I know, I know, ´braziliance´is not a word… but it should be. It sums up this place beautifully. So, since I last updated on the pre-travelc disasters, a lot has happened. It´s not even bneen a week but I feel as if I´ve been here for a looooong time already. After an insanely long journey from London to Rio, via Madrid, on a plane that quite frankly looked like it had somehow survived the dark ages (I´m talking 10 hours on a plane with three tiny tv screens – with no film options apart from some awful film with Richard Gere and a DOG – which on take-off juddered uncontrollably and looked like they were going to land on the head of the ((ridiculously attractive)) Brazilian priest sitting beneath them!) I finally made it. Got to the shuttle, where the driver found it hysterical that I obviously walked automatically to the UK passenger side, which in Brazil, is the driver´s side. ´Do you WANT to drive?´he asked me in the haze of 38 degree simmering heat… not so much, no, with the crazy crazy roads here.
Anyway, after a night in the hostel and a minor panic about the fact I was in a totally strange city, ALONE, it was time to hit Rio. With the rest of the tour not arrived, I went on a local tour with crazy guide Campos, who had a bird whistle he kept using to round us up, and whose Spanish was easier to understand than his English, bless him, and I don´t speak very good Spanish. Which says a lot. In a matter of hours, we had been whisked round the main sights of Rio – the Catedral with it´s astonishing stained glass (you wouldn´t expect it from the Sixties concrete exterior), Christ the Redeemer (I was totally disappointed that my birthday-sharing homeboy was covered from head to foot in scaffolding. What´s that about? Don´t they know who I am?! Jeez and I needed to have words…), Sugarloaf with its astounding views…and so so so much more.
I know this really sounds like I´m glossing over everything, but it´s been a week and I feel like there are SO many stories to tell… maybe I should back off with the sight-seeing stories and go straight for the GAP adventure action…
After the steaming hot intro to Rio that day, I met the rest of the group – 11 girls, from the UK and Norway, and two guys, one young, one very unexpectedly old. I´m talking in his seventies. Really. He was a shock to us all…including our tour leader, Yannick, I think! Oh, Aussie Kevin, he has become our mascot, particularly after he got lost in a straight one-street town, and a search party had to go out to find him. Shame. Hmm.
Anywho, the first full day was a loooong trip to get to Ilha Grande – it was meant to take 3 hours, it took 9. Our bus broke down in the middle of nowhere, all the locals got moved to a different bus, but there was no room for us, so we waited for another shuttle and missed our ferry to the island. No matter, says Yannick, we´ll get a private boat with music and drinks – it´ll be alllll good. Hmmm. After waiting an excruciatingly long time on the docks for our boat to appear, what chugs up to us? Oh yes, a fishing boat. Clouds are looming on the horizon, it´s not looking good. We load up our backpacks and those of some random Argentinian guys (lovely fellas from Buenos Aires) and set off towards Ilha Grande. The rain starts falling, the sea gets choppy, but hey, it´s an adventure, so everyone is fine with that. Well, sort of. As soon as we hit Ilha Grande though, we were fine. With its clapboard beach fronts, lush forest and complete lack of cars, it looked like the set for Pirates of the Caribbean…minus Johnny Depp. Definitely worth the journey.
Î think I need to stop here…this is very dense already. I´ll dedicate the next one to the Ilha Grande anecdotes… there are many. Apologies for the lack of pic so far – it´s coming as soon as I figure out how to get the pics on this computer to load up – and also for any dodgy typos – the keyboard here nao fala inglese. Oh yes, my Portuguese is getting better. Sim?