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Published: August 13th 2010
Arrival in Rio
On the 5th of August we arrived in Rio de Janeiro. It was dark, it was raining and we could not find a place to stay. Eventually we pitched our tent in absolutely the most awful campsite I have EVER been in, and the most expensive: about R 270,-- for one night in a place where there was no WiFi, cold showers only and no campers we could see. The place was littered with large structures (tents?) covered with large blue pieces of plastic sheet, giving the place the appearance of a refugee camp.
Going all the way back to San Salvador in Bolivia, where we finally got our fridge back (unrepaired), we moved for a couple of weeks from campsite to hostel to camping somewhere in the bush, with few real interesting highlights.
We spent a few days in a large national park where big busses occasionally deposited large groups of (sometimes) foreign tourists, mainly young people who slept in hang mats and went on horse riding trips. It was swamp area and fishing for piranha’s without being bitten by caimans was one of the attractions. After a while we moved on. Generally we
had good weather, met very few people we could talk to and it is strange to notice that in South America fewer people seem to be able to speak English than, for instance, in China.
Brasilia, the capital of this immense land, was a disappointment. Laid out in the form of a plane it has many buildings designed be a famous Dutch architect I don’t know the name of and has nothing of the South American vibrancy and flair that make other places so appealing.
We camped on the (large) grounds of a youth hostel far out of town, but with some good shady trees and an owl living on the ground not far from our tent. Breakfast was included in the price though and although far from impressive, we enjoyed the real butter that was part of it. For the rest is was very poorly designed, with no communal facilities other than the breakfast room, no WiFi, no table to work on and nothing to buy. We had to go shopping for provisions. Fortunately there was a Carrefour a few minutes drive from our campsite.
By the way, did I tell you that Ann’s computer packet up earlier and
that, because it was an older model, it could not be repaired in Brazil? And that on top of the failure of our fridge which had developed an electronic fault that was not repairable on this part of the world. Yes, I mentioned that earlier.
Still in Bolivia we had driven about 450 km on tar, when we had to stop at a small village. We found a camping place on a large field near the bus station and expected it to be very quiet there. But lo and behold, very early the next morning we were woken up be a lot of loud shouts and stamping of feet. It appeared that two platoons of Bolivian recruits were being put through there paces, literally. 2 x 40 men with wooden rifles and each platoon with their own instructor. And what were they trained to do, right from the start? They were told how to do the goose-step. I’ve never seen something so demeaning for a human being as being told how to do a ridiculous military parade step, just to please the top guy you may have to die for and who will eventually pride himself to be able to
show off a few thousand men and getting praised for the rigorous training that will not improve the fighting skills of his soldiers on the battlefield.
We were only about 25 km from the place where Che Guevara was killed by Spanish troops, and where there is a statue of him to commemorate him. But the road was so bad that we abandoned the idea and returned to the highway leading to the border with Brazil. An other event that comes to mind was a stay for three days with a family in Campo Grande, Brazil, after Ann’s computer had packet up, most probably as a result of not seeing a speed-hump in time to avoid a terrific hiding. In town we found a computer repair shop where an effort would be made to check her machine out. When it appeared that the motherboard was damaged and could not be replaced in Bolivia, and maybe even in the whole of South America, the hard drive was recovered and the rest abandoned. But it took three days to figure that out and during that time we were offered the use of a spare room. They were such pleasant, helpful and accommodating
people that it turned out to be almost like a little holyday.
After Brasilia and a night in the bush, we reached a small, quaint town called Diamantina. Funny that little towns which can be called “quaint” have terrible street paving and narrow, steep streets. This was no exception. After a while we found the camping as indicated by the Lonely Planet almost at the top of a fairly steep mountain. It was more like a private house with a shady lawn, but the facilities were superb and the owner and his family turned out to be extremely pleasant people. An effort was made even to get the electronic part of our fridge repaired by friends of the owner, but alas, that did not work out again.
A few days later we decided to pack up and move on. Between Diamantina and Rio we found another camping, seemingly having been in much better state but now neglected with obvious no maintenance, nor repair efforts made for a long time. But is was pleasant. We like the solitude. And here, for the first time in South America, we had an honest braai, a piece of pork rib, cooked to perfection
and very tasty.
We left on the 4th of August for the relative short trip to Rio. And here we will stay for a while now we have found this pleasant hostel where we sleep in a six-bed dorm. Already we found out that the fridge can not me repaired here either and by now we take it for accepted the what we have is just a very expensive cool box. I’ll come back to you some other time again.
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