My parents drove us to the airport Saturday afternoon. I hugged them goodbye and told them I loved them (something I've NEVER done) and hopped on an initial 15 hour night flight from Sydney to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It wasn't all that bad, we got a dinner (more than I can say for you Jetstar to Japan) and watched Life of Pi on a rather primitive TV but interesting nevertheless. We met a lovely older couple who were sitting next to us and struck up a conversation. They were both nurses, one was Italian-Chilean, the other Phillipino. They were on their way to Antartica for a 10 day trip with their daughter. I felt like an infant next to them in light of their wealth of travelling experience.
I managed to catch a few hours of broken sleep but I was exhausted. I was super impressed with the airport in Buenos Aires, it was very modern and even had reclining seats.We hopped on a smaller plane that tooks us the four hours to Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil. The little snacks that we got on that flight came all wrapped in a nice cardboard box. It sounds lame but it was lovely, like we were all receiving presents.
|Free wi fi AND reclining seats - thanks Argentina!|
After about 24 hours in transit we finally arrived at 1am to Rio. We had organised the hostel to come pick us up due to the lateness of the hour. Rio airport was a little dingy and initially fueled the freak out which I fondly call the 'Oh shit, what have I got us into' moment. It was compounded by the fact that our driver drove like an absolute maniac, didn't appear to actually stop at any of the red lights, pumped out Shania Twain as loud as he could from his video console (that part was actually kind of funny).
The night staff at the hotel were just awful. They couldn't find our booking, got us into a room where one of the beds were already taken so Kevin just took a spare bed in the room (he then got subsequently kicked out of his bed at 4am by someone who had been given that bed and we had to share a single). Plus bathrooom door was the shittest piece of wood ever and took a good 2 minutes of pushing before it went it anywhere.
So from 2am - 6am I was miserable. I looked to Kevin and thought 'Look at what I've done to us, dragging us into this mess, what have I done?!? God I love him so much'. This mental ranting is not my usual style but at that point I've had a total of 3-4 hours sleep over the past 24 hours so things got pretty insane up in there.
In the light of day things got better. Much better. We got some free breakfast from the hostel and the sun began to shine. Our booking got sorted by the much friendlier and more competent day staff of Che Legarto, Impanema and we were put into a better dorm room with only 4 other people and a beautifully working toilet door. Ah, life's simple pleasures. Even running on no sleep we decided not to waste the day and walked the two minutes down to Ipanema Beach. It was a Sunday and EVERYONE was out. On Sundays they close half the roads along the beach for the public so people were out on bikes, skateboards, rollerblades and their wheelchairs, just enjoying the sun.
My spirits were picking up. I loved the spirit of Rio. People had so much confidence. There were old women in their bikinis jogging, very large men in speedos riding bikes. No one gave a shit. It was awesome. The beach stretch on for ages and on one side was a large moutain, with its top mysteriously shrouded by cloud. To the side we could see the Favela's or shanty town. Large teradactyl looking birds flew above. I have NEVER seen anythinhg like it. It was magical.
We then caught the 40 minute bus from Ipanema to statue Christo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer). There were two options there. We could catch the tram up or catch a taxi and then the official bus. Though more expensive (about AUS$24 per person) we thought the tram was an easier and nicer option. It was crazy busy and there was a line and a crowd for everything. It was hot. But it was worth it. Once we got up there it was like a stairwell to heaven. You get good views in Australia but this view was breathtaking. With JC (Jesus Christ) blessing us from above and the clouds and all of Rio below us, I felt light and giddy. This is what I came for. This is the end point of all the effort we had put in and yet it was only just the beginning. And it's only been the first 24 hours.
|This crazy girl stood up on the ledge, butterfly to the right|