aware of bus stops and lots of very noisy people getting on and off the bus but we don´t really care...bliss! We tell our fellow travellers about the benefits of bus rides with Valium, but M keeps mistakenly refering to the Valium as Viagra. This also may explain why we get off the bus with swollen ankels?!

I wake slightly groggy but feeling generally ok after sleeping for about 14 hours! Quick brush of teeth and we meet Helena, a single girl from Amsterdam travelling on her own. She has a very cool American Apparel purple sweater (jealous!) and a diamond stuck on her tooth. It glints when she smiles. She tells us we really don´t want to be going to Porto Seguro or Arrial...its all Trance parties. Why don´t we follow her to Trancoso? So we do! Trancoso is like Ibiza Benirras beach on acid or Kho Phangan. Full of hippies from all over. So many cool tattoos! Its set round an idillic village square where you can sit and watch football ot eat or drink...its very quaint and M and I love it. Helena helps us finding a pousada on the square...white fluffy towels and our own room! We meet some guys whom Helena knows from before, we slowly realise that this place could slightly be like the Gambia and that H could be slightly like Shirley Valentine. But Ron (pronounced Hon) and black Max (forgotten his name but does look like little max but black!) are very sweet and sort out a few things for us whilst in Trancoso. Show us the ropes. Including Acai completo which is now my new favorite food.

The beach is beautiful and we can´t get enough of it. M is still on at me about the hither to unseen blog...I promise her I´ll start it soon. Its idyllic and very chilled and potentially dangerous. I mean in the sense that although there aren´t trance parties every night there still seems to be a ridiculous schedule of parties to choose from including on the eve of the 23rd, dj Bushwacka playing??! We have dinner at a kilo restaurant. Here you help yourself to a buffet and then weigh your plate. We sneak back to the pousada for a disco nap, before waking up at midnight...donning naughty outfits. Whilst in Rio, I mentioned our shopping before...M has purchased a blue all in one playsuit (shorts and boob tube joined in the middle) This is now affectionately known as the naughty Brazilian playsuit because of the antics it breeds. Last seen at funk party under the golden arches of Lapa in Rio. I have a naughty dress which comes out to play. We meet Helena (H) at the mobile cart bar just off the square. Caipirinha´s and passion fruit things. We also spy a hobo horse and her foal searching for coconuts in a dumpster (the animals here just sort of live with humans and go about as they please), and we meet the Aussies: Olly, Miro and Duncan and Jess who´s English. Bushwacka rocks and we party until dawn´s crack which we head down to the beach for sunrise. I get bitten to buggery by sand fleas and end up wearing all the African kickoys (cotton throws) at once and look like a sheik. M meets wonderful Bernardo (Dr Bernardo) at the party. The next day once we surface and head back to the beach we´re walking along minding our own business when we see someone, Bernardo bounding, almost breaking his legs, over to say hello. This man has an undentable ego and can´t believe that we were trying to ignore him...´are you shy???`is his question. M and i giggle at him, but he´s actually very sweet and makes a nice fuss of us.

I like the Aussies instantly as does M. They´re all from Sydney and are very chilled rather cute and all in their early 20´s. God we´re old! The weather starts being rather cloudy and overcast so perfect weather for starting my blog...which I do even when the Internet is crap in cloudy / rainy weather. The Aussies are really roughing it and staying in hammocks above the bar at their pousada. Apparently its fine except for the trance music which plays all night?! What is it with trance here? Still thinking about minimal techno and the Colombian from London. In fact I´m really missing London and my mates and my family already. I have the flat situation also loomimg in the background which is stressing me out. Can´t really be bothered to mention in here but suffice to say: bollocks why did i think they were a cool couple? I decide again that I´m a terrible judge of character.

M´s tummy proves that there´s not much else to think about in paradise, but the beach and what to eat next. M is convinced she was a t-rex in a previous life so Thursday night I´m dragged out to find Argentine steak. Which luckily we find in Trancoso. 50 real later (same price as our accommodation!) we´re stuffed full of delicious steak and freshly cut french fries. Almost as good if not better than Huis Istas in Brussels. I point out I´m on holiday with a tummy! Bernardo joins us at the restaurant (there´s no denting this ego!) Not really sure at what point this happens but H starts behaving rather weirdly with us. She is now officially a bit of a stalker who follows us to Salvador and keeps popping up. She´s had a thing with this guy Ron and now its obviously not going right. I´ll never know that whole story, but she´s definitely got her back up about something.

My tan is coming on beautifully until I forget to put sun lotion onto my chest (hung over!)...I have lobster chest and am very cross with myself, plus M points out how dangerous it is...anyway I end up wearing my tshirt backwards so it covers it up. After the morning of the sand fleas I now have attractive spotty bite legs, gross. I look like I have the plague (which I note still occurs in South America according to lonely planet?!). I have also bought myself a new pair or shades actually in Rio. I love them but over the last week the heat and sweat on my face is melting the painted (aka cheap) frames. Rubbish! They´re going straight back to the shop in Rio when we get back.

The last night in Trancoso is a Trance party (Bernardo tells us it´s going to be the best one evah) on the beach. It really isn´t, but we do meet up with some English and Swiss guys. One of them is the cousin of Caroline one of M´s good mates from London. Firstly they stand us up, but then show up at the Trance party, we forgive them. Well M does. We also say bye to Olly and Jess, hoping to meet them later in Salvador for carnival.

It´s Monday and definitely time to leave Trancoso. We leave on a bus trying to escape H, which we think we do until she also shows up at the Rodoviario in Porto Seguro, but luckily not on the same bus to Salvador. We also meet Felix the German whom we last saw in Rio at funk party in Lapa. Small world, small gringo world. M sits next to Felix for the journey so I sit next to singing Brazilian woman. Ipod drowns out most of it, and we have front row seats. So this time without the help of Viagra, I sleep most of the way in ipod shuffle world. We arrive in Salvador at 6.30 in the morning. We´ve secured a hostel in Barra (which is a district by the beach). Salvador is a bit scary?!

Points of interest:

MOG - dogs which look like mice ie big mouse ears.
Acai - acai berries frozenish pulp (supafood!) banana, granola and some honey mmmm
brazillianplaysuits.com - our new business idea.
Are you shy??! - what all Brasillian men think.
Pousada - hostel or inn, B and b etc.
I have finger nails!
Want a new tattoo...

Bye for now...xxxxx

Posted by spacebooth 10:44 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Brasil

London to Rio

all seasons in one day 35 °C
View Esther's Adventure on spacebooth's travel map.

Finally I´ve got it together to write this silly blog. Well start it at least. It´s now become a daily joke with Marianne (known from now on a ´M´), who will be amazed that I´m actually doing it. In fact I´m only doing it to show her...it feels like doing homework?! Also due to adverse weather, the Internet has been very iffy and desperately slow.

So I´ll try to start from where I left off. I arrive in London via Eurostar to the new St Pancras terminal. An easy journey. I´m in a panic though and in a rush to get home to clean the flat and get my head in order. The cleaning of my flat and and the sorting out of my head are inexplicably linked . I spend 3 hours cleaning and feel much better. Right I have 6 days in which to get myself sorted. The shortest 6 days of my life, the most hectic, and it seems the most disorganised. Where is my head??! Certainly not geared up to sorting shit out. I spend the next days in a mix of running round, emailing, photocopying, doctors, dentists, outdoor shops, boots, cash and carry, Fulham, Hackney, Knightsbridge...it´s all a blurrrr. I find some Aussie tenants for my room who seem very sweet on the face of it. Karisia is supervising them, so we´ll see...The goodbye party which I have to say goes down in history as on on the best parties evah takes place in Alex´s basement. M and I spend about 4 hours on Friday 11th cleaning the place up so that the party can happen that evening. Such good fun. Although I didn´t really get chance to speak with everyone as much as I wanted to. It was so good that everyone made the effort and I´m eternally grateful!! Thank you! The party obviously wasn´t conducive to my ´sorting shit out`state of mind, I was supposed to be in. The weekend is lost! Then its Monday the day before, how did that happen?? Too much to do and no time. Two days of utter panic and brain freeze with a break in the middle of seeing all my girls at Ed´s (he does a lovely dinner at his for me on Monday eve). Drunk dressing up , my favorite; and i think Ed has bought me the website www.thankfuckesthersgonetravelling.com Must check. I also have my book of things Esther has to do whilst she´s away. Written by people whilst at my party, some were obviously rather worse for wear.

M finally manages to get me out of the flat at 18.20 on Tuesday eve. I literally have to be dragged out the flat in a complete state of shock and fear. Going away travelling is supposed to be amazing, why am I crapping myself? I feel sick, i feel out of breath, i´m shaking???! oh that might be the hangover really kicking in...

So we´re off. I finally relax once we´ve checked the bags in and i´ve downed a white wine. Great flight thanks to M who insists on checking in 24 hours before (to the dot) to get us emergency exit seats with extra leg room. We sleep all the way to Brazil! Oh my god we fly into Rio and I can´t quite believe it. It´s massive and beautiful and tropical and the views are stupendous. We go through immigration no probs and make our way to the air con bus stop to take us downtown. OK i can´t speak Portuguese. Its sounds weird. I keep trying Spanish everywhere. M and I decided it sounds like double dutch. We get the bus to Ipanema and our hostel Ipanema Beach House. Fuck! we luv it!! We´re sharing the room with 4 other girls. Shelley, Tola, Emma and Angie. Two bunks in three teers. I´m on the top. Not looking forward to the caiparina (can´t spell it sorry) assault on getting to bed in the dead of night. Its bloody high! and the fan is right by my head, and there´s no side to the bed. Wheres my crash helmet Roma??!

We spend the next days on the beach just observing. It´s incredible. Its like gourmet people watching. So much to see so many different things. Boys and men from favelas selling different food drink stuffs. carrying small portable barbq´s in tin cans on the beach for grilling cheese on sticks. Globo biscuits. Mate lao (iced tea). Its all go and about as chilled as oxford street. All in 40 degree heat. M and I sit under our sombrero don´t really speak and just watch. Fascinating. Oh and did I mention the men???! Fuck they´re beautiful. M and I quite like Rio! M decides she has to get a Brazilian bikini, where you can´t tell the front from the back. Everyone is in them, big, small, everyone loving themselves and not giving a shit what anyone thinks. Very refreshing. Oh don´t get me started on the shopping. Apart from the joke about me starting my blog, our other joke so far is ´oh no we´ve blown the budget again´. Shopping in Rio is too good. We have to restrain ourselves.

M and I attempt to get the bus to the Christ the redeemer. Who stands high above Rio (much higher than I thought). Our plan is foiled when a mini typhoon hits and washes away one of each of our flip flops. We are left with one flip and one flop, but the sizes don't match. This happens in the street which turns into a river within about 30 mins of the downpour. It´s complete chaos and we desperately try to get back on a bus to take us back to the safe haven of Ipanema. M and I are fascinated by favelas and point and go quiet every time we see one through the condensation bus windows. I can´t stop thinking about City of God. The disparity of wealth in Rio is ridiculous. Confirmed when on Sunday we decided to visit a hippie market up the road in Ipanema towards Copacabana. On route home we hear a 10 minute gun battle (A to the motherfucking K home boy) from the favela two blocks away...we both go quite white and have to nip into a coffee shop to hide. This place is crazy and very very far from home.

Angie who has a friend in Rio, takes up to the arches of Lapa to a funk party where there are dj´s, live MC´s and graffiti artists all doing their thing on stage. Its very cool and M and I dance our arses off. We love Brasil!! ANd Caiperina´s (not the hangovers). It esablished that a whole bottle is used to make just 6 glasses. I have 4 that night.

Things of note:

Reformed ham - (ham which no longer follows the route of evil)
Acaraje - Deep fried white bean paste sort of donut, split in two then each half is piled with gloopy lentils, chopped veg and shrimps and chili. Yum!

21st Jan leave on air con bus with tons of Israelis to Porto Seguro in Bahia. The Viagra hangover and other stories to be continued...

over and pout xxxxx

Posted by spacebooth 11:35 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

The Move

Brussels

rain

Here goes...

I get back to the big smoke by landing in Luton at 22.50 on the evening of the 3rd of January 08. Imagine going from the beauty of the Swiss Alps, to Luton on a dark, cold, foggy night. The thought of now having to queue for the shuttle bus to take me to a cold platform, then to wait for a British Rail train to take me to Kings X, THEN having to get across London to Fulham... I feel knackered and my back's hurting. Whilst waiting in the queue for passports I see a familiar face. Dan whom I knew from Felden Street! Maybe we could combine to take a cab? Please??! $60 between three for a black cab to Fulham, great!. I get home just after midnight...

Planning and organisation is unfortunately not always my forte. I seem to panic about it. I sort of wander round and all my thoughts just whiz round my mind in complete confusion. I think the problem at the moment is I seem to be continually packing, and for different reasons. Firstly the travel packing...my small rucksack of essentials for the year (I still haven’t bought the pack so who knows if my 'essentials 'will fit in the max 50 litre bag I intend on getting, probably not). Secondly there was the packing to go snowboarding, which coupled with the imminent house packing up to move to Brussels in the back of my mind. Resulted in... no pants in Switzerland (well one pair) and only one pair of jeans apart from my snowboard trousers and two pairs of tights (to wear with what?).

So now I sit in the study at home with mum's gardening back brace on, having moved most of my crap to Brussels, and knowing that all I have at home is my travel possessions and a small collection of last week in London stuff. Filing and warm clothes till I go. I will need to store them somewhere, hopefully at Claudine's or Godrich DC.

Spending last evening with the family tonight. Going to Huis Istas where I will mostly be eating salad crevette gris. Lisa I'll be thinking of you...in fact I will call you after this.

Over and out...

Posted by spacebooth 17:57 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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