The second time I rode a motorbike, I only crashed into a tree once. The first time I had fallen off, scarring my stomach; so my skills had obviously improved somewhat. I was staying in the Pantanal, a corner of … Continue reading
I was standing at Manchester Airport, waiting to catch my flight to Rio de Janeiro. Caught between excitement and nerves, sadness at the thought of being away from so many people I love for so long and can’t-quite-believe-it’s-actually-happening glee. It … Continue reading
So it´s been just over four weeks since I left England. What´s happened?
Places visited: Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Cuiaba, The Pantanal, Campo Grande, Curumba) Bolivia (Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, Potosi, Uyuni, La Paz, Copacabana), Peru (Puno, Arequipa, Nazca).
Currencies: Reais, Bolivianos, Nueve Soles
Time differences: -3, -4, -5 GMT. I’m getting further away in time and space!
Modes of transport: Plane, taxi, car, bus, boat, sand buggy
Favourite things: Rio; riding a motorbike; Santa Cruz; finding English books; Death Road, sunny afternoon in Copacabana, rafting.
Worst things: Driving into Cuiaba and at each turn hoping that the taxi wasn´t going to stop there, stomach pain.
Best thing I brought: My sandals! Perfect in every situation, although they are giving me crazy tan lines. Also hand sanitiser and my mooncup. And earplugs obviously.
What I should have brought: A lock. You can buy them here but I could have brought one. Also Rennies or something similar – there´s a theme here.
Items bought: Belt, warm jumper, warm socks, padlock, book, moisturiser, more toothpaste.
Items lost: Grillstock cap! Very sad. Have asked Tom to get me a replacement.
Books read: Under the Dome, The Martian Chronicles, The Time of my Life, Skinny Dip, The Trail to Titicaca, Crown of Swords.
Things (not people) I´ve missed the most: Cooking for myself, Chinese food, hearing English spoken everywhere. Not what I would have guessed before!
Illnesses and injuries: Minor sunburn, major mosquito nibbling, a dizzy spell, mild altitude sickness, cracked feet, one bout of vomiting, severe stomach pain. It sounds quite bad when it’s written altogether like that – I’m fine most of the time.
Strange/ Interesting food: Sugarcane juice, coconut milk straight from the coconut, llama, quinoa, soup (!), the reed that the people of Uros build their islands with.
Best food: rooftop BBQ overlooking the lights of La Paz, grilled trout by Lake Titicaca.
Coming up in month two… more Peru, the Inca Trail, Ecuador, Colombia and sailing into Central America!
I went to the jungle hoping to see a number of wild animals, particularly those only found in South America.
I wasn´t disappointed.
On a farm in the Pantanal I stayed for three days with a non-English speaking guide and got to see caiman (alligators), capybara (so noble, yet funny-looking), armadillo, a cobra, frgos, lizards, a crab, red-striped mammals that I don´t know the English name for, and strange dog-like foxes. As well as about a million mosquitoes.
The trip was really fun; we went on a boat tour, night walks to see the wildlife, attempted to learn to milk a cow, actually learnt to ride a motorbike (!), went horseriding and lazed around in hammocks.
So I arrived in Rio for the greatest party on earth (or so the slogan goes). Carnaval is downright crazy, there´s no doubt about that. There are blocos (street parties), where the young and beautiful get dressed up to drink and samba the night away.
It can be a bit overwhelming, particularly if like me, you enjoy quietly reading a book as much as all this revelry. But I knew that before I came, and thought it would make a good contrast to the normality I´ve just left.
Dancing in the streets with strangers is amazingly fun.
But I also managed to find the softer side of Rio; sitting alone at the top of Escadaron Selaron, or walking through the jungle by Pao de Esucar, spotting monkeys and searching for snakes. Lying comatose on one of the smaller beaches, or wandering through the beautiful streets of Santa Teresa, hot and just a little lost.
It´s the mix of it all that fascinates me, that one city could have so many contrasts, so much to see and do. There is a bat that sometimes flies in Henriques house. I thought Miguel was exaggerating and it was just a big moth – nope. A real morcego. I think that sums up a little of how I feel here.
Now for the photos! I´ve taken too many, already.
Next stop – Cuiaba? It´s in a place called Matto Grosso (Fat Jungle). Wish me luck!