21.2.10 35 °C
I started writing this blog on the 12th of Feb while sitting in the bus station in Rio De Janerio at 10.30pm while waiting for my bus, due to leave at 9.30pm and sitting around me are people waiting for their bus which was due at 8.15. AWESOME! Welcome to Carnival weekend – where every local leaves town and the tourists take over.
So how did I end up there? Well despite still being on holidays I was asked to cover for a sick tour leader and take his pax into Rio. So after leaving Paraty at 11.00am and getting to Rio at 4.00, I’d been at the bus station since 6.30. I did have a ‘helpful ‘taxi driver offer to come inside and help me buy a ticket.. if I paid him of course....ppfftt - I don’t think so. The thing is I was in Rio the day before taking another group in on our truck as theirs was broken. So two days and two Parary to Rio return trips.
I finally boarded the bus at midnight and got in to Paraty at 4.15am. I walked down to our campsite completely ready to crash the instant my head hit the pillow. Thing was when I walked in to our campsite I could not find my tent or either truck....WTF! I walked to another campsite; still no truck. Luckily the door was open to the hostel Col and I had been staying in for the past few weeks, Siera Do Mar, so I let myself in and slept in their lounge. I managed a few minutes shut eye among the noise of mosquitoes flying around me. Have you ever noticed how they sound like F1 11’s when in swarms? After breakfast at the hostel I got given a note Col had left me showing me where they had moved to so after nearly 12 hours I finally got a shower and changed out of very stinky clothes.
Anyway, let’s get to more exciting stuff....the week prior the bus station incident and also the past few days and my new group. First the week prior.
The previously mentioned camp ground with the missing trucks, was in a spectacular location. Right on the water. The mornings produced the most amazing pink/purple and orange sunrises and the great things was I didn’t even have to leave my tent to appreciate them. I did get woken up by the noise of ripping grass one night. Turned out to be one of the five horses at the campsite having a 3am snack. The best thing about the campsite was the outdoor shower. Surrounded by palms, gingers and bromeliads, I could have been in the jungle anywhere, except I was showering in my togs because I didn’t want to give the 5 young workmen on the property permanent eye damage.
But alas enough about the campsite there are plenty more highlights to mention.
One of the best – being an impromptu bar wench for the night. Paraty saw roughly 300 overland pax come off 10 trucks in the few days before carnival and all of them seemed to converge on the hostel Siera Do Mar on Tuesday night...as did one of the most amazing storms I have ever seen. Not quite as bad as the Concordia incident but close. So while Col and I are helping the staff baton down the hatches, people are trying to eat pizza and drink beer while rain is leaking through the coconut and palm husk roof, while bits of it are falling in their drinks. After all the commotion as over I headed to the bar to grab a drink and saw Lua (my cocktail queen) shaking her arm off with the one cocktail shaker the bar owns (what the!) So without further ado I jumped behind the bar. What a blast! Lua was still kicking it with the cocktails while I got the knack of taking the tops of 5 tallies in under 10 seconds! I only broke one glass and I can now chop limes like I make caprihinias for a living.
After dragging myself home at 2am after 3 steady hours behind the bar I slept like a baby and feel part of the Siera Do Mar family...I even have the shirt to prove it. I rocked in to the hostel the next morning and took up my usual corner so I could log on and do some work. I hardly got a chance to sit down before I found myself on the back of Nico’s motorbike heading off on a party boat for the day. Nico is SDM’s owner who is hummana, hummana, pity his girlfriend is gorgeous too. The party boat was a great day; free caprihinias all day, great BBQ lunch and cruising around the islands off Paraty in an old schooner boat. Hard to take really. It is funny though that you don’t realise how drunk you are until you hop onto land again and try to walk. I guess the rocking of the boat disguises the rocking you are doing to stay upright.
I was not as drunk as Col on Carnival Saturday. The boys at the campsite (the new one I couldn’t find at 4.30 in the morning) started pouring him massive shots of cachasa (Brazilian sprit made from sugarcane) at 11.30 in the morning. By the time we walked, or in Col’s case skipped, up the road at 4.00 for the mud festival, he was sloshed. So what is the mud festival I hear you ask? The thing to do in Paraty on Carnival Saturday is cover yourself head to toe in mud and dance like a crazy person. Let me tell you I have never seen so much mud covering people’s bodies before. The ycovered dogs and horses and rode them through the streets, the horses that is. They threw it at each other and rolled around like wallowing pigs. I’ve posted some photos so you can get the idea.
There is a spot along the beach that becomes like quicksand when the tide goes out; this is the mud pit of choice. I didn’t head into this baby, preferring to take photos instead but I did cover myself in mud (not the face) and dance and drink like everyone else.
After a few hours we were all cleaned up, col was passed out and all the creatures of the deep had returned to normal.
A few days later we headed into Rio. We were able to get tickets to the Sambadrome (2 years in a row; I still can’t believe it) and see some great floats, dancing and drumming and I met some more of the overland crew family.
So onto the latest bunch of pax. 10 Aussies, 1 Irish. 2 couples, 1 single girl and 6 single blokes all between the ages of 32 and 21. So far we have had a really great time and I’ve heard enough crude sentences to last me quite a while. There’s been plenty of bonding starting with an Aussie flag raising ceremony in the the truck where they spontaneously burst into Waltzing Matilda and an Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oie, oie, oie chant was yelled. This was followed by two rounds of Caprioskas (i.e. 2 litres of Vodka) where we soon learnt Dave, or Irish as he has come to be known, can’t handle spirits and I was voted the designated caprioska maker from here on in.
While we were downing the caprioskas and getting dinner started another massive storm rolled in (seeing any pattern people???). This is when I found out that every one of the tents on Matecito leaks. DOUBLE AWESOME! Now I know I can be a hard arse sometimes but I was not going to make my pax sleep in wet sleeping bags in puddles in their tents on their first night camping (for some it was their first ever experience with camping) so a quick run up to Siera Do Mar and word with Nico saw me get dry beds for everyone. YEAH!
So now after 2 very long drive days we are in Foz Do Iguaçu – gateway to Iguaçu Falls. For those who don’t know Iguaçu Falls is on the border between Brazil and Argentina and has 275 falls stretching over 2.7km with the longest drop being 85m. The pax are out investigating the Brazilian side today, giving me some peace and quiet and a chance to catch up on accounts....yeah!
The next few weeks will see us visit San Ignacio and Salta in Argentina, before we cross into Bolivia and explore Potosi, Sucre, the Salt flats outside Uyuni and then make our way towards La Paz and a trip to the jungle of Rurrunebaque (if the rain holds out). I’m sure there’ll be tonnes of fun and I’ll try to keep you up to date. But until next time, enjoy whatever you are doing where ever you are.