Tag Archives: Rio de Janeiro

Full circle after 6 months – back in Peru!

Rio Branco to Assis

It was 11am when we got to Rio Branco, and we knew we had missed the 10am bus to Puerto Maldonado. When we asked around we found out there was only one bus a day, and since we didn’t have the luxury of waiting until the next day we had no choice but take a taxi to Assis, the city at the border with Peru. And another one from there to Puerto Maldonado.

The taxi guy charged us 25Reais each and he was going to pass us to someone else half way, but in the end we were lucky enough not only that he took us all the way, but that he even stopped for us to have our last lunch of feijao – it was a buffet and it was one of the best we’d had!

The locals don’t need a stamp in their passport when crossing the border, so we had to be careful about stopping to get one. I don’t think many tourists pass by there because the people at the border were very animated about chit chatting with us. After getting the stamps we were handed over to a Peruvian guy who was to take us to Puerto Maldonado for 35Soles. This was the time when my brain showed me proof of its power: in the space of a few minutes I had to switch among 4 different languages and I did it without feeling fainty or dizzy – Portuguese with the Brazilian, Spanish with the Peruvian, Romanian with Silviu and English with Boca. And probably a combination of the above with myself. What victory! 🙂

While waiting for our taxi driver to arrange all his business, we took a few moments to analyze how we felt about being back in Peru. Interestingly enough, we all had the same feeling: that we were coming back home. It felt so good to be back in this country that had captured our hearts from the very first minute…

 

Assis to Puerto Maldonado

The taxi was a 12 seater minivan and we were excited we were the only passengers when we started off. Three minutes later we picked up two ladies and a kid from the border, then stopped by someone’s house and picked up two more ladies and another kid. These guys seemed to be moving houses, because they had luggage enough to fill up the whole car. One of these bags was near our feet and every now and then it would move in a strange way, as it it had life of its own. Towards the end we found out it did. The life of a chicken!

We squeezed at best we could, and by the time we left Puerto Maldonado it was clear we’d be having a crowded 3 hours ride. Our guy was a maximizer too, as he kept picking up hitch hikers along the way, even after we thought there’d be no way he could fit anyone else in. He always found a way though, and we’d later find out this was the norm in Peru – every single place, sitting or standing, must be occupied for a car to be considered full. Some of these rides would turn out to be quite entertaining :).

As for this particular one, it was anything but a 3 hours ride. We were supposed to make it to Puerto Maldonado at 6, but at 8 we were still crossing rivers. It was already night when we got to the river just before Maldonado, and the bridge there is still under construction so we had to use the ferry, as they do on all bridgless rivers.

We waited in line for about half an hour holding our breath every time a car would get on board, as the ramp was nothing but 2 planks of wood. It was dark and a tiny mistake could easily find the car and its driver in the water. We were thankful all those we saw made it safely on board (not without hitches though), but when we got to the other side we saw a big car that had sunk by the shore. It had happened a while before and it seemed abandoned now. One thing for sure, we would have hated to be the owner of that vehicle.

 

Puerto Maldonado by night and day

When we got to Puerto Maldonado it was late evening but it was still incredibly hot and the city seemed very much alive. We asked the driver if he knew of any cheap hostel and he took us to one. It was dodgy to say the least, and the reception guy was going to charge us 70 Soles for a room. When we asked if internet and breakfast were included, he replied with a laugh followed by a grin: “If you want breakfast and internet, you are welcome to go to the hotel across”. We did not stay there, and the next two hostels we checked out, thankfully just meters away, seemed even dodgier. In the end we found a decent one where we were charged 50 Soles a night and even had our private bathroom. “Clean” was all we were expecting, and we were happy it was. As for the bed, after 3 nights spent on a bus anything that we could lie on was going to be “the perfect bed”.

We woke up early the next day to catch a bus to Cusco as soon as possible. We were looking at a 10 hour ride and this was the 30th now, so we only had one day to make it to our destination. We had a very good night sleep and when the alarm clock rang at 7am we were fresh and good to go. We got ready and half an hour later, when in the hallway, we caught sight of the clock on the wall: 6.30! How is it possible we thought, to get up at 7 and go back in time while getting ready? The mistery was soon solved: we had neglected to take into account the one hour time difference from Rio Branco to Maldonado, so we ended up being super morning people.

We adored being on the streets as the city was just waking up, and starting the day with freshly baked bread and quinoa drinks on the streets of Puerto Maldonado. By 8am, when we returned to the hostel, we had had breakfast, found the buses going to Cusco, decided on the time and gotten ourselves a ticket, finally found that ATM, had 3 glasses of fresh orange juice for 1USD and found a laundry place where they said they’d have our clothes clean and dry in two hours. We could not believe it! Usually at that time we’d just be turning on the other side, and now we had done all of the above and felt great about it too! Boy, was Benjamin Franklin right when he said “The early morning has gold in its mouth” :).

The earliest bus to Cusco we found was at 5pm, and we easily understood why. It was so hot during the day we just wanted to hide in a cool hole and not come out until sundown. Being on a bus without aircon on such weather could have made one capable of suicide. I think that someone could have easily been me.

We spent the day in the city, on the internet (after 5 days on a bus we had catching up to do) and in a cafe that seemed to be the gringos’ hangout place. It’s in the Plaza and they have really delicous fruits drinks. They have wireless too, but it doesn’t always work. Try the place out if you’re there, it’s got a nice atmosphere and the owner is the sweetest man!

 

The horrific bus ride to Cusco

We got on the bus with a take away lunch/dinner we had found at a vegetarian restaurant on the way to the terminal. It was a challenge eating it as the road was pretty bumpy and we were close to eating the food literally from our laps. The soup was the best, as they had put it in a bag so we ended up eating it with a… straw. It was pretty hilarious.

We had the “Panoramic seats”, as the lady who sold them to us so proudly called them, but it was all the same as less than an hour into the ride it was already dark. We had heard the scenery between these two cities was supposed to be spectacular, but unfortunately we didn’t have a choice about the time of day to be on the road. The bus was totally packed from the beginning and it was one of the worse we had been on in the past 6 months. It was smelly and dirty, and the closest thing to the idea of air conditioning was the tiny window we could open near the front seat. It was broken too, so the only two options we had was full open, with the air blowing directly on us and bringing with it huge grasshoppers and other insects that came straight in our face, or closed, leaving us totally without air.

If this were not enough, the drivers put a movie on and the TV was just by our heads. It was an extremely violent movie too, so the noise was so terrible it could have made one bang one’s had against the window in horror. That could have easily been me, but luckily Boca lent me her ear plugs and I managed to survive the 2 hours of torture. We couldn’t for the life of us imagine why someone would not only watch something so horrific, but actually buy it to play on a bus packed with people. Looking around we soon understood – the men were all watching fascinated, eyes literally glued to the bloody scenes. And since most drivers out there are men… it made sense they’d choose something they’d enjoy, thinking everyone would. The movie was so charged with negativity that all the evil in the world suddenly made sense to us: if you keep watching such filth you will soon want to act that way too… and that’s how we get ourselves heaps of serial killers and phsychopaths playing God.

The heat soon turned into chilly weather and during the night it became so cold that even our jackets proved insufficient in keeping us warm. “Are we there yet?” was the first thing that came to mind whenever the bus slowed down and we seemed to be stopping. We eventually made it to Cusco before 5am, and we staggered out of the bus happy we had made it to our destination sane and sound.

 

 Finally at our final destination

We were told it wasn’t safe to walk to the city center so early in the morning, as no police was yet on the roads plus nothing was open in town yet, so we’d be better off waiting in the terminal until 7am. We did just that and at 7 we took a taxi to Plaza de Armas, the central plaza you’re bound to find in every Peruvian city you go to. Once there we were approached by Jimmy, a hostel owner who was very excited to be meeting a Hungarian and Romanians for the first time in his life. He told us the restaurants open only at 8, but we could go to his hostel to use his wireless for 1.5 Soles if we wanted to. We agreed, and on the way we stopped by a bakery impossible to find if you didn’t know where it was hidden. We bought some delicious crispy bread, fresh from the oven, and had ourselves a lovely breakfast of warm bread and strawberry jam on Jimmy’s hostel’s roof terrace. He was kind enough to serve us each a coca tea as, in his own words “You might be young, but this is still 3500 metres high”. We totally appreciated his help and hospitality.

We were meant to be at the Valle Sagrada Ashram in Calca, the place where the Vipassana would happen, before 2pm. We found out it’d take about 1.5hrs to get there, so we had a second breakfast at a cafe in the plaza and then off we went again. On the way there we saw a guy carrying a blanket, so we suspected he was heading there too. He saw us carrying lots of toilet paper, so he knew we were going there as well (blanket, pillow and 4 rolls of toilet paper were the things we had been instructed to bring with us to the ashram). That’s how we met Steve, a most wonderful English guy who we’d end up spending some great times after the 10 days of meditation were over.

Half and hour after we had gotten to Vallle Sagrada and completed our registration, a more than pleasant surprise entered the gates of the ashram: Carmen, one of our friends from the Eco Yoga Park in Argentina. Boca and she were chatting on Facebook one day when she was in Bolivia, and upon hearing what we were about to do she was immediately interested. She was still on the waiting list 2 days before the start of the course, but she hopped on a bus from La Paz to Cusco anyway because … “just like that, for no reason”. When she got to Cusco and checked her email in the morning she found a message that said she was in. And that’s how we all embarked on the 10 days journey towards… ourselves.

 

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Saying good bye to Rio de Janeiro. Theft attempt in Sao Paolo.

Such a hard day it was, the day we said goodbye to Rio. It had been a completely unexpected experience, and that was exactly what made it so special. All three of us felt we’ve grown so much in those 6 weeks, learned so much and changed so much. Discovered parts of ourselves we were not aware of before. Did things we didn’t think we would or could. The time spent in Rio shed a new light on parts of ourselves that used to be dormant. We could not be more thankful to this city for facilitating our “evolution” this way.

We left Rio with the words of one of our friends still ringing in our ears: 

“From the moment I saw you I could tell you guys were different. I have traveled to 30 countries and worked in hospitality for many years, I have seen thousands of tourists… and i can immediately tell you are different, special. The way you carry yourselves, the way you talk, the way you interact with others, the things you are looking at experiencing…. you are not tourists at all, you are real world travelers!”

Indeed that was how we felt. And we were prepared to carry on globe trotting.

The plan to get to Peru

The plan was to make it to Cusco by the 31st of August, when our 10 day Vipassana silent meditation course was supposed to begin. From mid August we kept searching for ways to get there and we could not believe how expensive the flights were. After many an hour spent on the internet, we took a radical decision: we were going to cover the 5000km by bus, in less than 5 days. We found a bus going straight from Rio de Janeior to Cusco, but unfortunately it was only going twice a month and the next one was on the 31st, so didn’t really match our plans. We then found another one going from Sao Paolo to Rio Branco, a city close to the border with Peru, so that meant we’d be crossing Brazil from East to West in 60 hours straight. We got ourselves a ticket for that and got some basic info from Vitor, one of Vanessa’s friends, about the way from Rio Branco to Cusco (passing through Assis and Puerto Maldonado). It seemed doable, so we went ahead with it.

We didn’t know it at the time, but it would take us 5 buses, 2 cars, 1 minivan and 2 ferries to get to our destination. Four out of the five nights were spent sleeping on the bus, and one of them in a very dodgy hostel in Puerto Maldonado, a town in the selva (jungle) that could never complain of lack of heat and humidity. The last 10 hours of the trip were the most horrific hours we had ever spent on a bus, but overall the experience was much less painful, tiring and frustrating than we had expected it to be. So much so that when we got to Calca on the day of the meditation we were fresh, energized and looked like we had spent the past week in a luxury resort rather than on the road. Well, almost. In any event, those who met us then were shocked and impressed that after such a week, we looked the way we did.

Leaving Rio de Janeiro after a rough night

We started from Rio on the 26th in the morning with the first bus, the one that would take us to Sao Paolo. Since that was our last night in Rio we had to make the best of it, so we got home around 5.30am. We thought a short sleep would render us refreshed and ready to start packing at 7am, then leave for the terminal at 9. What a joke! We thanked God for Felippe’s mom that day, who shook us awake at 8am worried as she was that we’ll be missing our bus. We have no idea how we managed to switch off the alarm clock repeatedly between 7 and 8 and then not have any recollection of it either.

We packed hurriedly and got to the terminal in time. The 6 hours ride passed quickly as we were mainly catching up with last night’s sleep. In Sao Paolo we had a 2 hour layover, so off we went hunting for some feijao, not knowing if we’d have the chance to have it again before exiting Brazil. In the spirit of “it’s just down there”, we ended up walking for 20 minutes to find a place that served it. We took it away and ended up eating it in the bus terminal, sitting on the floor and watching people pass by. Some of them must have never seen 3 gringo backpackers eating take away feijao on the bus terminal floor, because they simply could not stop staring.

The theft attempt

Boca and I were sitting with our backs against the wall and Silviu was about 2 meters in front, facing us. Our backpacks were behind us and I hadn’t realised my back was touching my big backpack, but not the small one. As we were slowly eating our food and having the fun conversations we usually have, we saw some strange movement happening behind Silviu. Some guy had dropped his glasses and was leaning to pick them up; it had caught my attention because it was all happening so close to Silviu’s backpacks. As we all stopped to stare at the man, a voice appeared in my head out of nowhere: “Turn around, your backpacks”. The moment I turned I was shocked to actually see a guy there, so close to me I could touch him. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t sensed him before. He was facing the wall and was slowly moving away. I immediately saw he had a black backpack in his hand, and on the other side, glued to it was… my pink small backpack! Incredible! I was so surprised at the sight that all I could muster was an “Oi!”, the kind that rather said “Oi, excuse me sir, are you actually stealing my backpack?”. He looked at me with a “busted” look on his face and said (in English): “Oh… sorry, sorry, sorry” as he handed the backpack back to me. He then stepped away slowly, still apologising on his way away.

We were flabbergasted! First, that none of us had felt or seen him. Second, that he was this well dressed good looking man who you’d never imagine would go around stealing gringos bags. He was so well educated too, not only that he apologised for trying to steal my bag, but he even did it in English! Third, that we were all so slow in reacting. Fourth, that he reacted that way when caught red handed, as opposed to just taking the bag and running. Upon analysing we realised that was the smartest thing to do on his side, as the bus terminal was studded with policemen who had their hand on their guns at all times. Had he run he would have attracted too much attention and would have surely gotten caught. Fifth, that we, and especially I, could continue to be so careless even after the theft episode on Ipanema beach in Rio. Sixth, that my reaction was so calm and composed, as if I were tranquilised. It was the strangest experience and we were so grateful once more that it did not turn out much worse (having your passport stolen two days before you’re about to exit the country is anything but fun).

The 60 hour bus ride to the West 

Soon after, we boarded what was going to be our home for the next 60 hours. We could not believe it! It was one of the most basic buses we had been on for an overnight ride – not only that the TV was not working, but the chairs didn’t even have leg rests! Plus, it was packed. We wondered how we’d survive the 2 days and 3 nights trip to the other side of the country.

It was 7pm when we started the trip, and the first night passed uneventfully. The second day came and it became fascinating to observe the changes every time we stopped on the way. The more we moved East, the cheaper things became, and also the less luxurious the facilities were. We went from squeeky clean bathrooms with hot showers the first day (3 Reais for using the showers and 1.5 for the toilet) to free yet dodgy toilets that not only didn’t have showers, soap or toilet paper, but barely had enough water to be cleaned themselves.

The eating places changed a lot as well, from fancy buffes at 40 Reais/kg to basic restaurants where the buffes were 25Reais/kg. We were elated to be able to eat feijao every dinner, as we wanted to have as much of our favorite food as possible before leaving Brazil.

The bus never stopped being crowded, as even when people got off, others would get on and take their places. We spent 3 nights and 2 days on that bus and the only night we each had 2 seats to sleep on was the last one. Better than none, we thought. Even though this was supposed to be a direct bus, we ended up being woken up twice in the middle of the night to change buses. It was great fun being shaken awake by the bus driver at 4am and sent to wait outside for the other bus that would be there “in just a few minutes”. Fifty minutes and 2 carrots later we’d get our sleepy selves back on the new bus, thankful for another good night sleep.

Or we’d be awakened at 7am by an excited passenger: “Take your camera! We’re crossing the river”. So we’d get out of the bus and drag our feet to the ferry that would take us across the bridgeless river.  Not that we ever understood what was so exciting that would require a foto camera, but anyway…

That was how we made it to Rio Branco on the morning of the 29th, 5 hours later than we were supposed to and hence one hour too late for the bus that was to take us to Puerto Maldonado. We’d now have to find another way to get there…

 

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Eating and drinking in Rio de Janeiro

Finally the time has come for us to share some of the Brazilian delights with you. During these few weeks we managed to try the following delights:

Food

Feijao

Definitely our favorite food in Brazil. “Feijao” is portuguese for “beans”, so when you ask for that in eateries you get a black bean stew-like dish, always served with rice. You then get to add meat, vegetables, eggs or salad to it, according to your preference and their availability. It’s staple food for them and they eat it with their every meal. In the poorer parts of Brazil, towards the North, the people often don’t have the money to eat both the rice and the beans, so they eat only one of the two, usually the beans.

As we moved north-west from Rio the scenery changed, and together with it the taste and price of the feijao. It became cheaper and tastier (fos us at least).

We found out the Feijao came to Brazil together with the African slaves. The locals are very proud of the black and white dish as to them it is a symbol of the harmony between the two races.

Feijoada

A dish of feijao that looks and is served exactly like the stew I mentioned, but the stew is cooked with meat inside. That meat is usually what we’d consider left overs (insides, skin) and that tradition comes from the times of the slaves, when they would put in their food the left overs from the owners’ food. Many feijoada makers keep this tradition and would argue any day that’s why it tastes so good.

We were surprised to realise that In Sao Paulo feijoada is only served on Thursdays and Saturdays, as these are the original feijoada days. So if you want a taste of it make sure you’re there one of these days. In Rio we did not notice this custom but it’s very likely it’s there as well.

The locals usually eat Feijao with rice and meat for 5-9 Reias (depending on location) at local eateries or go to the famous Brazil BBQ places where food is served by kg (40 Reias/kg in Rio and around, and cheaper as you go further east, down to 25Reais/kg). Some places are the traditional buffet ones, where you can pay a fixed amount and eat as much as you want. Whichever way you look at it, eating our is not cheap in Brazil, especially in Rio.

Acai

A very healthy dark purple berry. You can find it at almost every corner. Usually they don’t eat the plain fruit, but blend it with honey, flakes, oats, protein, chocolate chips, strawberry sauce and a million other things you can imagine, creating a refreshing shake. Our favorite by far was the Super Bomba (7 Reias a large glass), introduced to us by Morgan on the way home one morning after a long yet awesome night in Lapa. It’s supposed to give you lots of energy and we loved having it instead of coffee after that, as often as our budget allowed it :).

Suko

Freshly squeezed fruit juice, also available at every corner. Deliciousness!

Vitaminas

A special fruit shake with extra vitamins (3-5 Reias) In some places it’s better than in others, make sure you ask if they make it with fresh fruit.

On almost every corner in Rio there’s a small 24/7 kiosk that sells acai, vitaminas, suko and sandwiches. We were wondering how come this protein and extra vitamin culture is so big here, and then one day, while people watching, we figured it out: the brazilians love to stay fit and healthy, so going to the gym or running on the beach is followed up with some healthy energy drink in these kiosks. Looking good is quite big here, but while we could tell that many guys were making an effort to stay fit, we couldn’t really say the same about the ladies.

Tapioca

Tapioca is a flour made from mandioca, a white root that is very popular in South America and Asia. Tapioca pancakes are being sold in the streets and they are really filling and delicious. You can choose to fill them with cheese, banana, chocolate, coconut or meat. Our favorites were the cheese & coconut and banana & cinnamon ones. We even invented a couple: cheese, coconut and cinnamon, which turned out really good, and banana, cinnamon and cheese, combination which unfortunately didn’t work so well. They’re very nice in accommodationg your wishes though, so feel free to experiment. It’s 3 Reias each, quite worth it considering the prices in Rio:).

Sweet popcorn

The corn culture is as present as in other parts of South America, with pop-corn being sold on the everywhere on the streets.

Drinks

Beer

Beer drinking is huge in Brazil, and some people can drink more beer than water in a day. Bohemia is one of the most popular Brazilian beers (our favorite), and also one of the more expensive: 2 Reias a 330ml can in the store and 4 Reias in small bars. Other common brands are Antarctica 1.2 – 4 Reias, and Skol. In the restaurants most of the beers come in 1L bottle, at 4-5 Reais each – much more cost-effective :).

Casasha

The famous Brazilian drink (local name: Pinga) is nothing else than sugar cane rum that has a strong brandy-like flavor. Every August there’s a Pinga Festival in Parati (near Rio), where the brave ones can try all the different flavours of Casasha. Boca’s favourite was the cinamon & clove one, which tasted like a Christmas cake ☺

Caipirinha

The cocktail made of Casasha, which besides the rum contains ice, sugar and lime. There are other less common yet equally delicious flavours as well, such as maracuja, kiwi, pineapple or watermelon.

You will also hear of Caipiroska, which is the Caipirinha with vodka instead of Casasha. If you are outside of Brazil and see Caipirinha on a menu, make sure you ask if it’s made with suger cane rum or something else. Many times they use the name Caipirinha but put other liquors inside, so the real taste of the Caipirinha is spoiled.

This drink quickly became our favourite cocktail. When going out it’s usually 6-7 Reias a glass, but you can easily prepare it at home as well and come out much cheaper. The Brazilians say it’s the cheapest way of getting drunk because of it’s high concentration of alcohol and ridiculously low price (1L of Casasha costs not more than 5 Reias in supermarkets). A word of advice – take it easy with it as it gets to you before you know it!

 

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Eljött az idő, viszlát Rió

A TERV

A riói felhőtlen napok mellett az  idő közben közelgett a Vipassana meditációhoz, ígyhát itt volt az ideje valami tömegközlekedési opció után nézni, hogy eljussunk Cuzcóba, Peruba. Először repülővel szemezgettünk, de az USD500-800 között volt, amit igen csak sokaltunk. Volt egy opció, ahol át kellett volna szállni Bolíviában és várni 12 órát, ami nem is lett volna akkora probléma, de még a transithoz is vízumot igényeltek, s mivel a románoknak a vízum még mindig nem volt járható út ezt is kizártuk.

Ezután a buszokat néztük és sikerült találni egyet ami Sao Pauloból Limába ment 5 nap alatt és útközben megállt Cuzcóban 4 nap után s az ára is elfogadható volt, olyan 400 Reias körül. Boldogan hívtuk fel a jegyirodát, ahol sajnos közölték, hogy csak 15 naponta megy a busz és a következő csak Aug 31én indul, ami nekünk ugye már késő.

Szerencsére ráakadtunk egy másik buszra, ami Sao Pauloból ment Rio Brancoba (perui határhoz közeli város) 3 nap alatt. Onna tudtuk, hogy megy egy másik busz pont aznap mikor megérkezünk a perui határvárosba (3 óra), s onna egy mások busz Puerto Moldonádóba (Peru, 3 óra), így a negyedik nap estéjére már Porto Moldonádóban leszünk, ahol megszállunk és másnap reggel tovább megyünk Cuzcóba (10 óra), ahol ismét megszállunk éjjszakára a 31én újult erővel érkezünk meg a meditációs központba.

 

ELHAGYTUK RIÓT

Szóval emellett döntöttünk. Csürötökön még buliztunk egy utolsót a riói barátainkkal a Casa de Matriz parkettjén, ahol nagy ölelések után búcsút vettünk pajtásainktól remélve, hogy nem most látjuk egymást utóljára, s péntek reggel (Aug 26) már úton is voltunk Sao Pauloba (6 óra, 75 Reias). Ott a csatlakozó buszra várva pont annyi időnk volt, hogy elmenjünk Feijaót venni, amit aztán a buszpályudvaron fogyasztottunk el. Azt hozzá kell tenni, hogy a buszpályaudvaron mi voltunk az egyetlen turisták (amit máig sem értünk hogyan lehetett egy többmilliós városban) így már magunkban is feltünést keltettünk, nem is beszélve a funky backpackkelős nadrágunkról. S mikro a feijaot elvitelre megvettük, s nem találtunk szabad ülőhelyet, így letelepedtünk a földre az egyik sarokba, s ott fogyasztotuk a tipikus brazil ételt, nem volt olyan arrajáró, aki ne bámult volna meg minket.

 

MAJDNEM MÉGEGY TÁSKÁNKNAK LÁBA KELT

Ekkor történt, hogy egy fiatal ember leejtette a szeművegét Silviu táskája mellé, amire persze mind a 3an odakaptuk a fejünket, mert elég gyanus volt, de nem próbált meg semmit ellopni, mikor is Iunia maga mellé nézett s látta, hogy egy másik srác a saját táskájával szépen lassan emelei Iunia kis hátizsákját is (persze benne minden értékkel). Iunia reakciója csak egy OJ! Volt, mire a srác lassan elengedte Iunia táskáját és udvariasan csak annyit mondott: Sorry sorry!

A fickó egy jól öltözött fiatal srác volt, aki olyan udvariasan kért bocsánatot és olyan megbánó szemmel nézett, hogy majdnem mi éreztünk bűntudatot és majdnem azt mondtuk: Á semmi baj! 🙂

Szóval a két srác valószínű össze dolgozott, így szokták állt csinálni, az egyik eltereli a figyelmedet, míg a másik ellop tőled valamit. Lehet az én kistáskámnak is így kelt lába… 🙂

 

3 NAP ÉS 3 ÉJSZAKA A BUSZON…

Szóval ezt is megélve felszálltunk a buszra, amin 3 éjjszakát és 3 napot töltünk majd (minez összesen 313 Reiasért). Persze semmi sem jöhetett volna jobban, mint egy öreg alapfelszereléseiben is hiányos busz, s már előre örültünk az elkövetkező napoknak. Reméltük, hogy a busz nem fog minden nagyfánál megállni, így remélhetőleg nem lesz teli, így lesz 2 széke mindannyiunknak aludni. Ebben is csalódnunk kellett sajnos, mert szinte minden 2-3 órában megálltunk valahol és emberek le-föl szálltak. Így nem hogy nem volt dupla székünk aludni, de még sok nyugalmunk sem. Mindenesetre én az első este jól aludtam. Másnap olvasással és írással szórakoztattuk magunkat, mert persze TV nem volt a buszon (minek is egy 3 napos útra?! J). A busz megállt reggelire, ebédre és vacsorára is különböző helyeken, de az első 2 napon az előre csomagolt szendvicsünket ettük, s csak vacsorára fizettünk be mert nem akartunk 40 Reiast fizetni 1 kg ennivalóért napi 3szor. 2 tányér feijaot veettünk, amiért 8 Reiast fizettünk darabonkánt. A büfé ára idő közben nagy örömünkre lecsökkent 35 majd 30 Reiasre.

Második este is eltelt valahogy, s reggel 6kor már a buszmegállóban várakoztunk, mert buszt kellett cserélni, ami tökéletes volt arra, hogy mind a 3an lezuhanyozzunk a buszmegálló zuhanyzójában, ami nem is volt annyira gázos, mint gondoltam 🙂 Napközben csak bámultuk a kietlen tájat, ami nem változott mióta elhagytuk Sao Paulót. Mi vártuk, hogy nagy városokon keresztül haladunk majd el, de nem. Az egész Brazília már 3 napja csak kis faluk egymás utánja volt a kietlen, néhol pálmafákkal tarkított tájon. Vacsorára ismét feijao büfé volt, ami itt csak 25 Reiasbe került. Éjfélkor, mikor már álomra hajtottuka  fejünket, szóltak, hogy le kell szállni a buszról, mert csere lesz, így 1 órát várakoztunk a buszmegállóban. De ez sem volt elég, mert hajnalban ismét jött az ébresztő, hogy megint busz csere lesz, merthogy ez a busz meg most elromlott. Szerencsére a másik busz már ott volt, s átcuccolni se kellett, azt mindig megoldották helyettünk. Nagy örömünkre ez a busz már jobb állapotban volt, mint a többi és kényelmesebb is.

Örömünk csak reggel 7ig tartott, mikor is megint le kellett szállni, mert egy folyón kellett átkelni, s a kompra fel kellet sétállni. Miután ez is megvolt, megálltunk egy kávéra és egy sütire reggelire, mikor is már tudtuk, hogy 3 órás késében vagyunk, így már tuti nem érjük el a csatlakozó buszt (mondjuk egy 3 napos busz úton csak 3 órás késésben lenni nem is olyan rossz J). Úgy döntöttünk ezzel majd akkor foglalkozunk, ha megérkezünk, s nyugodtan „meditáltuk” végig a maradék pár órát.

A leggyötrelmesebb éjszakai buszozás a következőkben…

A véleményed sokat számít nekünk, kérlek osszd meg ezt velünk a ’Leave a Reply’ szövegre kattintva, értékeld a postot csilaggal vagy csak simán kattints a Like (Tetszik) gombra.

 

Rio de Janeiro’s favelas (II)

After finally agreeing to do a tour, we booked one with our hostel and the next day were picked up by a van and dropped outside the Rocinha favela, the largest one in town and, as they say, one of the most dangerous. Our guide was a fantastic guy who used to be in the military but was now spending his life “the real way, with the real people… I love the people who live here and if I can help out even just by spreading the word that these places are not nearly as bad as they are made to seem, this is what I will do”.

 

Instructions before getting inside the favela

“Now, you must remember you are gringos and you are with me, which means this is the safest place in Rio you could find yourselves in for the next few hours. Whatever you see and hear, just remember this one thing: nobody in this place will as much as touch a hair on your head. They are very familiar with gringos coming and they very much enjoy having you here. They want you to see the reality of the place they live in. They are proud of it and want to share it with you.”

“One of the most important things to remember is you are free to take pictures everywhere except for some specific places I will be pointing out on the way. Many of the guys here are hiding from the police and can’t afford to have pictures of themselves appearing on your Facebook profile, ok? That being said, not to worry. Even if by mistake you take a photo of some of the drugs or drug dealers, they are very nice about asking you to delete them. They might have a gun in their hand when they walk towards you, but they will smile and ask you to delete that photo, then they will walk away”.

“Hopefully none of you will get lost here, so please stay close to me at all times. It has happened before that people from the tour have disappeared and I found them later having beer with the locals. Please have patience until the end of the tours, after that you’re free to do whatever you wish. In case you do get lost, don’t worry at all. Just ask anyone and everyone will help you… even the guy holding an AK47 will point you politely in the right direction.”

 

Taking the “local taxi” up the hill

Then he told us we’d get to the top of the hill with the local taxi and then walk back down from there. So we walked towards the “local taxies place” and were met by at least 15 young men on awesome looking motorcycles. It looked like a great bikes commercial. The guide said “See you up there!”, and while I was still trying to make sense of the situation, this young man walked towards us, looked at me, pointed his finger at me and said “You! With me!” I looked around and everyone seemed to be as surprised as I was (I didn’t catch the guide’s look, he must have been the only relaxed one among us) and I obeyed. Not that I had a choice, I thought. It reminded me of the desert in India, where that was the exactly the way the desert men chose us to ride their camels.

I got on the bike behind the handsome and commanding Brazilian and tried ignoring the little shade of doubt about this whole situation, doubt coming of course from the previous image I had of the favelas. “Surely this must be safe” I kept telling myself. The guy instructed me to lock my arms around his waist and then stepped on the pedal. I’d been on quite a few insane bike rides in my life, but none went faster than this one up a hill and with traffic around it too. At least 4 times I thought that was the end, I saw death in the face, and then I found myself gasping for air after realising we had just avoided another vehicle by millimeters.

My guy was talking to me, asking me my name, where I was from, if I was married… I kept trying to focus on the conversation rather than the death ride I had unknowingly signed up for, but it was not an easy thing to do at all. I could tell my driver loved adrenaline and I kept telling myself that he was so skillful, surely it would be impossible for him to get into an accident. I did hint a couple of times that we could go slower if he wanted to, there was no problem with that, but he just laughed it off as if “why on earth would we do that??”. So I then resolved to letting him do his job, while I did the next thing that seemed appropriate at the time: pray I’d get off that two-wheeler alive!

I had been the first one picked up from the group so there was no one in front of us, and that added to my uncertainty of where we were actually going. I dared not look behind as I’d get dizzy from the speed even looking left and right, so I just patiently waited to reach the destination. Not that there was much choice about that either.

“Here we are” he said after a few minutes, “we have reached our destination”. When I got off the bike my legs were shaking like autumn leaves, but I was oh so grateful I still had my body in one piece. Just as I regained my breath I saw another bike arriving, and Boca got off that one looking pretty much as shaken as I was. The rest of them followed and soon our group was complete again. I said good-bye to my guy and he made sure to give me one last of his charming smiles before he stepped on that “scary-for-me, full-of-adrenaline-for-him” pedal again.

 

The time spent in the favela

We spent the next few hours walking around the favela, interacting with some of the locals, having local cakes, visiting an art gallery with beautiful albeit a bit expensive paintings and then a nursery built by an international NGO. On the way we also attended a mini concert by 3 teenagers who were using instruments from recycled materials. I felt such a strong connection with them, and that was when the idea of volunteering there first cornered in my mind.

Another guy we crossed path with was a dude carrying his marijuana plant in a little pot. He transported it with so much care and seemed so proud of it… he even let us take a photo of it. It was a bit surreal but yet much milder than the sights we were told we could have come across (machine guns, white powders etc etc).

 

“Brazilians are happy people, that’s just how we are”

As we were walking down the street I was surprised at how many of the people we met were smiling, laughing, listening to music, singing out loud and going about their day pretty relaxed, appearing to not really bother whether we were there or not. We then climbed up a building at the top of the hill and spent a while admiring the view from there, both of the beach far away and of the houses and people going about their lives just below us. I couldn’t help but notice how nothing in their behavior was changed: even though they could not see us, they were acting the exact same way they were when we were passing by them and they knew we were watching: smiling, laughing, listening to music, singing out loud and relaxedly going about their day.

I asked our guide about it and his answer was: “You must understand something. Brazilians are happy people, that’s our nature, that’s how we are. Out there in the city, with lots of money, and over here in the favelas, with whatever you can see.”  He pointed out they don’t focus on what they don’t have, but on how they can make the best with what they do have. And they do it, every day at a time. “The people here in the favela will look at you and say oh, poor girl… look at you, you’re so white… there’s no sun where you come from, huh? And they’ll feel sad for you.” The people there care more about a sunny day than about a diamond ring or a fancy car … they take each day at a time and welcome it with a smile, looking forward to what it will bring. And they are happy. Which is not something that can be said about most people in the “developed world”.

I then had a few pictures in my mind that made me think. If you had to choose between having the most expensive champagne on the huge terrace of your condominium, overlooking the ocean, watching the gorgeous sunset, alone, versus a can of the cheapest beer in front of a small TV, watching a game with a bunch of close friends who you know would do anything for you… what would you choose?

It reminded me of how during some of my worst periods, financially speaking, I’d pass by fancy restaurants and dream of the time I’d be able to afford a dinner there … and then, when I later had the opportunity to be taken there by people who had more money they could spend, but whose company I did not enjoy, the idea of going there with them filled me up with disgust at the idea of “betrayal” against myself, my values, my soul. I’ve never appreciated the $3 dinners with my close friends more than after having that realisation.

Happiness then, as I see it, is not directly proportional with the amount of stuff you have, but simply with the attitude you have.

By the time we finished the tour, all three of us had had thoughts on wanting to find an opportunity to volunteer in the favela. When we shared the thoughts with each other we weren’t surprised at the similarities. We knew it was something that came from our heart.

Unfortunately, as you know by now from previous posts, our desire to help out did not materialize this time, and even though we have already left Rio, we are open to what the future has to offer. Meeting people from the favela later and also going there on a different occasion (to celebrate samba together with the people who love it most) has reinforced our belief that these are such great people who need all the support in the world, while at the same time have so much to offer to the same world.

I don’t know the story you’ve read or been told about the favelas… but going out there to see them with your own eyes is a favor you want to do to yourself. And to them. It’s a total perspective change… and it’s a beautiful one!

 

 

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Rio de Janeiro’s favelas (I)

We’ve all heard of the Rio Carnival and most of us probably even have it on our Bucket List – one of the most exotic places in the world, in the middle of one of the most exotic carnivals in the world. Who wouldn’t want that?

Few of us know though how the Carnival has originated and who we have to thank for its continuation. When the word “favela” comes up, we generally have images of dangerous places, dirty and poor, with uneducated and violent inhabitants, with junkies and criminals. We have no idea that image represents merely a handful of people, a minuscule percentage of the overall favela population. We have no idea the majority of people are like you and me, honest and hardworking, looking only at how to make each day a better one for themselves and those around. This we don’t know. We also never associate the people in the favela with the glamour of the Rio Carnival… even though these are the people creating that spectacular show. The people in the slums are the people creating this international craze. What an idea, huh?

 

The history of the favelas

The favelas originated about a hundred and fifty years ago, when the slaves who had just been liberated were sent out there in the world to… nothing. They needed to settle down somewhere and they did wherever they found the space. The favelas knew their second wave of growth in 1897, when 20,000 war veterans were brought from Bahia to Rio but not given any proper place to live. The third growth happened during the housing crisis in 1940, and the fourth, the appearance of the “modern” favelas, 30 years later when people from the country side started their migration to the city. The favelas were built generally on the hills, in the forests, and the word “favela” itself comes from the name of the native trees of these places.

The situation is pretty ironic, as now the best views of the city are from these hills, and in other metropolis these would be the most expensive and sought after spots. The people of the favelas see spectacular sunsets and sunrises and have beautiful views of the beaches and the city. In some places there are huge condominiums springing up overnight close to the beach, hence blocking the view from up the hill. The people in the favelas are not happy about it. After all, they were there first! 🙂

In any event, at first nobody was too concerned about the appearance of the favelas, as they were not thought to last very long. Soon enough though it became clear they were not going anywhere. They started to grow more in number and size, and they soon took a life of their own. The acute need for money made it so easy for drugs to penetrate and drug cartels soon became the controlling forces in the favelas. “No rules” turned into “our rules”, and “our” was the drug lords.

We read and heard many facts and figures about the drug lords and their terrible ways of ruling the favelas. The money some of them make can go up to 6 digits a month, and the atrocities they commit to punish and set examples are akin to scenes from some of the most violent Korean movies. Unfortunately the situation does not look like it might change soon. Many of these lords are wanted by the authorities and there are big prices on their heads… but as we have been told, “they are hiding in plain daylight. People know where they are, yet no one dares to talk. What are they gonna do? Denounce them and then take the money and fly straight to NASA to get on the first racket out to the Moon? Cause there’s no way they will be able to continue living on this Planet again, there is no rabbit or snake hole they could hide in and not be found.”

 

The favelas today

Rio de Janeiro presently has over 500 favelas, with the largest of them, Rocinha, hosting no less than a quarter million people. If in 1950 only 7% of Rio’s population lived in favelas, the percentage now has gone up to 20. The people living in the favelas usually work in the city, doing housework or other low paid jobs for the city people. Some of them work in the favelas themselves, in shops, schools or other small enterprises offering products or services.

To this day new houses are being built in the favelas illegally. The land belongs to the administration but anyone who wants a chance at the big city can built a house in an empty spot in the favela. And when the family grows they just build another floor above for the son and daughter in law. Or, if they’re some of the lucky ones who have a yard, they build another small house in the yard. This has led to the places being so crowded and crammed that the streets are only wide enough for pedestrians and motorcycles, and this makes it a real problem when an ambulance has to get through. There is generally one wide street big enough for cars, and that works perfectly for the drug lords as the favelas are much easier to control that way.

Water and electricity are still used illegally in most favelas, with people hooking their own cables and pipes to the city networks. Some of them are choosing to put on a meter if they need an address for the bank or their job. But even if they put the counter in, they keep using the electricity illegally.

 

The public opinion

The situation is not pretty and many out there are still trying hard to fix the “favelas problem”. Ideas have been flowing heaps, from displacing the people to educating them to supplying them with all they need to cover their basic needs to showing them another way of life to legalizing drugs or somehow making the drugs and the dealers all go away. Unfortunately all of these solutions are far from simple, or even realistic for that matter. Some people we have talked to have said straight “There is NO solution to the favelas problem. We’re in way to deep. That’s just it!”

Most Brazilians are frustrated with the favelas and their inhabitants and never go there, for any reason. Firstly because they feel they have no reason to, and secondly because they are afraid. They are not at all welcomed as the favelas inhabitants know what the city people think of them, hence see no reason why they’d pay them visits. “Let them stay out there, in their neat and wealthy little lives”, they think. These guys don’t even refer to the people in the favelas as Rio citizens and would love it if they could wake up one morning and all the favelas would be miraculously gone! Others have a completely different attitude, they not only acknowledge the existence of the favelas but get involved as much as they can in helping out. When they hear what we as foreigners know about the favelas, they recognize “It’s our media that has created this image of the favelas, especially internationally. It’s so clear… and it’s such a shame because that’s so not the reality, there’s so much more to it than that…”.

 

How can you visit

When we first got to Rio we knew we wanted to see a favela, but didn’t know how we’d be able to do that. The one thing everyone tells you is not to do the stupidity of going there alone, especially if you’ve never been in one before. Other options are going with someone who lives there or booking a tour.

A tour??? I thought this was a joke when I first heard of it and the idea of going there like on a field trip to the zoo sickened me. We were not going to do that, we decided. We were also not going to go there alone, so the option we were considering was finding someone who lived there who was willing to accompany us. We tried this option but it indeed proved to be a not so easy thing to accomplish in a few days.

As we initially were only going to stay for a week, we soon realised that if we wanted to see the favelas we’d have to do something about it fast. Meanwhile we had met quite a few people who had done the tours and told us how educational they had found it, how it wasn’t a “watch and go” kind of thing but it allowed for interaction with the locals and it felt natural, like any other tour of a city or neighborhood. Then they said the people in the favelas are the ones asking for these tours because they want people out there, especially foreigners, to see the reality as opposed to settle for the image the media provides. That was when we finally gave in and agreed to a tour. It was not a cheap endeavor either (65 Reais), but we did what had to be done.

 

 

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Étel és ital különlegességek Rióból

Itt az ideje, hogy a Brazíliában ehető finomságokról is szó essen. Az itt töltött pár hét alatt a kölünböző ételeket próbáltuk ki:

Feijao (ejtsd Fezsáó): az egyik kedvenc ételünk Brazíliában. A feijao nem más, mint bab főzelék szerű étel, amit fekete babból készítenek és rizzsel esznek. Ehhez szoktak húst és zöldséget is főzni. A húst sokszor belefőzik a babba, mint otthon. A Feijao-t az afrikaiak hozták be Brazíliába, mikor rabszolgaként lettek áthozva az óhazából. Mikor ezt megtudtuk, rögtön világos lett miért tünt olyan ismerősnek az étel, hiszen Rina sokszor készítet feijao szerű ételt babból vagy más zöldségből. A feijao-t a brazilok, mint kenyeret, vagy krumplit eszik, azaz mindennap ebédre és néha vacsorára is. Rizst is szoktak hozzá enni, de nem mindenhol. Azt monják, hogy északon, ahol szegényebben az emberek, ott nincs rizs, csak a bab. A brazilok nagyon büszkék a rizs és a bab keverékére hisz egy fehér és egy fekete ételrő van szó, a fehérek és feketék harmóniában élését is tükrözve. Nem véletlen, hisz a brazilok elmondása szerint a rizst a portugálok hozták be brazíliába.

Feijoada (ejtsd Fezsóádá): a neve az ételnek, ami feijaoból, rizsből, húsból és zöldségekből áll. Érdekesség, hogy a babba belefőzött hús álltalában csak hús maradvány, vagy zsír cafat. S hogy ez miért van? Mert a rabszolgák régen nem engedhették meg maguknak a húst, s így csak az európaiak állltal kidobott, vagy nem használt hús részeket kaparinthatták meg, s szokássá vállt, hogy ezt teszik bele az ételbe.

A feijoada ahogy haladtunk észak nyugatra, úgy válltozott ízben és árban is. Szerintem sokkal finomabb és olcsóbb lett.
Érdekességként szolgál, hogy például Sao Paulóban Feijoadat csak szombaton árulnak az éttermekben. Az a feijoada nap 🙂

Ételeknél maradva a Brazilok vagy kisebb helyi étkezdékben esznek feijao-t, vagy egy tál rizst, krumplival, zöldséggel és hússal (5-9 Reias). Utóbbit a híres Brazil barbekjú éttermekben is lehet fogyasztani, amiért egy bizonyos összeget fizetsz és annyit eszel, amennyit kívánsz, ekkor az asztalodhoz hozzák a karóra húzott hús darabokat, amit előtted vágnak a tányérodba; vagy büfé jelleggel kg-ra megy a dolog. Azaz telerakod a tányérod mindenféle jóval, majd a végén annyit fizetsz amennyit nyom a tányér. Ez Rióban 40 Reias/kg volt (amit soha nem ettünk, mert napi költség keretünk 43 Reias volt), viszont észak nyugatra haladva ez lecsökkent 30, majd 25 majd 20 Reiasre.

Az étkezés nem olcsó Brazíliában, vagyis főleg Rióban. A legolcsóbb étkezési lehetőség, amit találtunk 7 Reias volt, ami vagy feijaot, rizzsel és zöldségekkel takart vagy zöldségeket, rizzsel és tésztasalátával. Emiatt álltalában otthon reggeliztünk és vacsoráztunk, így sikerült nem túl költekezni magunkat.

Acai: egy nagyon egészséges, eper szerű, sötét lila gyümölcs. Brazíliában szinte minden sarkon lehet kapni és a helyiek előszeretettel eszik. Álltalában nem a gyümölcsöt magát eszik natúran, hanem összeturmixolják és beleraknak, mézet, búza pelyhet, proteint, csokidarabokat, eper szószt, vagy amit akarsz, ezzel egy hideg, kásás desszertet kapva. Első próbálkozásunk epres csokis válltozat volt, ami nem nagyon ízlett nekünk, de később felfedeztük, hogy a Super Bomba (7 Reias egy nagy pohár) névre hallgató változat, ami energiát is ad, s amiben ginko biloba is van, nagyon finom. Mi szinte majd minden nap azt ettük, persze ketten 1 pohárral, mert nem olcsó (USD1 = 1,5 Reias)

Suko: nem más, mint gyümölcslé, amit szinten minden sarkon megtalálsz frissen csavarva.

Vitaminas: különleges gyümölcs shake-ek, amikbe extra vitamint is raknak. (3-5 Reias egy pohár) Az epres válltozatot imádtuk!

Brazíliában szinte minden sarkon vannak olyan kis helyek, ahol Acait, Vitaminas-t, Sukot és szendvicseket lehet kapni, s amik szinte éjjel nappal nyitva vannak. S hogy miért ez a nagy egészséges, vitamminal dúsított és proteines ital kultúra? Mert itt minden helyi fiú és lány kondi terembe jár vagy legalább naponta fut a tengerparton, s utána előszeretettel ülnek be a kis bisztrókba, hogy ilyen italokat igyanak. Ebbő is látszik, hogy a Brazíl fiatalembereknek fontos hogyan néznek ki (legalább is a tengerpartra járóknak J). Meg kell hagyni, hogy a fiúk többsége tényleg a kigyúrtabb kategóriába tartozik.

Tápióka: a tápióka, (amit remélem magyarul is így hívnak J), egy gyökér féle, amit nem csak ázsiába, de itt is előszeretetel fogysztanak. Az utcán, bácsikák, kis gurulós kocsikból árulják az először lereszelt állagban lévő, majd serpenyőben összeolvadós tészta szerűséget, amit sajttal, banánnan, csokival, kókusszal, hússal és ezek keverékével árulnak. A kedvencem a banános fehéjjas volt, de kóstoltunk sajtos kókuszosat és banános sajtos fahéjjasat is (utóbbi az én találmányom volt, amit 3 helyi hölgy is kipróbált ezt látva, s akiktől utólag is bocsánat, mert… annyira nem volt finom :-)) (3 Reias egy adag)

Édes popcorn: a kukorica kúltúra itt is virágzik, hisz minden második méteren édes popcorn-t árultak az emberek.

Persze a sok egészséges dolog mellett, itt is söröznek az emberek esténként. Legközkedveltebb sörök a brazíliai Bohemia (a mi kedvencünk) 2 Reias egy 330ml doboz a boltban és 4 Reias a kis bárokban; Antartica 1,2 – 4 Reias és a Sol márka. A 330ml dobozok mellett, a legtöbb étteremben a sör 1Les üvegben jön az asztalhoz, ami persze sokkal költséghatékonyabb, 4-5 Reias.

A sörök mellett a híres Brazil ital különlegesség a Casasha (ejtsd Kasasza) (helyi becenvén Pinga) ami nem más, mint cukornád rum. Magában elég erős, pálinkához hasonlító íze van. A Pinga fesztiválon ezt árulják mindenféle ízesítésben a bevállalósoknak 🙂 a fehéjas, szegfűszeges ízesítésű nekem nagyon ízlett, olyan karácsonyi süti íze volt 🙂

A Casasha-ból készül a Caipirinha (ejtsd Kaipirinnya) névre hallgató koktél, ami a cukornád rum mellett jeget, cukrot és lime-ot tartalmaz. Van ízesített válltozata is, amit marakujával, kiwivel vagy ananásszal bolondítanak meg. A Caipirinha az a koktél, amit sok helyen (Brazílián kívül persze) cukornád rum hiányában sima rummal készítenek, ezzel elrontva a tökéletes italt. Nekem ezennel kedvenc italommá vállt e tökéletes édes, savanyú koktél. (7 Reias egy pohár). Otthon is könnyen elkészíthető és a legolcsóbb becsiccsentésre alkalas ital, mert 1L Casasha a boltban csak 5 Reias 🙂

Caipiroska a Caipirinha vodkával készült válltozata.

 

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Vissza a természetbe, azaz a csodás természet Rióban

Egy másik kilátó, ahova ellátogattunk a Pao de Azucar (Cukorhegy) névre hallgat. Egy kisebb és egy nagyobb hegy áll egymás mellett, amire a legtöbben felvonóval mennek, de az első hegyre felsétállni is fellehet. A második hegyre már falmászó felszerelés kell, de az érdeklődök azt is kipróbálhatják. Mi a túrázást választottuk az első szintig, s a hegycsúcson piknikeztünk az ámulatba ejtő látvány társaságában Maurice-al, Silviuval és persze Iuniával. Piknikünk a szokásos, zsömle, avokádó, krémsajt (ami brazíliában egy kerek dobozos Ricotta finomság), saláta és répa keverékéből áll… jamiiiii 🙂

Aki szereti a kihívásokat, az egy 5 órás kemény mászással feljuthat a Pedro de Guavia-ra, ami sokak szerint egy másik csodálatos látvány Rióra, bár mi ezt most kihagytuk.

Aki szereti a termászetet, az sétállhat a helyi Botanikus Kertben, vagy a Parque Lage-ban. Az utóbbiban van egy hangulatos kis kávézó internettel, ahol megpihenhetsz ha nincs jobb dolgod aznapra. Innen lehet a Corcovado-t is megmászni, amire megint csak Maurice-al kerítettünk sort.

Túrázásra az erdőben itt van még Tijuca és a Nemzeti Park, ami a világ negnagyobb erdeje, ami városban található. Gyönyörű járt és járatlan utakon lehet bolyogani az erdőben, s sőtétedés után gyönyörködni a temérdek Szent János bogár fényében. A parknak olyan csodálatos varázsa van, hogy vétek kihagyni az erre járónak!

Ha már túrázás, akkor Ilha Grande, egy sziget, ami 3 óra busz és 1,5 óra hajó útra van Riótól s ahova szintén Maurice-al látogattunk el. A sziget egy csodálatos esőerdő, ahol több útvonal is van a túrázni szeretőknek kialakítva, s aki csak a napon szeretné süttetni hasát, annak ott vannak a gyönyörű tengerpartok is! A szigeten persze van egy pár étterem, bár és bolt is az arra vágyónak. A sziget engem Malájzia különböző kisebb nagyobb sziget csodáira emlékesztetett, s azt hiszem egyik kedvenc helyemmé vált Rió körül.

S ha már Ilha Grande, akkor csak 2 órára innen található Parati, ami a Pingáról (helyi neve a Casashanak) híres, s melynek tengerpartjait ismét csak hivogatóak, s emellett kolóniális belvárosát sem szabad kihagyni. Mi Mauriccal jöttünk ide az Augusztus végén rendezett Pinga fesztiválra, ahol rengeteg különböző ízesítésű Pingát lehetett kipróbálni, csupán 20 Reias-ért kisüvegenként… mit mondhatnék, veszélyes egy ital 🙂

S végezetül nézzük milyen szórakozó helyeken szinesíthetjük napjainkat Rióban:

Hétfő: samba este a Pedra del Sal-nál (ami egy eldugott utcasarok), élő samba dobosok zenésítik meg a hétfő estét este 8 órától 11ig.
Kedd
: pihi J
Szerda
: Salsa est a Copa Hostelben (Copacabana), belépő 10 Reias, de aki előre regisztrál a weboldalon, annak csak 5 Reias.
Csütörtök
: CS találkozó a Copacabana beach 4es és 5ös mólója közötti kiosknál.
Péntek
: Lapa vagy Casa de Matriz (Botafogo), belépő 28 Reias, de aki előre regisztrál annak csak 20 Reias.
Szombat
: Lapa vagy Casa de Matriz
Vasárnap
:Casa Rosa (Botafogo), ahova este7kor érdemes menni, mert helyi samba zenekar szórakoztatja az arra járót este 10ig, s egy pár extra Reiasért még Fejoadat is lehet enni, amiről mindenki csak áradozik. Este 10 után két teremben is zene megy, amire rophatja  a klubb apraja, s nagyja. Belépő 7 előtt 15 Reias, 7 után 20 Reias, Fejoada-val 28 Reias.

 

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Rio de Janeiro ‘To do’s – Beaches

Our first beach experience was near Pao de Azucar, the beach called Praia Vermella (The Red Beach). It was within walking distance from our hostel in Botafogo and we had heard it was small, quiet and lovely, so we thought we’d start our beach hopping with that.

And oh, happy we were we did! It felt so good being there, not only because it was quiet and not crowded, but it had such a unique feel about it…. It was surrounded by hills and the sand was unlike any others we’ve seen (I know this is the 237th time I say this, but it’s really true) it looked and felt like smashed quartz and it did not stick to our skin at all. What else could you desire from sand?:)

The next beach we checked out was Ipanema beach, the locals’ favorite and the one everyone seemed to be going crazy about. We wanted to see what was so special about it, and we soon found out: 1USD for using the public toilet, plenty of gringos (foreigners) around and also plenty of thieves waiting only for one moment of carelessness to part you from your valuables.

Unfortunately we had first hand experience with theft. Except for Boca’s little camera, we did not take any other valuables or important documents with us to the beach; we just had some cash we needed for the day. Silly, careless and not thinking too much, we kept all of it in one of Boca’s pouches… and at some point discovered the pouch was no more. It had simply dissapeared and we had no idea when and how it had happened. We were upset at first and beat ourselves up for being so careless despite knowing better. Boca was the most upset as she had been carrying that pouch with her everyhwere for the past five years and it had a strong sentimental value for her. But as we had learned so well during our development over the past 2 years, and especially over the past 5 months, every experience we have carries with it a lesson, so after analysing what we had to learn from this we were ready to let go of the beating ourselves up and of the things we had lost… and after a 20 minutes walk on the beach, Boca was ready to let go of her pouch as well :).

The next thing to worry about was how we were going to get back home with literally no penny in our pocket. We were looking at a two hours walk or more. We were starving and tired and walking two hours was the last thing we wanted to do… but did we have a choice?? As we were leaving the beach I was holding the last piece of our food (a pack of waffles) in my hand. We passed by this fella’ lying on the sand… he was gathering empty cans to take for recycling and he seemed tired and hungy as well. He looked at us and asked for the waffles… we all looked at the man, then looked at each other and easily recognised we all had the same look on our faces, the same decision in our eyes. I handed the man the walfes. He grabbed the pack and starting gulping them up. We swallowed… nothing (as there was nothing left for us to swallow), but felt our hearts growing nevertheless, being certain we had done the right thing.

As we stepped on the side walk and put our slippers on I saw some things shinning near our feet. We gathered around 50 cents from the floor. Not nearly enough to pay for our bus fare home (7.50 Reais for the 3 of us), but a lovely confirmation that we had indeed done the right thing.

We started on the way home still able to crack jokes about the day and what had just happened, and at some point saw two police men in front of us, standing by their car and scrutinizing the surroundings. We instantly had an image in our mind of being escorted back to the hostel in a police car, and we could not contain our giggles. We kind of suspected they could not leave their post, but thought of asking for some help anyway, as we’ve been taught well by our parents that there ain’t no harm in asking.

So I approached the two men and in broken Portuguese I explained to them what had happened at the beach, that we have no penny in our pocket and needed to make our way back to Botafogo. They kept nodding and did not flinch when they heard of the theft, as if they were used to hearing this a million times a day. After describing our situation I asked if they could tell us what the shortest way to walk home was. Without thinking much, one of the policemen stepped right in the middle of traffic (obvioulsy bringing it to a sudden halt) and stopped a bus right there, in the middle of the very busy road. He asked the driver if he was going to Botafogo, then signaled us to get on the bus. He instructed the driver to take us to the hostel, bid us goodbye, got back to the sidewalk and let traffic continue its course. It took us a while to process what had just happened, but only a second to start feeling like VIPs: all the people on the bus were staring at the 3 gringos who got a free bus ride home after the police had brought the traffic to a halt in the process. That’s probably not something one gets to see every day… We suspect, at least.

It’s quite easy to understand why we never felt the need to go back to Ipanema after that. In all honesty, we didn’t really see what was so special about it and we had no desire to return to the crowd there. We instead went to finally check out the once famous Copacabana beach and found out we liked it much more than Ipanema. This came as a surprise, as pretty much all the other travelers we had met had told us Copa was not nearly as good as Ipanema these days and they didn’t enjoy it there at all. We never really understood why, but we didn’t bother much about figuring that out and just enjoyed being there instead.

Our favorite activities there (besides lying under the sun with a good book in our hands) were: playing beach volleyball, doing some excellent people watching, walking the whole length of the beach after sunset and watching the cariocas and gringos playing sports, chilling with a beer or caipirinha, talking and laughing out loud, listening to live music and singing along too. They were awesome days and evenings, they were!

We checked out three other beaches: Leblon, a very posh beach in a very posh part of Rio. We found the people there to be very different, more high class and much more fit as well. It was so interesting to observe the difference! The other beach was Flamengo, just for a morning, it seemed much more chillaxed and we really enjoyed it. Lastly there was Leme, just before Copacabana beach. We went there during the Military World Cup Games, so the beach was studded with fit military men from all over the world. Not the typical view for sure :D, but visitors aside we still preferred Copa.

 

In conclusion, there is definitely no scarcity of beaches in Rio de Janeiro! They are not the kind you find in Thailand, but they are pretty impressive for beaches within a metropolis 🙂

 

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Rio de Janeiro ‘To do’s – Nature and city

Pao de Azucar (Sugar Loaf)

The Pao de Azucar is another special hill in the Southern part of Rio, one that is supposed to not only hold good energy, but also offer you another spectacular view of Rio. We had heard the cable car ride up costs 50 Reais, and we thought that was quite expensive for going up a hill (especially that we had been up Corcovado and were told the view was pretty similar). So we decided to skip the going up all the way part, and instead planned a picnic somewhere around the middle, a part you could reach by foot. It’s about half an hour climb and what you get up there is pretty unexpected – not only the great scenery, but the little park set up for the visitors to really enjoy the atmosphere and great energy. There were big benches and chairs all around so you could sit on any of them for a gorgeous view of the water, the shore or the neighboring hill. We went there with Maurice on a Thursday afternoon and had a most lovely picnic of cheese, lettuce, carrots and strawberry jam. Another highly recommended activity!:)

 

Parque Lage

Another place we had heard about since week one but only made it there in the last week or so. It’s near the Botanical Garden and it’s a small but most lovely place, a park that hosts a visual arts school and a café, so the perfect place to spend some quality time reading, writing or having good conversations with friends or strangers. They sometimes have concerts or other events going on in the evenings, you might be lucky enough to catch one.

It’s right near the Botanical Garden so if you’re on a tight schedule it’s a great opportunity to see them both on the same day.

 

Tijuca Forest

The largest urban forest in the world, Tijuca Forest completely took our breath away. We were introduced to it by Daniel, a spectacular person Silviu had met at The Hub Escola, where he was doing music therapy. He offered to take us to some special places he knew about in Tijuca Forest, and the afternoon we spent there together turned out to be one of my most memorable and emotional experiences in Rio. We got to the forest just as it started drizzling, so we found the place so fresh, so lush, so amazing! We listened to Daniel’s beautiful songs, meditated, talked and generally enjoyed each other’s company in that little piece of Heaven. By the time we left it was already dark, and on the way out, as we had no lights with us, we were escorted by armies of fire flies that were shining their little lights on the side of the road. None of us had seen anything like it before, and all we could do was walk in awe and gratefulness we had the privilege of meeting such a person and being met by nature’s perfection.

Make sure you dedicate at least one day to enjoying Tijuca forest. It’s a special kind of something!

 

Santa Teresa, the artistic neighborhood

Santa Teresa is again one of those spots you read about or hear pretty soon after you get to Rio. It’s right near Lapa and the two neighborhoods make for some really lovely places to hang out during the day or evening. They have an artistic and ancient feel about them and walking on the cobblestone pavement while looking at the old houses and the cariocas gathered for a communal barbecue on a Sunday afternoon is a true delight.

Make sure you don’t miss out on the ride with the Bonde, the oldest tram in Rio. It starts every half an hour from near the Carioca metro station, but usually the queue and waiting time are considerable (weekends especially). So what you can do instead is start walking in Santa Teresa and hop on at any point the tram passes by you. Or just walk through the neighborhood until the last stop and then take it on the way back, to Carioca. The ride costs 60 cents regardless of the distance, and if you’re the lucky one who doesn’t get a seat you will experience the thrill of hanging out the side of the tram as it speeds down the hill. We and Sonia (the lovely lady from Miami we met while waiting in the queue and spent the day with) had a blast doing just that!

 

The city centre

One of the days we hit the city centre and had a great time walking around, hanging out in a local cafe with a glass of Brazilians coffee (that’s right, here coffee is served in glasses instead of cups) and then spent almost 3 hours in the National History Museum. We found it well organised, extremely educational and with a collection of items very illustrative of the times being presented. It’s really a well worth visit, we think!

 

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