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Rio3Rio de Janeiro was the city where I ended my seven month trip, and perhaps that is why I feel I have unfinished business with the place: I didn’t feel like it was really time to leave. Or, maybe it was any of these reasons:

1. When booking our ticket we thought “Great! August! Summer!”.... This was in the Southern Hemisphere; it was winter when we got there.

Yes, we didn’t really think about that whole tricky hemisphere thing. I mean, you’d just assume Brazil would be warm, wouldn’t you? Well, it’s not. We had two days of sun during which we sat on the beach sipping coconuts and praying we’d get tans (we didn’t) so that we wouldn’t have the embarrassment of returning home after our epic journey with the same pasty skin we left with (we did). Also most of the major sights in Rio (going up Sugarloaf Mountain, seeing Christ the Redeemer, paragliding onto Copacabana Beach) require sunlight and clear skies. Hence, we slipped into living a life of luxury...

2. I didn’t get a full Brazilian Wax.

So, instead of being cultural, we thought “When in Brazil...” and went to a nearby salon. But then... it just looked painful. So I wimped out and didn’t go the whole hog. This trip to the salon marked the beginning of...

3. We finally snapped from months of tight budgeting and, with the end in sight, went mad.

Not only did we spend all our remaining money at Ipenema market and on far too much food (we not only returned home pale, but also fat). Feeling depressed, we decided to treat ourselves. And that’s how we found ourselves sipping drinks Rio2inside the iconic Copacabana Palace Hotel with the rich and famous. Not only this, but after hours of demanding to be brought more complimentary snacks by the disgruntled-looking waiters, we snuck into the hotel to look around. Upon leaving, we decided to visit the next door H. Stern jewelery shop. Here we were promptly mistaken for guests and offered a free transfer to and tour of the H. Stern diamond headquarters, which we accepted.

The next day we got all dressed up and accepted our chauffeured taxi to the HQ, where we got shown around and then allowed to try on diamonds in a private consultation before being asked if there was anything we’d like to have put aside (there wasn’t). Then we were offered a free transfer to anywhere we liked, and so...

 

 

4.  We stooped to new lows.

 

Rio4We took the free transfer to the posh Leblon Shopping Centre and watched the new Harry Potter film. Also, we snuck into another hotel, where we had a friend staying waiting for her family to arrive the following day, and not only abused their room service and spa facilities but also stole leftover room service deliveries people had left in the corridors to have taken away. I wish I was lying.

Sadly the extent to our traveling failure does not end here.

5. Our crazy nights out on the Rio party scene didn’t go... as planned.

When we went to the infamous Lapa Street Party, it rained. And then street children tried to mug us. Also, we didn’t visit Rio at Carnival time, so instead Rio1we went to a practice which was cool, expect one friend got so drunk I had to escort her home in a taxi. To make matters worse, she passed out and couldn’t tell us the apartment she was staying in with a friend, so we got to her road, the non-English speaking taxi driver asked where we’d like to stop, and all I could do was give him a helpless look.

This is the point where I very easily could have been unceremoniously dumped half an hour away from my hostel in an empty street with an unconscious girl, but luckily my driver was lovely and asked where my hostel was. At this point I realized I already didn’t have enough money on me to pay him what was on the meter. He waved this aside. I couldn’t remember my exact hostel address. He handed me the satnav and helped me find it. He drove us the extra twenty minutes, then helped me carry her safely out the taxi, and watched us safely inside. This man was a saint. Unfortunately my hostel had a strict “no guests allowed” policy so I had to sneak Unconscious Friend in by pretending she was my other friend, and giving her Other Friend’s bed. Never mind sneaking her out again in the morning...

So there you have it. I need to go back to Rio, and do it right this time!

©Leah Eades

Published in inept

Chip Albright is a self-described modern day explorer from a small town in rural Ohio. Inspired by a passion for the environment and a desire to see the world, Chip left his studies at Hocking College early to travel through Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and eventually South and North America. He's funded his travels with a variety of different jobs -- from farming, to waiting tables, to working on a prawn boat off the coast of Western Australia for eight months-- whatever it took to get to his next destination, and he has no plans on stopping anytime soon.

 

Published in interview
Monday, 26 April 2010

Mas Economico Bus

I have the gracefulness of a two-legged donkey. I blame this on the fact that I was born two months early and cross-eyed. They correlate. I was born with the primordial hand-eye coordination of a baby having missed essential belly time– thus, my cross-eyed ungainly self. As I am now 5´8¨ (praise my mother’s sagacity in gorging me with whole milk for the eighteen years I resided in her house) and an elephantine beast in 96% of countries worldwide, I consider myself a fairly impervious force.

Published in inept

You arrive in the surprisingly bustling city of Tena, Ecuador after an incredible week spent in the Galapagos Islands.  Tena is the last major outpost before a hundred or so miles of jungle and then Peru. Bisected by rivers, the town hosts five different Adventure Travel Operators offering tours that all seem to be interesting and perfectly fun.  You:

A) Sign up for one of these tours.

B) Decide to go a different direction by renting a bike and trying to find a lagoon along the Rio Anzu (recommended by a local), using a map drawn on a napkin.

Published in inept

I had been traveling alone through South America for three weeks when I awoke the morning of my 20-hour bus ride from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, to Salta, Argentina, with a throbbing headache and transported myself to the bus stop more slowly than my brain deciphers long division.

Published in individual
Sunday, 28 September 2008

Itching for Ingapirca

I had to get out of Cuenca. The six days of entrance exams (prospective students at my language school had to take an oral/written placement test prior to course registration) that I had just endured left me exhausted. I couldn’t bear to look at another language book or study guide – I needed a break. In my desperate search for a sound mind, I set out that Saturday morning in early January with two goals set before me: leave behind the frustrating Christmas vacation duties at Centros de Estudios Interamericanos (CEDEI) and make my first trip to the Cañar province. The Cañar province was a tiny, mountainous region just north of Cuenca. It held Ecuador’s most notable set of ruins, Ingapirca, and I was more than ready to make the trip.

Published in interchange
Tuesday, 12 February 2008

"Whine" Potosi

While traveling, you end up doing many things that are exciting and fun only in recollection. After the wounds have been licked shut and the pain in your lungs does not feel like a knife through the chest anymore - only then can you say with a straight face that you would do it all over again.

Published in inept
Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Someday I'll Learn

Some things don’t require planning: life’s surprises, in fact, often trump schedules. Or at least that is the philosophy that has pervaded my existence thus far. I inherited impulsiveness from my family: we arranged vacations two days before we took them, and bought our Christmas trees on December 24th.

Published in inept
Thursday, 12 April 2007

Flea Market Pup

I had decided against going to Cuenca, but then Vince told me he had just arranged a ride with his neighbor, Oswaldo, in the back of a vegetable truck leaving Saraguro at 4 AM the next day. He was heading there in search of a turkey chick, and had plans to fatten that bird for a home-style feast come Thanksgiving in the jungle. Turkeys are somewhat rare in Ecuador, but Oswaldo was bound for one of the larger markets in Cuenca, and it had been reported anything could be found there, save the homemade shotguns sold much further north in Saquisili.

Published in interchange

We began our journey deep into Patagonia from Carretera Austral with a three-and-a-half-day journey past fjords and glaciers on NavimagNavimag is a large barge that carries all the supplies down to the southern part of Chile.  The trip used to be solely for transport, but occasionally backpackers would hitch a ride until it became so popular that the company built many cabins where there used to be cargo; now their business is largely a tourist enterprise.  It is the cruise for those who can’t afford to cruise.

Published in in-depth
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