We finally arrived in Rio, after a record-breaking 26hr bus journey, our longest yet! We even had to put our clocks forward when we arrived as we had crossed a time zone. We got on the bus at 4pm after a night out with a great Austrian couple we´d become friends with in Iguazu and had then spent the camping trip in the Pantanal with. We spent a gruelling journey in close proximity to the toilets and a few Brazilian guys with questionable hygiene habits, finally arriving in Rio de Janeiro at 7pm the next evening.
As you can imagine we were pretty tired so were impressed when we arrived at our hostel, Mellow Yellow, to find it had a hot tub on the roof. The excitement was short-lived however cos as well as the hot tub it was also home to a whole ecosystem of insects, all residing in our room. Liam removed a few millipedes (giant ones!) from the room and we went to bed, only to be woken up in the night with all the shouting and drunken antics going on. This hostel is huge, with 24bed dorms, and although we had our own (grotty) room it still felt like the rest of Rio was in the room too, the walls were that thin. Even the bedbugs wore earplugs.Anyway, I was actually glad to be woken up because when I opened my eyes I realised there was another party going on, namely on my stomach with a family of tics! As I yanked the little bloodsuckers off me I vowed to leave that place as soon as it got light outside.
Struggling in torrential rain, we left this bug-infested version of hell and made our way to a smaller, better (and cheaper!) hostel down the road, just near Copacabana beach, where the people were friendly and the rooms relatively bug-free (we´ve still picked up lots of suspiciously flea-like bites all over our lower bodies from here though I hasten to add).
Creepy-crawlies aside, Rio is fantastico! We arrived on Monday and are still here now, Sunday, as it is absolutely buzzing and we can´t tear ourselves away.
We have visited all the major tourist attractions, such as Sugar Loaf mountain, the Christ the Redeemer statue, Santa Theresa the artisan and hippy area (Chris you would love it there) and much more. We also spent the afternoon with an artist called Selaron, an amazing guy who has covered some steps (125 of them) with tiles from all over the world, from over 60 countries, making a colourful, mosaic-effect work of art. These steps are so famous that they have been used in a Snoop-Dogg video, in CSI, and loads of magazine shoots etc.
We have also done our share of partying - these guys don´t mess about! We went to a street party in Lapa on Friday night, which was absolutely amazing. We lubricated ourselves with several Caipirinhas ( basically sugar, lime and cachacas) at the hostel bar before a big group of us headed out to the party, where literally thousands of people filled the streets, all gyrating to the intoxicating drum beats of Samba music. The locals were only too willing to grab hold of us and attempt to teach us how to do it, but Liam and I have been dancing to house music for far too long, and couldn´t get the rhythm the same as them. They were wiggling their hips and shuffling their feet, and we were doing big box, little box instead! They didn´t seem to mind too much, and may have even picked up a few new moves from us I reckon.We finally staggered home at around 4.30am, all samba´d out.
The next day we decided to recover on Copacabana beach, although the constant prodding by beach vendors selling all sorts of stuff was pretty grating, especially when they accidently kicked sand in our faces every time they flip-flopped off.
Last night we hit it hard again with a load of people from our hostel, all about 10 years younger than us might I add. We still gave those whippersnappers a run for their money on the dancefloor though I can tell you. The only annoying thing about the clubs here is that you drink all night then pay at the end, so it can get pretty pricey, especially as those caipirinhas slide down just a little too easily...
So we´ve decided to stay here for a few more days, even though our wallets and livers are begging us to move on. We are truly enthralled by this place, and all the scary stories about how dangerous it is here seem to be far removed from the truth. We have heard some pretty awful stories, but don´t panic Mum, we´ve encountered nothing more than a few bad hangovers here!
It feels soo much safer than Sao Paulo, and much more fun too.
Let´s hope Argentina has as much to offer as Brazil, as we are flying to Buenos Aires on Wednesday. Now, shall we stay in Rio or head to Paraty and Ilhe Grande, which was the original plan? Something tells me we may be staying in Rio just a little bit longer than planned...