Monday, February 25, 2008

Aren't borders a bitch?

Ok kids, so its been a while since anything was posted on this fine cyber journal of ours and there are two reasons for this - a) the amount of incredible fun we are currently having and b) the amount of fuck ups there's been with border patrol! I don't even know where to start! So from Foz we travelled accross the border from Brasil to Paraguay, which turned out to be more trouble than it was worth. I decided to accidentally throw out my exit card as I thought it was a meaningless piece of paper, later finding out that it was very important in order to cross the border. I was told I had to pay a fine of US$80 at a Bank of Brasil, after collecting an immigration form from the border. However, it just so happens that all the banks are closed. So at the border I'm told I can pay once I get into Paraguay. However, turns out that for some unknown reason, the bank is closed at 2:30pm on a Friday...go figure! So I get to the border to go back into Brasil from Paraguay, without an exit stamp, hoping to bribe them with US dollars in order to let me back in (as advised by our tour leader!). To my surprise, the immigration officer goes through my passport without noticing that I am missing this stamp, and grants me re-entry into the country! By this stage I'm so excited as it means I don't have to stay back another night without the group to wait until the banks open! But THEN I find out that all the visas I went through friggin hell to obtain about 4 months ago, didn't need to be obtained. Apparently British citizens may pass through South American countries without any Visas, and just my luck - I have a friggin British passport! Thanks British consulate in Australia for advising me of this useful fact!

But anyway, made it to Paraguay - which is poor and beautiful and cultural and full of sangria and other wonderful things! Jem bought a state of the art camera for US$200 and we spent most of the time playing drinking games and peircing ears.

Then back into Brasil to Bonito, where we went to a great set of caves with stalegmite/tites and a bright blue pool at the bottom which was pretty amazing!

We then travelled to the Pantanal, the world's largest wetlands where we rode horses through the water, went hiking to see wild blue mackaws (amazing! pictures coming soon I promise!) monkeys, aligator type things they call camens, and all sorts of other wildlife! Our hotel was amazing, right next to a fast flowing river full of camens and pirhanas! We watched the eclipse from the hotel which was pretty cool, only visible in South America.

We then travelled to Corumba, I can't actually remember what we did there.....I'll get back to you on that! And then Santa Cruz where we stayed in a pretty fancy hotel with a queen bed each, pool, etc and lived the life of riley there. Had a great Bolivian dinner there, very meaty, but nice and pretended it was Jem's birthday and that her name was Shiela so she got a bunch of Bolivian guys with guitars singing feliz compleanos to her and bestowing her with copious amounts of flan! We have a rule on this tour, everyone's birth date applies to every month, so everywhere we go there's a birthday where we may utilise the compliments of the local staff! Great way to embarrass someone and get free stuff at the same time - we're just screwed if they ask for ID!

So now we're in Sucre, a charming town 2700m in Bolivia. I went horse riding today in the mountains to a set of cascades where we swam in fresh pools and Jem went on a city tour and bought large amounts of jewellery and other knick knacks! The altitude isn't too bad yet, I was very out of breath today walking up a small hill but not sure if that's just my fitness levels or not! We go to Patossi tomorrow, famous for its silver mines which we get to go into, its 4000m high so lets see how the body copes then!

Until then amigos!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Birds, falls and earpeircing

Hola Amigos! I write to you from Acuncion, Paraguay, a quiet little town with street side pubs and very Mexican sounding music. A few days ago we went to Iguazu falls which can only be described with photos which I´ll upload when I get faster internet and even then, photos jsut don´t do it justice! One of the most amazing things I´ve ever seen! We went on a speed boat and the guy took us under some of the falls which was crazy, I thought I was going to die!!

We also went to a bird park that day and saw tucans, macaws and hummingbirds which were so cute and made cute little squeaking sounds!

We went to a ´traditional South American show´which was hardly traditional, unless glitter costumes and barely clad Carnival dancers are part of the national costume....

We then made our way accross the border where I had to pay a fine for losing my exit card, oh well, minor hickup!

Last night we went to a pub down the street and drank sangria and played drinking games and later on a peirced one of the pommy-guys ears, he´s walking around with his girlfriend´s pearl earring in because wecouldn´t find an alternative! I´m so proud of myself, hope it doesn´t get infected or it´ll put a scar on my peircing name!

Sorry guys, that´s all for now because there´s so much to do in so little time!

Stay tuned for photos!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Paraty

So after Rio we moved to Paraty, a small coastal town rich in cobble stones and funny looking Carnival men things. With not much to do here, we headed to the port to board a boat for the day and sail around the beautiful mountains and beaches of Paraty. The boat was mad - complete with day beds, lunch and beer! We stopped at various beaches where we jumped off the boat, climbed rocks and lay on the beach! Most of us ended up burnt and drunk by the end of the day and headed home for a brief sleep then cards out the front of the hotel. (Playing cards in peoples rooms/foyers seems to be the social plan of choice because a) no one knows where the good bars are and b) its simply easier and more cost effective to stay within the hotels when outside is scary and for some reason they seem to plant us right in the middle of the gay quarters of each city!!)




So after Paraty we headed to Sao Paulo, one of the biggest or the biggest (please forgive my inability to absorb tour leader´s information) cities in Brazil. It was pretty scummy, and big and dirty and dangerous, but the view from the tallest building in rio was pretty amazing! Again, we walked the streets during the day and played cards at night, resulting in one of the young Pommy lads being dubbed the √Ārsehole´and having to walk around with pink atennae on his head until someone else looses the game! We had a few beers in a local cafe and made friends with a gay waiter who really struggled adding up our bill, but thought we were awesome because we kept bringing more friends into his cafe!

We had a great picnic in the park with an array of fruit and ham and ice cream and rode bikes around until it was time to come home.




Other than the aforely mentioned, we´ve come to understand the true value of cans of tuna and bread rolls stolen from breaky in order to keep us under budget, and we´re dying for a place that has laundromats, it seems every city we get to struggle on that side of things!

Unfortunately, I´ve managed to pick up a cold so not feeling very sociable at the moment and trying to get over it as quickly as possible, so I apologise if this blog is a little boring but I have a feeling the next ones will definately make up for it! Iguazu Falls here we come!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Her name was Lola..she was a showgirl...

Ok, so I´m reading my ´journal´which I write in every night to remind me of what went down. However, due to my state of innebriation, it appears I am unable to read my own writing so I´m going to have to try and remember the night´s events (Sunday). We began at a pay-by-the-kilo restaurante, which was more hinder than help as we got a little too greedy and thought we could consume 750g worth of food...After about half a kilo we were strugging and so paid for more than we ate...damn! We then went home for a nap til about 9 (great thing about S.America - no one goes out until at least 11pm!), then headed into Lapa (the King´s Cross of Rio), where we hijacked a group of Swedes cos they looked like they spoke English and maybe knew where they were going...they did speak English, but didn´t so much know where they were going!! So we wandered the streets aimlessly drinking Skol (the resident Rio beer - bit cat-pee tasting but does the job!)

We agreed to meet up with the Swedes in July and left in search of food. After the best burger I´ve ever tasted, and a few chats and photos with the people who cooked them, we headed home just in time for breakfast it seems (that is, after a dance party for two in our hotel room!).

After sleeping until 3pm, we headed to Copacabana (yes, I had the song in my head the entire time!). Its a nice beach, but being Australian I think we´re a bit spoiled and it wasn´t quite as luxurious as we´d thought it would be. Some random guy comes up and asked Jem if she´d like some marajuana, to which she replies ´Very well thankyou!´and he walks off. Apparently we don´t even understand English over here!!!

There were random street parties everywhere and little kids dressed up as their favourite cartoon characters! We tried this pancake thingy called Tapioca (I´m sure everyone already knows what it is, but we had no idea!) and went home to have another nap before heading to the Sambadromo.

We didn´t need to buy tickets - there were people swarming all around the dome and we could sit on a bridge and watch the parade, plus mix with the locals which you couldn´t do inside. People who bought tickets to the grandstands (about US$40 upwards) said they got bored after a while cos they couldn´t walk around so we decided to mix with the plebs and watch the shiny people from the street. There were floats of penguins, books, feathers, glittery stuff, padding, so many shiny things you can´t even imagine!!! We also ate the most amazing hotdog - with peas and corn and mayo and sauce and salsa - the food here is so good!!!

The dancing paraders were using a combination of side step, bouncing and twirling, but they dance at any given opportunity! Everyone´s so happy and overtly sexual, there are lady boys everywhere and people dressed in nappies (?) don´t ask us...and so many high heels and shiny clothes!

Anyway, we must be off cos Jem´s being told off for banging her mouse cos it doesn´t work so until next time my fellow adventurers!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Never Listen To ´Them´

Hola Amigos! We post this lil blog-a-roony from Flamengo, Rio De Janeiro. After sweet talking the nice Chilean guy at the help counter in San Tiago, Jem and I managed to advance to go and collect $200 (we got on a flight 10 hours earlier than the one we actually booked), meaning we only had to wait 20hrs at the airport as opposed to 30 (hey, we´ll take what we can get!). We are then told that for a small fee of US$30, we are welcome to use the LAN Airways business VIP lounge, complete with food, drinks (incl. alcohol - oh yeah!), comfy lounges and a shower! After a 25 hour flight we thought this was well worth it, so agreed! We ate copious amounts of ham, cheese and lil sweet muffin thingys, sank a few beers, slept a few hours on the comfy couches and used the free internet until the lounge closed at 10pm. How did they charge us for this? Oh that´s right, they forgot!!! All you can eat, drink, sleep for nunca!! So feeling pretty happy with ourselves, we wait the rest of the time in the pleb lounge before flying to Rio.

So at the boarding gate, Jem is served by a guy called Emilio and she was like EMILIOOO, and I was like EMILIOOO and we were all like EMILIOOO!!! (Night at the Roxbury? Anyone?) Except she got a bit confused due to the fact that he was speaking speedy Espanol to her, come on Baxter...you know I don´t speak Spanish! Ok, I´m gonna stop! Moving on!


RIO: This is where the party starts. Well, actually, it started after a 14 hour sleep...jet lag´s a bitch! So yesterday we felt refreshed enough to take a taxi tour (cheaper than doing it ourselves) of the Corcovado (awesome by the way!), then to Sugarloaf mountain, or Bread of Sugar as the Brasilians so affectionately call it. We like to affectionately call it Nipple Mountain as its shape has so determined! Photos to follow - some may include Jem and I squeezing Jesus´ nipples and kissing his face.

We then come home for a few hours and head to the soccer! (sorry, football!). Vasco vs Botafago 2 -3, we went for the underdogs and they came through for us! There were flags, there were flares, there were masses, there were Portuguese chants and the atmosphere was amazing! I love Sydney FC but its put to shame by these guys! Jem and I were on the big screen at one stage, probably because we stuck out like sore thumbs, well, Jem the swede stuck out anyway! Don´t worry, there are videos to come of us videoing us on the big screen, videoing us!

After this, we headed to a Carnival costume competition (I think this is really a name for a bunch of ´real Carnival´ rejects who didn´t quite make it into the actual parade! There was a guy dressed as a giant banana, lots of old ladies parading around in feather bowers and glitter, but it was fun nonetheless.

Now that we´ve finally gotten over our jet lag, we´re heading into Lapa tonight for some street parties complete with drums and fireworks so we´ll keep you posted on how that all goes down!

Its only been 3 days and already we´re loving it, the people are so friendly and everything anyone told us about Brasil being dangerous and scary has no idea what they´re talking about. Another case of ´Never Listen To Them´.

Over and out, until another of Clare and Jem´s Excellent Adventures.

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