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Monday 30th Jan - Sunday 19th Feb 2012, 'Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires'... x

sunny 33 °C
View Skye 2012 on sdestecroix's travel map.

Having had an awesome week in Rio, I started my tour day with a big load of laundry! The rain had finally stopped and the sunshine was out, but instead of being on the beach, I spent the best part of the morning stuck in a laundrette, attempting to communicate with the woman that I wanted to use the self service machines and managing to shrink my fave red cardigan in the process! BUT, it was nice to have everything clean, and fresh!

I spent the rest of the day reading Russel Brands 'Booky Wook 2', which is hilarious, and a definite recommendation if you like him... although I cannot comment on 'Booky Wook 1', as they didn't have that one at the hostel library!
I headed to the Hotel for check in and the welcome meeting around 5pm, and saw that the meeting was scheduled for 7pm, which was great as I was given a single room so had some privacy and, as it was a hotel, the room came with COMPLIMENTARY TOWELS and a decent shower! SOOO happy! x
We all met in the lobby, and everyone was very quiet at first, my first thought was THANK GOD everyone can speak English, after my hideous attempts at understanding Portuguese for the past week, I just wanted to be able to have a proper conversation! x Once everyone had arrived our tour guide Juan (NOT Wan) introduced himself and took us into a private room for the welcome briefing.
The group consisted of 13 girls and one boy, George, who is a Geography graduate from Newcastle who I don't think has ever been with so many girls in his life! He defo didn't seem to mind the lack of male commradory! There were two girls from Australia and the rest were from UK. Juan gave us details of the trip and then we all went out for dinner at the Kilogramma to get to know each other.
I immediately bonded with an Australian girl, Bree, who is very tall with gorgeous long dark hair. She has a boyfriend back home as well and had seen away for 6 months so we talked about that and realised we had quite a lot in common! Went for a drink after dinner and tried a Mango caiparinha, which was nice, but quite hard to drink through a straw when the big chunks of mango were at the bottom! x
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Early night as we had to be packed and checked out early to start the tour...

Ilha Grande - Tuesday 31st Jan
The journey from Rio was 3 hours in a bus and then a ferry ride for an hour.
The weather was still a bit cloudy when we got to the ferry port, and we had a while to wait for the boat, so we just chilled out with our bags and chatted. Some of the girls used a cash machine to get money for the island and had their cards cloned, which we didnt realise until they tried to use them again in Sao Paulo!! One of the Aussie girls, Sharni, had her account completely drained of about 1000 dollars!! Its a scary thought and defo something I will have to watch out for! Put a bit of a dampner on things! x
The ferry was like a catameran with an open deck on the top for us to sit on. We past a very pretty little private island and wondered if it was the one where Bella and Edward had their honey moon in the Breaking Dawn movie! (sad). Everyone in the group bonded quickly which was great.
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When we got to the island it was beautiful, with beaches around the coast and big mountains in the centre that were covered in dense rainforest. The shops and houses that made up the village were all really 'beachy' and brightly coloured. I think England would be a prettier place if everyone painted their houses yellow, turquoise, red, green or pink! It really made the place look happy and tropical! We walked 5 mins inland to our hotel which was very romantic and made of lots of little wooden chalets, some of them had white hammocks on the balcony and their was a swing set in the front garden! I shared a room with Sharni and Jennifer which didnt have a ceiling fan or air conditioning which was annoying because it was sooo hot at night!
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We were given cake and afternoon tea (an AWESOME Brazilian thing- cake with every meal!) and then had another briefing where Juan explained the optional activities that ALL included HIKING!!! (not a fan) x Luckily another girl in the group shared my views about hiking, Hannah, and we became really friendly as we both just wanted to enjoy the beach!! I didnt bring hiking shoes so I had to change into my black boots then Juan took us for a 'walk' (hike) to see the islands abandoned prison (originally the island was populated by prison guards and prisoners from Rio), water pool and black beach which had volcanic sand. We also saw a HUGE butterfly and an old aqueduct which was very picturesque. We then walked back through the town, taking photos en route, to shower and change for dinner, which we ate at a cafe on the beach. They had DELICIOUS beans! x
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Early start and a VERY hot day... the sun has officially got his hat on and I cross my fingers that it is here to stay now!
LOVELY hotel breakfast with mango and pineapple, bread and butter, crackers, tea and CAKE! (of course) x Needed a big breakfast because today we were hiking as a group to the best beach on the island 'Lopez Mendez', which was going to take us 2 hours over the mountains in the centre of the island! Very hot and tiring but also very beautiful as we were walking through rainforest and we got some great photo opportunities.. even saw wild tamarind monkeys!! x
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After 'one more hill' (Juan's quote of the day) we reached Lopez Mendez which was a STUNNING beach, with mango trees at the top giving some shade and then hot white sand and crystal blue sea... well worth the trek! We found a spot in the shade and then stripped off our sweaty clothes and ran straight into the sea! SO refreshing and cool!
We spent the day on the beach, chatting, reading, getting some sun (being careful to dip in and out of the heat), we even took a 'Peter Andre' inspired photo for George to make his friends at home jealous! haha, very funny!
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At around 4pm we had to pack up and make our way back over that 'one more hill' to catch the boat back round to the port near our hotel. Bree and I sat at the front of the boat (bow??) and bonded some more, with me slightly burning my forearm! OOPIES!
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Rachel, George, Juan, Jen, Christina and I then headed to the beach to continue the party with the locals around a huge beach bonfire, Rachel managed to slice her foot open on a rock and had an awkward incident with a local boy (she can speak fluent spanish so was able to communicate with them better), who decided that the best way to entice her was to whip out his penis and hold it out to her as if to say 'you want?'... she was NOT impressed, but managed to get out of the situation without any drama... the foot thing was stressful though, she was limping for most of the trip and had to clean and re-dress it every few hours! x George was a good nurse though! x

Woke up with a MASSIVE headache, and after a bread roll and an Ibuprofen I went back to sleep for 2 hours finally arising at midday!! Luckily some of the others had stayed out till 5am so they woke up late too!
I spent the day with Bree, we went to buy some açai sorbet (for antioxidents) and then had a wonder around the local shops. I bought some factor 30 suncream as the sun really is SOOO strong and a GORGEOUS, don't-want-to-take-it-off ITSY BITSY Brazillian bikini! The bottoms (which are practically a thong) are bright yellow and the top is strapless and white which green, pink and yellow across the front. When in Brazil! x
We then wondered over to the black beach to meet some of the other girls and sunbathe for a while. Later we went for some dinner at this local restaurant where I had a DELICIOUS Brazillian fish stew with rice and something called Paçao (which was essentially a fish sauce)... SOOOO yummy!... then to be extra piggy, we then went to the bakery and bought some lemon drizzle cake for dessert! Defo one of my favourite things about Brazil so far is the portion size when it comes to cake!!! xx^
Back at the hotel we chatted with some of the others around the swimming pool and then washed the sand off ourselves (volcanic sand is VERY sticky).
Due to the hang over and the big lunch, we didnt bother with dinner so I stayed in with Bree to do our nails, eat some chocolate, re-pack my ruck sack and get an early night... Had a bit of a mare with Sharni when she refused to leave the window closed as we had no ceiling fan, which meant I woke up COVERED in mosquito bites... which REALLY annoyed me, but at least they weren't on my face this time!
Early breakfast at 8am as we had to set off to get our boat and bus to Paratay...

Paratay- Friday 3rd Feb
Our Journey to Paratay was via ferry for 1hr and then bus for about 4 hours.
We arrived mid afternoon, and from the outskirts of the town we were all a bit concerned, it looked pretty run down, but once we got to the coast it was actually very quaint. All the streets were (badly) cobbled and so walking around was spent looking at your feet so we didnt break an ankle! The houses, as usual were all an old colonial style and the people were much more friendly than in the Brazilian cities. Our hotel was nice, with all the rooms facing an open courtyard with big wooden beams making a balcony.
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Again, I was in a room of three with Sharni and Rachel, but I got to sleep in the double bed this time, so it was nice to star fish... I really dont know how I ever had a decent nights sleep in a single!
Once we'd checked in Juan took us to a local cafe for lunch, I shared a chicken dish with Hannah which was really nice... The chicken was grilled with onions, bacon, chick peas and capers and came with rice and beans (of course), casava flour AND chips!! NOM NOM! I also had a fresh orange suco, but the passion fruit one was better! (I tried a bit of Jens) x
We went back to our hotel for our briefing before Juan took Bree, George, Jess, Sharni and I to a local waterfall where there were large algae-covered boulders that the end of the waterfall runs over, so the local people use it as a natural water slide and slide down into the pool on their feet or bums! As tourists we werent quite au fait with the technique, so we took carrier bags from the supermarket to sit on! The local men were very nice, trafficking us to the top and then giving us a push so we went faster! There was one guy who looked just like Tarzan and he was jumping and skipping over a vine as he slid down the rock, and even jumped over a girl at one point! x
George attempted to take a video but they weren't very good! SO MUCH FUN! x
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After a few goes, we took some photos of the nearby rope bridge and then headed back for a shower as we smelt like pond water and the mosquitos were bugging us! GRR! x
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Once clean a few of us went for dinner, just shared a potato salad with some lettuce and cucumber with Rachel (another girl I get on really well with) DSCF3798.jpg as I wasn't that hungry. Wasn't the most delicious meal, but nice enough! We then ventured to a local square where there was an area set up outside for a band and samba dancing and street vendors sold food and drinks. Bree and I had a kiwi vodka with ice! Very refreshing, and she also introduced me to 'Churros' which are AMAZING! long doughnuts which are warm and rolled in cinnamon sugar! SOOO YUMMY! x

Boat Trip
One of the optional activities here in Paratay was a boat trip which included a cooked lunch and all-you-can-drink caiparinhas! whilst you sunned yourself on a large collonial boat and visited two islands and two beaches!
Juan had told us that this would be the last opportunity to tan for a while, so, armed with our new bikinis Bree and I (along with Jess, Hannah and Sharni) decided to go on this trip!
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Made it to the hotel for a much needed shower! Shared a room with Bree and Christina and had the chance to skype with Patch on George's ipad! :-D x
We had the day to chill out by the pool which was great as it was VERY hot here... the town was inland and so the temperature was nearly 40 degrees and there was no sea breeze! Read a few magazines which was great, Allison had bought a stash (clever girl) so we all shared copies of Heat and Marie Claire! x
Later in the afternoon, Bree and I attempted to find the supermarket and buy some beers for everyone... it was a LONG way away from the hotel, and then on the walk back MY FLIP FLOP BROKE!! the bit between your toes came through the bottom, so it wouldn't stay on my foot, and with the temp being so hi the ground was BOILING hot, queue 'operation plastic bag' where Bre tied the flip flop to my foot using one of the bags from the supermarket!! Ingenious and a complete success! We managed to walk with our heavy shopping all the way to Subway (for a sandwich) and the back! HUZZAH! x
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Few drinks around the pool with everyone and then a GREAT night's sleep in an actual bed with AIR CONDITIONING!! woohoo! x

Argentinian side of Iguassu Falls
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Early start due to the boarder crossing into Argentina (second stamp in my passport!).
Hannah wasn't well so Juan stayed with her during the day while the rest of us started our tour of the National Park!
First we went on a safari style jeep through the jungle- we saw these giant spiders which make their webs between the trees above your head and their silk is golden in colour! There was an annoying Japanese woman with her camera taking videos and photos of EVERYTHING, including US! instead of just enjoying the ride!

Then we all put our stuff into waterproof bags and the boat took us into the white spray at the base of the waterfall, where the water hits the river... we got SOAKED but it was sooo fun! Their was a stupid woman in front of me that decided it'd be a good idea to bring her toddler on the boat! The poor boy was terrified and crying his eyes out! x
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We got off the boats and then walked around the lower levels of the falls to dry off... the bridges were horrible! All raised in the air and all with metal mesh for the flooring so you could see the drop below you if one of the panels fell through! So again, I was looking at my feet more that the surroundings! :-P x
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Iguassu Falls is made up of several smaller waterfalls and then one HUGE one that connects Brazil and Argentina in the middle, the views were awesome and it was cool that the bridges went so close the waterfalls that the air was misty where the water was rushing, so you were cooled down by the spray!
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We did a lot of walking that day so when we got back to the hotel we just chilled out and had an early night... met another GAdventures tour with lots of Australian people which was cool! x

...

Posted by sdestecroix 10:40 Archived in Brazil

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