The iconic Sugar Loaf is the best spot in Rio for the thrill of the cable-car ride, for the small hikes on top of the Urca mountain, for the views over Rio and for the sunsets. Lucky us, we got it all!
Rio de Janeiro is most famous for its picture-perfect beaches, mostly Copacabana and Ipanema.
We attended the Parade of the Champions, featuring the best samba schools in Rio, who had the whole night to show off. We took the subway to the stadium, with — it seemed — half of Rio. A lot of performers were already wearing their customs in the subway, and I got a hug from two ¨golden guys¨ who put glitters all over me.
The bus station was okay, but as we took the hostel street, we stepped in the water, knee-deep. We managed to get back to the hostel (barefeet) where we learned Paraty floods quite often.
Now, as I said before, I do not speak Portuguese. Cachoeira sounded like cascada in Spanish, so I was pretty sure we were going to see waterfalls. I didn’t give much thought to the Tobogã part of the story.
We could not resist trying that out (and take pictures!). We basically fell into the sticky gooey mud pit, and covered ourselves with a thick layer. Yes, it does stink a bit but the mud is quite clean.
Every night, the Carnival started around 10:00, to finish around sunrise. Blocos all over the place were leading people in the old town and there were always some drummers getting ready somewhere.
A bloco had gathered on Roberto Silveira, the main avenue. A trio-eléctrico (huge truck with speakers, a sound system and singers on top of it) was blasting cheery brazilian music and the drummers behind were setting up a rope-off area. The truck started moving, the drummers started playing and we all followed in the street of Paraty, dancing all night long to the sound of the samba of the Carnival.
The owner of the internet café was Brazilian. He asked us where we would spend the Carnival, and at the time, we were not sure. He told us to check out Paraty, a small city four hours from Rio de Janeiro. We did not know anything about it. Yet, we went… and we were not disappointed.
In Brazil, my mind is perpetually trying to make sense of of things, using languages that I speak. “Nome” is “name” in English, and of course “nom” in French. “Peixe” equals “pescado”, from the latin “pesci”, also “poisson” in French, and “fish” in English. “Cafe da manhã”… okay, “manhã” looks like “mañana” in Spanish, and “cafe” is obvious. So “morning coffee” is… yep, breakfast. “Hoje” is close to “hoy”, although not the pronunciation — but it still means “today”.
¨Everybody gets off! For the immigration office, walk two blocks that way, turn left, then right, and then you will see another street. Well, it´s not that one, but the next on the right.¨ What the fuck? ¨Oh¨, the driver added, ¨hurry up because you have to take the Porto Alegre bus at 1:00 pm… from the other station¨.