Flyin with the birds and Swimming in a sea of Portuguese

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South America » Brazil » Rio de Janeiro
February 6th 2007
Published: February 7th 2007
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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 Cama
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.
Favela TourFavela TourFavela Tour

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.

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.

Additional photos below
Photos: 33, Displayed: 26


Team braveTeam brave
Team brave

my hangliding buddies
View From Sugar LoafView From Sugar Loaf
View From Sugar Loaf

my how pretty Rio looks from afar
Boys on the beachBoys on the beach
Boys on the beach

their little trunks made me laugh, but better to see their beautiful bodies with, and DAMN, were there some!
Eye CandyEye Candy
Eye Candy

one of the few places i have been were the guys were looking better than the gals. Thank god, some eye candy for us!
Thong EttiquiteThong Ettiquite
Thong Ettiquite

contrary to popular opinion, everyone here did NOT have a perfect body. This lady is demonstrating allowable thong usage.
Thong ViolationThong Violation
Thong Violation

Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.... put some of it back on. No, we DONT want to see that.

8th February 2007

Though you partially destroyed my eyesight with the last photograph, I'm letting you know that you've got yourself a new subscriber... This one's from Greece, and is going to Brazil in a few months, so will be eager to read new posts of yours :-). PS IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO PICK UP A PORTUGUESE PHRASEBOOK!!! Am I shouting? YOU BET I AM!!! :-)
8th February 2007

Tana, no your blogs are not too long at all. I very much enjoy reading every word of them and seeing the photos. I do not expect to ever visit SA and yet thanks to you I have traveled it vicariously --and you have so much more courage, resilience and fortitude than I ever had. I admire your ability to keep your sense of humor while enduring physical conditions most of us in the US have never seen much less experienced first hand and doing without so many of the comforts that many of consider necessities, though millions of people live without them every day. Please do not get discouraged by the lack of responses, and keep the reports coming. I look forward to each new one, even if respond only infrequently. Where will you be come Holy Week? I think it would be so interesting to experience and celebrate that special season in a foreign culture. I pray for your regularly and hope for you many blessings and much joy during the remainder of your trip. Love and prayers, Jane
8th February 2007

Flying with the birds
Tana, so good to hear from you again. I see there is no end to your wonderful adventures. I envy you so, well maybe when I was younger. The hangliding looked like so much fun!! I went bridge jumping a few years ago at Lake Murray and I know just how much trouble I had jumping from the bridge so I can only imagine how you felt when you were taking off. The pictures are awesome, thank you so much for sharing them and all you experiences with us.
8th February 2007

Thongs? Jeeezz
Tana, Thanks for putting up a new blog!!! Nice pics. of Salvador. Sorry you had to go hang gliding!!! hahahaha I wonder if anyone noticed that in the Thong Etiquitte pic, the young girl who SHOULD be wearing the thong was actually hiding the old cottage cheese butt woman who shouldn't!!!! Thanks for giving us a glimpse of your tribulations. Sad that such a big country is hard for you to communicate in!!! Hope you are well. Peanut misses you. Meeepp!
8th February 2007

no thongs for me!
Tana, I'm just glad that I don't have to be out there in a thong at this moment in time! 2 1/2 weeks to due date...can you imagine me on those beaches?!!! Please email me when new blogs are posted...didn't know you were still online! xoxo debi
8th February 2007

yeah, T, see, that last thong pic??? some of us here are trying to eat LUNCH, you know. eew, eew, eeew. (I should talk--but then again I'm not smashing my cottage-cheese butt into a thong, either, so maybe I DO have room to judge after all.) Now, about the hanggliding...Just READING that made my entire body go "oh HELL no. Don't go getting any ideas there. If SHE wants to fling herself off buildings that's all well and good, but don't you go following her example. Do you hear me?? HELLO??!!??" Because it sounds kinda awesome...and yet, with my fear of heights, it also sounds pants-changingly scary. You get massive props for going through with it!! Enjoy your beachcombing...stay away from those thong people!
9th February 2007

Stunning pictures and am amazing journey you are making. Always a treat to drop in. We are still doing very well and loving the south of france. Love from all Ian and the girls
9th February 2007

Missed you!
hi - I've been wondering where you were! You'll be extra happy not to be in Staunton IL these days. We are having week after week of below freezing temps. You might hate it! Your photos just get better and better and your adventures more and more fun to read about. So, were YOU also wearing a thong that day? Just wondering..... Keep having fun and being safe. :-)
9th February 2007

Hi Tan- I've gone back three blogs and added comments. Please don't even think about stopping the blog! I couldn't believe the pics in this one! Wow, I've always wanted to try hang gliding but never had the opportunity. To do it in Rio is off the wall (or off the roof, I shoud say!) How long was your flight? I guess I visited Rio before the thong issued became very popular. I remember people just wearing nothing--it didn't seem to be a very big deal to them. However, they got my attention! I also remember that it was very dangerous to be out alone in Rio. I'm glad that you didn't have any problems. Your pics are really fantastic and some of your comments are as well. You definately have a book in the making. So how did the guy from Greece get wired in to you blog? Too many questions that I know I will never get answered-- How about photo journalist or travel writer for your future vocation? Of course "author" should be the next thing you consider. Be safe-- Love you, Dad PS How come this comment section doesn't have spell check?
12th February 2007

I cant believe you went hang-gliding over Rio, that is amazing and the view must have been incredible. Next is skydiving hey?
14th March 2007

Hey Tana
Hey girl... I know it's been forever since I last wrote. So, I've just spent some time reading your blogs... Goodness... you are now known as "Adventure Queen" -- from the bridge, to the monkey thiefs, finding Starbucks, and food poisoning!!! Wow.. I'm so glad that you're still out there and pulling through each and every challenge!!! As always, pix are beautiful -- my favs are the Amazon animal ones... awesome!!! can't wait for your next entry!!

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