Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bare bums and speedos!

Oi! (Portuguese for hi!)

Well we have survived a night of Samba dancing through much laughter, sweating and bum shaking! The brazilains truly know how to dance! We ended our last night in Argentina with another of our impromptu Irish dancing demonstrations, this time a classy act on top of a table in our tracksuits!!

We crossed the border twice in one day to visit the Brazilain side of Iguazu falls from the Argentinain side. We had been told they were a lot less impressive and that many people dont bother going to see them from this side - totally wrong, they are truly amazing from either side. The photos so far on the blog are from the Argentinian side - you get a much closer experiece of the falls from this side but from Brazil side you get a much better panoramic and more of an idea of just how vast they are. Fortunately we had a sunnier day on the Brazil side - will get Brazil side pics up asap- so gave us a chance to see the rainbows under the falls and not be quite so cold after another walk out onto the pontoon where you truly get soaked right through from the spray alone. A wise source told us that normal water levels at this time of the year are about 2500 cubic metres(or however you measure water!) but at the moment water levels are at around 7000 - so you can imagine what a sound that much water makes!

The following day we moved on , hit the bakery and empanada shop and loaded up for another 23 hour bus journey - unfortunately this one didnt come equipped with first class standards of food , luckily we were warned about this as all we got onboard was a random mini croissant - a slight change from our 3 course meal, wine and champagne on the previous bus! However the seats reclined, lots of leg room and no robberies (always a good thing!) We arrived into Rio the next morning and Jo and myself practically glued our noses to the window of the taxi as we drove past the beach and saw the sea for the first time in nearly 6 weeks. In typical tourist style we also gave the taxi driver our version of Barry Manilows Copacobana as we craned our necks to see the most famous statue in the world and the Sugarloaf Mountain. We had to take a moment to absorb hte fact that we were actually in Rio de Janeiro! When we are constantly on the move and seeing so many amazing places its often easy to forget where we actually are so we have to remind oursleves how lucky we are!!

Hit the beach that afternoon and within 2 minutes we realised there was something very different about us and every other girl on the beach - we didnt have practically our whole bums on display!! Old, young, fat, obese, skinny, full of cellulite - it makes no difference - the rule here is if you want to blend in have dental floss for the back of your bikini!!There are some seriously groce sights on these beaches and a lot of plastic surgery enhanced bodies - this is especially noticeable on the women who buy their bikini tops 5 times too small just to expose some more flesh and then push or roll the material in just incase you werent able to see enough (this is usually the tactic of the obese girls-clearly theythink it makes them more attractive - we have males confirm this is not the case!!) So Jo and myself our feeling like super modest Grannys on the beach in our regular bikinis!

The other thing we have established is that if youre under 20 and male you can wear board shorts otherwise speedos only or a version of speedos that leave nothing to the imagination! We have had a couple of days sunshine helping to get our tans back a little! Sunday we celebrated Jos birthday with a champagne breakfast and then headed to the beach later taking the opportunity when the weahter was good and clear to go see the big man himself Jesus Christ the Redeemer and he certainly is big! Had some fabulous views of the city and took some classical hold our arms out photos - had to be done! Sunday in Rio is the traditional and best night to go party in the slums - locally known as Favela Funk Party. Keen not to do everything in typical gringo (westerner / tourist) style we opted to make our own way there and not go on the bus organised by the hostel. Saving every penny we can! We had the male suppost of Ali and Patrick (the Dutch guy we met in our dorm) so we didnt feel too much at threat , that was until we told the taxi driver where we wanted to go and his reply was "you know thats a really dangerous area?" We told him yeah and he said as long as us girls werent left on our own and we didnt hang around too much outside the club wed probably okay! When we got to the tunnel enroute he informed us that bandits often blocked this tunnel from both ends and robbed every car inside it - we were hoping this wasnt the night theyd strike!!
Anyway made it safely into the club / huge warehouse with lots of locals shaking their asses! Local attire equals tight shorts, skimpy tops / bikini tops and flip flops for the girls, bare chests tshirt tucked into back of shorts / jeans for guys! The first hour we tried to to blend in slightly more by sticking our asses out and wiggling, havent quite got that down yet! Second half of the night they called people up onto the dance floor for adance off - very funny!!! The line up included a skinny local who was remarkably good, a trashy local girl who was quadrupily jointed, a transvestite in a tight yellow dress , a fat local, and a fat Irish guy who attempted to break dance - see pic on blog!!! All in all it was a hilarious night and we made it safely back to the hostel in one piece with all our belongings!
Chilled out for the next couple days, saw some sights and unfortnately the weahter hasnt been great since, we have seen a lot of cloud and rain until Thursday when the sun shone again and we were able to hang out on the beach again for a few hours, where we made a new friend who turned out to be an actor - Newt from Hollyoaks for any of you Hollyoaks fans! So he accompanied us and our other hostel friends up the cable car to the Sugarloaf mountain for an amazing view of Rio and an alright sunset, dampened a bit by the cloud. Almost as good a view as from our own Sugarloaf at home!! That night turned out to be one of those random great nights out with our new mate Ronan from Rathfarnham, Dutchy (our mate from Holland whos name we cant pronounce!) and our Aussie room mate, walked out of the bar and were surprised to find it was daylight and 6 in the morning! Was quite amusing to get home on the local bus where everyone else was on thier way to work!
So a few hours sleep and back up as the big Olympic announcement party was kicking off on the beach at 10, live music and Samba dancing and a fever in the air, all helped by the fact that the sun was back out - and hasnt been seen since - boo! And as Im sure you all know Rio got the Olympics for 2016, Ive never seen anything like it, it was like New Years Eve,a millenium and every other huge party rolled into one!!! We managed to get oursleves interviewed on at least 3 different TV channels, looking very classy Im sure covered in beer as everyone shook their beer cans and poured them everywhere when the announcement was made. Considering Jo and myself were proabbaly the only one there not drinking that was a lot of beer and siver pieces of paper falling on top of us! So the love music and Samba dancing continued for 7 hours and then it was back tot he hostel for a siesta! I can only imagine what the Opening ceremony will be like, Adam and myself are already scheming our trip for 2016!!
That night we forced oursleves out again , this time to Lapa which is the must see street party on a Friday night. Its a bring minimal cash and no valuables and dress like a local night! Good vive, lots of drumming, dancing on streets, food stalls - only dulled by the horrifically strong stench of urine on the streets. Bailed early once we felt we had "done" Lapa and returned to the safety of our hostel in a taxi. Unfortunately one of our friends from the hostel was held up at gunpoint at the ATM later on in the night but thankfully is okay. All part of the cultural fun of South America!!
Last night, Saturday we packed our bags again and headed for the bus station. We decided to save money and get the local bus there instead of a taxi, this seemed like a great idea until we got on the bus ( a task in itself getting up the steps with 23 kg on oyur back and at least 10 in hand luggage!!) However getting up the steps was hte least of our worries as we got up and remembered that hte local buses have turnstiles on them. Now these turnstiles are minimally wider than my hips so Im not quite sure how most of the locals get on as they are all quite well endowed in the bum area. Our problem was how we were going to get through with our rucksacks on! I suddenly found myself wedged between the turnstile as I tried to pass my hand luggage over it to some very amused but kind local lady on the other side. As I negotiated this move Jo lifted the bottom of my rucksack up and pushed me through the gap. A few jiggley movements later , much laughter and some very strange looks form the other passengers and I was through - next we had to get Jo through! A few similar moves and we were in ,there was no slowing down or waiting for us to find a seat so we stumbled down the bus and practically launched ourselves into a double seat each - once these bags are on they dont come off! 40 minutes later of bumping along Rios back streets and taking the corners like we were in a Rally cross we arrived at he bus station. Luckily getting off the bus was a lot easier than getting on!
The next task was trying to buy a ticket, the computer had crashed at the one and only company that sells tickets to Paraty where we are now so as we waited in the queue we tried not to laugh as the guy behind the desk banged on the enter key creating a littel drum beat with it - only a Brazilain could make a tune form the tapping of an enter key! After turning on and off the computer several times it eventually got up and runing again and the customer in front of us got his ticket printed, we were next in line .However as soon as he typed in where we wanted to go it crashed again, some more banging ont he eneter key, a few mumbled swear words in Portuguese, trun on the computer and off and again 3 times and 40 minutes later we are still standnign in the queue with no tickets!! Eventually he came out form behind his little kiosk and rambled something in Portuguese that there was no way my little phrase book was going to translate! I have discovered Portuguese is easy enough to read as looks similar to Spanish but try to speak it or understand a local and Im lost! Luckily we had the rare find of someone who spoke English behind us in the line so Allesandro - our new best mate for the next 4 hours took us into his care and brought us to the bus where we payed the driver direct and 4 hours later safely arrived into Paraty.
A short taxi ride form the historic centre - see blog pics (full of rain but cute buldings , beautiful cafes and lots of Artisan shops and unfortunately lots of cake trollies!!) we arrived at our wooden, hammock filled hostel right on the beach - would be paradise if stopped raining! So we are planting oursleves here for a few days i the hoped the sun will shine again! There are lots of islands to visit here, some beautiful beaches andwaterfalls that creat natural wwater slides - thats ont he list for tomorrow! So until the next update ciao, lotsa love Jane and Jo xox