Sunday, 17 February 2008

At the Copa...Copacabana

Back south of the equator and into Brazil once again wearing shorts and T-shirts. Arrived on a hot and rainy Copacabana beach where the weather in Rio de Janeiro was pelting with rain one minute, blue skies and sunburn the next. I witnessed the everyday festivities of ´Carnival` and saw all the picturesque views of Rio from up on a hill called the Suger Loaf and also from the big feet of the world wonder - Christ the Redeemer (pic). I was lucky enough to go to a Brazillian football game where flares, huge banners and a roaring crowd made it a worth while experience where 7 goals were scored. Not feeling confident travelling around South America by myself, i have joined a Kumuka tour where they will take me to all the best and out of the way places whithout having to worry about transport or accomodation and the hassle and time consuming efforts to know where to go. This started after Carnival and I have been travelling south through Brazil on a truck/bus all the way from Rio to the Iguazu Falls bordering Argentina. During this leg of the trip i have camped in the mud and poring rain. Swam and snorkled in Piranha, Anaconda and Caiman (croc) infested waters (pic), had countless mosquito bites even though i have been using insect repellent more often than shampoo in the Pantanal. Fished for Piranha but caught 3 small sardine type fish (pic) and one 20cm Catfish which i got to eat, hiked/waded through knee high water for a few hours and went horse riding in the Pantanal wetlands, travelled in our bus across the Brazillian landscapes where our longest day was 14 hours, ate Caiman, White-Lipped Peccary and the worlds largest rodant (it´s the size of a medium sized dog) the Capybara (pic) and visited the worlds largest water falls being the Iguazu Falls. Geez ive done quite a bit already and its only the start. So many stories to tell but like always I will only select a few.

Loved it! From going out the first night and joining a mass crowd down the street singing and chanting to the beats of the drums to dancing with the locals on the beach sipping on many many Caperinha´s. I didn´t end up going to the Samba Drome where they have the main parades as i was having so much fun going to all the street parties around that i didnt want to pay the ridiculous entry fee amount to sit up the back and not really get involved. On Copacabana beach, young kids came up to us trying to teach us how to dance where we were automatically invited to come and join their huge family dancing on the beach trying to communicate with my hands as my Portugese is... well... non existent. It was so much fun and we even were able to eat their plethora of fruit and food that they had just for them. On another night we went to the main town square in Lapa (pic) and danced to the traditional Quica music (whoop whoop de whoop whoop!) and once again were taught how to dance where you pretty much use every single leg muscle. I went and had 2 henna tattoos drawn on my back and chest for the occasion and had a great time partying it up across all the main nights the Carnival was on.

An area larger than France
The Pantanal wetlands. Full of wildlife and over 650 species of birds, and i even saw a few Tucan´s! At the moment it´s the end of the rainy season and moving into the wet season which makes this time of year the worst place in the world for mosquitos. With Dengue and Yellow Fever outbreaks around, i stocked up on the Deet and sprayed it on until the skin burnt, but they still got me! Ive recieved countless bites but im not sick, just making the most of my Stop Itch cream. Apart from this and a few other annoyances, this part of the world is really beautiful and would put up with it all agian if i were to come back. We trekked through the swamps and on the solid grounds learning about the flora and fauna only found here. Slapping exposed skin for mossys, ants, wasps and random unknown bugs, we hiked for 2-3 hours in flip flops as we had to wade through swamp water, seeing birds, monkeys, Caiman, otters and other species of animals that i have never seen before. The group i am with is a lot of fun and are great company as we get to share these stories over a cold `Skol´ beer after a long day.