Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rio - abridged

We awoke at 5:45am to find we had arrived at the bus station and in my sleepy hast I left my beloved hoodie behind in my seat. Dodging persistent cab drivers we made our way to the taxi booth to obtain the loathed taxi voucher which states how much you should pay for your journey and we're escorted to an unmarked car with no meter. After some trouble finding our street he dropped us at the guard station where we walked to the end where underneath the trees sits the cozy, colorful yet poorly organized business wise, hostel where we originally planned to stay for the rest of our stay. Our arrival at 6 en la manana would be our only solo encounter with the common area as it was always packed with people. The attendant was especially nice that morning, and a little bothered the next. They had a cat that I bothered and little monkeys that hung out in the trees outside. With our room not ready we left our bags and went out to wander to who knows where. Upon returning we were escorted to a small room with a large window and slanted roof. The rest of the day we sat around adjusting to our new surroundings reading, watching TV, using the not-free internet and eavesdropping into others conversations as the common area is quite cozy and frequently packed. For dinner we ate at the only decent option we cared to venture to, a dive frequented by old men and prostitutes - not tourists and certainly not other young women except maybe to stop in for cigarettes.

The next day we moved into a dorm, as for some reason this place is constantly packed, popular, and on the internet even though where they advertise and make online reservations is not linked to their in house system. The people who worked there were vaguely nice to you when something was going wrong and annoyed and irritated with you any other time you needed to interact with them - like their job is so hard and stressful. That day we went out to the centro sights which took up a decent amount of time. We wandered upon the best parque which was more like a zoo. Upon entering a man had spread plastic sheets of cat food and water bottles for the dozens of cat to eat along with some ugly rodent creatures that would sneak in only to be chased away. Along with all the cats and rodent like things were more little tree monkeys, peacocks, chickens, ducks, geese, and more.

After a night in an all male dorm, our roommates changed to some weird kid who spoke to no one and this nice English couple who were on a year, round the world ticket. We started opening up to the other travelers as they were the best part about the place. Still, with the money and the gross bathrooms y previously stated problems we went out to the Flamengo/Gloria 'hood and end up checking out a few hostels where we put money down for a reservation at a cheaper place with decent rooms and private semi-clean (but def cleaner) bathrooms. From there we walked through a long park by the ocean and I almost got hit by a car crossing the highway to get over to it. From there we switched to walking on the Flamengo beach which was wave less and full of runners, not sun-bathers. We went back to the hostel to relax and found Curtis, the kid from the Rio bus station layover sitting on the couch. At some point there was us and the guys from the room leaving and they caught (on video) the cat catching a baby monkey. They saved it but the monkey's were pissed and spent the next half hour all screaming from the trees. Occasionally one would climb down the branch to bar it's teeth and scream specifically at the cat. The tiny baby climbed onto it's tiny mothers back and fled to safety. Although we planned to drink and play 45's at the hostel with fellow Bostonians they were no shows so we befriended two brothers, one who was cool and one who was lame and muy emotional y moody. We took them y Curtis to our hole in the wall - I splashed beer at Curtis and he left, Nate spilled his beer all over me, emo bro cried over his cheating "girlfriend" and the other brother got drunk with a quickness like I've never seen. I then befriended locals who led us all over creation looking for a party and we went home.

Nate kept the English up all night with an apparent episode of epic drunk snoring which I slept through being passed out myself. Having the last thing I remember being Nate saying he couldn't sleep in the room because it was too hot, I woke up at 5am and not seeing him in the room went looking all over the hostel for him, hoping to identify him by his sleeping bag. Unsuccessful and worried I went back to our room and saw he was in the bunk above me. We made plans with the Bostonians y Curtis to go to the soccer game and waited around forever for our new room. Pissed and worried we wouldn't get tickets or meet up with them, I woke Curtis up who took his good 'ole time getting ready. We got there in no time, got cheap general admission tickets and met up with the Bostonians like clockwork and set out to find a bar to drink at. Men were selling beer out of their backpacks around the stadium but the whole thing was shady so we didn't. We went to the first place we saw with a nice older barista and pulled up a table and chairs to hang out. There was some law that you couldn't have more than 2 beers, or drink 2 hours before the game but as long as we kept the beer under the table she kept serving us. The 1,000 of police that walked by and in didn't seem to care but this scared Nervous Curtis who stopped drinking. At one point when we were drunk that it was extra exciting, 2 guys came running into the bar followed by 2 cops with guns drawn  who caught them but did nothing except smack them a few times on their heads with their bats and they ran off. Off to the game where you can't drink at was very fun and as the passionate crowd screamed it make me realize just maybe why they enforce the no drinking rule. I was happy we went and it was a hurried, scattered mess leaving but we all made it back and finally played 45's.

The next morning I was nervous to leave and face the hostel employee so I hung back and said goodbye to our new friends while Nate handled the situation. In true fashion of this hostel she didn't even care or ask why we were leaving early and we made a clean break. The new hostel had a nice roof patio and 2 cats. The room wasn't as big as the one she showed up and was mildewy but had a hot shower, DVD player and I got used to it. I think our time would have been different if we stayed at the other place but what can you do?

The next day was raining but I heard the waves were better in storms so we went to walk up and down Copacabana. The waves were dramatic but not ginormous and we sat and watched them for some time and walked the entire length of the beach. On the way back to the metro a man with poop all down his leg and down into his shoe was walking in front of me and I almost ran right into him. I talked about it for days. We saw the famous Copacabana Palace and checked out the old pictures from when it was the first hotel and largest structure on the block of old mansions that use to line the ocean front - it's not terrible and packed with skyscraper hotels.

Our activity the next day was exploring Santa Theresa and the only way to get there is by rickety street car. It juts and jolts, is old and nerve wracking as the locals hang off the side of this thing barely clearing walls, cars y overgrown foliage and hop off while it's still moving. We could have got off on one of the many cobblestone side streets to walk around but didn't and I don't know why. Most of our afternoons were spent watching DVDs and I'm sure it's what we probably did that afternoon as well. 

We went back to Copacabana on a hot, sunny day to drink on the beach - which we couldn't do but could sit at a bar on the boardwalk and felt like we were part of the action. We sat and drank and talked awhile, turning down wandering beach vendors left and right until we had a decent buss and decided to take a dip. I don't know why we didn't leave our stuff at the bar but we left our stuff on the beach and Nate's pants were stolen along with 50 reals of this, the expensive sun tan lotion y our subway passed. I was more upset than he was but the waves were rough and he stayed out and got slammed while I waited in the shallow end after getting pummeled by one wave and one wave only before I opted out. With our plan ruined due to lack of immediate funds, Nate put his combat boots back on and walked home in this swim trunks. We got more beer and got wasted at the hostel where we danced to MJ and I went nervously and drunkenly out to Lapa with the pretty front desk girls who brought me home safely. 

next day, hungover, watched tv

The next day we walked across the city to go see the Jesus the Redeemer, "symbol of the city" that I could have cared about but went with Nate for $18USD into a mass of tourists. It was alright at the top be it crowded and the one good picture I thought I took turned out crappy and was off center - it was hilarious when we got back down to the bottom. We had lunch at a good local place with the plate of noodles, rice and beans to go along with your carne.

The next day we went to the Ipanema Hippie Fair where we walked thoroughly around twice and I bought hammocks which I had to lug around until Nate helped me. We sat on the Ipanema beach and people watched for a while and went back to watch more movies. 

Back to Copacabana I layed in the sun and was keeper of the clothing as I watched Nate play in the ocean. We walked the beach and went back to relax in front of the TV.

The next day it rained and we tried to go to the parque but it was too wet. Later that night we came across a street fair full of food vendors but it was too late as we were already munching on our KFC snackers. I can't resist when I see fast food in South America apparently.

The following day it did not rain and we walked through the park which was much nicer in the sun and through a neighborhood to a purpose built stadium for a food and craft market. Nothing was really open so we walked around and around watching them clean up from the obvious madness that happened the night before. It is said that it stays open from Friday morning through Sunday late night and we would believe it's a lot of fun. From there we went to the zoo where we spent a few hours - even though it was a bit dumpy. The turtles and the monkeys held our attention the most.

The next day we took the ferry over to an island and right back for the sake of taking a boat ride. The rest of the day we drank up on the roof terrace.


As we were about to walk out the door the guy wanted to officially check us out and after checking the records said we still owed for a night and I started arguing. For 1: we didn't have any money left and 2: they said we needed to pay everything up front on the first day and that it was $700 reals  - if they figured it out wrong on the first day it wasn't our fault and on & on until he finally just said ok - and let us go. Victorious, we left and caught the bus to the airport. Our flight was quiet and as I looked out the window down on the last bit of South America I felt sad but knew I would one day return.

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