The Grand Finale

South America
August 26th 2009
Published: September 19th 2009
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The day has arrived....the time has come.....the waiting is over....and indeed, quite possibly the occasion that you've been dreaming about but at times thought would never come.....yes ladies and gents the waiting IS finally over so pop the champagne corks as I give final blog......

Heading back to Rio

Prior to getting to Rio I had a cheeky stop over in Santiago which was pretty uneventful another than not being able to find a sushi bar at 11pm (strange cravings, but true) however I managed to notch up another Macds in yet another country, not that I was counting (Taylor hope you are tho, yeah?). Then an early flight to Rio followed in the morning.

Back in Rio and I got lucky with my accommodation checking into Margarida's Poussada for what would be the longest I would stay in one place since leaving the UK - a whopping 12 days (I know). This place provided a good bit of stability plus it was quite homely too. Well 'homely' insofar as I had my own space and it was comfortable....not that my 'mother' spoke to me in Portugese and that I had to ask for the kitchen to be unlocked most evenings.

Volunteering back at the Instituto Dois Irmaos (i2i), Rocinha favela

The plan for the duration of my trip was to finish the project I had dreamt up for the i2i Institute as well as trying to raise as much money as possible for them through t shirt sales (btw thanks to everyone who bought one/donated, you're gonna get a mention later so don't log off just yet).

The idea for the former had originally come to me during my last visit to Rio when I wanted to visit the favela but didn't want to do a 'gringo tour' and wanted give my time to the people living in this area. As I knew that other travellers felt the same but didn't have as much time to give volunteering.....I 'simply' put the two together and bingo there was my plan/initiative. Clever? ....yeah I know....

The initiative would run one day per month and would give 10 people the chance to come to the favela, see the institute and assist on a day out for the kids but more importantly all the money would go to a good cause within
Alleyway to i2iAlleyway to i2iAlleyway to i2i

Rocinha, Rio
the favela (ie no agencies/tour companies)....but to do this I had just 12 days (I like a challenge) and I had a pretty long list of things to consider: how to market it, speak to those at i2i for their input, contact local businesses/hostels, visit interested parties and other (more boring stuff) but more immediately.....should I trust the guy selling warm hot dogs in the favela?

It would be well worth it tho as it would give the kids a monthly outing as well as raising $6000 pa (minus costs) on top of other merchandising, increased name awareness and links with businesses in Rio. All good then. It felt a bit like 'The Apprentice' but without media interest, camera crews, grovelling to Sir Alan and the constant fear of Margaret lurking in the background.

However, any plans to go there the next day scuppered when I slept thro most of it only leaving my room to get a hot dog served with raisins and crisps as a topping (i gave it a go but feared it wouldn't take off back in blighty). It did however fill me right up as I was still 'busting' around 8.5 stone at this point.

Back at i2i

Armed police, busy streets, blaring tvs, blokes playing chess outside shop fronts, drug dealers with AK47s, crowds huddled round tvs watching footy, chickens in cages, a river which doubled as moving rubbish bin to most I wasn't in Gloucester, these were just a few of the familiar sights on the 5 min walk in the favela to the i2i place.....or 10 mins in the case of my first visit after the 4 weeks away as I took a wrong turn and got lost..

For the armchair fans amongst you, if you want to see the favela without the 'hassle' of an 11 hr flight plus the 1 hr bus ride and of course the 'danger' of stumbling into the wrong area, then watch the first 5 mins of 'The Incredible Hulk' movie as the EXACT same favela features as that's where Hulky boy decides to hide.....

It was great meeting up with Rogerio and the other familiar faces after my jaunt over to Peru and Bolivia but as time was against me (er see above) it was time to crack on. I had decided to only contact one
Entrance to i2iEntrance to i2iEntrance to i2i

Rocinha, Rio
hostel per region, to concentrate on just 4 regions and to avoid chains. Cold calling selected hostels went v well and after generating enough interest I set up a number of meetings with hostel owners, so 13 or so yrs in sales had it's advantages then..

Doing the meetings was a bit like being back at work which felt great, altho my transport was a local minivan, full of locals with a man leaning out of the window trying to get more people to cram themselves inside, my briefcase was a plastic bag and my sales aids were a couple of i2i t -shirts....and of course I didn't get paid for it. But on the plus side I was living a stone's throw from Ipanema beach and 30 mins from the Maracana..... which reminds me.....

Fla Flu Derby

As luck would have it I was in Rio for yet another local derby...Fluminense va Flamengo or as the locals say the 'Fla Flu' derby..... but even better, the game was on the same day as the Confererations crammed into small pub outside the Maracana with hundreds of Flamengo fans we went wild as Brazil came
In with the Flamengo fansIn with the Flamengo fansIn with the Flamengo fans

Fla Flu Derby, Maracana
from 2-0 down to win 3-2. Result.

The Fla Flu derby was a bit of a disappointing game of footy (ended 0-0) but I did get to see Adriano goalhanging (even I was impressed) and stand amongst some of best fans in Brazil - Flamengo. The huge flags, choreographed smaller flags, cardboard bird with moving wings (see pic) meant that it was an experience in itself.

Back to the initiative

The meetings weren't without complications tho such as language, some people not showing up, others being dud leads or some people pretending to be the owners cos they wanted to know what the deal was and ultimately wasting my time. All fun tho, kind of. Altho would it have been more fun with a camera crew and the ability to sell my story to the Sun after a stab in the back boardroom battle?...........(in a Geordie accent)......YOU decide....hang on that's the other one isn't it..?...

In addition to the meetings and gettng the interested parties along to i2i there was work to be done on the website, the ordering process and fliers but luckily for this I had Dean (US) on hand to help
Cat and favelaCat and favelaCat and favela

Rocinha, Rio

In addition to the initiatives that I was carrying out I also taught English and ran an Art class. As my Portugese was still in its infancy I luckily had a translator on hand for the latter. Ideally I should have had one for my English class too as the book was in Portugese and I was only given 2 minutes' notice that I would be taking the class. It was an hour long lesson, but felt longer (esp for the kids).

Return of the dragdowns

Yep you've guessed it, Reevesie and Lucy rocked up a week after me so amongst the poor quality gags (me)and trips to Monterray Jacks we visited a few local sights (the beach and the Girl from Ipanema cafe)......and then the big one......

Flamengo vs EC Victoria

One of the reasons to delay my flight home a few days was to see a game at the Maracana with Reevesie and Lucy.....altho some duffer was performing at there on the day so they moved the venue to the Botafogo stadium. Bummer (for them) altho it meant another new stadium for me (get right in).

Are you Eastlands in disguise..?Are you Eastlands in disguise..?Are you Eastlands in disguise..?

Engenhao (Joao Havelange Olympic Stadium), Rio
was a cracking stadium too, the Olympic stadium no less altho it did feel a bit like Eastlands, but luckily the food was better. Adriano seemed a bit more interested than he was in the Fla Flu derby and managed a goal as Flamengo ran out 2-1 winners. Reevesie and Lucy bought shirts, Lucy went for an old school one whilst Reevesie went for a skin tight one (XL).

How things stand

Back at the Institute and I collected the rather impressive t shirt order so a big thank you from i2i to all those that bought or donated. We raised just under $500. Thanks to: Wayne, Reevesie, Lucy, Jill M, Andrew, Annie, Fordy, Lee-roy, Robbie, Lizzie, Kate, Jason, Fiona, Rebsy, CK, Browny, DA, Stu, Helen, Anna, Wendy, Bev, Ms Milky and Big Kev.

As things stood on my final day we had the interested parties on board for the initiative and were planning a trip to take them to i2i. The flier needs to be completed so too does the website (various stuff). So anyone with computer skills (Wayner...Rideout) let me know or if anyone wants to buy t shirts/polo shirts let me know

Rocinha, Rio
as I am still working on this initiative since returning to the UK.

If any of you want more info on i2i and want to volunteer, check out their website

Heading home

As we headed to the airport there was a chance for some quiet reflection (in between Reevesie moaning about the fact that I should have put my daypack in the boot) on the last 11 months: places seen, people met, experiences, places slept, cultures, food (some laced with parasites), 11 months of sun, ways of life, wonders of nature, things achieved, football matches seen (20) and how I actually survived without my xbox and sky sports.

Twelve or so hours later I knew the latter would be a thing of the past as the Captain announced that we would soon be landing at Heathrow and the weather was (in the first week of July)? Overcast..

A big thankyou to all of you that have followed my trip esp those who have added comments, God bless you all (not that I'm religious tho)

In keeping with the other Continents put your hands together for the:
Happy residentsHappy residentsHappy residents

Rocinha, Rio

Top 5 South America highlights (in no particular order)

-The 'W' Trek, Torres Del Paine (Chile)
-Perito Moreno Glacier (El Calafate, Argentina)
-The Super Classico - Boca vs River, Buenos Aire (Argentina)
-Volunteering in Rocinha Favela, Rio (Brazil)
-Machu Picchu (Peru)

Additional photos below
Photos: 29, Displayed: 29


Evening comesEvening comes
Evening comes

Rocinha, Rio
Night comesNight comes
Night comes

Rocinha, Rio
Following Flamengo's flag carriersFollowing Flamengo's flag carriers
Following Flamengo's flag carriers

Fla Flu Derby, Maracana
In wiih the Flamengo fansIn wiih the Flamengo fans
In wiih the Flamengo fans

Fla Flu Derby, Maracana
The libraryThe library
The library

i2i Institute, Rocinha
Wall made from recycled bottlesWall made from recycled bottles
Wall made from recycled bottles

i2i Institute, Rocinha

i2i Institute, Rocinha

19th September 2009

Thank you Gareth !
big thanks for all your picts and stories over the world. funny to imagine that I start my one-year-trip when you end yours ! thanks for helping me to take the decision in the jungle in sumatra laughing in front of a cold beer under this udge rain. I hope you follow your journey even if you're stuck in the smog ! THANKS again!!! Axelle
21st September 2009

Thanks for sharing...
Just to say 'thank you' for taking time out to share your epic journey - and to read the comments sent to you from 'old' FP friends... Hope we can meet up sometime. Cheers mate W

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