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Published: November 16th 2010
Beach tans & Caipirinha´s
Since landing we´ve spent a couple of chilled days in Santa Tereas. The hostel was a bit hit & miss with the first room, having a bed from the 1960´s and a massive hole above the door. On the friday night the owner informed us about a band that was playing on the terrace. Unfortunately this turned into what can only be described as a Santana all nighter but thankfully we managed to switch rooms and got a slight refund 😊
It was a good call to have something booked in advance to chill out for the first few days and regroup. Personally I can´t sleep on flights so was destroyed from watching 11 hours of action/comedy/chick flicks/etc. That said we still managed to get out and about. Friday was spent stumbling around the city, looking for banks and sampling the local food. The staple kind of fast food brazil seem to go for is various combinations of Ham & Cheese in pastry which is usually fried. Extremely unhealthy but strangely appealling.
Saturday, the heavens opened and it rained like a beast. It was relentless, amazing to watch from our room and
after a bit we couldn´t resist so ventured out into town. Needless to say, we got soaked and flip flops were not the correct choice of footwear. We attempted to hit Lapa on the saturday night but the rain beat us to it and we returned, piss wet through after a couple of drinks. One thing we did discover on our underwater adventure was a Brazilian cocktail called a Caipirinha. Anyone whose been to Brazil will have had one (or no doubt Deansgate) they´re basically half a glass of rum, limes and sugar cain. It´s awesome! Very powerful tho.
The sun greeted us again on the following day, making it the perfect settling to make our first visit to the beach. We took a bus to Urca, the bairro at the bottom of sugar loaf mountain. The two beaches of Urca and Velhma had powerful under-current and isn´t the kind of beach you can take a relaxing swin in. That said, the sand was golden and rightous for sunbathing. After topping up our tans we headed over to Sugar Loaf mountain and took our lives into our own hands on the cable car system. God willing we made it
up to the top. The place as been really well planned out with viewing points for the city and an numerous small trails through the forest on the other side of the island. After a successful monkey hunt and silly amounts of photos (coming soon) we travelled back down to the first mountain, which had a concert hall, mall and helipad on it. Pretty impressive for a mountain eh?
The past two days we´ve been staying in a dorm in Copacabana. A first for me, personally i found it a bit strange sleeping in a box room with 3 sets of 3 tiered bunk beds but after putting in a hard days work of sunbathing, beach napping and eating fried goods, you soon drift off. The Caipirinha´s help too 😉
We managed to take in the whole of Copacabana beach when we ran it one afternoon, much to the dismay of our bodies (My feet still ache now) and took in Ipanema, last night. Definately the prettier of the two and more safer at night with it´s massive floodlights and constant games of volley ball to keep you entertained.
Yesterday we went on our first proper tour,
a guided tour of a Favela. I´d read a lot about this before leaving and was really looking forward to it. We were collected at our hotels in the morning and then dropped at the enterance to the favela, Rochina. Our guide then informed us that we aren´t going to be shot on sight, what to do if you get lost and when we could and couldn´t take photos. After that we each jumped on the back of a moto bike and the driver proceed to hammer it to the top, whilst we hung on for dear life. A good ridebut with a few hairy points!
Contary to what you read, Rio ain´t actually that rough. Yeah there´s dodgy bits same as anywhere, but the way it´s made out in press you´d think they´d be taking pot shots at you has soon as you step off the plane. It´s exactally the same with the Favela, it a group of people who the goverment wouldn´t provide for so they decided to take care of themselves. Tapping into local water and electricity and building their house´s on the land. It was amazing to see how these communities had come about and
the resilience and determination of the people who build them.
Our guide was top notch, supplying us with a endless amount of stories and tales about the favela and how it came to be. We stopped at various places on the way; a bakery (they put me to shame), a art gallery, a community centre, a nursey. The atmosphere in the favela was warm and friendly, everyone knew each other and the guide and where ever we stopped, we were welcomed.
At present the Rochina is gang run by a gang called ADA. The gangs make their money through drug trafficing and have a strict control on the favela, with radio men on each enterance and gun men patrolling them too (now these were a bit scary, they were kitted out in bulletproof vests, rocking M16´s, hand grenades. They looked more like special forces than kids with guns.) Because they make so much money, they can´t take it outside of the favela otherwise the goverment will be able to trace it too them so the money stays in the favela. They throw big parties with free drinks for everyone, buy more guns and more drugs and make more
money! Appearenty the head of this Favela is the ex-head of the Special Forces division. He used to get paid 3000 Riea a week, since he switched to running drugs in the favela he´s on 10,000 a week! The picture i´ve got don´t do it justice but it was something we´re both really glad we had a chance to see.
Right now, we´re just waitin on a transfer to the bus station to get a bus to the port and then ferry over to a island called Ilha Grande.
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