Experiencing Rio de Janeiro
So yesterday I finally got a taste of the real Brazilian sun and it wasn’t exactly kind on me… I got kinda burnt on my neck and slightly on my arms too. Though I was already kind of black, now I’m really getting closer to that fondant chocolate color. I didn’t think to bring sunblock on that day out since I’m dark skinning, I figured it wouldn’t effect me that much. But today I went to the beach again and tried to even it out a bit, but during my shower just now, I have some really ugly farmers tan on my leg and arms. So on to the last activities, I think the last couple of days I finally did what most people come to Rio for (besides carnaval of course, but more on that later). I did a Lapa night out tour, I visited Sugar Loaf mountain, visited the favelas (little tour from someone who actually lived in one!), hiked up to Christ the Redeemer and visited the Copacobana beach.
Lapa is thé place to be when it comes down to partying with the locals. They actually have some sort of order for the weekend. On friday, everyone just goes out on the street and just dance and enjoy the street atmosphere, there are tons of food and drinks stands. And bars near the area blast their music out to the street. You can hear live samba playing on the street and people just dance and enjoy the music. I thought I had a taste of Lapa nightlife before, but this is just rediculous. Also there is pretty much gays, transvestites, transsexuals, straight and what not running around there. I’ve heard people saying that Brazil or Rio is really open to that and they sure are. I’m not a homophobe or anything but it was quite a culture shock when I first noticed, but as the night went on, I didn’t pay much attention to them. On a sidenote, these transsexuals and transvestites can dance even better than women and are soooooooooo diva. Oh also Brazilian funk is like sex with clothes on. Look it up on youtube. People (yes girls and guys) don’t shake their ass, they’re VIBRATING it! Sorry for the bad quality as it was taken with my smartphone.
I didn’t plan to visit the favela’s in the beginning but since someone from CS was offering a tour, I decided to check it out. A lot of people have a lot of misconceptions about the favelas/slums. As matter of fact, the Brazilian government want to avoid using the world favelas, they want to call them communities instead. And during my tour I did understand why. Eventhough most of the people are poor and the streets are dirty and the houses are small, the people actually have a strong sense of community there. My friends told me that at the beginning when they moved there, they didn’t know how to get things like a stove or bed, they were in a bar when talking about it and people in the bar just spontaneously offered to help them with things. That’s how things are done there apparently, there is no store or paperwork, there’s only word-of-mouth.We went back down from the favelas when it was kind of dark already and there were still some kids playing in the narrow paths. Since the favelas were built on a hill, one of the favorite games of these kids were going downhill. And let me tell you, it was pretty dark and narrow and these kids were just racing down on their bikes and skateboards like it was nothing. I doubt I could even do the same during broad daylight. Much thanks to Fiona and Philipé for a warm welcome in their home and the tour.
Christ the Redeemer & Sugar Loaf mountain
Sugar Loaf mountain and Christ the Redeemer were 2 of the main touristic attractions of Rio and touristic means SHITLOAD of people. Don’t really have much to say about Sugar Loaf, since I took the cable car up there and took some nice pictures of the awesome view. I did enjoy the beach that was at the foot of the mountain though (where I probably got burnt), it was my first time visiting a beach in Rio. Weather was awesome, people were chillin’ and relaxin’ and I enjoyed my fresh coconut with them.Cristo Redentor was another story though. Being the hardcore hiker and adventurer that I am (NOT!), I decided to hike to the peak of the Corcovado where the statue was located. According to wikitravel it was fairly demanding and steep. But they also said that the locals do it and even whole families. And by families I’m imagining kids and grandparents and what not. So it shouldn’t be that bad…. oh boy was I wrong. The first 15 mins were not bad, here and there uphill and straight paths accross some water areas and stuff. But then the hard part starts, the actual climb. They said the hike was going to take 1h30 to 2h, but my phone was out and I had no way of measuring how far along I was. The climb was pretty tough, even for me who’s fairly sporty, but thinking back, I might have had a fast pace. There were 2 people in front of me that started 15-20mins earlier and I actually caught up to them. Go me! Anyhow, I was sweating like a pig when I got to the top and changed into a “fresh” shirt and flip-flops. Like I said before, it was touristy and you could notice it from the continuous mini-vans that were dropping off tourists like a conveyer belt. The top was packed with people from everywhere, mainly Americans though. First thing that came to mind is what my dear friend Toni said: “F**cking giddies”, which means tourists in Catalan/Spanish. At one point, I saw like 5 people doing the pose and taking pictures. So I just snapped some pictures and made my way down to the beach.