The road to Rio.
The Road to Rio has been quite an excitable one and to be honest a little bit cloudy and wet which is a bugger as I was planning to get rid of my English T-shirt tan. It´s been the one downside to this trip, not enough time by the sea and, I like the sea. But, I really cannot complain because we have seen some awesome sights. Upon leaving Bonito we headed towards the coast skimming past Sao Paulo heading up towards a random place called Ubatuba. It involved two long drive days but we managed to get to Ubatuba a day early which would have been awesome giving us extra beach time but no, it threw it down with rain for the whole time we were there. As I´m sure I already mentioned this is also where we did our final, big truck clean.
We then took a short drive up to Paraty which is a beautiful ex colonial town with old cobbled streets and little cafes and tourist shops. Again it rained for most of our time there. However the place was still busy with tourists either heading up to Rio or, Rio folk getting away from Rio, ahead of carnival. Our main activity in Paraty was a booze cruise. Sorry I mean boat trip featuring opportunities to swim and have a final proper get together with everyone on the truck. As it happens every truck company does the same thing and so our boat had three truck loads of potential drunks and a second boat that cruised along side us had a similar number. We have been bumping into each other at various stages for the last few weeks now and so everyone is getting familiar with everyone else. We set off with a guy playing local acoustic guitar but he appeared to give up after twenty minutes and he was promptly replaced with party tunes, and that kind of set the atmosphere for the rest of the day. Free caparinis (if that’s how you spell the Brazillian alcoholic beverage of choice) soon provided many fantastic stories which will never be shown or, discussed on this blog I´m afraid. Not because of me obviously, I was sober for the whole day!?!? Caparini or however you spell it is made up of something like a rum, lime and sugar. Sorry to be vague but ultimately it is rather lovely. Anyhow the day was a right good hoot and when I actually took notice of the surroundings the places we were sailing to were beautiful and pretty much represents the coast all the way up to Rio. We got back to the hostel in time for the football which ironically I think a lot of people missed due to various levels of soberness.
The next day we were on the final leg of our jouney to Rio. Our drive in was quite eventful. Firstly as per usual it was cloudy and miserable and we were trying to guess where Jesus (Christ the redeemer) was and as it happened he was one of the few things visible up in the clouds which I thought was kind of eery! Secondly a police car flew in front of us on a three lane motor way, the doors swung open and men with huge guns slowed down the traffic and brought us all to a stop. Moments later three big trucks coasted by which weren´t armed but had plenty of escorts. Now we have an explanation based purely on Arnolds knowledge of shipping who spotted a ship in the harbor (which was next the highway) from a company who is known to deal with nuclear waste. We also passed a nuclear power station several hours before so we just put two and two together but the theory could be bull poo!
The first night in Rio was relatively quiet because amazingly we managed to stay away from large amounts of beer as hand gliding was considered more important which was the following mornings activity. When we arrived at the top of the mountain, shock, it was cloudy and as you may appreciate, hand gliders cannot jump off a mountain into a cloud because they can´t see where they are going or where other gliders are. But as soon as the cloud broke we were away and it was bloody awesome. I have video and photos taken from the gliders which will be put up on Facebook once I´m home but it was great experience. As soon as you leave the platform which you have to run off with the pilot, everything becomes peaceful and relaxing. It’s a similar feeling to when you are sitting under a parachute after a skydive only you don´t have quite so much adrenaline pumping through the system. The flight took about ten minutes before a not so beautiful landing on the beach.
The afternoon was spent having a tour around one of the biggest favelas in Rio. The favelas are where people build a house illegally on public land and tap into the services such as leccy and water. I suppose they are up market slums but a slum none the less. They are improving as the government start to crack down on the drug lords that run them with police slowly moving in and regaining order but it´s a slow process and it could be argued that not enough money is being pumped into the community but there is definitely an effort being made. We did have to take a different route for a small part of the tour which the guide had never taken before and we soon got a behind the scenes look with the guide having to negotiate his way past every group of locals and make sure we didn´t have our cameras out taking snaps. It was a good experience, from a tourist view obviously but this was one of the safer favelas where tourists could visit with a guide.
The following afternoon we went to a football match. Unfortunately not at the famous Marracana because it is under refurbishment for the world cup and so instead we went to the Olympic stadium. We watched Fluminese play Vasco which are two big teams in Rio and although the atmosphere wasn´t quite that of Argentina, the game itself was more enjoyable to watch even though it finished 1-1. Next up, the sambadrome!