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Published: September 30th 2017
Geo: -3.71839, -38.5434
My last official tourist act this morning in Rio before leaving for Fortaleza was simple - see if I could find the girl from Ipanema. Or two. Or three. This is Brazil, after all! But unfortunately, I had no such luck - it'll give me something to do the next time I'm in Rio! Though at first I much preferred Hostel Harmonia, I've come to appreciate the Lighthouse Hostel as well - Silvia, the owner, is so sarcastic and entertaining. Brazilian herself, she complained about how her own people can be, sometimes unreliable and never taking accountability, or following through on anything. "They're always blaming someone else, it's never their fault. 'The calculator is wrong, it's the dog's fault, it's because of the rain!' They never blame themselves!!!"
Anyway ... off to the airport - it was a long and boring day of travel, first flying to Salvador, and then on to Fortaleza. All I seemingly did today was eat in airports - first lunch in Rio before boarding the first flight, which I found a bit odd because a city the size of Rio should have a killer food court but didn't. Then it was dinner at the
Gym Equipment Along Ipanema Beach ...
It's how everybody on the beach keeps in such good shape.
Salvador airport, which had much better variety in its dining options, despite having over one million fewer inhabitants than Rio.
I was pleased to discover a truth about Salvador - Vicky, the Colombian lady who helped me with my Spanish all those years ago, had lived for a period in Brazil and said that I absolutely HAD to visit Salvador for the culture, the food, and the garotas. What is a garota? It's Portuguese for girl and yes, Vicky was right - some fine Brazilian specimens were floating around the airport. I can't wait to return here at the end of my trip, with hopefully a number of opportunities to gather more data for my fio dental research.
Finally, I was in Fortaleza - being nearly 10 PM, airport buses were no longer running so I grabbed a cab, something that I feel is against the backpacker code. It's not even about the cost ... it's the principle, as us backpackers need to be as cheap as possible, whether we can afford it or not! In hindsight, I was glad for the taxi, as the area I'm staying in looks rather dodgy ... on the way to the hostel, I started to
worry if the taxi driver was going to take me to some deserted warehouse, take all my valuables, belongings, and even all my clothing, like in those South American robbery horror stories you hear about. But it was OK ... in the event of emergency, I had formulated a plan to plead for him to allow me to keep my shoes, so that I could fashion a makeshift Brazilian bikini for myself using the shoelaces.
Luckily, I was safely delivered and fully-clothed, to Hostel Terra da Luz, home base in Fortaleza for the New Year. There weren't many options in Fortaleza, but this place looked to be the best of them, a feeling that was confirmed as soon as I met the owner, Caritas. So bubbly and friendly, she kindly laughed at my horrible attempts at Portuguese and suggested I head out back, where there was a small gathering in the courtyard.
I deposited my things in the room, and was immediately greeted by someone I thought might be an NFL linebacker. Washington was his name, hailing from Belem, and he looked to be the type of guy you definitely do not want to run into in a dark Brazilian alleyway.
A Little Protest ...
Over how much the performers for the Christmas and New Year's Eve concerts are getting paid, and how much the police and fireman are getting paid .
I laughed on the inside as we started talking, as he turned out to be one of the nicest, friendliest people you could ever meet ... I further chuckled as I met his friend Adilton, who appeared to be about the same size as one of Washington's arms. They looked like the perfect match as best buds!
Down to the courtyard, which appeared to be a United Nations-like gathering of Caritas's friends - a few locals, an Argentinean, a French exchange student, Puerto Ricans, Spaniards, and a Canadian wannabe Spaniard/Brazilian. This is what I love about South America - the openness of the people. Pretty quickly, everybody started pulling me into the conversation and the next thing you know, I'm getting an invite to head down to the beach tomorrow night for Reveillon, the massive New Year's Eve celebrations that rock the entire nation. I think I'm going to like Caritas's place ...
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