Hotel Bandeirantes in Rio De Janeiro.
Greetings from Bolivia, again I must apologise for the delays in writing our blogs, but things have been pretty hectic over the last couple of weeks. Anyway, we have a lot to catch up on, so I shall waste no more of your time.
Following on from our last night in Rio and after a debatable nights sleep in Hotel Bandeirantes, we met up with our new tour group and headed to Ilha Grande. At this point I would like to point out that neither myself or Kevin were informed of the name of hotel before agreeing to stay in it - the name drew unfortunate connotations and we hadn`t been allowed to forget being branded Team Bandit by Alan on our last night out in Rio. We may be getting ahead of ourselves here, but with some of you set to be marrying soon, I would recommend Ilha Grande as a honeymoon destination - the place is staggeringly beautiful and is also a UNESCO site.
Leaving Brazilian mainland to go to Ilha Grande.
With that in mind, Kev made sure the first thing he did when we arrived at our hotel (which looked like something out of hansel and grettel) was block the toilet - thankfully Chris and Richard had toilet paper in their room, so a crisis was averted. On our first morning our tour guide took us on a rainforest trek to what is rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in South America. Fortunately Kev decided that 1 bottle of water would be enough between the two of us - half an hour in, with all the water gone and sweating like Alan Babbage at a secondary school netball match, its fair to say we weren`t looking forward to the next one and half hours. The walk was worth it however, and after dabbling in a bit of wave riding, Chris paid to rent a surfboard, although he didn`t spend much time on it as Rich, being a Kiwi, was a pretty good surfer.
Our toilet in Hansel & Grettel's hostel.
Having seen a good looking girl on another tour, Rich decided that if he were a tour guide, he would make it compulsory that every girl on the tour would have to be taken to dinner on conescutive nights. Back at the hostel we watched a dire world cup match, but it was made significantly funnier when the owner of the hotel, who couldn`t speak a world of english, decided he was going to refer to Kev as Rooney for the whole time we stayed there. Any of you who are considering travelling to Brazil and in particular Ilha Grande could do a lot worse than the Che Lagarto hostel that overlooks the entrance to the island. We went there that evening, and after having a couple of drinks and playing few games of Brazilian pool we retired to bed, although this was not before an intoxicated Brit had gone round pulling up all the potplants at the resort.
Trek through the rainforest.
Next up was Paraty, also a UNESCO site and aesthetically it didn`t disappoint, with the only exception being the weather which resembled Bolton more than Brazil. It was immediately obvious that this was a more commercial town than Ilha Grande, something that was re-inforced with the number of bikini - clad women on view upon our arrival. It is somewhat ironic that in Brazil, the specific piece of female underwear mentioned in the name is rarely worn by the natives - occasionally your eyes are exposed to what bears more than a passing resemblance to two tennis balls bouncing around in plastic bags. This time myself, Kev, Rich and Chris were sharing a four bed room (this information will become relevant in a second) and after checking in, we went out and met up with the Alan, Mike and Ed, who had joined us after a five hour bus journey from Rio.
View from the top of the rainforest.
After a couple of drinks at this bar we were beset by a weird American man who had two pairs of glasses on his head and wanted to give us the low down on the best prostitues in the area. After no-one responded he proceeded to stand on his own for the rest of the evening, ocassionally nodding at us when he saw what he would determine as a prostitute walking into the bar area. When we thought things couldn`t get any weirder an old crackhead women sauntered up to our table selling Ketchup. We told her that Ketchup doesn`t go with beer, although I think someone in the group was a little more direct, informing that she would end up in the sea if she didn`t f*** off. Whilst this had been going on Kev had struck up a conversation with an english brunette and things seemed to be going well, I say seemed because most of us left at about 2am to go to bed.
One side of Ilha Grande's famous beach.
I went to the english guys´ hostel to pick up some clothes and after being chased home by some stray dogs, got to sleep. About an hour later, a very drunk Rich cruised in, informing me and Chris that he had led home Kev and the english girl. Dismayed by the state of our room as a prospective female was about to enter, we tried to spring clean but Kev and the aforementioned ladyfriend entered the room whilst this was in process. After telling the girl that he had sweet shorts on and that he was going for a jog in the morning, Rich passed out through drunkness, I put my iPod in and Chris had to listen to Kev engage in a bit of slap and tickle. After starting the next day with news that somebody had been murdered near our hotel the previous evening, we went Kayaking in one of Paraty´s renowned beaches.
Kev about to explore the other side of the Beach.
The scenery doesn´t require description, but the events do as Kev fell out his kayak and couldn`t kayak because he felt so bad from the night before, I pussied out of the cliff jump and our guide also showed us where Playboy film some of their movies.
Next stop was Foz De Iguassu, home to the world famous Iguassu Falls which by all accounts were the best thing seen up to that point on the tour. After a 24 hour coach journey which included stroking a Sikh man`s beard and almost being knocked off the road by an oil tanker we checked into the Hotel Del Rey, which at the outset appeared luxurious. It was three star, and fortunately me and Kev were put in a room next to a building site, with one double bed and a toilet door that didn´t close.
Paraty - before a lady tried to sell us tomato ketchup.
Emerging from the bathroom after his first shave since Arsenal won anything in football, ´Clean-Shaven Kev´ joined us for lunch at the now standard `by the kilo`restaurant, which are designed to ensure that you consume more food than is humanly possible. Following on from visiting the Brazilian side of Iguassu by helicopter and foot and watching Batman Begins we headed out that evening to what turned out to be a 16 and over night at the local nightclub. Prior to entering the nightclub, Kev fell in love for the 627384949th time this trip with a female singer songer writer who was performing at a bar next to the nightclub, but was aghast to find that she was only 17. This prompted a huge discussion as to how young is too young, and after being labelled as the resident expert on the 18-20 age range, I informed Kev that she was not going to meet certain essential criteria.
Paraty - kayaking 10km.
This advice didn`t appear to deter 25 year old Richard Mason however, as once in the club and after several Gin and Tonics he was passed the email address of the girl he was getting with - email@example.com. To say that he was adamant that she had written it a couple of years ago and was still using it because she didn´t need another one would be an understatement. Back at the hotel, Kev had decided that 4am was the probably the best time to have a conversation with our tour guide. After researching what room she was in, she opened the door and Kev bellowed ´GERRAAAALLLDDDDDIIIIIINNNNE´ in her face which I´m pretty certain woke up most of neighbouring argentina let alone the residents of the hotel. After informing her that breakfast would be at 7.
30 Kev was satisfied with his nights work, but couldn´t resist the temptation to send a few drunken facebook messages from the hotels free internet. We shall see what comes of them....
Foz De Iguazu - standing over Devil's Throat (the highest of the 125+ falls).
The Argentinian and Paraguayan side of the falls was a day long excursion involving trekking, train rides and white water rafting. That said everyone was still game for a consecutive night out upon returning to the hotel. Another Gap Adventure group had arrived at the hotel doing our Rio - Lima trip in reverse and their tour guide had arranged a Brazilian House party with a pool and BBQ. The food was sublime and filling, but the drinking was heavier, particularly on the part of a new girl from the other tour group by the name of Izzy. This 18 year old future Cambridge student had been shotgunned by Kev at the beginning of the evening and he had appeared to be very happy with his work.
I should say at this point that the events that unfolded were influenced to a certain extent by me shouting BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER at the top of my voice everytime I went to get a drink, but she was already well on her way to getting very drunk. Sufficiently intoxicated, and after inventing the single worst dance of all time, Izzy took it upon herself to attempt to grind on each one of us on the makeshift dancefloor. I was learning salsa from an Irish girl when it was clear it that she had locked her eyes on me. Being the gentleman that I am, while she was pacing over towards me with her arms open, I moved out the way of her just as she was about to make contact, and she fell flat on her face. Upon reflection I do regret my actions, because a large percentage of people present laughed at her, however in my defense she was a ticking sick time-bomb and I didn`t want to be the target.
Paraty - Taking a break after the first 5k.
In actual fact it worked out quite well, because from this Martin (who hasn´t been mentioned before) promptly picked her up and started getting on her. Before he knew what he had done he was on the receiving end of a very unco-ordinated lap dance in full view of everyone in attendance. Following this we headed back to the same nightclub we had gone to the night before, but this time it was a normal age saturday night, so Rich wasn`t sure whether he wanted to come or not. After being in there for about 30 minutes 3 Brazilian girls approached me, and as we chatted the rest of the group gathered round to listen to what was on the table; free entrance to VIP and free drinks. After accepting the girls led us off, but not before I had managed to fanny around and find myself at the back of the group as we were walking upstairs. Kev, Rich and Chris were drinking what was provided and just as I was about to enter, I was pulled back by our tour guide who informed me that these girls were only interested in robbing us and taking our money. Naturally, after being jumped in Rio I was a bit apprehensive and decided to hold back as Geraldine explained that this behaviour was common here and after getting robbed we would probably have to pay an extortionate bar bill. However, one of the girls was unbelievable and whilst d***head over here was s***ing himself and putting his card and his loose change in his shoes Chris made and move and was then whisked downstairs to discuss the merits of being English. Rich meanwhile was attempting to explain to a girl that I had been dancing with that his black plimsoles gave him extra response on the dancefloor informing her that `sometimes, when I´m dancing it doesn´t even feel like I have shoes on´. He also attributed these as the reason he had cramp the next morning.
Foz De Iguazu - Boarding the helicopter to fly over the falls.
This part of the blog is being written retrospectively, and at the time of writing I was waiting to take a 12 hour bus that was going to take us to Bonito. In terms of the places visited, Ilha Grande and Paraty are beautiful, but Iguassu Falls is stunning - every person we have met who has visited both these and Niagara says Iguassu is far far better. The moral of the girl in the club story - always assume you know better than your guide!