Long long freaking overnight flight to Rio de Janiero. I was completely wrecked but somehow found my way onto the bus into town. The LP lists it as a 45 minutes ride but it was almost 2 hours. I found my hostel last week and was happy to get anything because it was such late notice. It's great but expensive. Shoot, everything in Rio is expensive. The downstairs of the hostel is a pretty swanky bar where lots of people hang out. I was super tired so I just headed up to bed. I was just tucking in when 2 young Irish guys came in to my dorm and practically dragged me out to a club. They were super fun and there were about 6 of us hailing cabs to go to Help and crazy club in the middle of Copacabana. The club was not only 80% prostitutes but underage prostitutes. The guys loved it! The music was good and we danced til our feet hurt. A pretty crazy introduction to Rio.
Spent the next day running errands and met up with the Irish guys to spend a little quality time at the infamous Ipanema beach after eating lunch at one of the ubiquitous pay by weight restaurants. There were lots of people hanging out on the beach and unlike Copacabana, the water is clean enough for swimming and cooling off. Back to the hostel for a quick shower and to get ready for a hostel tour to a Samba School Rehearsal which has won for the last 3 years. The school was in a suburb about 45 minutes outside of Rio. We all thought it was going to be a little show but when we got close we saw kiosks selling food and beer and all sorts of stuff. The streets were packed with locals all heading up to see the rehearsal. People were playing music and dancing everywhere. We had to hike though the crowd up to the big auditorium where watched them go though their paces. The did play the same bloody song for 2 hours straight but it was fun watching the slow procession of different groups of dancers. Everyone was wearing their blue and white colors but the costumes weren't at all as outlandish as I had thought they would be. Everyone from the hostel all pretty much stuck together and enjoyed the show, as we were the only non locals there, til we had to meet back to catch our bus driver at 2am.
I joined yet another tour the next day to go see J.C., the big man himself. Rio's most famous attraction. We headed up about noon, the hottest time of the day but it was as cheap as trying to find the right bus up and much simpler. Really is a spectacular sight and you can see him from almost everywhere in Rio. You drive up the hill or take the expensive train ride up and then there''s a big elevator cut intothe hill to take you even higher so you don't have to walk the stairs. The view from the top was pretty crap that day because of all the smog. We stayed up there for about an hour before heading back to town. Off to the beach for a few hours with some girls I'd met on the tour before getting cleaned up to head over to our sister hostel in Copacabana where they were having a bit of a party. The party never ends here in Rio. We took a little stroll afterward to check out the colossal stage they've set up for the big Rolling Stones concert. They even have a 15 foot high walkway setup so the band can go directly from the hotel to the stage.
Finally it was Rolling Stones day. There was a big group of us to meet up at the hostel to head over early in the day but I missed the message they left me and ended up sitting in the bar wondering what had happened. I was almost ready to give up and head down by myself when I found out they were all waiting for me at the Copacabana hostel. A bit of a nightmare getting there by cab. Most of the streets were closed off to traffic so I ended up hoofing it a lot of the way but I made it and after waiting around for a few more people we finally headed down to the beach. We found a spot near the middle behind a giant screen and camped out on the sand for the 5 hour wait. One of the cool things about the beaches here is that you never have to move to access anything. Locals are walking up and down the beach selling anything you could ever want. Just before the Stones came, a girl Noo and I decided to go and run and pee near the water like everyone else. Not my finest moment. I've pretty much blocked out the whole nasty event but it meant we were able to make it back in time for the start of the concert which was amazing. There were over a million people but our area wasn't super crowded like the front. 2 hours of free Stones music. Does it get any better. By the time it was all over I was just ready to fall off my feet. There had been some much buildup that once it was over, so was my energy. I walked back with some of the guys and luckily found the right bus back home and collapsed into bed.
Took it pretty easy the next day. It is so hot here it's really hard to get up an appetite so I pretty much spend all my money at a juice place around the corner. Everyone here drinks acai, a purple fruit that is made into an icy drink but its too sweet for me. The watermelon or passion fruit juices are my staples. One last tour to see a football match. The stadium is half under repairs but it didn't matter, there was hardly anyone there to fill up the seats anyway. We were in the home team section but unlike Buenos Aires, we had little seats which was terrific. The drums and the singing were tops but it wasn't a patch on the Cup final game I saw in B.A. There was a big street party that night in Gavia but most of us were too pooped to party and just had a few drinks at the hostel before turning in.
I had big plans for my last full day in Rio but they got wheedled down to just going to the beach by the time I was done with breakfast. It was hot but there was a nice breeze wafting off the water. All the girls were happy to cook themselves but I rented an umbrella. Gotta take care of your skin you know. Spent the entire day on Ipanema, what more could a girl want. Later we met up for dinner and a few drinks before some of us headed to a big party in Lapa. It took forever to get in but since you can drink on the street, it didn't matter. We danced for a while but it got really hot and crowded and everyone got lost. I looked around for a while but finally gave up and caught a van bus home. Off to Salvador tomorrow for Carnaval. I know. According to my schedule I'm supposed to be in Bolivia but I've had to make a few last minute modifications. My so called fried (ha ha, kidding D.) bailed on coming to Rio only a few weeks before Carnaval. I emailed around to friends in the area to try and get a line of where to go and stay since getting a room for Carnaval is both expensive and hard to find. Dee and Bob from Sandanzas in BA have hooked me up with an apartment in Salvador for Carnaval for cheap. Were stuffing 8 people in a 3 bedroom apartment. Should be fun. My flight from La Paz, Bolivia to Rio, Brazil was cancellable. Talk about luck. So I canceled and came straight from Lima so I could catch the free Stones concert. Traveling logistics can be so crazy sometimes but it's all worked out well for me. I'm just hoping my liver will last me til the end of Carnaval.