...and a little Parati
Wed 22 Apr 2009 27 °C
Parati ended up holding us hostage for three more nights than planned. The first extra night was due to a bout of “La Tourista” (aka travellers’ diarrhea) and the next two nights were due to Easter and being unable to find a place to stay for an acceptable price (many places had tripled their prices). Because of this, we were given a suggestion for a day trip that turned out to be awesome. We caught a local bus that took us back in the mountains along the coast for about 40 minutes. Once off the bus, we were pointed in the direction of a trail that we followed through the mountains for close to an hour (much quicker coming back) that took us to an incredible beach (completely inaccessible by land vehicle). It was a little piece of paradise with campsites (full of hippies), a few eateries, and not much else.
Finally, we left Parati and made it to Rio de Janeiro. We have developed serious issues with the idea that someone visits Rio and says it is such a beautiful city. To say Rio is a beautiful city is to close your eyes to the million and one contradictions seen at every turn. Yes, it is a fascinating city. It is also a city with the most visible division between the “haves” and “have-nots”. With all its beauty as an ocean-front city set against a lush green mountainous backdrop, it is also frighteningly haunting in all its poverty and numerous favelas.
However, we would be lying if we said we actually saw Rio de Janeiro. We saw it through the windows of a bus. Yes, we did spend four nights in Rio, but we didn’t see the city. The reason: Fear. First of all, any guidebook you read goes on and on about how dangerous the city is, what parts to avoid (almost all of it), and how petty theft is almost always with a weapon that WILL be used if you do not cooperate. Second of all, when we arrived at the hostel and spoke with the young female receptionist about the safety of the neighbourhood, she went on to tell us that it’s safe and “Centro” is safe… and, “oh yeah, I was robbed in Centro when waiting for the bus.” Rrrrrrriiiiiight!? Third of all, our two Brazilian roommates from the south of Brazil refused to go out at night because they were too scared to.
All this said, our experience of Rio involved a trip to a beautiful beach with the most disgusting ocean water we have ever seen (Catete Beach), a night out at a milonga to Tango (we’ll post about this on our Tango Blog), chilling at our laid-back hostel, and attempting to plan our travels. We enjoyed those experiences, but couldn’t wait to leave the city. In general, we’re not “city people” and we’ve learned that we’re especially not “city people” in South America.
We left Rio, heading north along the coast, to the surf town of Saquarema – also known as K&J’s paradise. This area has beaches of relatively white sands that extend over 60kms! The beaches are very wide and the waves are powerful.
The days were sunny and very warm, but the wind coming off the ocean kept you completely cooled. Since it is low season, the beach was virtually deserted during the week. The hostel was acceptable and small. Our favourite parts of the hostel were the owner’s two extremely sweet dogs,
the visiting Mico Monkeys during our breakfast,
and the fact that there were only five of us staying there at most.
We continued north to Arraia do Cabo and arrived yesterday at another beach town. The weather wasn't great today so we chilled and booked our flight to Bogota, Columbia instead. We leave from Rio on the 15th of May. We were considering flying to Costa Rica, but after reading some travel warnings about traveling through the Panama/Columbia border (i.e., do NOT do it), we decided to go straight to Columbia.
Interesting tidbits to share:
- Stroganoff is a popular dish on menus here. Very tasty and nothing like the traditional version.
- We’re seeing far too many thongs and hence far too much ass… on far too many bodies that “shouldn’t” be showing that much ass. In fact, if the women aren’t wearing thong bikinis, it’s only semantics because the piece of material “covering” the ass is so small that it finds its way up there anyway. K feels like she’s wearing a winter coat around her butt since her bikini bottoms are mini-shorts.
- Portuguese sounds hideous to our ears and our little knowledge of Spanish is almost of no use in helping us understand or speak the language
- Still loving the hot weather and daily viewings of hummingbirds
- The mosquitoes still torment us… along with bedbugs?
- We’ve discovered that there exists a people who are even louder than Americans. World, meet the Brazilians.
- Stray dogs everywhere – no stray cats – eaten by stray dogs?
- * As usual, the amazing photographs are by the incredible "Jorge"