Hola Mis Amigos
More than two months into my travels and here I am writing my first blog. Yes it's a bit slack I know but I have not had the urge to put pen to paper (or should I say fingers to keyboard) until now (and I think it is only because I don't want to do anymore of my Spanish homework).
South America is an amazing continent and I have thus far visited Argentina (briefly), Brazil (Overpriced!!!) and now Bolivia (have totally fallen in love with the place and never want to leave!) and I still have Peru, Equador, Chile, Uruguay and more of Argentina to look forward to.
After a 16.5 hour flight from Sydney my girlfriend Jo and I touched down in Buenos Aires (BA). Lucky me had to pay an $100 entry fee upon arrival while my kiwi friend got in for gratis. I had already paid $77.00 for my Brazilian visa + a $50 processing fee so I was $227 down before I had even walked through the arrivals gate (oh and $15 for my duty free bottle of Bombay Gin but that was money very well spent!!).
It didn't take long for me to realise how I wished I could speak fluent Spanish as you get ripped off so easily not being able to talk the local lingo. Yep within an hour of arriving into BA we were getting mildly ripped off by the taxi people and I was having my first argument!!!! It really doesn't help that you are tired from a long flight and it is like hot & humid and some pr%#% wants to take you for a ride!!!! Anyway to cut a long story short we paid the price and got on our way.
BA is a beautiful city, very European in look but maybe not feel. Our 4 days/5 nights here were spent walking the pavements soaking up the culture, food and beauty of the place. For a capital city it is very good value for money. We stayed at the Ilcarro Suites (http://www.icarosuites.com/index.en.html) in the Federal District and it was awesome. It was less than $100p/night and fairly new providing all of the mod cons that one could ask for and to top that off it was situated near to some great bars and restaurants just a stones throw from our front door.
Talking of food I could not pass up trying a steak, after all what is Argentina best known for??? Now most of you would know that I don't eat red meat and haven't done for 18 years so it was quite an occasion. And the outcome you might ask??? Well I wasn't disappointed and I look forward to my return to BA later in the year for another go!
From BA we caught an overnight sleeper bus to Iguazu Falls which were amazing and we also witnessed the falls from the Brazil side. Both views gave a totally different perspective of the falls and both a must see!! To witness that much water cascading into the river down below over such a distance was incredible and it really was a 'you have to see it to believe it' occasion.
Next destination was Salvador to attend Carnaval. We decided that because the distance was so far from Foz de Iguazu to Salvador that we would spoil ourselves and fly, that or take 3 buses that would take around 3 days to get there!!! We did have to take 3 planes to get there but in a matter of hours rather than days.
Salvador is the capital of Afro-Brazilian culture. Here we spent days wandering the colourful streets of Pelourinho and come Carnaval we samba'd along these streets to the beat of the drums. Salvador gave me my first experience of being mugged. I have travelled to many places far and wide without ever having anything stolen from me but in Salvador I lost my virginity to this. The Lonely Planet states that if you are going to get robbed anywhere in Brazil it will be in Salvador and so I was by 3 kids no less, not more than 14 years old. It was interesting to witness over the next week that Brazilians themselves wore money belts and husbands/boyfriends carried their wives/girlfriends handbags….so yes it is an issue for them as well and not just us white tourists. We were told of an event by our Posada's owner (Posada - low budget accommodation normally but during Carnaval cost us a small fortune) of two young men staying from Sao Paulo (the capital city in the south of Brazil) being held up by gunpoint in the middle of the day in the middle of a street busy with Carnaval activities. They took their credit card and their t-shirts that they had paid a small fortune for, for a Bloco Party that they were to attend that evening. So yeah it doesn't matter what colour your are, what country you're from, whether you're male or female, you're a target and you can take as many precautions as possible but at the end of the day luck plays more part than none!!!!
Overall Carnaval was insane and I have never seen such crowds but regardless of the amount of people beer was available every meter you walked (you may think I am exaggerating but no there really was beer available everywhere you turned!!!).
With Carnaval coming to an end it was time to skip town before everyone else did so we jumped on an overnight bus south to a seaside town called Trancoso. The few days we spent here were filled with walking the never ending beaches and eating amazing pizza at the local bakery.
With Jo's holidays coming to an end it was time to catch another overnight bus to a place we have all heard of - 'Rio de Janiro'. The bus was to take about 19 hours but of course that was providing that nothing happens to your bus which was not to be in our case. After 4 bus changes (due to the aircon not working, leaking or whatever!!), 24 hours and a case of the s***s we made it to RIO!!! Of course no accommodation arrangements had be made by us as we thought we would wing it and $150 p/night later we were staying in the heart of Ipanema. So for a $150 p/night you might think we get to stay in something pretty swisho….well think again….this is Brazil, the most expensive country in Latin America and in a lot of instances more expensive than London, New York and Melbourne!!!. We stayed here for just two nights and then moved a block closer to the beach to a hostel that cost us $25 each p/night. Very basic with shared bathrooms but a major price difference!!!! In Rio we walked along the famous Ipanema Beach, went up Sugar Loafin a cable car, walked through a Favela (slum district), rattled along in an old tram through the streets of Santa Teresa, visited the famous 'Christ Statue' and partook in Friday night bevy's in the Lapa district. Rio is awesome and I can see why so many people fall in love with this place.
We had one more destination before Jo flew back to Australia and I headed to Bolivia. Our bus this time was a nice leisurely 4 hour trip. Wow in just a blink of an eyelid we were there. Where???? Paraty, a beautiful cobblestoned colonial town. Our hostel was located across the street from the beach and each night offered tasty food. We caught a bus to a nearby hippy town called Trindade which had 3 beautiful beaches. We were also told there were waterfalls in the area so we followed the Brazilians to what we thought was a waterfall only to find it to be a swimming hole!!! This might sound nice but after a very arduous walk over boulders with waves crashing in on us, ankle deep in mud, it was quite a disappointment and to top it off the water was COLD!!!!! Our day was finished off with a nice cold beer! Actually most of our days were finished off with a nice cold beer and yes the Brazilians know how to keep their beer cold and there is never a shortage (SKOL was our favourite). Our other favourite drink was a Caprioska, your favourite fruit (ours was Lime) muddled with a lot of sugar (like 5 Tblsp) and a LOT of vodka, shake vigourously and the result is YUMMO!!
On our second day in Paraty we caught a boat out to some lovely beaches and swimming spots. The weather could have been a bit kinder but overall it was a nice day. Then the day came that Jo and I bid our farewells. I stayed in Paraty for a couple of extra days before heading to Sao Paulo to meet up with an English girl that I had organised to fly to Bolivia with. Sao Paulo was not as daunting as I expected it to be and had a fabulous metro system (you gotta love a city with an efficient metro system!!). Stayed in a really cool area called Magdalena…highly recommend it. The district is filled with many bars, cafes and restaurants….the place to be seen!!!
Ahora estoy en Bolivia en una cuidad que se llama Sucre. Sucre es muy bonito con muchas Iglesias muy blancas. Yo aprendo español en Sucre. Yo estudio dos horas por día. Después de un mes no yo puedo hablar español muy bien.
Sucre es más caro que otras ciudades. Bolivia es muy barato. Un almuerzo de tres platos puede costar de 12 bolivianos (menos de $2) a 35 bolivianos ($5). Yo he comprado muchas cosas en Sucre, collares, ropas, zapatos y bolsas de Mercado.
El clima en Sucre es algunos días calor y algunas días frio.
Yo voy a Potosí la próxima semana. Potosí es la ciudad más alta del mundo! En Potosí hará mucho frio. Yo voy a Potosí a visitar las minas y después de esto yo voy a visitar el salar de Uyuni.
Yo no he visitado muchos lugares en Sucre. Yo he disfrutado la compañía de la gente, la comprar, la comida, el clima (la mayor parte del tiempo) y aprender español.
Mi lugar favorito en Sucre para comer es El Patio. Yo visito El Patio por las empanadas de pollo y el café con leche casi todos día. El personal sabe mi pedido y como me gusta mi café. Yo hago mi tarea aquí.
So until next time…..Adios Amigos!!!!