Friday, April 24, 2009

how i learnt to trust south america and love a bus driver

I have to start this blog entry by recounting todays little adventure at the brazil-argentina border...
we left brazil yesterday on a 14 hour bus to come to the iguazu falls, a national park with 420 waterfalls. after getting off the overnight bus (slept a dream after necking back a few Piriton) we got on a local bus to cross the border and disembarked at the brazilian side. once i got to the the booth to get my passport stamped i realised i had left my shoulder bag with passport, wallet, cards, ipod, camera, EVERYTHING on the bus. at that stage racing off after it as it sped to argentina was pointless and i couldn't even follow in a taxi becaause a) the border is in the middle of nowhere and there were no taxis and b) because i didn't have a passport i wouldn't have been let me into the country. so, after 30 minute of freaking out with the brazilian police, border control and some poor chap who was doing surveys for the brazilian toursit board (the only person who spoke english acting as my interpreter), my only option was to wait at the side of the road for the bus to come back.... after it had gone into the border town in argentina and picked up another load of people who were crossing to brazil.
at this point i should probably remind everyone that south america is not known as the safest place in the world....
when the bus arrived back 40 minutes later there was no option for it but to stop, given i stood out in front of it flagging it down like a madwoman. when the driver pulled my bag out of a compartment above his head with my passport and all of my belongings intact i practically floored the man. i do remember telling him i loved him and may have proposed... it`s all a bit of a blur really. the fact that i am the jammiest girl alive right now was confirmed by all the people at the border who couldn`t believe that i got it back, "in this country, it`s a miracle"someone said to me. i haven`t stopped smiling since it happened. the prospect of a 2 day bus journey to sao paulo to the irish embassy to get an emergency replacement and everything else i would have had to have gone through (and put mary through) was so horrible... but it's all good man... it's all good. another reason to love brazil and one very good one to start to love argentina.

besides being the stupiest and luckiest girl alive today, myself and young healy have been knocking around florianopolis since my last entry. with mary not feeling well for about 5 days and the weather staying really good we decided to linger on there and maximise on our beach time. we moved hostel to a much more lively place for 3 nights and as soon as we did that the weather took a turn for the worse. the last few days in floripa were rain-sodden which doesn't leave much for a body to do when a place is all about the beach. we did however manage to have a couple of savage nights out. with mary back in full health we spent a few nights in a club called De Raiz in front of a massive sand dune fomarmation hanging out with the local brazilians, dancing to live samba and folk music and drinking (very strong) caiprinhas. the atmosphere in this place was amazing... sexy locals who were amazing dancers, the place was like a converted barn and was heaving with people... mary and i kept feeling like vinny jones was going to crash through the window because it was just like being in a bacardi ad! fun times, persian massages, samba lessons, 7 people packed into a vintage beatle, it had it all. another fun night out involved drinking champagne all night in a dance club and having a lock-in and mixing drinks behind the bar with the owner. ah, floripa, we will miss you.

it was sad to say tchau tchau to brazil but i've a good feeling about this argentina place (and not just because of getting my bag back today). there's something inside me that knows i'm going to love this place. off to see some waterfalls tomorrow. will leave passport behind.

hasta promixa,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The story so far

so, it´s been two weeks in south america and having originally not been so pushed about visiting brazil, now i´m really happy that we´ve made it here. 
currently we are in a hostel in a place called Florianopolis. we travelled for about 24 hours to get here - our first long haul bus trip - and even though we slept practically 10 hours on the last trip we got here and spent the entire day in bed. mary aint feeling too well.... the first real illness either of us have had so far. i´m counting down the days to when i´ll be laid down with the delhi belly.
so, to start from the beginning. we arrivd in rio on the 2nd April and after a not-so-impressive bus from the airport (passing through some of the worst favellas in the city) we arrived in our hostel, Harmonia, in Ipanema (a beachside neighbourhood south of Copacabana). In Harmonia we met some really great people... Robert and his wife Eva who run the place, Sofia and of course Julio - the mentalist Carioca who took a shine to Mary´s sense of humour and let us both astray in Rio for our time there. 
Saw the major sites in Rio and managed to run off the side of a mountain in a tandem hanglide. 
Left Rio after 5 days to head south to a place calld Isla Grande - the 3rd biggest island off the Brazilian coast. Beautiful beaches and rainforests all around and once again some great people to hang out with. 
From Isla we went down the coast to a place called Trindade, a beach town close to the Portugese colonial town of Paraty. Julio was there to welcome us.... from his spot in the hammock on the deck anyway! We were there for Easter weekend, which is one of the big  holiday weekends for Brazilians (they get Thursday and Friday off) and Trindade was full of Paulistanas (people from Sao Paulo) holidaying (read on the piss) for the weekend. We encountered a totally unexpected festival atmosphere, with people camping all over the place and a dance tent (hideous trance unfortunately) on the beach front. Spent 5 days in Trindade.. lazing on the beaches and going for walks mainly (Mary surfed, but I wasn´t able / inclined due to having fell down a set of slippery steps and bashed in my elbow). Got the mandatory sunburning and began what I imagine is going to be a close 5 month relationship with mossie bites. 
And now here we are in Florianopolis.... hoping to stay here for a good few days and catch some more sunshine. We´ve treated ourselves to a private room as opposed to a ten bed mixed dorm (cos we´re worth it!). If I´m feeling courageous I may even do some surfing too.
until next time...