Saturday, April 30, 2016

Pedra do Telégrafo? More like Pedra do I'll Never Let Go

Every once in awhile there are pictures that circulate around the internet of a guy hanging his girlfriend off the edge of a cliff or someone hanging precariously off a rock at the edge of the ocean. And everyone freaks out and says that they don't trust anyone that much, blah, blah, blah. 

Imagine my delight when I found out that that this daredevil's paradise is located in right here in Rio de Janeiro, only an hour or so from my house. 

And so we went. My hot pink tennis shoes came out to play, we explained to the receptionists at our awesome AirBnB that we needed a car and they all laughed at our enthusiasm, we got lost on the way to Barra de Guaritiba, and, finally, we hiked up Pedra do Telégrafo. 

I was mentally prepared for the hike this time, unlike when we hiked Morro Dois Irmãos, so the hike didn't seem too bad. Rachel and I also adopted Kimmy Schmidt's theory that you can do anything for ten seconds.

When we'd been counting ten seconds for what seemed like at least half an hour, Rachel and I started asking people how much longer until we reached the top. Twenty minutes? Okay, no problem. Let's think of what we can do in less than twenty minutes. Watch an episode of Friends. Shower. First recess in Honduras. Perfect. Let's think of all of the things that have lasted longer than twenty minutes that we've survived. And next thing we knew-- we had made it to the top.

We wanted to celebrate our arrival, but frankly, it was too darn hot and we were covered in sweat and dust. Not only that, but we quickly found out that we had to wait in line for about two and a half hours just to take an infamous Pedra do Telégrafo photo. It was hot. We were sweaty. We were in direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day. We were hungry which quickly turned into hangry. But we had driven out to Recreio, rented an AirBnB for the night, woke up early to beat the heat (HA!), and climbed this mountain specifically for these photos, so we were going to stay, gosh darn it. And we did, of course. 

Thank goodness we did because the pictures turned out awesome. Everything I could have dreamed of.

Though I think that Snapchat is really missing out on a good geotag/ filter thing by not having one that says "I waited in line for two hours and all I got was this lousy picture." Because really, at that moment, that's how I felt.

Monday, April 4, 2016

I'll Take One Trip To The Happiness Capital of Brazil for $100, Please.

Let me clarify things for a second. I did not spend my four day weekend in  El Salvador, the Central American country. I did spend my four day weekend in Salvador, the city in the Northeastern state of Bahia. 

Melissa arrived on Wednesday morning and because I didn't pay attention when booking the plane tickets I'm a really good friend who wanted her to be able to see as much of Brazil as possible, we were back at the airport less than eight hours later to board our flight to Salvador. 

We arrived at our hostel in Pelourinho late Wednesday evening and pretty much straight to bed. I mean, we had to be well-rested for the 8 hour tour that we had signed up for for Thursday. 

While in Salvador, we stayed at the Açai Hostel which was a pretty great place to call home for a couple of days. Much like Six Star Hostel that I stayed at in Taipei, Açai Hostel had bunk beds built into the walls and black out curtains for each bed. Each bed also had outlets, a small little locker, and a bedside lamp in each bed as well as a rolling locker for each guest. And they provided the keys for said lockers, which is a huge bonus. The only downside was that the hostel only turned the AC on from 10pm-9am, which is really unfortunate when there's 90% humidity each day.

On Thursday, we took one of the worst tours of my entire life. It was 8 hours of transportation. I'm not kidding. We basically sprinted through Pelourinho, jogged around Dique do Tororó (which is a small lake in Salvador that has statues of Orixás in the middle), caught a bus that took us to the sketchiest train ever, rode a baby boat across the bay where we did eat at the best ice cream in Salvador, hiked up to Igreja de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim and stayed a total of five minutes, crammed ourselves into a tiny car that drove us to the beach, laid on the beach for a total of 30 minutes, got back into the crammed car and drove back to the hostel.

Seriously. It was a huge disappointment. The only high points were the ice cream and the church. I'll admit, the ice cream was pretty bangin'. And even though we were only at the church for about five minutes, we were able to buy some of the famous ribbons, make our wishes, and tie them on the fence. Which is really all that we were going to do there anyways, we just had to do it a little bit faster than I would have liked.

Since we breezed through Salvador so quickly on Thursday, we wanted to devote Friday to exploring Pelourinho and spending some quality beach time. Before leaving Rio, a bunch of people had warned us to be safe in Salvador because it wasn't like Rio. You know, be aware of your surroundings, don't go down dark streets at night. (Which is good travel advice period.) Pelourinho didn't feel unsafe during the day, but I could see how it could get a little sketchy at night. During the day, it was filled with tourists and more shops than I knew what to do with. my favorite part is that a TON of the shops were selling paintings for R$10. Which is a whopping $2.75USD. For a handmade painting. It was pretty awesome. Not as awesome as when we stopped to watch a guy paint and he painted us into the painting, because that was pretty great.

We also stopped for a street performance of Olodum. It was like marching band, but better. I'm also a horrible dancer, but you know, YOLO and all that good stuff. I can say with a solid 98% certainly that I will never hear an Olodum performance on the cobblestone streets of Pelourinho again, so I was definitely going to carpe that diem.

After a morning of shopping and sweating, we were ready to go to the beach. We took a taxi to Praia do Farol da Barra (basically, Barra Lighthouse Beach) and it was definitely one of our best decisions while in Salvador. The water was divine and the waves were calm. Neither of which is true of the beaches in Rio. Seriously, I've been swimming less than ten times the entire time I have lived here. So we swam around, climbed on rocks, dug for shells, and basically played mermaid until the sun set. And let me tell you, it was awesome.

What wasn't awesome was the taxi driver on the way home who greeted us by saying "I'm sad." and then proceeded to talk about his broken heart for the entire 30 minute taxi ride. Seriously. I'm like Chandler Bing in these situations. I'm not good at advice, but I can offer you a sarcastic comment. Which, in my limited Portuguese, was basically "It's over."

And because my life goal is to make everything way more challenging than it should be, I got all of the way to security at the airport before someone told me that one of the souvenirs that I had purchased had to be checked and couldn't be carried on. And even a nice smile and batting my eyelashes couldn't convince them otherwise. Le sigh.