Argentina

And as if by magic I am in Argentina, in Puerto Iguazzu to be precise, a town just over the border and close to the Argentina side of the waterfalls. What a transformation! The place is clean, the buildings are in good order, and prices make Brazil seem extortionate! I’ve splashed out on a quality 4 star hotel (13 quid, but is does include a la carte dinner and breakfast) Just got back from a lazy afternoon in an alfresco cafe, where a spag bol and the equivalent of 5 pints of Stella just set me back 3 quid, so excuse the quality of this post!

The falls are absolutely incredible, the size and power they possess is amazing. At the moment the water is fairly high, but not high enough to stop you getting onto any of the dodgy catwalks that lead you right up to them, so it is almost perfect timing. That was just on the Brazilian side, the Argentine side is supposed to be even more eye-opening from what I hear, which is tomorrow’s excursion.

Last night I plumped for a Pizza Rodizio for dinner, but something got lost in the translation and I ended up with the Charruscaria option (spelt correctly now, I think). Fantastic! They spit roast all kinds of meat, and bring it to you fresh from the fire still on it’s skewer, and shave you some off there and then. I must have had 12 servings of meat, each one different, whether beef fillets, ribs, chicken breasts, pork with crackling on, then fillets, etc. You cannot stop the guy from serving you meat, which you eat with veggies and salad and so on that you serve yourself from a bar. It’s a bit like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in that respect. It was of first class quality though, and cost a massive 2 quid (including a huge beer)

So, after tomorrow’s trip out to the falls I have to race back to Puerto Iguazzu, get my bag, get a bus back over the border to Foz, get another bus from there to the long-distance bus station, in time to get the 18:00 bus to Campo Grande up in the tropics. Do you think it’ll work out? Answers on a postcard please…

Posted from Puerto Iguazú, Misiones Province, Argentina.

Foz do Iguaca

In Foz do Iguaca, in what must be surely the cheapest internet caff on the planet, at about 35p an hour. Last night’s coach journey was also fine, a bit of an old bone-shaker coach compared with the last one, but strangely with better seats that convert close to being a flat bed. They didn’t show any films this time, but maybe that is a blessing as I don’t have to stomach “The Matrix Reloaded” in badly dubbed Portuguese like I did on the last one.

Today I went to the Itaipu dam, it’s the largest hydro-electric plant in the world I think. In the process I unwittingly entered Paraguay for a short while, as their tour bus drives you over the dam and back, the border being halfway along. All being well tomorrow I will go to the allegedly spectacular waterfalls, visiting them on the Brazilian side first, then try to move across into Argentina tomorrow night for something different. Reason – I fancy a decent steak 🙂 Then after that I can visit the falls on the Argentine side, then if all works out and with a following wind I’ll get a bus to Campo Grande, which is on the south edge of The Pantanal wetland area in the west of Brazil, and puts me safely back in the tropics and at the mercy of plenty of mosquitoes.

Tossing up on what to do for dinner, my options are torn between a Characuzza (I have spelt this wrong for sure) where they give you a token thing, red on one side, green on the other. You put it green side up and they bring more food to your table, red side up when you’re stuffed. Or there’s a tempting looking Pizza Rodizio, which is along the lines of help yourself to as much pizza as you can cope with and then go outside and puke.

Posted from Foz do Iguaçu, State of Paraná, Brazil.

Florianopolis

The coach journey was actually pretty decent, on time and quite comfortable. The seats are very similar to the old-style British Airways club class seats for anyone that used them, i.e. they recline back a long way and have decent legroom. The bus was only about 1/5th full anyway, so there was plenty of room to spread onto other seats. It would stop about every 4 – 6 hours for you to get off and get some food, stretch your legs etc, the only problem being that you have to guess the length of time that the steward tells you when you get off, as it varies from stop to stop. There was one heart-stopping moment when the coach disappeared off the stand after a few minutes (with me not on it….), but it came back, PHEW! Presumably they took it for fueling or something. Only once did they hit the brakes so hard that everybody ended up sitting one row forwards from where we were, my guess is this is not bad by Brazilian driving standards!

The weather here in Florianopolis is absolutely gorgeous, bright sunshine in cloudless skies, and the beaches are beautiful and bright blue, the only problem is it gets a little cool down here in the evenings, so there’s nobody about at the beaches really. So I decided to stay in town in the end, in a quality hotel that the owner proudly has had in his possession for 44 years (and not touched a thing in that time, evidently, paintwork included. The lift is one where someone has to come in and crank a handle for you to get it to move). The town is nothing that special really, as such I’ve decided to move on and tonight’s bus is just 16 hours to get me to Foz do Iguaca on the Argentinian border. Today I played the “catch a random bus game” and ended up God knows where, but ran into some nice old lady in a bar who told me I needed to eat more (or at least I think that’s what she was trying to say)

I’ve also updated my itinerary – the new details are on the web site. On reflection I’ve decided to cut some time out of Oz and put more of it into SE Asia, I only had 4 weeks there after Bali, and have decided that may be too much of a rush. Now I’ve got closer to 7 I think, which should give me time to do all the countries with ease.

Posted from Florianópolis, State of Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Travel Plans

Taking off tomorrow, hopefully I have a ticket for a bus to Florianopolis, down to the south of here. It’s an 18 hour journey, but is in semi-leito which is somewhere between second class and first class, so hopefully it’ll be OK. Needless to say, it’s CHEAP! 🙂 I say hopefully, as the travel agent could speak virtually no English, so maybe I am actually on a flight to Calcutta. I suppose I will find out tomorrow.

So my last day is going to be spent doing chores, laundry, reorganising the back pack, etc. Tonight I will go up the Pao de Acucar, or the Sugar Loaf, another bizarre mountain which is supposed to be a great spot to watch the sunset from. Then I suppose tonight I will have to go out and party for my last night in town, oh nooooooo!…

Posted from Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Corcovado

Been lead astray my a mate of Morten’s, and living the Rio nightlife. At one point I (English) was with him (Uruguayan) in a club (Mexican) in Rio (Brazilian) drinking Miller (American) and listening to the Cranberies (Irish), so I can say I’ve had a truly international experience. It was also an experience when we crawled out of there at 6:45 am and got a taxi home in broad daylight, but that’s another story!

Yesterday I went up the Corcovado which means “hunchback”, one of these weird tall mountain things, which has the Christ the Redeemer statue on top. You get up there by taking a rack and pinion train which takes you all the way to the top which is remarkable in itself, a journey so steep at times that it’s hard to even stay on your seat. From here you get an awesome view over the city, and I stayed up there to watch the sunset and the city lights come on. Other than that, and a little lying on the beach, most of the days have been taken up with sleeping. Tomorrow I’m aiming to get out of bed by 1pm and get some transportation organised for the next port of call, but we’ll see…

Today’s short day was taken up getting sent from one part of town to another visiting various hospitals and clinics, trying to get these sodding malaria tablets. I’ve decided to give up and rely on the paint-stripping 100% DEET insect repellent that I’ve got. It keeps everything else that lives away, and kills plants that you get too close to, so hopefully that should do the trick.

Dinner time. Curry in my local Irish bar sounds good tonight, I think..

Posted from Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Rain..

Bad day yesterday, felt as rough as old boots in the morning and the weather was total crap, raining steadily all day in true London style. Eventually managed to crawl as far as an Irish bar and cheered for France during the Brazil/France game (not one of my better moves, this….) Today though I am feeling 100 times better than yesterday and the weather has cleared up, so will try and get up the hill later to watch the sunset maybe, there’s this Jesus statue thing, or God or whoever, on a massive tall thin 710 metre mountain in the middle of the city. It’s supposed to be a great view.

The day before I took a trip up to the downtown area, a strange place with a mixture of old churches and buildings dotted about between the sky scrapers, a bit like the City of London really I suppose. I wasn’t over-impressed with the actual sightseeing up there, to my surprise, but did look around a very cool market where you can pretty much buy anything for nothing. There was a pretty park too with the weirdest overgrown rat-like things walking about the place, but also a high proportion of tramps and bums, I need to work on my tan a bit more to blend in better i think, but then maybe it was just when they saw the camera as I pulled it out to photograph the rats.

I’ve changed hotels too, this one is down the road, just slightly nearer to Copabana end but much better quality. They even have cable so I can watch something other than Portuguese soap operas, woo-hoo!

Posted from Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Ear Damage

Felt rough when I got back to the hotel again, then a tropical rainstorm came through so decided against “Help” and splashed out 1 pound 20p on a room service meal instead. Nice weather today, just on way to the city sights. By the way, my phone does get signal out here even if not that reliably. Plus the battery seems to be dead, but it might work.

Time to try and obtain illegal drugs – must dash again!

Posted from Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Rio

Slept well and feeling considerably better today, although my ear is still malfunctioning quite alarmingly. As such, still taking it easy today, took a walk along Ipanema beach and then across and dabbled my feet in the sea at Copacabana beach. It turns out that the exchange rate is a whopping 5.5 reais to the pound at the moment, so I will be able to live like a king out here. Now to make some plans for Brazil, part of which hinges on whether or not I can get hold of some anti-malaria pills for the Amazon region. I’d hoped to pick these up in the States but could not without a prescription, so now I am banking on going into a chemist on the street and asking for the appropriate drug name which I found on the internet (how dodgy is this?) otherwise I will have to stay further south.

After getting back from Copacabana I happened upon this internet caff which was full, so had to spend an hour and a half in the street bar next door drinking 1.2 litres of beer for an outrageous 1 pound and 2p. It started raining a bit whilst I was in there – the weather has not been great today, sun, cloud then rain but still mid-20’s – but nobody seems to care that much. I saw about 3 people using an umbrella. Also in Copacabana I came across a club called “Help” which they say is exactly what the name implies, a good friend of mine told me this. I might venture in later for a laugh, depending on how I feel.

Apart from this I’m adjusting to the change of pace. We covered 10,000 miles by road in the States, more or less to a different place every day, whereas now things are primarily on foot or by bus or air with less moving about. I’ve also made my first switch from spring to autumn (not that you’d know according to the weather, but it does get dark around 5:30 here) so that is a change too.

Right, must blow this place.

PS. Thanks for the tip, Morten!

Posted from Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Hello Brazil!

Took the boat out, very posy indeed, and cruised out to moor up for lunch the other side of the bay. Whilst Johana was shopping the 3 of us sat in a Brazilian bar, watching a boat burst into flames, drift for 45 minutes before exploding and sinking. We think they got the people off OK…

So Steve has now gone back to the UK, and I find myself in a hotel in Rio. Taking it easy tonight as I seem to have got some sort of nasty earache/toothache combination which is killing me at the moment. I’m staying at Ipanema beach, just around the corner from the Copacabana. It was fun fighting my way through the touts at the airport, eventually found the bus and befriended a Brazilian geezer who bears an uncanny resemblance to Carlos Rey, who speaks no English but still managed to direct me to the hotel OK.

Off to bed to recover…

Posted from Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Florida

The flight was fairly uneventful, although a bit of frequent flyer residual status ensured that I got a crew rest seat on the plane, which is basically a big cushy fully reclining seat in a private area of the plane, much to the frustration of most of the other passengers. Arrived in Miami and met up with Morten who promptly took me to a local pub for a couple of hours, in sight of the runway so we could see when Steve’s plane landed in, then we went and met him too!

The first night we spent on Morten’s deck drinking copious amounts of wine with his girlfriend Johanna, next day wandered up and down Miami Beach and went out in the evening with Javier, another old Kenan cronie. Next day we headed off to Key West and landed ourselves a great little motel pretty much in the middle of downtown, Steve organised a fishing trip for the following day and myself a two-tank dive onto a wreck. The wind has been up the last few days so the seas were rough, but visibility was still pretty decent underwater and had a good couple of dives, coming across a monster size ray and moray eel just sitting there minding their own businesses. Steve’s boat also had a pretty decent catch, Steve catching some kind of sail fish which is apparently a once in a lifetime event, but declined to fork out the $1000 dollars or so required to have it stuffed and put in a show case…

Hit the town that night, there’s some great bars all around the marina area which we duly crawled around, me lasting only until 2am or so but Steve making it to the full 4am mark. Apart from the wind the weather was nice enough, mostly sunny and about the 87 region, and the humidity wasn’t as bad as it could have been, maybe due to the wind or something.

Now we are back in Miami at Morten’s place again, about to cook some of Steve’s “catch of the day” on the barbie. Tomorrow we’ll take his boat out weather permitting, then the drag starts of packing up our stuff. Incidentally, I’m returning the phone I borrowed and don’t think mine will work in South America, so I maybe out of phone contact for the next 6 weeks or so.

Oh, and if anyone is flying from Miami to the UK in the next 4 months and has space for a 60 lb duffel bag in their luggage, please let me know 🙂

Posted from Key West, Florida, United States.