So finally the big day came for our trip to begin. Within minutes of arriving at the airport diaster struck - one of the straps on my backpack snapped as I loaded it onto the check-in belt! I wouldn´t mind, but it wasn´t a Primark number or anything..that pesky pack cost me a fortune.
Anyway, as we had prebooked our seats the minute the online check-in opened, we had a wicked amount of legroom, good films to watch and the food was actually pretty edible too. Result! The luxury wasn´t to last long however...
We arrived in Sao Paulo at around 6am, and once again my pack caused me grief at the airport. I spotted my bright pink rucksack gliding around on the conveyor belt, but as I grabbed it to yank it off, I realised that one of the straps was caught under the belt. After almost going round on the conveyor belt with it, we finally managed to pull it free, moments before going back into the hatch! Luckily it escaped unscathed this time, and we caught a bus to centro Sao Paulo, where our hotel/hovel was located.
We go off at Praca de Republica, loaded ourselves up and climbed over the mountain of homeless amputees to get across the square. After dumping our stuff in the, er, dump, we proceeded to check out the neighbourhood. Then we encountered our first problem..we couldn´t speak a word of the local lingo - Portuguese. We attempted to read the menu at a restaurant, took about 20mins with our Portuguese phrasebook trying to decipher what was what, then gave up and ordered a pizza. Why? Cos the word for pizza is ...pizza.
Sao Paulo is a sprawling metropolis - huge grey buildings, skyscrapers, hotdog and fresh juice kiosks. We wandered into a few dodgy areas, and when we were called Gringoes! loudly by a scary-looking Paulisto with wild eyes we decied to turn back. Considering we had no clue about the city and had to get our Lonely Planet book out on every street corner people were pretty friendly towards us.
We spent a few days exploring - there is a building which is a replica of the empire state building from which we took some photos of the breath-taking views over Sao Paulo, we visited the Municipal Market, where people lunch on these huge ham rolls with literally half a pig inside, and some tropical parks. When we realised there was a prison a stone´s throw away from our hotel (we saw the men in boiler suits during one of their outdoor breaks, with people talking to them through the barbed wire fence), and the police started a road block outside our hostel, we decided to get out of dodge...
After a 7-hr bus journey, we were in Curitiba (pronounced cure - i -cheeba). During the journey we saw great scenery, with lush green forests, lakes and wild birds. Unfortunately Curitiba was not quite so picturesque, as it was another large city. We stayed only one night, before taking another bus, this time for 11 hours, to Foz do Iguacu. This is where we are now, and is our favourite place so far. We arrived at 9.30pm, with nowhere to stay, but managed to find accomodation at Hostel Bambu, who welcomed us in. We could only get a bunkbed in a dorm as we had not prebooked, but we didn´t care as we were exhausted and our rucksacks feel heavier by the day.
It felt a bit weird staying on a room with strangers, listening to the rise and fall of their breath, but everyone was really friendly. Did I mention that it is also absolutely freezing here?!
After 34 degrees in Sao Paulo it was a bit of a shock, and we slept in our thermals in our sleeping bags under the covers.
The following day we went to our first Brazilian party! A rave, which started at midnight and went on until 6pm! We only stayed for a few hours, during which time the weather hotted up and I felt a bit of a twat in my hiking gear, woolly hat and fleece, whilst all the Brazilian girls danced around me in their jeans and skimpy tops!
We managed to get a bit sunburnt, even through all those layers, then explored the town for a bit before going back to the hostel to book our tickets for the tour of Igacu Falls from both the Brazilian side and the Argentine side. We will visit the exotic bird park tomorrow, before heading off on a 16hr bus journey to Campo Grande, where we will visiting the Pantanal, a huge area for wildlife spotting. We will be camping for 3 days, whilst doing piranha fishing, horse riding, safari in a 4x4 to spot wild animals and birds etc.
Hope I haven´t bored you too much, please let us know what´s happening back home, and we will deliver our next installment next week...