A Travellerspoint blog

Observations

Can We Hack This?

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Our initial observations of Brazil (and in comparison to Buenos Aires) are as follows:

- the people are friendlier and they smile, laugh, and talk FAR more in public than those in Buenos Aires
- the food (and sometimes the coffee) is tastier than in B.A. and you don’t have to order every item separately (i.e., your meat comes with veggies/rice and a salad)

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- you have to pay to use public bathrooms (a total pet peeve for K – it’s a human right damn it! Give us a hole in the ground at least!)
- the landscapes are breathtakingly beautiful and full of colours

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- there are people of all different colours – but Jorge is still a minority :o)
- the mosquitoes are a**holes (and one of God's stupidest creations) - Jorge looks like he has chicken pox (they turn all red on him) and K has 10 bites on one kneecap

Even with the somewhat more positive aspects we’ve observed here in Brazil, South America is going to be an exhausting place to travel – due to distance, due to completely lower standards in hostels, and due to a complete lack of feeling secure and safe. We truly are rethinking our travel plans... we'll keep you updated.

As for safety... While waiting in the Sao Paulo bus station, we changed seats three times to get away from obviously sketchy people. Most notably, there was a couple who bee-lined to the seats in front of Jorge while K was in the washroom. They had no bags, they sat in a way that the lady’s head blocked our view of the man’s head (so they could scan our bags), and they pretended to be all lovey-dovey while chatting loudly and energetically (but mixed with whispering and darting eyes). If looks could kill, they would be dead now. We no longer have any problems throwing extended dagger looks at these kinds of people. We weren’t overly concerned since our bags were all buckled to each other and our seats, however, we still chose to move ourselves to another location. We assume their plan was to each grab a bag and make a run with them (we have one big and one small backpack each, plus one crappy ass “extras” suitcase that is soft).

K also realized after completing a double withdrawal from the ATM, that she was being watched by a guy in a red t-shirt. When we left to go catch our bus (to Parati - hours after being observed taking the money out), K noticed the same guy sitting and pointed him out to Jorge. At that very moment, just as we were passing him, the guy stood up and started following us. We immediately turned around to look for him and he had hid behind someone else and moved on. However, after stopping for a moment and then proceeding to go down the escalator, K spotted him sitting, staring at us, in a chair at the fast food joint. K made sure to make big hand gestures to point him out to Jorge again. He didn’t follow us after that :o)

Paranoia is truly our friend here. It’s also our enemy. It’s these kinds of experiences that make us want to hop back on a bus (or preferably a plane :o) to Buenos Aires where we found our groove and felt comfortable - thieves and all.

Here are our travels, this far, on a map:

Posted by moveimove 17:41 Archived in Brazil Tagged events Comments (0)

Alive & Well!

Except for another tummy bug for K :(

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View Retirement 2008/2009 on moveimove's travel map.

After traveling a total of 38 hours with 8 hours of waiting time, we can actually say that overall, it was a really good experience.

The Good:

The 36 hour bus trip (which was in fact 32 hours) turned out to be great. The seats were really wide and truly did recline 180 degrees and that was combined with a foot/leg rest giving you a bed about the length of 5 feet 7 inches (the perfect length for K :) We had selected the front row seats on the top floor when buying our ticket. We had great views during the day! The service was topnotch and we were supplied with a cocktail, a glass of champagne, dinner (at 9pm), breakfast, lunch, snack, and beverages. Many movies were shown during the ride on our individual (per 2 seats) dvd screen. We were able to sleep rather comfortably (we slept 2 nights on the bus!?) and still enjoy our seats during the daytime.

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Some of you didn’t know that we had to renew our tourist visa for the second time in mid-March. Rather than waking up early (?!), we postponed going to bed and went to the immigration office early in the morning. We arrived to find at least 300 people in line (outside) and decided there and then that we would overstay our visa instead. K had done some research on this possibility and had read that it wasn’t actually illegal to overstay, however, one might get the 3rd degree at customs and definitely have to pay a $50 peso fine. This meant, we were uncertain of our destiny once we hit the border with the bus.

Well, crossing the border went smoothly even though K was pretty nervous. No questions were asked - we simply had to pay the $50 peso fine each (cheaper than going the “legal” route at immigrations!?) and our passport was stamped with a potentially more “serious” exit stamp. Hopefully there won’t be any problem returning to Argentina seeing as we are considering returning for our last month of retirement.

The Bad:

Our front row seats on the bus were extremely hot during the daytime when the sun was glaring through the window and the bright street lights shining through at night were a little bothersome as well (regardless of all curtains being drawn shut). The food was less than airline quality, but hey, we eat anything, and the service that started out amazingly became non-existent once we hit the Brazilian side. They failed to inform us when we bought the tickets that we would have to purchase our second dinner at a pit-stop. Since we tend to enjoy making our lives difficult, we hadn’t yet gotten Brazilian money. Luckily, they accepted pesos which we still had on us and we enjoyed a pay-by-weight rice and bean dinner with hot sauce that was somehow more delicious and satisfying - not to mention healthier - than the food in Buenos Aires. The bus movies were OK until they played the same movie for the 2nd and 3rd time. However, the worst part of the whole trip was the continually deteriorating smell of the bathrooms (which were on the first floor of the bus). The smell really did get unbearable… and it’s a smell that we are apparently going to have to get used to (explanations will follow later).

The Arrival:

We arrived in Sao Paulo at 4am to a somewhat sketchy yet modern looking bus station. We found many bank machines… that didn’t accept our cards. There was finally one machine that did accept them, but would only let us withdraw $100 Cdn at a time. Knowing that we were heading to a smaller town, we wanted to make sure we had sufficient funds for our entire stay. With all the sketchy people, this made for an uncomfortable situation.

We planned to take the 8am bus to Parati but there was only ONE seat remaining. Grrr! This meant we had to wait until 12.15pm for the next bus and ride that bus for 6 hours. The ride was fairly good. Unlike North America, the buses are designed more for comfort than to make more money. The seats are much more spaced out and recline more. However, the bathroom smell was gross.

The views, once we hit the coast, were incredible. Lush green mountains, both on the coast and on the islands, set beside ocean beaches, were a site to behold. They were probably some of the most beautiful landscapes we’ve ever seen. The curvy roods on the other hand had K feeling a little nauseous.

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We arrived in the coastal colonial town of Parati and took a taxi to the hostel. Ironically enough, the hostel is run by Argentineans and it was very comforting to hear Spanish being spoken. It’s set across from the beach with a completely open-air concept. All very cute… but this means no relief from the mosquitoes. As well, the rooms are kind of gross. No air conditioning and of course, there are no screens on the window. This means K is an all-you-can-eat buffet for the mosquitoes. Thank God they had a mosquito net for us… although the little f**kers still find a way in and have their way with K.

We ask you this: why is it that countries that get cold in the winter (Canada, Finland, etc.) understand the concept of window screens, but hot countries do not?

Once again, bathroom smell is an issue – even though the bathroom is 3 rooms away!? The mattresses, the sheets, the towels… Let’s just say we know most of you wouldn’t even consider staying here. But after spending the day peacefully on the beach and (burning) in the sun, we can honestly say it’s worth it.

We’ll be here for a total of five nights and then we plan to move on to Ilha Grande and then Rio de Janeiro.

Lovely Things:

1) The humming birds
2) Seeing flamingos flying across the water
3) Wishing a bat would be in your bedroom to eat the mosquitoes and finding a bat the next time you go in your room (seriously – so cute and furry and they purr… we think – we took the little guy outside and released him into the wild)
4) The freshly squeezed fruit juices – especially the lime one
5) The HOT weather and the HOT ocean water
6) Hammock chairs that overlook the beach

Another post with our initial observations and almost boring stories of robbery attempts will follow the next time we get online.

Posted by moveimove 06:38 Archived in Brazil Tagged events Comments (0)

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