Published: February 20th 2007February 20th 2007
Today is our last day in Rio and then we head home via Buenos Aires, Auckland and Sydney. Hopefully no more than 30 hours on the go.
Since our last blog we did some snorkeling in Bonito and then moved onto Rio for the Carnival.
The freshwater snorkeling day at Bonito was good, got sunburnt however because you are not allowed to use sunscreen so it doesn’t damage the environment. The waterways are quite clear in places and the fish are about in numbers, not the same as snorkeling on a coral reef but still quite nice.
From Bonito we got a minivan to Campo Grande (4hrs) and then a flight to Sao Paulo and then another onto Rio. Our first flight was late and we therefore missed our next flight and they put us on another. Apparently Carnival time is crazy for the airports as well.
Rio is very busy. I think there is about 7million residents so that explains it a bit I guess, but Carnival time is much busier than usual with loads of tourists as well.
It is a bit grubby and smelly in places and the smog is a bit much
some days. Most of the buildings are in pretty ordinary condition and there are numerous slum areas called favelas that are controlled by crime lords and are no go areas for police.
There is a lot of street crime but it is mostly theft and I believe violence against tourists is low. There has been a fairly obvious police presence on the streets. Some of the cop cars look pretty beat up, like they have been in about 20 minor accidents. Most of the cops wear atleast two firearms.
We did the main sights, including Sugarloaf mountain and up to Corcavado to see the Christ the Redeemer Statue up close. At Sugarloaf I did a chopper ride over the city which was a great view but as I was in a middle seat no good for photos.
The beaches here are very popular with the locals. A few blocks from our hotel down near the water at Copacabana it is packed with sunbathers and umbrellas and vendors etc. It is actually difficult to thread your way through and make it to the water. Once there looking up and down the beach all you can see is people
until the spray and smog cut your vision. Not any surf to speak of, just a little shore break. When Corinne had a swim, she was easy to pick out among the dark skins.
We got the subway to the Parade at the Sambodromo on Sunday night and didn’t have any problems, it was a bit hairy walking to the Sambodromo from the subway as our gate number was up the end and the thing is over a km long. The streets around it are in a very poor area but fortunately everyone that challenged us (every 5 seconds) as we walked along were just trying to sell us Skol (beer), carnival tickets, or something unidentifiable.
I decided to risk taking my camera, we had some advice to say it was too dangerous to do so because of muggers outside the Sambodromo. The other issue was that the program guide said “professional cameras” were not allowed. I was concerned they would not let me in. There were many other restrictions on what you could take in which gave the impression the security would be tight. In fact inside the Sambodromo itself was claimed to be “the safest place
in South America”.
I needn’t have worried about not getting through with my camera, true to South American style I walked through the gates with Corinnes backpack and noone said a thing or asked to look in it. So much for the high security area.
Our seats were only about 16 rows from the parade roadway but our “stand” was only about 2 meters high and there wasn’t really any slope on the stand so it was hard to see from where we sat. Fortunately you could move around in the sector and try and get a view from wherever you could.
We got there about 10pm and the place was all ready pretty full and buzzing. At about 11.30 it was up another gear as a more popular school paraded. We were surrounded mostly by locals who were friendly and many were in the parade. Corinne helped some of them out of their costumes when they returned from the paradeway.
It is amazing how many people are involved in the actual display. Each samba school takes about an hour and a half to complete their run. Given we were toward the end of the paradeway
it took about 40minutes for each school to reach us after they started. It would then take about 45mins for the school to pass by. Almost a constant flow of floats and dancers filling the entire roadway. I guess many of the schools had several thousand costumed dancers.
The music is loud and while catchy gets a bit repetitive for my tastes. With a school taking around an hour and a half to complete and then only 10mins break to the next school you get the picture.
We headed home on the subway about 4.30am happy with our Parade experience.
This morning Corinne is off with Phillipa (an aussie girl we have met up with) to do a favela tour. Then we check out at 2pm and start our journey home.
Hope you enjoyed the images and reading our blogs.
Thanks for the comments and messages of support.
We will email everyone to let you know when we make it home.
Brett and Corinne
There are more photos below