Hola from Brazil or should I say G´Day as I´ve recently been told by different people that I sound Australian I need to get off this truck and soon. Thankfully I soon do as we only have 6 days left until we arrive in Rio for the infamous carnival, perfect. I´m smiling form ear to ear at the moment as time is flying by and each day I´m nearer home. Don´t get me wrong this journey has been absoutely incredible but I´m over my rucksack and so want my own bed.
Anyway I´m now in Brazil and am still enduring 40 degree heat (apologies if it´s wet in Blighty but trust me this heat is too much especially when camping with a generation of mosquitoes) I´m now beginning to resemble a piece of leather but it´s all part and parcel and no doubt it´ll rub off when I have a bath (which I haven´t had since the morning that I left home)
My last long blog was from Bolivia and we´ve since been driving for miles and miles through Argentina and onto Brazil and the temperature have been rising in more ways then one but I´ll divulge that later. So after my last blog we headed out to Uyuni to see the incredible salt flats. Uyuni is a middle of nowhere a community that neighbours the worlds largest salt plains, 12,000sq km in size.The landscape was truly incredible and ranks highly in my 'top list' (Photos are on blog already) During the rainy season the flats are covered by a layer of water which makes them truly blinding projecting a perfect mirror image of the clouds sky and land to the horizon. Michelle and I foolishly didn´t take sun glasses and as a result burnt our eyes to the extent that we couldn´t leave the truck the following drive day without our eyes streaming, it was so painful (and stupid I know now) After Uyuni we headed to the Argentinian border stopping for one night only in Tupiza we arrived in the dark but left at dawn and captured an amazing sunrise over the Cordillera de Chicas, rainbow coloured rocks, hills, mountains and canyons and also home to the legendary Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid...very American wild west. It was then onto Argentina and good roads Bolivia was very unsealed and bumpy to say the least. As soon as we crossed the border the affluence surrounded us, modern buildings, homes, some very flash cars and absolutely beautiful people I have never felt so unattractive. Our first point of call after a truck party complete with cowboy hats was Salta for a group night out at a steakhouse. I´m not a huge fan of steak but it was so good and the vino tinto made it even better! We then went out for drinks made better by the fact we split from the group and met the locals instead (I´m so done with going out with 30 other people) There´s a stretch of road in Salta pedestrianised for bar crawls so that was that. Next day was a very lazy Sunday, a few of us treated ourselves to a movie at the local cinema it was great escapism so much so that when we left I completely forgot I was travelling and thought I was at home very weird but a nice thought for a second. Next day we headed out to the river for more camping (our last hotel was in Uyuni and the next is in Rio so we´re coming to the end of 3 weeks solid camping in intense heat, not glamorous atall) At the river we did some white water rafting which was awesome only grade 3 but still fun, we were joined by wild horses along the riverbank, making it quite tranquil in between the rapids. The campsite and infact all the campsites have been really well equipped very different from my E.O.E trip (but this company isn´t so hot on the ethics of travelling mind I don't think many of them would have managed anything resembling a bushcamp), That was near enough it for Argentina apart form a couple of very long (16 hrs) drive days close to 40 degrees without aircon on board a truck with 5 people sick with food poisoning wasn´t pleasent atall but again all part and parcel of overlanding. My last Argentinian highlight was the amazing Igauzu falls. On my last trip Polly kept telling me to forget chasing waterfalls and wait for Iguazu as nothing will compare, Poll you were dead right, they took my breath away. They can be seen from both the Argentinian and Brazilian side so we did both. The Argentinian side give a closer view and we did a 12 minute boat trip below them, absolutely incredible. They truly thunder down and are more than 2km long and total 275. We spent a day wandering around them at a perfect pace. The next day we did my 29th border crossing into Brazil land of the famous haviana flip flop and my favourite cocktail, the caiparinha. After the border we drove straight to the falls for more action this time in a chopper, best 50 pounds I have ever spent but over far too quickly and unfortunately my batteries died after 5 pics.. but it´s all in the mind. At the chopper pad I bumped into a bright orange truck near enough identical to the one we drove to Sydney in and I knew it had to be the other E.O.E truck currently on their Alaska to Rio trip... and so it was. Will and Zane spotted me and we had a brief catch up it was cool having not seen them or rather Zane since my pre departure meeting many moons ago last February in London. I´d hoped I would have bumped into them along the way as there are loads of overland trucks heading to Carnival. We´re stopping at the same campsite in Paraty the final stop before Rio.
So falls done from both sides truly magical and definately one of the´year` highlight`s thus far! After the falls at Iguaza we camped in Foz and a few of us walked to Paraguay, country number 30!!! You can basically walk across without any passport checks from Foz into Brazil so I had to do it to reach the big three o! We only stayed the afternoon and in that time I managed to slice my toe open (the other one) fortunately right outside a pharmacy! It was strange just walking into another country without any checks naturally I didn`t learn alot about Paraguay that day other than they are football crazy! After a night out in Foz to a cool bar and a not so cool club called Uno (well it was cool until a live country singer came on, slightly odd after playing progresive house music for an hour) we left for the Pantanal with a free bushcamp on route which was interesting. We pulled up next to a servo so at least we had toilets and food and drinks etc but what we didn´t know was that this was the local hangout for boy racers and so at 5.30am we were woken up by a Cher remix, no I don`t think so. I draw the line at Cher. I marched over after listening to her dulcet tones for far too long and with my bed head I reached into the car and turned it off naturally the locals were a bit shell shocked but it gave us 30 minutes of peace and quiet before we got up at 6am!
So it was then off to the Pantanal Brazils vast natural paradise the country's major ecological attraction. To get into the park we were driven by a 4 wheel drive vehicle of some description as all roads were unsealed, as soon as we pulled up outside to be picked up an army of mosquitoes attacked us and did so for the next three days!! It reminded me of our not so plush camp in Islamabad in Pakistan in the 50 degree mosi heat (E.O.E ers I think you know what I´m talking about)
Other than mosquitoes the Pantanal is home to 650 bird species, 80 mammals including jaguars, pumas, deer, armadillos and howler monkey and it covers an area of 89,000 sq miles, vast to say the least. Our first day was a washout we had booked a river boat trip to spot some caymans but it was too wet so instead the Aussie lads thought thye´d have a drinking competition 100 shots of beer in 100 minutes and us girls played pool. Immense fun as you can imagine....and yes I am being sarcastic.
The next day we headed out on the river and spotted nature at it`s best caymans, howling monkeys, parrots or birds of some unknown description and piranhas. Great trip. In the afternoon we moved form the lodges to a hammock campground about 50 hammocks in one huge dorm in the middle of the wetlands, very cool. The heat picked up the bites got worse but after two days of horse riding, piranha fishing and bird watching it was well worth it although I'm not sure about a return leg, I`m done with mosi bites now.
With the Pantanal explored we`re now only days away from Rio. We arrived in Bonito on Wednesday to a nice litle campsite next to a river complete with waterfalls, very idyllic... well it was until the communal alcohol supply was polished off last night! It`s now very very hot (40 plus) to the point where I had to get up and have a cold shower at 2am just so I could then get to sleep! Roll on Rio and a hotel room!! I managed to get a haircut yesterday with my minimal Portugese it was interesting but much needed that`s only the 3rd chop since I left! We leave Bonito tomorrow and head to our final stop Paraty, on the coast. On Thursday we arrive in Rio and on Friday the tour ends. Quite a few of us have the Rio carnival add-on so we`ll be staying in the same hotel for a further 5 days to explore the city and of course party with the locals. I then fly to Buenos Aires for 4 nights on my own and it`s then onto South Africa to meet Marcus and I`m sure the fun will begin all over again. I just hope I survive it. For those of you that don`t know him and there can`t be many he will do anything and I mean anything so I intend to keep him away from Jo`Burg and the local mafia.
So it`s adios for now I´m popping back to the campsite then coming back again to skype Marcus and formulate our plan of attack on South Africaa and upload my photos to date, the blog will then be explained. Oh before I forget there`s tension in the camp! It makes me laugh but after only 6 weeks together the Aussies are kiling each other it`s great to sit on the fence and watch Kiwi Emma punched Luke from Oz in the mouth the other night after an argument causing him to have 8 stitches. Classy. Everyone else is sick of the group and are counting down the days to Rio, they can`t believe I did 8 months, I said "this group isn`t quite like my last" (to put it politely)
Right must go, as always hope you`re all well and have enjoyed this installment not many to go now!! TP Thankyou. Your keeping in touch has impressed me by far the most and I know you won`t mind me writing that. Maff you come joint top for flying halfway across the world to see me. Mum, Dad I will call you from Rio next Friday (1st of Feb) maybe you could call the hotel? I`ll text you and we will sort out times etc perhaps we can coincide it so I can speak to my beautiful brothers too! Nan I will call you from Rio too, I hope you`re well, it will not be long before I`m back and I´ll spend alot of time boring you with all my stories I promise. Bex - Good on you. I´m chuffed and I´ll join you in the capital. Ming - 2 weeks and 2 days and counting I´m so so excited and slightly nervous! Tobe - You still alive??!! Eddie I have lost all my numbers for you can you get in touch asap! Serg - Please put me out of my misery and comfirm I am returning to Frome! Happy Birthday Mr Hicks hope you Lloydy, Amy and Maff had a good weekend in the Don, and to anyone else that´s celebrating Happy Birthday to you too ( incl my new kiwi pals Sara and Andrew)...take care of one and all...
I so wish I could reply to all your mails individually everytime I log on but this blog consumes a bit too much of me. Please keep them coming.
Miss you all loads.