Saturday, December 10, 2005

spanish is not portugese

hey folks -

first week here in rio, and i can´t complain. the weather was a little cloudy and rainy for the first few days, but it´s been sunny, warm, and about 80 degrees the last few days - optimum for beach. i´m learning first hand that portugese is not the same as spanish, and definitely not the same as spanglish. for those of you that have been to rio before, can attest to how beautiful a city it is. the ocean and bay meet the mountains and rainforest, with rounded granite peaks popping up along the atlantic. pretty spectacular. places i´ve been so far have been the corcovado (the peak with the big tall jesus looking over the city). great views up here with god looking over your shoulder.....i think that´s a good thing. there are a several peaks that you can climb, all offering great views of the city...or you can be like my lazy ass, and take a taxi up. also, went hangliding for the first time flying over rio. it´s a great rush. you run down a ramp with a guide and you attached to the glider, and then all of a sudden the thing takes off and you hear a big whoosh as you start to soar. if the buddhists are right, i´d like to reincarnate back as a bird..preferably not a pigeon. i´ll post pics as soon as i figure out how.

rio de janiero is pretty much all about the beach. on a sunny day, all beaches are mobbed. and as you´ve heard, the women wear dental floss for bikinis. i guess there´s a reason why it´s called a brazilian wax. a lot of guys wear the speedo banana hammocks, but not as much as i thought. i´m staying in ipanema and there´s a good amount of surfers there, so that might be way a few of the fellas have boardshorts on.

the most enlightining and perhaps best thing i´ve done so far is the favela tour. you go up into one of the favelas (slums up in the hill - think ´city of god´but even more crowded. about 20% of rio is favelas, and some of them are right up against the rich neighborhoods or houses. a guide takes you through narrow walkways with clay brick shantytowns built one on top of the other. you learn how the entire favela is run by drug dealers, and how there are scouts set up all around who light firecrackers to warn when the police are coming in. i didn´t see any of the scouts, but they definitely saw us. there´s crap in the paths (mostly dog i think) and the houses are built right on top of each other. the one i went to known as rocincha has about 200,000 people living there. the great thing is that everyone we encountered were super nice and friendly. we visited an artist studio where you could purchase stuff and the best part was visiting a pre-school that was built mostly from tourist dollars visiting the favelas. it was good to see some of my money being put to good use. the kids in the preschool were sleeping but as soon as we walked in, they started jumping on us wanting to be carryed around, have their photo taken and just generally play. the unfortunate thing, is that this oasis in the slum was only such a small percentage of the entire favela. the favela is such a tight crammed space, but most of the people who live here come from the countryside seeking better opportunities. they´re most of the service workers and they live close by so that they don´t have to travel long distances to go to work. if you ever happen to go to rio, make sure to donate some money for some of the building projects.

the famous rio nightlife meets up to the hype. went to a club a couple nights and a samba bar last night. it was pretty cool, especially since there were only a handful of westerners at the places. although trying to talk in portugese can be quite a challenge. the only bad thing so far about brazil has been it´s more expensive than i thought with the value of the dollar going down....fucking bush. anyway, i´m putting myself on lockdown tonite and tomorrow since going out can be quite pricey. i´m excited to head to argentina next month if not for anything, it´s a lot cheaper from what i´ve heard from other hostellers. i´m a bit hungover right now, so my sentence structure and thoughts are a little retarded. must go to beach now (sorry if it´s cold right now wherever you are) before heading up to santa teresa, an old bohemian neighborhood on a hill in rio.

ciao ciao


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