1. Sleep. If you can. I suggest ear plugs, eye mask, a good pillow.
2. Read. I read an entire book and probably couldve read another two.
3. Eat. Pack snacks and water. I wished I had brought some booze too, wouldve helped with achieving point 1.
4. Chat. If you’re with fellow travellers this is easy, if you’re alone try speaking to the locals. At one stop a local started chatting to us but in Portuguese and despite our blank looks and attempts to tell him we didn’t understand, he kept chatting away anyway.
5. Write. I did a bit but because there were no folding tables it was all written on my lap and now I can’t even read it myself.
6. Plan the rest of your trip. I had some long discussions in my head about where I would like to go next. It made me rather anxious so I didn’t do this for too long.
7. Trying to find the most comfortable position. In between the sleeping, eating and chatting you are constantly trying to be comfortable. Legs out, legs crossed, left side, right side, arms up, arms crossed. It was rather futile because no matter how much you try you’re never going to be comfortable anyway.
8. Sing. Even if it annoys others, its something to take your mind off the time and the numbness in your legs.
9. Clean out your bag. Sand, tickets, wrappers, old receipts, This took a good hour or so.
10. Watch the scenery. Much of the scenery is the same; farmland, town, farmland, town. Some of it the same as back home, and every now and then you’ll see something interesting, like a very thin horse or children playing soccer barefoot.
As the bus winds its way through the Brazilian countryside, the pain in my lower back becomes almost too much to bear. My feet are cramping and the base of my neck feels as if it has been wrung out to dry. About five hours in, I realise this bus ride was no longer fun. I still had 20 hours to go.
I turn to my right. My travel partners looked in similar pain. The locals didn’t seem to mind. I reach down to the lever in the hope that my seat would lie flat further. Nope. I was stuck in a semi angle that was neither sitting or lying down.
Eventually I close my eyes and try to sleep. I’m offered maybe twenty minutes. I look at the time. 19 hours to go. Sip of water. Toss and turn. Close my eyes. Day turns to night and the same routine continues. Toss, turn, water.
Arriving at Foz de Iguacu felt like a small victory. My sanity was still intact and I congratulate myself for surviving my first long haul bus ride. We cross the border into Argentina effortlessly and arrive weary and hungry at our hostel. The bus adventure now behind us and the excitement of seeing new sights swept over us. Within half an hour of arriving, we were tucking to a juicy argentinian steak and sampling the local beverages. It was a vast improvement on the bland flavours we had in Brazil and much needed nourishment after a long 26 hours on the road.
Puerto Iguazu is a small town, a far cry from the madness and city lights of Rio. I was instantly relaxed and had already decided to stay a few extra nights in order to delay another long bus ride to wherever we were heading to next. Our muscles finally thanked us for a good nights sleep that night.
The next morning we set off on our first trip to the falls. A bus ride and short walk later, I was greeted with a phenomenal site. My senses overloaded; the thunderous roar of the falls, the fresh smells of the rainforest and seeing masses upon masses of water gushing over the cliffs that stretched across the horizon, the mist in the air rising above. The power, size and sheer energy of the falls were breathtaking.
Walking along the many tracks offers beautiful views of the falls, from the top and below. We also experienced it up close on a speedboat which took us in and under the falls, leaving you soaking wet but instantly energised and refreshed. Our first day was dampened by heavy rain and we returned the next morning to see the Garganta del Diablo, which turned out to be a highlight. The energy and size of the ‘Devils Throat’ is incrediblle and unexplainable. Unfortunately as my camera was not waterproof I wasn’t able to get photos up close.
Tonight is our last night in Iguazu and tomorrow I head for Buenos Aires. Every night we’ve been enjoying our Argentinian steaks, and last night we went to a Parilla restaurant and was being entertained by a local flamenco guitarist who impressed us by playing with his teeth 🙂
My espanol hasn’t really improved, everyone here speaks English but I’m slowly getting there with some basic terms and in BA I will book into a language class. For now, I think my most used term so far has been ‘una cerveza por favor’ !
All photos in this post were taken by the author and subject to copyright.
I didn’t have high expectations for this city. Brazil wasn’t meant to be part of my itinerary, it was simply a jumping off point to get to Argentina.
I was in for a rude suprise. The last week has shown me this was a city with a rich culture and high energy from the favelas (slums) to the modern city centre, beaches, forests, street parties, dancing – Rio is incredible and I’ve fallen madly in love with its attitude.
In the last week I’ve spent lazy days at Ipanema beach, where you go not to just sunbathe, but also people watch. Its also fair to say that the brazilians are ever so confident in bikinis, no matter what size they are. On the beach, various vendors sell their wares (mainly food), including the amazing Acai, an iced slushie-type drink that is deliciously good. The locals will spend all the day at the beach – eating, sunbathing, playing soccer, dancing.
When not at the beach, brazilians love a good party. The famous Lapa street party is the place to be on a Friday night. Lapa is a district full of history, charm, culture and nightlife (its also renowned for crime). On a Friday the people of Rio pack its streets for dancing, food, and drinking. The atmosphere is buzzing, and people from all walks of life come together to simply just have a good time. During the day, Lapa (and Santa Teresa, the posh hillside neighbourhood above it) is a feast for the eyes with its graffiti-stained walls, working tram, cobble-stone streets and colonial architecture.
One of the main tourist attractions is the Christ Redeemer statue. I was one of the lucky few to be able to go to the top on a magnificent clear day and look down on the city of Rio. The statue itself is simply amazing and I can see why the locals are so proud of it.
Today, I reluctantly say goodbye to Rio and am in for a 23hour bus ride to Iguazu Falls. I’m looking forward to the falls, but not the bus ride!
All photos in this post were taken by the author and subject to copyright.
Its amazing how a situation can change over the course of 7 days. That’s 168 hours, 2,016 minutes and 120,960 seconds. A week ago I was meant to have flown to Sao Paulo to Dubai enjoying my last business class experience on Emirates. In actual fact my last Sunday in Dubai was spent frantically trying to figure out a way to even get to Brazil after I was not issued a boarding pass on aforementioned flight.
Six days ago I was glued to my laptop for 7 hours and managed to sort out a flight to Rio via Paris.
Five days ago I landed in Rio, weary but relieved that I had finally made it. That night I had my first taste of Rio nightlife and the worries from the two days previous were at the back of my mind.
Four days ago I was nursing a hangover, and watched terrible movies in my hostel living room, occassionally having conversations with othe travellers on their travels gone by.
Three days ago I was climbing up to see Christ the Redemeer and taking in the amazing view of Rio that this statue gets to wake up to every day. That night I got another taste of RIo nightlife at the renowned Lapa street party, where I was welcomed into my thirties with true Brazilian style (Samba and capirinha!). Much later that night, I soaked in the twinkling lights of Rio from the balcony of a Santa Teresa hilltop mansion.
Two days ago I spent my birthday at Copacabana beach. And as I sipped on my capirinha and scooped another spoonful of Acai, the stresses from the last week…months…years…were all just distant memories.
And yesterday I was back at Ipanema beach, having yet another tasty Acai and enoying the people watching.
Today I woke up knowing for sure that all things do come to pass. One day you could be at your wits end, the next sipping cocktails on the beach.
And who knows what the next seven days will bring..