Published: October 20th 2007October 19th 2007
The Concrete Jungle From Hell (view from John's room)
Sooo we are officially IN
Brazil ... Oh God! The last few days have been a very interesting/overwhelming adventure!
The plane ride from Toronto was about 9 hours. We were feeling a little overwhelmed about landing in Sao Paulo and began asking questions to a few people around us about safety, getting around, etc etc. One lady flat out told us that getting robbed is a part of the experience in Brasil; that it isn't an "if" but rather a "when." A man looked over at us, eye balled our Lonely Plant South America Book, and our baseball caps and agreed. He basically said that we're walking targets and that we wouldn't last long, but then offered to set us up with a ride into town. We were a little hesitant to accept a ride from a stranger (who had just delivered the news that we were doomed) but out of fear and for lack of better options (keep in mind that except for an all inclusive in Jamaica, we've never been out of Canada) we accepted his offer. He turned out to be our knight in shining airplane! His name was John and he is a Canadian Engineer who
does alot of work in Sao Paulo. We went out to meet his driver Carlos (yes, driver!) and headed downtown. First impressions of Sao Paulo ... "Oh God, We're Going To Die!" The drivers are insane! John and Carlos advised us to keep a low profile, meaning hide my purse under the seat, do not show signs of "affluence," and definitely do not take pictures at red lights. It didn't do much to ease our fears and second impressions of Sao Paulo were along the lines of "Oh God, what have we gotten ourselves into??!!"
John turned out to be a wonderful man! He took us to his high rise downtown, put our bags in his room and then took us for coffee so that we could "regroup." By this point we were both "shell shocked" and didn't have a clue where to start or what to do. My vote was to head right back to the airport and go home! We ended up going to John's office and met some of his Brasilian collegues who helped us draw up a game plan. We ended up choosing to get out of Sao Paulo STAT! It was too overwhelming and
Drive to Santos
The highway goes up over the jungle and the mountains ... Beautiful!
too much too soon! That probably sounds a little silly, but seriously, we felt shell shocked. Carlos came back to get us and we ended up in the "small town" (population 550,000 compared to Sao Paulos 19 million!) of Santos. There weren't any hostels there and we ended up in a pousada, which is like a B&B.
Our first night in Brasil was quite rough for me. Trevor was a trooper and was excited to take on the adventure ahead of us, but I was terrified and just wanted to go home. Like, really
wanted to go home. I ended up having a huge meltdown and begging him to take me back to Canada!! He took me to an Italian restaurant for dinner instead. The following day, we boarded a bus to Rio de Janeiro. The ride was long and scary (two grimey men caught sight of our camera and starred us down the entire time), but we made it.
The most overwhelming thing so far has been the fact that EVERYONE we meet (locals included) tell us that we're going to get robbed. Even the little Italian man who served us our first dinner told us in
Everything We Know ... Is About to Change!
Leaving from the Edmonton Airport on Oct 17!
Portalish (Portuguese/Italian/English combined) to watch ourselves. It's hard to know how much of that is reality and how much is fear mongering. Next comes the language barrier ... English does not exist here! Our naivity led us to believe that everyone in the world speaks at least a little bit of our language ... however, it's not true!
We are now staying in a hostel in Rio, and it's a relief to meet other backpackers. So far Rio de Janeiro is awesome! We're both still a little unsure of what to expect, but we're trucking along - no longer desperately wishing to be back at home. Tonight we're heading out with a bunch from the hostel to a street party in the funky neighbourhood of Lapa. Apparently thousands of Brasilians just hang out and drink in the streets. Should be fun!
Trevor and Kristena
There are more photos below