It took us a bit of time to put the finishing touches on it (not to mention upload the 1GB video using Bolivian Internet...), but feast your eyes on a trip summary of the first few weeks of the journey! This covers Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to El Calafate, Argentina.
A couple of shots from yesterday, including:
Sandra got aggro this morning and decided we were to wake up early and go for a run. By the time our athletic dressing rituals were complete, it was around 9am and a balmy 29 degrees Celcius. There's this nice inland lake we'd been told about. It's in our general vicinity, and it's called Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. We decided we'd head for that!
Side note: I just checked to see if "Freita" was Portugese or Spanish for "fresh" because that rang a bell in my head. It's not. That's "fresco". So he wasn't Rodrigo the Freshest. Shame. Cool name.
So we start our run off and things are looking good. It's very... very hot out. But somehow it's working. The run is fairly tree-covered and shady for the first little bit. Around kilometre 3, we get onto a big open stretch with a full-on sun blast. I start sweating profusely from my forehead.
Said sweat carries a torrent of sunscreen I had liberally applied to my forehead directly to my retinas. It burns. It would help if it wasn't so bright out, but I wisely opted to cut weight on the trip by only bringing a "fashion" pair of sunglasses and not bringing the additional pair of "running" sunglasses. So now there's a pasty white guy running along the lakeside with tears streaming down his face, squinting so hard he can barely navigate the path, and audibly heaving with exhaustion. We turned around shortly thereafter and returned home to our hostel. By the end up the run things had warmed up nicely to 31 degrees. Insult to injury.
Home means nice cold showers. Invigorated, we decided to book our next destination (Iguacu Falls). It's a long way away and there's seemingly not much of interest in between where we are and where it is. So we're opting to fly there at greater expense to us but massive time/sanity savings (it's a 22 hour bus ride). Upon clicking the "Yes, Gol Airways, I agree to your price" button I was met with a helpful screen saying my credit card was declined. OK, maybe it's the US Dollar Visa I'm using. Try the Canadian one. Declined. Now my reservation has "gone through" but payment failed, so I get a screen saying I have to follow up with them by phone.
First order of business is to allay my fears that our credit cards are now locked. I'd love to call TD Canada Trust, but I don't have a phone. Well... I have a phone with no SIM card. I'd get a SIM card, but I don't have a Brazilian CPF (a citizen card). There are ways around this, but nothing immediate. So: download Skype onto the laptop, it is! Call TD.
"Yes, I'm in Brazil."
"OK, let me just put a note on here that you're travel-- Oh. There's a note on here that says you're travelling. Already. Not sure why this happened. I'll add another note."
"Great. Please stop locking my cards."
Now it's time to call the airline to get the payment to go through. I give the agent my record locator. He finds the record, but says the reservation has been cancelled because payment didn't go through. Call me surprised. He asks for the flights we planned on taking. I tell him the flights. He arranges it all and then quotes me a price $30USD higher than my original one. I ask why there's a price difference and he explains that it's because the website may offer promotions unavailable over the phone. OK, I'll just start the whole process over again on the website.
I set up the entire reservation afresh on the website. It now quotes me the same, more expensive price I was just quoted on the phone. The price has been changed on me during this ordeal.
I am enraged. I spew forth a myriad of expletives. After trying to decide what to do next, clearing my browser cookies and cache (you can't track me, airlines!), a random "Refresh" of the browser appears to net me the lower price once again. We're booked. And happily, we have a fun AirBnb to stay in that's made up of shipping containers.
Oh, and we went to Ipanema and Copacabana beaches today. You're now singing one of two songs in your head. It took a forever long time of walking and we were suitably dehydrated by the end. We jumped in the ocean and bodysurfed a tad. We were the whitest people on a beach that appeared to have on the order of two hundred thousand people on it. Straight up. We watched rollerbladers skate stylistically through those little toy pylons without knocking them over. I was offered cocaine by an umbrella salesman. Can't make that one up. We ate the cheesiest mozzarella pizza at a bar called Garota de Ipanema -- the bar where Jobim was inspired to write the song "The Girl From Ipanema". If you weren't singing it before, you surely must be now! And then we walked home and collapsed. After Sandra's lovely dinner of soup, salad, and grapes! Pictures to follow at some point...
Tomorrow we find Christ. The Redeemer.
We've made it through a full day in Brazil! With all of our limbs intact!
Today we walked and walked and walked. We started with a breakfast at our hostel. In this case, their breakfast consisted of... grilled cheese. With option of banana. Hey, I'm a huge grilled cheese fan, but I'm not sure you can say you offer a breakfast if it's basically one option. I shouldn't be complaining: it was pretty tasty.
We decided we'd wander to Sugar Loaf Mountain. It's a big hill with a cable car that goes all the way up. You'll see in the shots below some nice graffiti and harbour sights along the way. Once at the base of the hill, we decided to hike up Urca Mountain. It's stage one of the two-stage cable car. They only let you walk up the first one, but then you have to pay to continue (at full price, no less!). Given that the price was a bit steep (nice) we thought the view was probably just about as good from the first hill as the second. It took us a whole whack of time to wander over there and up the hill, so between that and drinking water we mostly ate up a day. At the end of the day, we had very dirty feet. You will see this in the pictures.
'Twas very hot today. Around 40 degrees Celcius at the peak. These temperatures force one to drink a lot of water. But it's better than the Ontarian super-cold, so we're alright with it.
Here are some things we saw today:
That's all for now! We've included more pictures.
We're experimenting with taking some of our still photos using the GoPro (it's so nice and small we can easily carry it around and not worry so much about "el muggings"). Still photography isn't necessarily its strong suit, but it's no slouch! See if you can pick out which are which (GoPro vs. iPhone).
Well, we made it safely here! Flight was fairly uneventful. City bus took a dog's age to get us kinda-sorta-close to where our hostel was. Then we wandered with our bags to catch a cab to take us the rest of the way. Checked in, went out to grab some groceries and had a small meal at a nearby restaurant. We're actually on day 2 here, but Sandra's hungry and wants to eat post haste so I figure I'll just pop a couple of "here's us packing" shots on here from before we left and come back and add another post later to add the real goods. So here's us packing. Doesn't look like a year's worth of stuff, but it sure does feel like it when you're trying to cart it around on your back.
Oh, and just to make you suckers back in Canada jealous, I've also included the incredibly varied weather forecast over the next couple of days. Summary: it's hot and sunny. Sorry.
Also, here's a tip you'll need for the future of this blog: click on the first picture to open up a gallery and then just go through the photos. The little thumbnails here will do ugly things like cut off Sandra's beautiful face. But then you can see her in all her glory with a single click, so I'd recommend that approach.