23.09.2013 - 23.09.2013 30 °C
Yesterday we set off for Copacabana beach in the hot sun. The metro was packed, heaving with people who have no sense of personal space. One woman for example had her breasts pushed against my hand on the rail, with her soaking wet bikini for entire journey, and had her son itching his head on my hand. Disgusting horrible people! Why can't they just hold the rail like everyone else? There's always one person who has to hug it! Down the beach I was happy enough but Brad didn't like how busy it was, because it was noisy and people walked all over us, vendors were more aggressive and if you saw the beach from the side you wouldn't know there was sand. So we left.
We had a McDonald's and went to Ipanema to see if that was any quieter and saw some vendors selling sarongs with all kinds of amazing Brazilian prints on the beach front. It was a bit quieter there and we laid down for a little bit while the sun was still out. I got some very patchy sunburn in all the little places that I didn't top up cream like a bit of my armpit for example. I will leave here with some strange white bits. When we returned to estacio using the metro, there were kids and adults from the favelas flying about a hundred kites in the park and the street. It's quite beautiful seeing all the colours flying in barely any wind- the kids use a snagging action to get their kite up.
We found out this morning that these kites land on the hostel roof all the time, and Igor said they are dangerous because the kids will attach bits of glass to cut the other kite strings in case they get tangled, and motorcyclists have had their throats cut driving through the string before! So that's a downer! Today we left late again because Brad was trying to book our favela tour and hang gliding, and went to Copacabana. It was much quieter today and very relaxing to walk along Copacabana's sand to Ipanema. The two are walking distance and I'd recommend walking from one to the other for the different views of the mountains.
We bought two sarongs to lay on (aside from chairs, most people lay on these instead of towels). Brad got a Brazilian flag with christo in the middle and I got a view from Christo with all of the tropical flowers around it. The water was wavy but beautiful to swim in, especially with my sunburn and I took a cool dip for about ten minutes, then got out to put sun cream on and wrapped my sarong around my pink shoulders. We played a bit of bat and ball or 'Mandalay' and then had a rest. Lunch was two sort of spinach pastys for me and two meat for Brad in one of these little corner bakeries that are dotted everywhere. Not many have anything 'sem carne' which means no meat, and we were starving so we got two. Those bakeries are really good for food on the go and you can recognise them for having a big hotbox along the front counter (though the food is never very hot so again, health and safety would not be impressed), and they sell pastries and burgers in combos with a fizzy drink for around 6 reals which is $3 Aud. not bad at all when McDonald's is around 15 reals and terrible quality. They all have 2 or 3 stalls around the counter which serves as a table as you cant leave with the drinks container if you buy a drink. A man came and asked us for food and hung around us for ages but we said no. We both felt bad after and wished we had got him something but you can't be pulling out money in the middle of the street here.
We took the bus from there to Jardin Botanica which was about 45 minutes away on a hot sweaty bus. We were half asleep by the time we got there. A word of warming- if you go to the entrance there is a restaurant that charges $R6 for a small bottle of water but once you have bought your tickets, you can go inside and buy a bigger one for cheaper. Yes they got us there! You have to pay $R6 to enter the gardens which weren't that amazing. My favourite part was the tortoise pond outside, which had loads of them all swimming round and coming over to us, chasing each other and playing (and one poor lad trying his luck with a lady tortoise which kept swimming away whenever he got on top of her haha). Inside is a large walking trail, with small waterfalls and loads of plant life. We saw some more marmosets and I watched one call his friends which sounds like a really high pitched whistle, but looks like the monkey is screaming. The water fountain there was a ladies face with a pedal on the ground which you stand on for water, and it comes out of her mouth, so it looks like you are getting a kiss and I thought that it was really clever! It started raining heavily which was a relief in the unbearable humidity. A passer by could spot the English couple a mile off as everyone else ran for cover and we just took a stroll in the wet. We took a taxi home and there was a lot of traffic. An ambulance followed us into the tunnel that runs under a mountain and takes us home. There is nothing relaxing about rush hour, under a mountain, in the dark surrounded by terrible drivers who can't pick a lane and motorbikes darting inbetween. Less relaxing is when an ambulance screams behind you in this stagnant traffic the entire time and you are forced to listen to Portuguese radio.
We got home and booked our tours. After around an hour of watching people's YouTube recording of their hang gliding adventures and battling myself on whether or not I should go with Brad, I asked him to book me on. And so here I am at 2 am unable to sleep with crippling fear of death, trying to imagine the take off over and over again. Oh and it isn't definite- I may go tomorrow (weather permitting) or the next day or maybe not at all depending on rain and wind. So I am repeatedly checking the weather which 6 hours ago predicted high winds and now looks like a calm day. I am terrified. People say that to conquer a fear of heights you need to face your fear. Well I did a bungee jump, I jumped out of a plane and I still bawled my eyes out on a cable car a few days ago. So no I do not feel excited I feel terrified. But if I do make it through the terrifying ordeal I know I will be so happy and the feeling of accomplishment will be well worth it. stay tuned...