Over the past few days you could have forgiven us for thinking that the past week had all been a dream, and that we were still actually in Scotland. They said that on Monday night in Rio they got 40 days worth of rain. Needless to say Eilidh and I have been caught out nearly every time the rain comes on, and have soaked to the bone on numerous occasions.
The first blast was on Sunday. We had just been out for our first feijoada, which seems to be their traditional Sunday lunch. It was the only thing available on the places whole menu! So after we had dusted off the feijoada and were just about to set off on our merry way, the heavens opened and San Pedro (St Peter (Brazilians believe that he controls the weather for God)) decided to make it rain. Hard. We took shelter in the local cinema and had a roundabout conversation with a couple of Brazilians, through a handily placed translator, about the weather, football and William Wallace. We eventually had to make a mad dash for it as the rain showed no sign of abating. My feet, ever the hindrance, were slipping all over the place in my (ex) flip-flops and bandages. I’m sure you’ve all been admiring my feet fashion sense this past week, and that night was no exception. So we got soaked and went back to our Villa to find a small pool of water on the bed. The rain stopped, we dried the sheets and we thought that was the end of it.
Unfortunately, that was just the warm up for Monday nights downpour. We had spent an awesome day getting a private eco-tour around some of the best naturalistic sights in Rio. We went to the Parque Lage, which has an Art School in the palace and an aquarium in some caves! We then moved onto the Botanical Gardens and had a good wander round there. It has some pretty amazing species of plants, the most impressive being the Imperial Palm Tree. We then went to the most amazing spot in Tijuca Forest, which is the largest urban forest in the world, it was a waterfall that only Cariocas know about. We had the place to ourselves for most of the afternoon and it was amazing. Due to the rain the night before, a lot of water was coming down the mountain and into “the box”. “The Box” was a small crevice in the rock that could easily fit two people, there was also a crack in the ceiling of the crevice and a lot of water was flowing through it. We could climb up into the box and basically get an uber-massage/shower, it felt awesome.(See Pics on Flickr)
As Rodrigo (our guide for the day) said, it washes all your problems away! After we had spent ample time playing around in the water and chatting away, we headed back into the city proper and hit a bar. It was a nice wee place, and we had monkeys running around over our heads, generally just monkeying around. Eilidh was very taken by them, and even went so far as to shoot the elder statesman of the bar a couple of looks for shooing them away. This was until one of the wee monkeys decided to pee on her. As you can imagine this was hilarious, Rodrigo had been living in Rio for 15 years and had never seen that happen. Eilidh must just be lucky, 1 week and the monkeys feel comfortable enough to urinate all over her! After we had had an undisclosed number of beers there,including 2 Saideiras (Last drink, sometimes they have up to 20 Saideiras) we decided to move on. We headed back towards Lapa, and with the rain beginning to come down, we went to the Casa da Cachaça (House of Cachaça). Cachaça is like a Brazilian whiskey, it is made from sugar cane and is quite a bit sweeter than our whiskey. It comes in many varieties and, like whiskey, the more it ages the better it gets. We tried a couple of blends (ginger, and cinnamon and cloves) as well as a traditional cachaça. What was meant to be respite from a quick shower, turned into us sheltering from San Pedro’s wrath for over an hour. The streets were literally turned into rivers, with the street we were on being by far the worst. In Brazil they respect the dangers of Cachaça, an old Brazilian proverb states “The asshole of the drunken man has no owner.” This is meant to explain how cachaça, rather like whiskey again, if not respected can have an adverse effect on your night. We saw this first hand. (See Pic Below) As you can see the water was nearly up to knee level, and with rubbish floating down the street, it was not Rio at its best.
Eventually, we had to make a run for it as we would of had to have slept there if we waited for the rain to stop! This is where the ultimate foot fashion statement came into play –
As you can see, for this seasons foot fashion, I have decided to go for the plastic bag under trainer look. Not only does it look fabulous, but it also protects sunburnt feet from disgusting rubbish water, or not as the case may be. Anyway, what was meant to be a hour 6 eco-tour turned into a 13 hour battle against the elements. One of our best days yet! We got back to our hostel to find again, that the water had penetrated our roof and soaked our bed. As we got back so late we had no time to dry the sheets so we had to get the mattress onto the floor and make do. Yan and Lucila were both massively helpful in getting this sorted out and ensuring that we got a free nights stay in recompense.
On Tuesday, it was raining again so we had a quiet one. We went out for lunch and got some stuff sorted out etc. Nothing too exciting.
On Wednesday we moved hostels again. We left the Villa Leonor with heavy hearts, as Yan and Lucila had both been amazing. We hope to see both of them again before we leave Rio, and we may even see Lucila further on down the road as she is from Argentina and will hopefully be down there around the same time as us! We moved to Beach Backpackers Hostel in Botafogo. This hostel is not as good 😦 we are stuck inside a tiny little box room, in bunk beds and we are not impressed! We are in a better location for accessing a lot of the things that we want to do in the next week however, so it is a necessary evil. We spent our first day here just getting orientated, and we also went and watched El Classico in one of the local bars. My brief thoughts; shame that Pepe got sent off as it totally changed the game, but even so, Messi is the best and Ronaldo just doesn’t compare. Mourinho did not look like a happy chappy at the end of the game either.
On Thursday we went up on a cog elevator up through a favela, this dropped us off on the top of a hill where we saw the UPP or Police Pacification Unit. These guys are in the process of trying to pacify favelas, and take them out of the hands of the drug lords and back into government care. They were carrying some pretty serious weaponry and they were actually giving a guided tour to some tourists when we saw them. Eilidh and I on the other hand were just wandering about on our own, so we headed out of the favela and up to an amazing viewpoint that offered stunning views over Botafogo bay and across to Sugarloaf mountain. Pics will be up on flickr, check em out :D. So we spent most of the day checking out Botafogo and its bay, before heading out for dinner. We decided to give one more chance to the per weight restaurants and we went to one that was recommended in the Lonely Planet guide – Kilograma. Luckily for us, and unluckily for them, they had an all you can eat deal on. Lets just say we did ourselves justice. 😀 😀 We had a couple of rounds at the buffet, which was good, but the highlight of the meal was definitely desert. Although we had been told at the start of the meal that we were not allowed to hit the desert tray, this became moot when we realised that they were bringing round desert pizza. Greatest thing ever we hear you say? Yes, yes it was. Chocolate and coconut pizza was the highlight for me. Like a melted bounty pizza. Mmmmm. We will be back Kilograma, be warned.
So yeah, that’s been our week really. We’ve skipped breakfast today due to still feeling quite full from last night and plan to go up and visit the Christo today and we have also got ourselves tickets to see Brazil Vs Venezuela and Mexico Vs Uruguay at the Copa America. Tickets for the knockouts go on sale tonight, so will try to get some of them also!
This blog post was longer than most of my Uni essays so sorry about that, I’ll try and not wait so long until the next one!