Having spent three and a half weeks in Brazil, I feel its justified to cover the place in two posts. Normally I would veer away from doing this, particularly as I have managed to lap the country three times and so, seemingly, there is much to write about. And there is. It was a good thing that Brazil turned out to be an assault on all my high expectations anyway, I really have had little time to miss Argentina apart from the sense of familarity.
Liv needed to fly home from Rio on June 14th and Rakan two days after on some crazy flight plan that involved twenty hrs up in the air and in airports so he could get to La Paz. Therefore it was in everyone´s interests to stop off at Florianopolis on the way north of which we had heard really good things. It was nice to head north as well, to warmer climbs. Yes, I have become a spoilt Brit who chases summer.
Probably the most notable difference was the language on getting to Brazil. Suddenly strangers spoke to me and I could make out about 30% of what they were saying at best and only the palabras that were similar in Spanish. It was pointed out to me later that speaking Spanish back would only cause offence even though I thought it was going to be more useful than talking English. I could inevitably made myself look like the uneducated gringo who thought the whole of South America had no diversity in culture, people or language if I continued in Spanish. So I tried to drop it.
Florianopolis (or ´fuck off obelisk´) was an absolute gem of a place, an ´island´ though still accessible by land. It boasts white sands that drew me to Brazil-huge waves, coconuts, lazy days and great parties. Who cared that we were out of season- if you don´t know a place when its busy, you are less likely to miss any buzz its lacking. We stayed in Brazil´s fifth best hostel which had towering climbs and beautiful views over the lagoon and partied. And we were joined by a second person, a girl named Jen and as we were all making the same trail to Rio, we went on together.
The journey was about eighteen hours and we all made the decision to avoid Sao Paulo (the biggest city in the south hemisphere) as it was said it had great nightlife and that was it. Better than Rio de Janerio? Probably not.
We stayed at a hostel recommended by numerous friends called Books. Books isn´t in the Lonely Planet and I do not know why. As soon as we arrived, I knew it was going to be magnet and I would stay there for ages. Books was probably the hostel I made the most friends at, had the best location (five minutes from the Lapa steps) and had Felipe. Felipe was the owner of Books. When it is said you meet amazing people on the road, Felipe is the epiphany of that backpacker saying. I can´t really write why but can only give examples. His philosophy is amongst the most well intentioned, thought provoking and educating I have ever read. When Rakan´s foot got infected and he needed medical attention, Felipe took him to a hospital, spending numerous hrs and then took him back to his mum´s house when Rakan was treated like an additional son. When friends of mine ran into money issues, he did everything he could to make sure they could still get to Ilha Grande which took an enormous amount of trust in them, all for their well being. Apart from that, Felipe was always around for banter so much that when all my travelling crowd left (which had grown to about eight of us) he took it upon himself to make me find friends so those blues did not get to me so much.
Rio was an absolutely amazing city! I feel like I am addicted and I need to get back A.S.A.P. Lapa was a fusion of art, culture, music, coconuts, had great links to the famous beaches of Ipanema and Cocabamba. It was also one of the safest parts. One night, we went to a favela party, a party in the slums. Though this is a dangerous thing to do, we were in a warehouse and I really enjoyed myself, dancing all night to the famous Favela music and getting catastrophically wrecked. I could not even get up to do Christ the Redeemer with Liv, Rakan and Jen the next day.
We left for Ilha Grande, an island about four hrs away from Rio with the intention of returning within two days. The best thing Ilha Grande boasted was the seventh best beach in the world Lopez Mendez which had huge Atlantic rollers. However, shit weather set in and we went back to Rio.