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South America Part 9

At the Copa, Copacabana.......

sunny 25 °C

My final stop on this trip is Rio de Janeiro Brazil. Not bad for a last stop! I arrived on Saturday night after a slightly delayed landing due to………RAIN! They closed the airport it was that bad! Not exactly the sunny Rio I had in my mind! My fears were short lived however as I woke up the next morning to blistering heat! I found myself in Copacabana only a couple of blocks from the beach. Nice but waaaay too many old men in Speedos! I’m more of a surf shorts kinda gal!

I took a tour on Monday morning to the favela known as Rocinha. - It is home to 200,000 people and growing! There’s ‘free’ electricity, cable tv and internet here, sounds ideal doesn’t it? What I haven’t mentioned is that it’s a very poorer part of town and the utilities mentioned above are stolen from cables in the street that hang just above my head. The houses are built on land that is essentially free for all so if you find a space (difficult) you can claim it and build your house. As space is limited you can then sell your roof to the next person and they build their house on yours and so on and so on. Thing is to get to the top you have to go through everyones houses so privacy is minimal and the foundations and sewerage system weren’t designed for such houses so it leads to its own problems. In spite of their reputation and the police (with guns you see the army patrolling banks with) are on street corners, I felt quite safe on this tour although admittedly I was holding onto my camera tight. Everyone was friendly as the guides are daily visitors, especially the children who want their photo taken so they can one day be famous!! We also visited a daycare centre that the company sponsors and which donates part of the tour cost directly to the centre so it’s nice to know the money was going back into the community. The government is trying to gain control of the drug dealing and arms problems in these areas by sending in elite police units on raids and then forming a peace unit with the intention of improving the bad name these areas have attracted in time for the city to welcome the Olympics and World Cup. Trouble is, according to our guide, it’s not exactly working. A worthwhile trip as it shows you another side to the city

Moved to Ipanema on Monday where I joined the 3 girls for the last few days of the trip. The weather was stiil good so we organise a city tour the next day – all Rio’s best bits in one day. We visited the Lapa steps, Santa Teresa, Christ the Redeemer and finishing with cable car ride up to the Sugarloaf for a spectacular sunset. It’s as amazing as I imagined! We spend the week just chilling out, wandering through the city and finish it off on Thursday night with a trip to Lapa to see the street dancing and music but it is a letdown. I expected a large street party, with with lots of colour and samba music. I have been told that Friday night is the best night to visit (Thursday was our only option) but also now that carnival is over it is a lot quieter. Definitely didn’t feel safe here either even though we did have a French lad among us for protection! Rio wouldn't be the safest city in the world! So we retreated back to Ipanema for some more Caipirinhas! Yum! I can’t talk about Rio without mentioning its famous beaches – the weather did mess with us for a few days (I think it was better in Ireland) but when the sun shines the beaches are fantastic for a walk, run, sunbathing, sipping a cocktail, volleyball or building giant sandcastles! Pity the bedbugs kept me from sunbathing! Little monsters! But this is very common in hostels all over so we were lucky (and unlucky you could say) to be tormented by them in our last week. Such was my experience I will definitely never use the phrase ‘don’t let the bed bugs bite’ when I send my kids to bed! It’s definitely something to be feared! And more for how easily they spread than the itch from the bites!

Posted by elisasdiary 06:44 Archived in Brazil

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