As you can probably tell from Jodie's last posting, written under the influence last night, we are enjoying Rio. It is such a beautiful, vibrant, varied and exciting city. We leave tomorrow and feel that we have only scratched the surface of the place. We have strolled along Copacabana, Leblon and Ipanema beaches, which are so important to the city dwellers and full of life. Leblon and Ipanema are where the beautiful people hang out, playing volleyball, football, bat and ball, or drinking beer and chatting. I felt distinctly short, flabby and white, which I guess I am.
We have also been up to see Cristo Redentor (aka 'Big Jesus') and taken the cable car up Sugar Loaf Mountain, from which the views are incredible. Rio has slums, modern and impressive office blocks, lovely sandy beaches and lush rainforest all within sight from the peaks.
We hired a guide to the us into one of the favelas, which are the shanty towns run by well armed drug gangs. We went to a quite developed one which has been around for 60 years and were impressed (if that is the right word). They are fully functioning societies (this one with 150,000 people in it) with schools, sanitation, postal service and all the other bits and pieces you would expect. There exists a workable relationship between the gangs and the authorities. Rubbish is collected, services are maintained and there is even a token police presence but there are also youths with rifles and drug deals openly taking place. The odd thing is that we felt perfectly safe, more so than in many parts of uk cities, and after visiting 'normal' towns in Cambodia, India and Iraq, these shanty towns do not seem so bad.
Last night in Lapa was a real experience; one great big street party, with thousands of people drinking, dancing and eating whilst staying relatively civilised. I am not a natural Samba dancer, but still managed to enter the spirit of things. We left at about 2.30 am and felt that the place was still warming up.I ditched my attempt to grow a goatee a few days ago after realising that I couldn't and merely looked like a 'pedo'. I've seen ladies with bigger beards than I can push out. I think that I may have evolved more from the ape than hairier men!
Thank you to those that have left a message on our board - it is great to feel we have not disappeared completely. We have also discovered skype and I find it amazing that I can have a video call with my mum in Ludlow for free. We are at james and jodie fulford talbot if any of you also have skype. Finally, I uploaded three blogs on 9 Nov, which I believe is not that obvious, but they are there, under Buzios and then select from the window on the left.