Published: February 15th 2012February 15th 2012
It was actually happening. Buggering off out of Carlisle. The last month, however, was a cliched bag of mixed emotions. It would probably be the last I saw of my beloved dogs. I hadn´t even considered that I´d miss mother; I´m 31 and 31 year olds shouldn´t still be living at home.
The final day had to be filled up with chores and not tearful eyes as I hadn´t eaten a bag of crisps in days, and therefore had nowhere near enough salt in my body.
A quick hug to all, and out of there.
Northen men don´t cry, do I didn´t. Honest.
A night in Plumpton, one at Heathrow - where Ferg and Kate joined us for a drink which was brilliant - to Rome, pizza, then an excruciating 12 hours awaiting the plunge into the Atlantic waters.
And into the boling Carioca caulderon of Rio. And jangling nerves as the favela loomed over us.
The favela. Amazing, if I can pick one, simple word. The locals were smiley and chatty. People came from all over the world to live here - we met a Columbian, an American (who was, stereotypically, an arrogant prick), a Lithuanian and there was a English woman (apparently). They had chosen to live in this ´slum´, they weren´t some poor unfortunates struggling to survive in 3rd world conditions.
Alas, a downside to the safe and welcoming atmosphere of Favela Vidigal was complacency. We went to the Lappa district on the 2nd day with the aim of heading up to Santa Theresa via some famous steps. We went the wrong way, it was very quiet and then: some bellend appeared and enquired as the availabilty of my bag. If I was to fight a paper bag, you´d put yer house on the ex-tree, so he became the proud owner of half a bottle of water, the last few fags´worth of tobacco and some highly sweaty sandals.
Although a bit shaken by the sudden intrusion of violence, we were totally unhurt and not lacking in anything valuable - you´re a bloody fool if you walk around Rio with more than enough for bus/food/water. 10 mins later we were having a beer and toasting the shittest mugger ever - hoping that his mates were ripping the piss out of him.
On return to the hostel we realised the keys were in the bag, so we spent 3 hours on the step drinking beer and talking to the neighbour about dogs - quite a feat when you don´t fale Portugese
. He offered us food and cocaine - turned both down (soy vegeteranio!
) but the offer of such hospitality was touching.
Next, to Ilha Grande, a large island 4 hours south of Rio. Covered in verdant jungle and a reputation akin to a Thai party island. In truth, that´s bollocks. It was quiet and the only bars were in hostels. We went for a hike to a beach with a rather large reputation - that of being one of the best in Brazil, which was somehat difficult in the stifling heat. It was supposed to take 2 hours so we were somewhat pleased when we did it in one.
Several hours later, just before we left, we found out it was the wrong one. Wet sand is wet sand though.
A good night out for us here consisted of being in bed by midnight with glowing satisfaction that we were 50 reais
under budget for the day. The spirit of rock and roll is alive and strong in this one, sire.
Now we´re in Paraty (pronunced Parra-chi you uneducated English tramp) suffering the aftermath of a 3quid bottle of vodka. The realisation hit me last night that I´m not particularly enjoying what we´re doing now. The romantic notion of escaping western ideals has been quashed, which is clearly going to happen when staying in hostels. What we were looking to escape is highly concentrated in such places. People will steal your food, respect will be lacking and I find myself wishing everyone would fuck right off.
That sounds a bit bleak - the area is beautiful, hummingbirds will lift even the darkest moods and I´m with a truly wonderful person - but this isn´t what I came for. The favela was wonderful principally because THAT was Brazil. Looking over to Copocabana beach I remarked that it could be anywhere in the world, beachfront highrises are ten a penny, where we were was real. You knew you were in Brazil. I want that feeling again, soon we start working on farms in rural areas so I´m confident that it will come back.
Tomorrow we start the long journey to Paraguay. 7 hours to Sao Paulo then 20 hours to Asuncion. Looking forward to getting out of Brazil - it´s expensive. On a par with Europe, easily.
No doubt I´ll be twinging about Paraguay in a couple of weeks, so until then, buenos dias