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Published: February 7th 2007
Hey folks, looks like the subscriber alerts have been suspended from this site for a while. I hope that explains the lack of comments i got on my last blog. If you didn´t see it, go back one blog. Please drop me a comment so I know people are still interested!!! thanks
So my plan was to head up the coast of Uruguay to Salto and then cross back over into Argentina on the way to Iguazzu Falls. Plan foiled on the day of travel when i found that hostel availability and bus connections were iffy. So re-grouping on the fly, I backtracked to Buenos Aires via boat and bus and caught the 18 hour bus out to Puerto Iguazzu the next day. Ended up splurging on the "bus cama", which was sooo worth it- 2 seats on one side and one on the other, so i had a huge comfy fully reclining seat without a fat snoring seat mate. Brilliant!!! Spent a few days in Puerto Iguazzu, a tranquil little jungle town with soaring temps of 33 degrees C, got my Brazil visa and visitied Iguazzu Falls from both the Argentinian and Brazilian side. (favorite- Brazil). Rio- Bus
Onto Rio, via another 22 hour bus ride. First impression of Brazil is that it is sooo green! My excitement soon turned to bewilderment when i realized how much i underestimated being in over my head in a country where i speak not one word of the language. (even the numbers- aka, prices and bus numbers- are unrecognizable). Spent a day recovering from the bus and meandering around dazed, trying to feed myself, which usually meant showing up somewhere and muttering "vegetariana" and hoping for the best. Portuguese is a sing-songy sounding language, sounding like nothing i have ever heard!
But my absolute favorite thing about Rio is the juice bars on every corner. I kept searching for one in Argentina, the steak capital, and they looked at me as if i was crazy. Right next to my hostal was the coolest open air juice bar where you just wander up, take a seat or stand and they feed you right at the bar. I discovered Acai, a delicious juice smoothy so thick and rich you eat it with a spoon. Yummmmmm. Drowning in Portuguese
Day two I spent 6 hours trying to find the airline office
to book my upcoming jungle flight (mission accomplished) and wandering around in search of a fax to fax my paperwork to the jungle lodge I booked. (failed, miserably). After finally finding this big center of hundreds of vendors, i kept asking for a fax, getting answers in portuguese which i didnt understand, wandering in the general direction they pointed, asking again, and repeating the process until i finally found a fax place, at which point the fax promptly refused to go through. I got lost going home and spent another hour trying to find the right buses to get back to my hostel. By the time i got back at 3 pm, a whole day wasted, I was so exhausted that I had the owner order me chinese delivery! God, Rio is rough. Favela Tour
Day three I went on a tour of the Favelas, the largest shanty town in Latin America. Really cool experience. The guide knew all the street kids and the locals, stopping to chat with them. We rode up to the top in motorcycles and then walked all the way down, stopping at a daycare center fully funded by our tour payments. So cool!!! Flying with the birds- Hangliding!!!
Day four was the highlight of Rio! Hangliding !!! The company was fantastic. They drove us up a mountain and showed us this roof we were going to run off of. (ohmygod). There were about a dozen instructors, all friendly young guys, instructing us, gearing us up and then lining up in procession for the take off one right after another, just like a runway strip. My take off was kinda awkward because as soon as i started running, my brain screamed to my legs, "Are you crazy, we´re not running off this roof", and slowed me right down, so the instructor pretty much drug me off! But as soon as we cleared the roof, we were floating and it was AMAZING. Fantastic views all around, birds flying by... We even climbed a thermal and landed right on the beach, my first intro to Rio beaches. Completely spectacular experience! Afterwards, headed to Sugar Loaf mountain for the cable car ride and famous Rio view, a mistake because it was cloudy so i missed the postcard pics. Oh well.
The last day in Rio i spent visiting the famous Impanema and Copacabana beaches. So lovely.
locals dont pay taxes or utilities, they plug their cable into the main line to get free electricity
Overall tho i couldn´t decide whether Rio was a paradise or hell on earth. It's a very old city- no new buildings, mostly old box-like apartment buildings. You can imagine when it was newly built how beautiful it must have been, all those high rises dotted along the lush green coast. Wisked away high above the city in expensive gringo tours, it is a gorgeous city, covered in rainforest and surrounded in beautiful beaches, but from a backpacker standpoint, crawling around the center, it can be gritty, frenzied, mobbed and hard to get around, especially in the heat and humidity of a sauna. Salvador
Onto Salvador, via a 28 hour bus ride (too long). What a welcome relief tho. Parked myself in the Pelhourino district, a cute cobblestoned hilly completely walkable neighborhood. Salvador HAS to be the cutest city on earth, with rows upon rows of happy colored colonial buildings, shops lining the sidewalks and happy go lucky people spilling out into the streets, singing, drumming and selling their wares. Even though parts are a bit seedy looking, the vibe is mellow and really cool.
I spent a day absorbed in all the Tana Colored Buildings taking
pics and a day at the beach (not that great) and attended a folklore ballet of African dancers which was amazing. They bent their bodies in ways which didnt even seem possible!!
The other highlight was being able to take a Capoeira class here since I study it back home. Capoeira is a combo of martial arts and brazilian dance, started right here with the slaves brought over from Africa. They were not allowed to practice martial arts, so they made it into a dancelike game. To see what it looks like, follow this link : Capoeira Demonstration
It was amazing, but after doing an hour of cartwheels and flying about, i couldn't even bend down the next day. Unfortunately that nixed the plan of more classes. Anyway, I am wrapping up another chapter, heading northward up the coast in search of tranquility, beaches and R and R. Hi to all back home.
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