A Travellerspoint blog

Teresopolis and Ouro Preto

Marmoset discovery


So day one of the penultimate leg of my trip was to take us to teresopolis stopping at petropolis along the way.

We were told petropolis was a beautiful colonial town which we'd have time to explore.  It was very pretty, but having only a couple of hours to explore we only really saw the mains street which was a string of fairly uninspiring shops.  There was a museum that we were recommended to visit but not being much of a museum fan I passed on that and weirdly made the decision to go to the church instead.  The church itself was pretty standard - we've seen much nicer on this trip, but we climbed up into the bell tower and the views we had from up there were pretty nice, lots of rivers, horse and carts and in the distance very tropical landscape of palm trees.  

We had some time to kill so we decided to take a walk through the gardens of the museum.  They were really pretty with lots of tropical flowers.  Sarah reckons some of them were ginger but I'll have to take her word for that.  

All of a sudden Sarah shouts that she's seen a monkey.  I'm very excited but can't see it, but then I realise that they are tiny little marmosets .  A whole family of them complete with babies who were so cute.  They weren't bothered by us at all, jumping from tree to tree and playing about.  So cool to see them just there, I suddenly felt really excited about what we'd see on the rest of the trip as we make our way further into the jungle.  I love monkeys!

We arrived at teresopolis late afternoon.  Apparently this is where the emperors used to come to escape the heat.  I'm not sure what emperors and I'm also not sure why because as far as I could tell the only thing there was our campsite.  As lovely as it was, I can't imagine the emperors camping there.

The campsite was pretty cool, we set up and then for a swim in the (freezing but huge) swimming pool before heading off for a sauna.  The sauna wasn't very hot and had no bucket to carry water to chuck on the coals.  Claire and I tried to improvise by carrying water in our hands from the sinks outside to throw on.  She went first, throwing on a decent amount of water that made a lovely sizzle when she chucked it on.  My attempt was much less successful, I was slopping it everywhere and managed only a pathetic couple of drips.  Eventually we did manage to get it going though and had a lovely hot sauna going.  After Claire had finished her wine and I was overheating we headed back to camp to see how dinner was coming along.  With some time to spare I dragged Sarah down to the see saws to try to cheer her up as she was still missing people.  It kind of worked.  So then we headed back for a big bowl of yummy pasta before being total lightweights and heading to bed for an early night.

The next day was a drive day bound for ouro preto, a town famous for its gold mining.  We arrived at our hostel late afternoon and rudi arranged for a local guide to come and talk to us about giving us a tour of the town and the mines.  The guide was pretty enthusiastic and soon enough we were all booked up and ready to go see the town.

Before he left us he took us to a buffet restaurant where we could eat what we want for £5.  Normally one of the kilo restaurants that are popular in brazil where you pile your plate and pay by weight, he did us a food deal.  We headed out into town afterwards to try to find a decent place to have a few beers.  The first bar we tried was pretty cool as it was full of locals but there was nowhere to sit so after one beer on the street we headed out to find somewhere else, and ended up in a bar with some live music.  We had a couple rounds of cocktails and the boys had a beer tower before we headed back to the hostel for some shut eye.  

The next morning I woke up bright and early so i got showered up ready for a 7:30 breakfast.  When I got down there the place was deserted and one of the other guests started harping on at me in portuguese.  I gave her my best blank face and then she realised that I was English and attempted to translate.  She wanted to know if it was true that the clocks went back an hour.  It was the first I heard of it so I skipped back upstairs to get on the Internet to check.  Turns out she was right.  I should have tried to get another hours sleep!  

At 9am we met our guide and headed off for a walking tour of the town.  It's a very hilly town and very hickledy pickeldy.  Cobbled streets, churches everywhere you look and lots of beautiful houses.  

Our tour took us to the main churches and one of the mines which is in the centre of town.  We walked as far as we could get into the mine and stopped at a spot where it. Was no longer lit.  We were told we could crawl into one of the tunnels if we wanted to but that it was very dark and wet and muddy, so only Tyler took him up on the offer. He came back out suitably unimpressed and covered in mud, it was time to get out of the mine.  They did however tell us the significance of the mines which provided a huge amount of gold to the uk and some other countries.  They found interesting ways to keep some
Of the gold for themselves, by hiding gold in a statue for example.  The mines were worked by slaves, mainly from Africa and this explains the black population that you see today in the town.  Brazil was one of he last places to abolish slavery so this went on until not all that long ago.  Whilst there is still some gold in the mines, these ones are no longer mined as it takes too long to find a very small
Amount of gold these days.

Once we left that mine it was time to visit our second.  This one being out of town we caught a local bus to the mine.  Once there we paid up and had to wait for our transport into the mine.  This was a wooden cart which was basically some planks of wood on some rails of which big Chris had to wedge himself into.  When they let the brakes off and we started our descent, it didn't really feel all that safe but it was quite a lot of fun.  It was a little bit Indiana jones, only slower.  

At the bottom of the mine the guide talked us through what happened here and the conditions that the miners worked in.  The showed us the goddess that the miners worship who was thought to be very vain so people bring her gifts of various cosmetics which can be seen by a statue of her in the mine.  Weird.  

Anyway all we all really wanted to do was to get to the clear lake at the bottom of the mine and have a swim.  It was amazingly clear, albeit very
Cold.  I freaked out a bit by the fact you couldn't see anything because it was so dark and had a paddle instead of a swim but some of the others went for it, exploring some of the tunnels in the water.  When we were all done with the lake, we headed back up in the cart and caught the bus back to town.

By now we were all starving so we were taken to yet another buffet restaurant before seeing a couple more churches and then ending in a lovely bar overlooking one of the rivers with a big fat gin and tonic (gim an tonics in Portuguese).  Some of the group stayed in the bar until the early hours, but I chose instead to head to the shops, a weird experience as the whole town was having a blackout so you could see nothin in the little shops there.  We went for a slightly melty ice cream in the square before heading back to the hostel I chill out on the veranda catching up on diaries.  All the was left to do in ouro preto was to grab some yummy pizza with the locals and then head back and get ourselves ready for the long drive day that awaited us the next day.

We were now making our way to Brasilia, the capital of Brazil which would take two days and one bush camp to get there.  We stopped at the best bush camp ever, complete with a lake to swim in, hot showers and toilets and power supply for each of our tents.  This was better than most of the campsites we'd stayed at.  It was a fairly quiet night that night, although rudi and Erin got their instruments out so there was drumming and ukulele playing but mainly a quiet one in preparation for our arrival in Brasilia.

Posted by selson 04:27 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)




The drive to rio was only a few hours, so after a lazy start we headed to town for a quick cash stash and then we were on our way to carnival!

We arrived in rio mid afternoon and immediately had to say goodbye to most of the passengers, many of whom we'd been travelling with since Quito in Ecuador.  It was very strange saying goodbye to people that you've spent 24 hours with every day for 4 months knowing that most of them youd never see again, and everyone was feeling pretty flat.  We knew rio would be absolutely amazing but it felt like the end a little and it was actually quite sad.  When we'd finally said goodbye to everyone who wasn't staying on for the rip package, we checked into our rooms and sulked about for a whole before our welcome meeting at 5.

There were actually a lot of people on the rip package as there were 4 trucks that met in rio for carnival plus anyone new that had joined in rio.  It was a little strange though because you didn't really get to know anyone new as you're pretty much on your own in big cities so we were down to a small group really.

The welcome meeting was pretty cool and the crew did a good job of lifting spirits and getting us excited about the next few days.  We were all given our rio guides and t shirts, a run through of the itinerary and then a few warnings about safety and security.  Rio carnival is well known for security issues so basically take nothing out except what you need to buy food and drinks and never ever go on the beach at night.

There was a joining dinner that night for everyone, but it meant missing out on seeing the children's section of the sambadrome and as none of us were feeling particularly sociable a small group of us passed on dinner and decided to head over to the sambadrome.  The sambadrome is the parade area of carnival.  A long strip with stadium style seating where you watch the official samba parades and the various samba schools compete each night.  This night was just for the children in the schools.  We didn't have tickets and we expected only to stand outside and see the costumes as the schools entered and exited.  

After navigating our way around the metro system, which is incredibly easy as theres pretty much one line and you either go north or south, we made our way to the sambadrome.  Walking through the streets to get there we passed one of the warehouses where the floats are stored and for the first time we began to understand the size of this event.  They were huge!!  We passed a school practicing in the street, who we would later see in the parade.  There were people everywhere and everyone was dressed up in some way.  The sight of people dressed in carnival attire would become normal as everyone dresses up all day everyday there.  Very bizarre at first though and we were all feeling a little underdressed. 

We eventually found ourselves at the sambadrome and tried to see if we could get ourselves to a spot where we could see the parade. We walked in all nonchalant hoping that we could just get in without a ticket but we were immediately turned away by a security guard who rattled on in Portuguese at us and pointed at us to go out and turn left.  We did as we were told and found ourselves going through some rear entrance into the sambadrome and landing ourselves in one of the stands.  We thought we'd managed to get ourselves in for free and were feeling pretty smug but in reality I think we found ourselves in the free stand for the locals. Either way, it was pretty cool.  A really lovely atmosphere, people just chilling out and drinking beers from the guys that were taking drinks around the stands.

The children's parade had already when we arrived so we quickly found ourselves a spot to watch and started to enjoy the show.  The colours were immense and from where we were sat which was actually before the official start point, you could see them all queuing to come through into the sambadrome so there was a rainbow of brightly coloured people as far as the eye could see.  We quickly saw that there was a structure to the parade with each school sticking strictly to the structure by taking on their own theme for costumes and floats.  Each school has a flag bearer who's a lady and a guy with her who protects the flag.  Years back the schools used to sabotage each others flags to lose the schools points, so there was always a protector of the flag who traditionally carried a knife to ward off any attempts to sabotage.  They had a samba band, dancing ladies, a float which is pushed by members of the school, samba dancers and probably more that I've forgotten. It was Amazing.  These kids could dance and the schools were huge! It took ages for each school to pass, with each playing their own song.  The samba bands were definitely my favourite, the music just makes you want to dance straight away.  

It was really nice being in the locals stand as we were in the thick of it, with many of the children coming up into our stands in their costumes when they were finished.  We befriended some locals who were sat in front of us and danced about with them for a little while, but after a few hours we were all tired and with an early start the next day we decided to call it a day and head home.  

We were expecting to be the first back as it was only midnight, but everyone was in bed when we got back, so we snuck in and went to bed ready for another big day the next day.

The following morning we did the first of our organised trips as part of the rio package.  We were heading up to the corcovado, or Christ the redeemer, the famous statue of Christ who looks over the city of rio.  We had a private viewing booked with meant it would not be full of tourists, but also meant that we had I leave at 6:30 the following morning to head up there.  It turned out to be the best decision despite tiredness, as it was so hot in rio, and we were up and back down before it got uncomfortable. 

We boarded the bus which would take us to the tram which takes you up the mountain to Christ himself. We had a local guide who told us a little more about rio on the way to the tram.  The tram ride itself lasted about 20 minutes climbing high up into the mountain.  At the top we obviously were pretty amazed by the statue and took lots of pictures, but even better than that were the views that we got from up there.  You could see everything you'd ever heard of about rio, copacabana beach, guanabarra bay, sugarloaf mountain and more.  The city is beautiful, very tropical with loads of palm trees and coconut trees and because there's no real city centre as such it just feels like a cluster of very small towns, it has a nice feel to it.  We stayed up the top there enjoying the view and seeing the sun continue to rise over the city for about an hour before slowly making our way back down to the city and back to the hotel.

I decided that I wanted to go see copacabana beach and chill there for the rest of the day, as the prior few weeks and the early morning were catching up on me and I was tired!!
We decided to attempt to walk to the beach from flamengo where we were staying. We had no idea how far or how long it would take as we only had a tourist map with no scale on it, but we figured this would be the best way to see a little more of the city.  We were told by one of the local guides not to walk it as there was a huge bloco (street party) that would prevent us from getting there, but we chose to ignore him as we were actually quite excited about the concept of getting caught in our first bloco.  The walk was beautiful, all along the many white sandy beaches of rio, it was really hot but we took our time walking there and actually
It wasn't really that far.  Just as we were getting to copacabana we hit the bloco and it was incredible.  We actually caught it in a tunnel So the number of people seemed more intense as we were all contained.  The general format is that there's a truck with music or for the smaller ones a little band walking,and then the members of the bloco follow behind singing and dancing and as they walk more and more people join in until you have a huge group of
People following.  They eventually stop and then the party continues for a while before eventually they disband.  It was a lot of fun with a lot of colourful characters.  You really can't help getting involved and before you know it your part of the party drinking and dancing and having a wicked time.  The blocos happen all day in random places throughout the city for the duration of carnival.  It's hard to go anywhere without getting caught in one. Eventually we got through the party and soon enough we found the beach.

The beach is a little bit crazy during carnival as the 2 million visitors seem to head there during the day.  It wasn't so bad that you couldn't move though.  We made our way down to the sea along one of the water trails that they make to stop you from burning your feet and down on the waters edge we found a couple of the guys from one of the other drago trucks.  Very convenient as this meant we could leave our bags with them and all head into the water to co off.  And cool off we did.  The water is freezing!! And the surf is pretty strong so we spent about 30 minutes being beaten up and knocked over by the icy water before heading back to drier land for a sit in the sunshine with a cheeky little drinky to dry off.

We went off to find somewhere nice for some lunch but we were faced with either really expensive restaurants, beach food or crap from the cafes on the edge of the beach.  We decided to go for the latter which with hindsight was a bad decision but it was at least a good spot to people watch.  There are some very interesting sights in copacabana beach.  The women wear the tiniest bikinis which are little more than a strip to cover the nipples at the front and are thongs from the back.  This is staple bikini style no matter how big or small you are and there are plenty of big ones out there!  The men wear budgie smugglers which leave very little to the imagination and this attire is not restricted to the beach.  Apparently budgie smugglers or banana hammocks are appropriate anywhere in rio.  

Lunch took forever and a day so Esther and jo headed back to the hotel to get back in time to go watch some random football match.  Sarah and I stayed out and headed off in search for some shops to mooch about in.  Just the standard shops really, plenty of havaianas and not a lot else.  

On the way back to the metro some random dropped a couple of nuts into Sarah's ice cream and demanded that she fed them to her.  When she politely refused to he decided to turn his attention to me and just kept asking me to kiss him whilst backing me against the wall of the stairs.  All sarah could hear was "kiss me", "no", "kiss me", "no", "kiss me", "no". We'd heard this happens a lot but weren't expecting it during the cold light of day.  This was all quite light hearted but I could see how it could be quite intimidating if you were in your own.  

Anyway back on the metro we boarded yet another train full of people in fancy dress all casual like, and headed for home.  

We grabbed some dinner, got showered up and then headed back out to ipanema in search of another bloco.  Unfortunately we just missed the one we were heading for but there was still people everywhere so it was quite cool just to wander about and soak it all up.  We found some of the left overs of the party and watched that for a bit before it was broken up by a couple of buses that wanted to get down the road that they were blocking.  We wandered around some more and eventually we found what we were looking for.  We were sticking to the edge of the party as one of the girls we were with didn't really want to get involved.  We headed over to a stall to get some dulce de leche filled churros but whilst we were queuing, the bloco started heading our way.  I'm giving it all "they're coming!" most of us wanted to get into it so we were dragging our heels hoping that we'd get swept up in the party and sure enough we did.  Next thing we know, we're right in the middle of it next to the band, dancing like loons and having a brilliant time.  There's no point watching theses from afar, you have to clutch on tightly to your handbags and get stuck in!

After the party had disbanded we walked a little more and ended up on the seafront which was full of the most colourful characters.  It's quite impressive how much effort put in and how creative they are with their costumes.  We decided to break the no beach at night rule and had some pictures taken of us on the sand and then walked on some more.  

We found a group of Aussies all dressed up in parade outfits, they were taking part in the sambadrome parade that night and were very excited.  We tried bits of their costumes on which was an eye opener.  These things are really hot and heavy and you have to balance them right to keep them on.  The 1.5 mile parade must be tougher than we'd thought.

By this time we were out of the thick of the party area and lee wanted to head home so we took her back to the hotel and grabbed some food.  I had this amazing idea that I wanted to head to lapa, where the best nightlife is supposed to be so I gathered the girls up and off we headed to lapa.

When we arrived at lapa we were faced with what looked like the aftermath of a war.  There was litter everywhere, the streets were all soaking wet and the whole place smelt really badly of wee.  Proper strong wee too.  It was disgusting and I already had a face on walking through it.  There was a stage opposite with live music so we headed over to that but it was even worse standing in that bit.  I got the royal hump as decided we needed to get the hell out of that part and try to find the arches where all the bars are supposed to be.  None of us really knew where the hell we we're going so we were just walking aimlessly (in wee), when we came across a parade.  We thought it was the end of the sambadrome parade coming through but it wasn't.  I guess it was some of the schools practicing or something because they were dressed in full costumes and parading as they do in the real
Parade.  We were within spitting distance of them which was pretty cool.  It was great to see the costumes and dancing from a point where you can see everything.  We knew we wouldn't be able to the filling night at the sambadrome as we were in the cheap seats.

We watched the parade for ages before continuing our mission to fid a bar.  We never did find the arches but we did find ourselves a cool little street with some bars and clubs on.  The queue for the club was the longest I've ever seen so we decided against that and say instead and had some drinks outside one of the bars.  As soon as I sat down I realised how tired I was.  I really wanted to stay out and have a big night but I was literally falling asleep in the bar.  Eventually we called it a day and got ourselves a can back home, where yet again everyone was already tucked up in bed.

The next day we decided to head back to ipanema to see what the beach was like during the day and to try to find some sparkly stuff for our gay ball outfits.  When we arrived at ipanema beach we suddenly realised how busy a beach really can be.  It was ridiculous. You couldn't see a free stretch of sand it was just a sea of red umbrellas.  Nasty.  We walked about for a little while looking through the markets along the way.  We found ourselves a stall selling feather headbands so we tried every one on before finally making our selection.  I weirdly chose one with huge baby pink feathers and purple flowers.  Far too girly for me, but it was the only one that didn't offend me too much and I figured girly at a gay ball was perhaps the way forward. 

With new headbands on we made our way on to the rammed beach and took shelter under one of the little tents selling cocktails and beers.  It wasn't very nice on the beach so we were forced to drink caipirinhas to make things better.  We sat around there lazing in the shade for a while before making our way home to get ourselves ready for the big sambadrome night.  This time we had tickets and everything!

The sambadrome parade starts at 9, and according to the guide finishes probably around 3am.  Reality was that it went on until 7am.  And this is just seven schools parading, so you can imagine how big each school is.  We were meeting at 6pm which was stupidly early and a little unnecessary, but this was one of the organised activities so we had to go with the plan.  We made our way over to central where the sambadrome is, and found ourselves a bar to hang around and have a few drinks with.  It was nice because we met up with people here who we thought we'd already said goodbye to.

We eventually made our way towards the sambadrome where we were faced with an absolutely ridiculous queue and this was just to get into section 13 which would be our home for the night.  Once inside, we were handed a random selection of crap including some weird panama style hats, a shed load of condoms and a bunch of magazines.  I'm not quite sure why we needed any of these things for our stay at the sambadrome, but maybe I missed something.

We found ourselves a little spot to sit /stand in the concrete steps and nestled in for the night.  Section 13 is right at the very end of the parade and is set back from the parade a little (behind the joey stand), so the view wasn't brilliant in the sense that we couldn't see the detail in the costumes but what was good was that there was an area after the parade where the schools would wait when they were finished.  All of the schools had a big celebration for having finished and we got to see this and get involved.  We were also told that there might be a chance that they'd pass bits of their costumes up to our stand for people to keep.

When the schools started coming down we realised just how big this was compared to the children's schools that we had seen earlier on in our stay.  The floats were enormous and some schools had more than one.  There were hundreds of people in each schools and the costumes were incredibly elaborate.  It takes each school about an hour to walk the length of the sambadrome.  They have a time that they have to aim towards and they gain / lose points if they are over or under.  Quite often you saw The schools slowing down and dragging heels or speeding up to a run right at the end to ensure they got maximum points on timing.  Between each school is a 30 minute wait, so with seven schools to get through we were in it for the long haul.  Each school started with fireworks and then began their procession down the strip.  Finishing just by our stand with the last people over the line being the samba band usually met by cheers and celebrations from the rest of the school. 

The costumes and themes were amazing, the floats enormous.  There were floats with trampolines on them, acrobats and much much more.  It's amazing.  You can't even imagine the colours and music.  The crowd gets really into it with much singing and dancing.  And unlike anything that involves large groups of people and alcohol back home, there's no trouble at all.  

At the end of the strip after each school finished the participants get out of their costumes and dump them.  We saw dumpsters chewing up the amazing costumes.  It's so sad to see it all getting thrown straight away.  Little Sarah took the opportunity to get some of the costumes and came back with a shiny blue number and an amazing skirt which would later be her gay ball outfit.  I have never seen anyone look so happy.  She was over the moon with her goodies.  She later went back a couple more times and got an incredible tall hat and a bird head which she wore for the rest of the parade.  Towards the end most of our stand had bits of costumes.  It must have been quite funny to see from the other stands who had no access to such treats!  

My favourite school was one with rainbow coloured costumes.  The samba band ha cone hats on of all different colours and they looked amazing from up in the stands.  They had the biggest celebration at the end, with lots of shooting confetti things and partying.  Such a wicked atmosphere.

I stayed watching the parade until about 5:30am at which point I was a little bit over it and extremely tired. I really wanted to stay until sunrise but enough was enough, I needed to get myself home.  Tanith and I left to find an entire street of unwanted costumes.  We had a rummage around for a while until Tanith told me to move away from the costumes and go get a cab.  

The taxi driver rattled off in Portuguese at us for a while but agreed to take us back to our hotel.  About 5 minutes into the drive we noticed that the meter read 60 reals , which is about 25 pounds.  We knew the journey should only cost 15 reals so we started questioning the driver who assured us the meter was wrong and not to worry.  We parked at the end of the street for our hotel and the driver demanded 70 reals.  We both argued with him and he started getting really angry saying that he'd agreed the price up front, which he may well have done as we don't understand Portuguese at all.  Tanith got out of the can and was ranting at him through the drivers window, saying we would give him 20 only.  It carried on for a while until Tanith came round to my side and told me to get out.  I was locked in and didn't really want to be murdered in rio by a cab driver so was trying my best to negotiate until Tanith reached in popped the lock and screamed at me to get out.  So out I get with Sarah's massive carnival costume hat tucked under my arm.  Tanith throws 30 reals at him and then we run.  We got to the hotel in fits of giggles and a slight panic that he'd come find us at the hotel.  A very funny end to a great night.

The next thing I know I hear Kate who I was sharing with chatting at the door to someone who as far as I can tell is telling us to get up.  Eventually I find my glasses and wake up enough to know that it's little Sarah telling up its 12:35pm and we are leaving for our sugarloaf mountain visit in 25 minutes!!!  Much quick showering ensued and even a quick visit to the juice bar for juice and pastries before we board the bus for today's day trip.

Sugar loaf mountain is another of the famous landmarks of rio.  It's a mountain overlooking the city, with incredible views, this time including Christ the redeemer.  We arrived at the cable cars which would take us up the mountain to find an enormous queue which would take 2 hours to get through in blazing hot sunshine.  It was a horrible experience.  Two cable cars later and we were at the top enjoying the amazing views.  It was absolutely stunning.  We stayed at the top for only 30 minutes before beginning the descent back down to firm ground.  I chose to get off after the first cable car and walk the rest of the way.  My back was killing from standing at the sambadrome so was in need of a bit of exercise.  It was a lovely walk through the trees, although quite tough as the decent is pretty steep.  I was hoping to see some monkeys as a few days earlier on the walk another group had, but we weren't lucky that day.   

The guide had recommended a spot between ipanema beach and copacabana to watch the sun go down so I decided that's what I wanted to do tonight, having a fairly lazy one.  Some of the girls tagged along but we never did find that spot before the sun disappeared.  We sat and ate a sausage on the beach before having a cocktail and heading back to hotel.  We obviously got caught in a bloco in the way back to the metro which gave us a bit of a boost but after 30 minutes or so we hit the wall again and headed for home.  We got back and had a lovely steak dinner before having a relatively early night.

The next day was gay ball night and I was very excited!! The gay ball had been hyped a lot and was meant to be the highlight of carnival and we all had big plans to get dressed up.  It was going to be a good day.

I had finally managed to get hold of Claire and we'd agreed to have a beach day together.  I was really looking forward to it as I'd missed having her around I've the past few days.  As it happened most of the group were doing the same thing so we all headed to copacabana together.  We ended up breaking off onto two groups when we got there as a couple of the Aussie boys didn't want to sit where we'd agreed to meet everyone as it turned out to be the gay area.  Idiots.  We had loads of space to ourselves and we ha a really nice chilled day with people coming and going and catching up with Claire and what they'd done for the past few days.  

Claire and her friend and cousin did t have tickets to the gay ball so I spent a couple hours back at the hotel trying to get some for her.  Eventually we got hold of them and as we'd all hoped we could all have one more night out together as a group.  And what a night it was.  The boys all decided to cross dress so getting ready took ages as we all had some quite spectacular make up going on.  

It took forever and people started to leave so we all rushed and headed out in cabs to lapa where the gay ball was being held.  We stood around by the live music stage for a while having a couple of drinks.  There was a small group of paraders by us carrying these balls on sticks that they kept hitting on the floor.  If course I wanted a go, so forgetting that I'm dressed in a dress and girly feathers I start smacking these thugs on the floor.   Eventually we decided to head towards the ball.  Supposedly watching everyone all costumed up going up the pink carpet is the highlight of this night but if I'm honest it wasn't all that.  There was no pink carpet and there were too many people so after taking pictured with a couple of drag queens we head in.  More condoms being handed out, this time with a handy pouch to keep them in around your neck.  What were we getting ourselves into?!! 

We had all imagined the gay ball to be in a huge club with elaborate decor but in reality it was a small dowdy club with the smallest dance floor in the world.  Worked out well for us as we were a big group and it meant you couldn't really lose each other.  Especially as we dominated the dance floor for most of the night.  There were drag queens everywhere. Some of whom were very convincing.  Especially those with huge naked fake boobs on display.   There were gay guys dressed as cats complete with cat eye lenses who weirdly seemed to be enjoying the female attention a little too much for gay men.  There was a group of women with the best body paint ever.  And then there was the tourists who had the staple men as women and women in wigs get up.  The music was samba for most of the night with a live band but switched to dance later on.  It was great fun, we danced and drank the most enormous rum and comes I've ever had.  They do this weird thing in brazil where they measure the spirit and then they just keep pouring.  I like to think I can drink but I had three of these and I was totally off my t*ts! I danced it off until about 4am when Tanith decided she wanted to go outside and listen to the band on the stage outside.  I went with her and as soon as I was outside I realised how drunk I was so left her to it and went and found a lovely bit of pavement to sit down on.  I'd danced and drunk too much and needed a rest! I got myself some vile chicken on a stick and then talked about how gross it was for about 30 minutes before we decided to get a cab and head home.

The following day everyone was shattered.  I did vey little all day.  We had a sunset boat ride at 4pm so we just had a lazy lunch and chilled at the hotel for most of the day.  I really wasn't sure I was up for the boat ride but at 4pm we walked over to flamengo beach and picked up our boat.  It was a really cute little boat and despite free cocktails was much more chilled than the party boat we went on on Paraty.

We sailed around the coast for a couple of hours just chilling out and enjoying final moments with some good friends.  Team Japan did their best at making nearly everyone cry.  They don't speak a lot of English but are an amazing couple and noriko had some lovely things to say to me before giving me a huge cuddle which made her ball her eyes out and then Hide came over all full of tears too. Very sad but also nice to know that they've enjoyed our company on this trip.  They've definitely provided much entertainment (and tempura) for us.

After the boat trip I headed over to copacabana to have dinner with the girls.  We went to a lovely Arabic restaurant and totally over ate for ages.  This was supposed to be goodbye for the girls but we agreed to meet again for beach time the next day.

Most people were leaving the next morning as the rio tour had officially ended so I said a few sad goodbyes and got the hell out of the hotel and to the beach to avoid getting too upset.  I had a nice chilled day relaxing on the beach with Claire, her posse, little Sarah and josh an Tim. We refused to say goodbye again and arranged to have one last night out just our group before we all left rio the next morning.

Sarah and I headed back to the hotel to have the pre departure meeting for the next leg of the trip which would take us through deepest darkest brazil to Salvador.  We met the four new passengers and talked through what we'd be doing.  Normally we'd have a welcome dinner but most people had agreed to be doing goodbye stuff so instead we went for giant gun and tonics before each going out own separate ways.

The final night in rio didn't exactly go to plan. We were all supposed to meet at the metro but the boys went to our normal meeting point instead and by the time we thought to check there they'd gone.  We sat around in Clare's hostel having a few beers and hoping that the boys would get in touch, if only to say goodbye, but they'd assumed we'd blown them out and headed out alone.  It was a bit of a sad way to end the trip as those lads had been a big part of the last leg and we'd wanted to say goodbye properly.   

All that was left was to say goodbye to Clare who had been my tent and room buddy for 4.5 months and with whom I'd had a lot of fun.  I know I'll see her again as she lives fairly close but it felt very odd leaving her behind as we'd done pretty much everything together until now.

When we got to the hotel neither Sarah or I wanted to go to bed. We sat up for a while reminiscing about all the good times we'd had before finally admitting that our time in rio had come to an end.

We got up early the next morning to see off jonny and Hannah the guides who'd been travelling withe since Cartagena and to load up Carmen one more time and head off out of the city for the next part of our adventure.....

Posted by selson 12:43 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)


Party time and water slides!


The drive to Parati was due to be a relatively short one with us arriving mid afternoon.  We got off to a good start and we were all excited about getting to the beach and having some chill out time before a good night out.

It was a great drive day, with an unusual amount of conversation.  Along the way the boys fell asleep and we took the opportunity to paint their toes whilst they were sleeping.  I  just finished josh's toes which were painted a lovely mix of blue and red when he woke up, took a lob stretch and saw our handy work.  This was going to be war but in true Sarah style I was not a suspect and the other girls were taking the consequences :-)

All of a sudden the truck pulled to a fairly abrupt stop.  Now I'm now expert in reading Portuguese but I've come to learn a little and that sign definitely said we were hiring a national park and trucks could not use the road.  We could hear a discussion between jonny and Claire up front and we pulled away and carried on down the road.  The roa quickly became very narrow and very boggy and we were bouncing around all over the place.  It was at around this point that Marissa told us that a man had called out to us earlier on that we couldn't go the way we were going and we had chosen to ignore him.

On we continued down the road with the condition of the road worsening all the time.  Some of the Aussie ladies were freaking out and asked to get off and walk but they were told to sit back down.  Before long a car passed us but quickly stopped and flagged us over to tell us what we'd all worked out by now - that we couldn't get to Parati this way.  There were some sharp bends on cliffs that we wouldn't get through.  So frustrating as we were probably only 30 minutes from our destination.  At this point jonny and Claire admitted that things were pretty dangerous and we should get off whilst they walked in to see whether there was a suitable turning point further on. We all piled off and at this point the boys unleashed a whole heap of water pistol action on us as retribution for the nail painting. Much fun ensued as we stood there for 45 mins waiting for our drivers to return. Whilst they were gone a Beatle driver pulled off an amazing overtake beside the truck on a road that we were filling.  Completely up the side of a muddy verge.  Claire and jonny headed off with the truck to turn it around and about an hour after we arrived we were back in the truck ad retracing our steps to find an alternative route to Parati.

We weren't told anything about how long this detour would take but the word on the truck was that this would take 4 hours, not good.  Marion kicked off, very unhappy that they hadn't checked the route properly whilst the rest of us lived in hope that the word on the truck was wrong.  

When t started getting dark and we were all starving hungry, the announcement was that we were still some time away from our destination and that we should make ourselves comfortable and get the beers out. Looking back we probably took this suggestion a little too far, as it doesn't take too long for a bunch of travellers to get drunk when you haven't eaten all day and you are playing some ridiculous drinking game invented by the Aussies. I actually lost that game but I cheated my way out of the forfeit and stitched one of the boys up as I couldn't handle the punishment.  

After 18 hours of driving, we arrived at party gone midnight with half of the passengers pretty wasted and unbeknown to us the other half pissed off with the drinking (we were only following orders right?!).  We got off the truck and were told to wait in the middle of the road whilst they sorted or rooms out.  This annoyed people even more and also gave us chance to face our accommodation for the next three nights.  It was awful.  Like something from an 18-30s holiday with people spilling out everywhere and dance music pumping.  Not what we were expecting from our lazy few days at the beach before we hit the madness of rio.  

We were summonsed to our rooms and this is when they dropped the 10 people to a room bombshell on us.  This was turning into a nightmare.  10 people, one toilet doesn't work.  The rooms were also disgusting and all the beds had sand in them indicating they hadn't been cleaned.  

The only way forward was to embrace it and carry on drinking which we did for a while before finally admitting defeat and hitting the dirty sack.

The cold lift of day the next morning made things seems slightly better. The hostel was actually nice when it wasn't a nightclub and we were directly opposite a lovely beach (albeit with disgusting muddy sea).  Today was the day of the boat trip, which we had been told nothing about so really didn't know what to expect. After a quick brekkie, we gathered our bikinis and towels and headed through town to the marina where we would find our huge boat waiting for us.  It was a really lovely boat with two floors and lots of places to lie about for a sleep or sit and chat.  That said, there were four truck loads of people on the boat and there were free beers and caipirinhas so before long this turned into a booze cruise or party boat, however you want to look at it.  We sailed around the beautiful islands stopping off to jump in the sea several times and bob about in the water with our noodles.  
We had an amazing BBQ and looked on in envy at all the boat crew with their amazing Brazilian bodies whilst we stuffed our steak and sausages. 
Esther and I made full use of the water pistol, and probably managed to annoy everyone on the boat at some point, much to our amusement.  I saw everyone conspiring to throw us in the sea and took downstairs to use the loo only to end up walking into some weird bedroom thing with about 10 brazilians on the bed.  They invited me to join them but i chose to make a quick exit, have a quick pee and hope that I had successfully avoided being thrown in.  When I returned to deck I felt slightly guilty as esther had been thrown in and I had escaped my punishment :-)

Eventually the boat ran out of booze we all finished our swimming and took to deck for some sun to dry off.  A very chilled journey home with much sleeping.  

We got off the boat and all went in our desperate ways to make our way back to the hostel.  Sarah and I ha a little explore through the town which was really cute with cobbled streets and lots of little shops to explore.  I'd drunk way too much salt water so was feeling a little bit sucky so we headed back pretty soon with time enough only to buy ourselves some headdresses to wear at carnival, all decked out in brightly coloured feathers, just what we had been looking for!

Back at the hostel we showered up, grabbed some pizza at the hostel and then chilled for a while.  Most of the group decided to hang out at the hostel, hoping that the party we faced the night before would start up again, but me, Sarah, taming, Chris and pat headed into town to see what carnival preparations we could find.  Sarah and I left the others to go for dinner and spent a bit more time now looking through the shops before heading to the main square for a drink.

There was a huge tent set up in the square ready for carnival and a lot or people had stated to gather around so we decided to park ourselves for a while in the hope that something exciting may happen.  We found a stall selling what we thought was fruit juice but turned out to be cocktails.  We shared some piña colada and maracuja cocktails which were pretty lethal.  Whilst we were sat in the square enjoying our drinks, some locals we were sat next to tried  to start some conversation with us.  We managed very little due to our lack of Portuguese but struggled our way through the main stuff.  Before we knew it, Sarah was in some kind of weird dance of with one of the guys.  He'd do a little bit of break dancing and shed break out the sprinkler or a cartwheel, it was very funny to watch. One of the guys was making things out of palm leaves and gave Sarah a grasshopper to attach to her headdress and a flower for me.

After a while something started happening on the stage and everyone moved into the tent. It was then that we noticed the signs for carnival and that officially carnival started at midnight that night.  That's what everyone had been waiting for.  

We found the others but they decided to stand outside and watch.  Sarah and I went in to dance around to the amazing samba band that were playing.  They started off just as a band and they sounded wicked, just like the percussionists we saw at bombs de tiempo.  Then a singer came on and he didn't really work with the band but the music was excellent.  All the locals wee dancing samba and it was great to see it done properly for the first time.  It's so fast, I have no idea how they move so quickly.  They eventually brought out some professional samba dancers on stage in their skimpy outfits.  At the point where they started bringing people on stage I decided to make my way outside to the others and after a while we called it a day and headed back to the hostel.  When we got back everyone else was still sat in the little group doing not very much and it felt good to have got out and got involved with what the locals had been doing.  I stayed up for a little while chatting to them before finally calling it a day and heading to bed.

The final day in Paraty was a free day.  All of the girls headed into town to stock up on cash for rio as we had been warned that all of the cash points run out.  Jo was really hungover and embarrassingly kept almost passing out and having to sit in shop doorways to recover.  Not good.  The rest of us took time to shop for flip flops.  I finally broke in on my havaiana ban and bought the most hotly pair I could find.  Pink soles with two tone straps, lumo yellow and purple.  What's happened to me on this trip?!! I love them :-)

After the shopping we headed back to the hostel for a little relaxation on the beach.  There was a storm brewing back at the hostel which was causing lots of gossiping (long story) so Sarah and I escaped to the beach for some shade and a coconut. Yummy!! 

We'd all agreed to head to the waterfall in the afternoon but as people got lazy they one by one dropped out.  Sarah, Esther and I decided to go anyway and I'm do glad we did, it was amazing.  We knew that this was more of a trickle over some rocks than a waterfall but we didn't know how much fun we'd have.  We walked back to the bus station in the blistering heat, regretting or decision to go.  When we get there the girls left it to me to figure out what bus to get, how to get home and where to catch it.  If love to say I did a good job but I think we just got lucky.  Within about 30 minutes we were on the bus heading to penha where the waterfalls are. We took the short walk from the bus stop to the falls an when we got there we found a handful of people launching each other (or themselves in some cases) from the top of the waterfall and using it as a waterslide to the bottom where you landed in a small pool of water.  It looked like fun but I also looked like it could go wrong as some of the rocks were pretty bumpy and the pool at the bottom was pretty small. 

We decided to go up in twos leaving one at the bottom to take photos an look after our stuff.  Sarah and Esther went up first and looking rather nervous they waited for a gap before two of the men told them where to sit, grabbed hold of their arms and swung them to launch them down on their bums.  They got to the bottom giggling and laughing and complaining of huge wedgies!  I missed the photo in my excitement so up they went again.  Next was my turn, up I went nervously with Sarah. I wasn't convinced this was a good idea, but I'd committed and I was going to do this!  I was launched in the same way and went hurtling down.  I was screaming most of the way and then I managed I turn around so I was going down backwards and all i could see was one of the locals at the top waving At me.  I managed a wave back before rocketing off the edge and plunging into the water.  Pretty much losing my bikini and dislodging my contacts.  I was still flapping About in the pool when Sarah made her landing minutes later.  This was fun!  We went down loads of times.  Some more successful than others.  There was one part where you'd get air if you went wrong and it hurt!!  In between the locals were also going down but these guys did it standing up.  It was pretty impressive to watch.  One of them lined up 5 guys lying down, skidded up to him on his feet, jumped over them, landed on his feet, carried on down standing up and then leapt into the pool.  Amazing!  

After a while we were all knackered and our launch men had gone so we decided to head back for the bus.  We completely got the bus times wrong so managed to squeeze in a nice cold beer before finding a random mini bus which seemed happy to take us back to town.  We stopped off at a random bar back at town which was full of staring men.  I don't think we were supposed to be in there.  Then headed to the hostel for a quick shower before our leaving dinner that evening.

As most people would leave the group as soon as we arrived in rio, this was a big leaving do and really felt like the end of our trip (even though I still had 7 weeks left).  We headed over to the beach for ore dinner drinks.  It was really nice to be together as a group as we are too big to do this too often.  Clare made a lovely speech and had something to say about each of the passengers.  Jonny decided he couldn't do a speech so instead handed out vouchers to each of us with a little treat on each.  Top prize was to pick his outfit for the gay ball, won by Tim who was the perfect candidate for this job.  After our lovely beach time we headed back to the hostel for our final group dinner.  This was slightly ruined by a sudden downpour do we all ended up sitting separately and eating.  After dinner we returned to the main square where we danced the night away with the other trucks and all the locals.  

Paraty was a bit too Ibiza like for my liking but it was still fun and now we were done with the tour I felt a little bit sad, but very excited about the next stop - rio carnival!!!!

Posted by selson 12:42 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)


White water rafting hangover cure

all seasons in one day

We were now officially heading south and slowly making our way to rio. Only two more proper stops before we'd be partying at carnaval!!

The next destination en route to rio was brotas and it would take us a couple days to get there, stopping for a bush camp along the way.  They were fairly uneventful drive days but with an interesting choice of bush camp in between.  The normal bush camp spot is at the back of a petrol station but as we were driving from bonito instead of pantanal we decided to drive beyond that spot and find ourselves closer to brotas.  We found a little spot by the side of a restaurant in the middle of nowhere, asked the owner if we could stay and we couldn't have got a warmer welcome.  He let us use his toilets and showers and invited us to eat our own cooked food in the seating area outside of his restaurant.  He called up some friends and sent them to go buy more beers for us and was soon enough trying to share his supply of marijuana with us which we obviously declined but was a very kind offer. It turns out that the restaurant wasn't actually open yet but it got quite busy, he was obviously ringing around his friends telling them to check out the gringos who'd arrived.  He put stickers for his restaurant all over the truck, demanded on having masses of group photos for us and cooked us starters of the most amazing fried fish and dips.  It was certainly unlike any bush camp I've ever done.  

After a while a very annoying and drunk Brazilian lady arrived so most of us took to bed, with Claire and I stopping off at the boys tents to dismantle the tent before we took to bed. Unfortunately we didn't really think this through.  In the middle of the night the boys let down someone else's tent thinking that they had done it and when that didn't get a very welcome reaction they quickly realised it was us and completely took our tent down with us in it.  Just what you need at 2am when you're camping in the boiling hot heat in your undies in the middle of nowhere.  I can't imagine it was too pretty watching us put it back up again.

The following day we made the remaining journey to brotas.  The other truck was there for that night so we decided to have a few drinks together as we hadn't spent time together for a while.  The campsite had these cool little shelters everywhere and we'd bagged ourselves a massive one to eat and drink under.  We headed off to the shops to stock up on drinks but when we left the heavens opened and dumped a ridiculous amount of water on us.  When we got back to the campsite we were soaked through. Thankfully someone had zipped our tent up which was more than we can say for the boys tent.  They had left the fly off ad the doors open and it was pretty filled when we got back.  
We had a few drinks at the shelter by our tents before heading for dinner and joining everyone else.  

It was a pretty nice evening with everyone having a couple quiet drinkies and then grant decided it would be a great idea to introduce a game of king and queens, the mother of all drinking games (I really hate drinking games at the best of times and this one tops it).  Esther decided to skip it and went off for twenty minutes when she came back she said everyone was totally smashed.  It was a pretty messy night which ended with some fairly stupid arguments and then lots of drunken stupidness.  

The following morning was horrible. I was first up out of the drinkers and got the wrath of those who for some reason don't like seeing people have fun.  But to top it off we had agreed to go white water rafting at 9am, the
Last thing we needed.  Some people bottled it but I was determined to go.  I really enjoyed it last time and this one was set to be bigger and better.

After securing people's flip flops to their feet with duck tape, we boarded the old school bus and headed out to the river.  We got the usual talk about what to do and then we picked up our rafts and headed for the water.  It was absolutely freezing and at this point I was hating it.  The sun was making me feel quite unwell and I knew everyone else was feeling the same, I don't think we've ever been so quiet. 

Then we hit our first rapid and all was forgotten.  The rapids we went over were huge, bordering on class 5's and in very quick succession.  It was so much fun.  It was non stop for quite some time and then we had a calm patch and they swapped me to the other side, behind big Chris.  He's called big Chris for a reason and when we next had to get inside the raft he landed in my section on my shin and I honestly thought I was going to lose my leg. That hurt! But there wasn't time to think about it as we had more rapids to contend with.  I loved the rafting, and those we left behind definitely missed out, it was a brilliant hangover cure. 

We had a very lazy afternoon by the pool and everyone decided to cook for themselves that night rather than do the group thing.  Just when we were shipping there was an almighty storm with rain like I've never seen.  So yet again we got soaked through.  All that remained for the day was a quiet night making burgers and generally chilling before and early night ready for the drive to Paraty the next day.

Posted by selson 15:54 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Beautiful Bonito

Snorkelling and canopy walking


We left the pantanal and made the short drive to bonito where we would be staying for the next three nights.

We arrived at our accommodation boiling hot and desperate to get in the pool, but the rooms weren't ready so instead we went through the usually painful rigmarole of being talked through what activities were on offer and booking stuff up.  There was absolutely loads to do here but the unmissable activity is the snorkelling so everyone signed up for that straight away.  Some of the others booked on the abysmo for the next day which is a huge free abseil into a cave and then a snorkel or dive at the bottom, after not totally enjoying my abseil experience in new Zealand I passed on that and decided instead to do a rooftop canopy walk instead with the intention of seeing lots of monkeys and hopefully replacing some of the pictures that I lost earlier in the trip.

Once we'd finally got ourselves sorted we checked into our rooms (an odd set up as we had girls and boys dorms but Tim was allocated to the girls room) we had a quick dip in the pool and then headed to town to explore for a while and find somewhere for a drink and a bite to eat.  

There wasn't a great deal in the town, a couple of bars and some amazing phone boxes in the shape of toucans and jaguars so we found ourselves finding everyone else fairly quickly and in the same bar.  We wanted to try some of the cachaca (I think it was called pongu) so we picked one with what we thought was a fruit juice, but turned out to be a shot, it wasn't supposed to be one of those nights.  We tried it anyway and I can honestly say it was one of the most disgusting drinks I've tried, we sent it over to the boys table and stuck to beers.  Sometimes it's better the devil you know.  We had a quiet night that night just a couple beers back at the hostel in preparation for snorkelling the next day.

The following morning we were all up early to make our way over to the river where we all go snorkelling.  We took our guides with us on the truck and we headed out for the 40k drive.  The river has a really high level of minerals and calcium in it which drags and sedement and debris to the bottom of the water leaving the water crystal clear, perfect snorkelling conditions.

We were split into 3 groups and would head down the river in our separate groups.  Once it was our turn to leave we got kitted out in wetsuits and covered ourselves in cold water to keep us cool on the walk the river.  The walk was really pretty, all through the forest and we were on lookout for wildlife.  Only a few days before another group had seen a jaguar on the walk.  Scary stuff!! 

On arrival at the water we were given a little test run around the little pool there to make sure everyone was comfortable snorkelling, once we started to main loop there was no going back.  Even during that part we saw hundreds of fish.  

The snorkel was pretty easy, you're not allowed to kick your feet too much as it disturbs the water so that it's not so clear, so in the most part we were just floating and letting the current take us with it.  It was absolutely stunning, so many fish and they were swimming so close at times. Some of them were big!! We had a couple of trees and rocks to navigate and at one point I got stuck on a tree with the current pushing me against it.  I had to get jo to hoik me off of it so I could continue in the right direction.  We then hit some really strong currents in an s bend and it was like being in a roller coaster in the water.  We had no control whatsoever, but with the exception of jos camera, we all escaped unscathed and the camera eventually made its way to join us at the bottom.  When we got into the really deep water our guide was diving down to find things to show us.  I wasn't too impressed when he dropped a crab into my hands.  He seemed to find it very amusing.  Hmmmm.  At the end of the river there was a natural spring at the bottom so we played around on that for a while before finally admitting that we had to get out and head back.  It was the most beautiful snorkel with so much to see, and it was nice to do it with our little group too.  A pretty amazing experience.   All that was left was to make our way back to the start point for buffet lunch and a lounge in the hammocks whilst we waited for the final group to finish.
The evening was another quiet one at the hostel as most of the others had a really early start to head off for their abseil.

I was really looking forward to a nice chilled day the next day.  My plan was to chill at the hostel in the morning and then head out for the canopy walk in the afternoon.  The morning part definitely happened, I chilled with Tanith all morning, in the pool, walk to town, quick lunch and then I got ready for the canopy walk. I headed over to meet Marion in her room, all flip flopped up and big camera in hand.  She looked sheepishly at me and told me to go put some trainers on and lose the camera. Turns out she picked up a leaflet for our "canopy walk" earlier in the day and it wasn't so much a canopy walk as a high ropes course complete with a couple of zip wires at the end.  What the f?!! 

So off I went to get myself changed and we waited for the motorbike taxis I had ordered for us to get there.  They pulled up outside and give us out helmets which were so big the chin part was on my nose when we actually got going.  Not dangerous at all!  My guy seemed to want this ride over with as quickly as possible, so the next thing I know I'm haring down the road in my little short and best top with only an oversized helmet to save me should this all go horribly wrong.  It was good fun but slightly scary and I was quite happy when it was all over.  That is until we sat waiting to start the canopy walk and were forced to watch the video of what we were about to do.  Oh my god it was ridiculous, all of a sudden the abseil option seemed like a much better idea!! I had Marion panicking at me telling me she was in her fifties and was way to old for this and I was panicking because I'm not the best with heights.  We had no way out.

We were taken through to get harnessed up and I was used as dummy to show the small group of us how to get around the course.  At this point the only English speaker left and it was just me Marion, two other locals and a few guides.  

Naturally I was forced to go first, probably not a bad thing as I was setting the pace.  The first few weren't too bad, only 5 metres above the ground and mainly just ladders but quite quickly we were 15 metres above the ground walking across loops of rope, or tiny blocks of wood, moving bamboo poles, tightrope wires and much more.  It was horrible! And not helped by the so called guide (who was behind us an didnt tell us what to do on any of the obstacles) who thought it was funny to wait until you were halfway across with shaky legs and wobble everything he could.  All I could here was Marion shouting at him to stop.  He was a braver man than me, she's one scary lady!!  At one point we got to a net that was just hanging in the air and I freaked totally.  Having done barely any exercise for months now I have very little upper body strength and I just couldn't see how this was going to happen.  So I'm calling out to Marion to tell her that "I seriously can't do this one" whilst the lady behind her is having a full on panic attack and she's properly giving me a look that's telling me I will be doing this one. There was no way I was getting out of this.  So we wait for the guide to arrive and tell him to show us how it's done and he shimmies across with ease.  So I step on the net.  Then step off.  Then I notice someone is taking photos of the whole ordeal at the bottom and that freaks me more.  But i step on again anyway, then step off.  Then I figure that I'm stepping too low so I go higher, one foot then the next, so I'm totally on.  Everyone cheers, the I get off again.  I demand that Marion goes first.  So back the guide comes to shift our harnesses around and marion gets herself slowly across.  She did not make it look easy and getting off at the end looked vile.  I was very close to quitting but I wanted to do the rest of the course so back on I got.  With my arms all wrapped around the top of the net, they were all laughing at me but this was the only way.  I finally did it but I had a proper sweat on.  I mean why would anyone need to shimmy across a net suspended 15 metres above the ground anyway?  We made our way around the 20 obstacles and then we finished up with 2 zip wires.  I wasn't worried about the zip wires until it was Marion's turn to flip out.  She wanted to wrap the ropes around her hands to feel more secure but she wasn't allowed as she wasn't going to go unless he let her.  This went in for some time until the guy eventually lost his patience and pushed her off. I have never heard screaming like it.  Next up it was my go.  I wasn't so freaked by these but still needed a nudge over the edge, I loved it though. Zip wires are fun!!  The final zip wire was optional but Marion and I had made it this far and we weren't giving up now.  This one was a backwards one into water.  It was brilliant.  You gradually skimmed into the water and then kicked your way to the end at the bottom.  Totally drenched but at least it wasn't sweat anymore!  We'd made it.  Not quite the chilled walk we were expecting but actually it wasn't so bad.  I'm glad I went with Marion though, she wasnt going to let me give up but was quite accepting of my panic attacks.   Whilst we were waiting for our motorbikes to take us home we saw more rhea and roadrunners, and got some nice pictures.  Another crazy ride back home.  Tonight we'd need a few drinks!!

We agreed to go out for a group meal at one of the exotic meat restaurants.  They serve pretty much everything that we had been admiring in the pantanal which was a bit weird.  I had a sharer with Claire and we went for alligator as we couldn't face the capyburras or other cute things we'd seen.  It was very tasty and was washed down nicely with a couple of caipirinhas.  This was our first experience of how strongly they mix drinks in brazil.  It's hard to tell with a cocktail but I was pretty far gone after those two (and a couple of long neck beers on the way). We headed back to the bar we visited on the first night as we'd heard they had live music.  It was a pretty cool night but Claire and I got caught in rounds of caipirinhas with the boys and they were fairly well gone so it's not hard to imagine the state of us two. I even had to get help with my last drinks, I just couldn't do it.  We were last to leave and the 30 minute walk home took about 2 hours.  Josh and I even managed to lose Claire and Tim and then get totally lost and had to be walked home by the locals.  Embarrassing.  It seemed like the right thing to do to hang about in hammocks until 5:30am at which point I guess I sobered up a little and realised it was totally ridiculous and I should go to bed.

I woke up two hours later to Claire literally falling out of the top bunk in only her pyjama bottoms (pretty), which was nice for Tim who was sharing with us girls.  He seemed to scarper pretty quickly at this point.

All that was left was to check out and go head to the supermarket for cook group shopping for the next two nights camping.  I can't remember if I've mentioned before but cook group shopping is a horrible experience that I have grown to hate, but when half the group are still a little drunk it's even worse.  

Tim and josh were an absolute mess but seemed to think it would be a brilliant idea to buy a 12 pack of breakfast lagers which they tucked into straight away.  This was going to be an interesting drive day.  They were so annoying that day, running up and down the truck with their headphones on singing along and shouting "party truck" every other minute.  I honestly thought some of the older passengers were going to kill them.  we were all waiting for the moment that the drinks would run dry and they'd fall asleep.  It took a long time, a couple of rollickings from jonny and Claire but eventually it happened.  They were out for the count and normal truck sleeping resumed.  At lunch time josh was still pretty comatosed so jo and I decided to return the party truck behaviour to him. He was not happy.  But it made the rest of us slightly happier to see his pain.  Looking back it was a very funny drive day those two really are a pair of idiots. 

Posted by selson 15:52 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

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