Monday, May 2, 2011

The LAST Bus Ride

Oh Rio....I'm going to like you!!!

After the craziness of Carnaval, Larry and I found ourselves on another endless bus ride, this time headed to Rio de Janeiro. I don’t even know how many hours this bus ride was… 28 hours…..32 hours……….37 hours…who knows. I was really starting to feel like all of my time in South America was being spent on a bus. Somewhere on this endless ride, Larry and I started to discuss what we wanted to do next. Our original plan was to bus in to Peru to hike up to Machu Picchu. The thought of logging more bus hours heading to yet another overly populated tourist destination made me want to throw myself out the window of the bus and splat myself on the Brazilian highway. We thought about our finances and decided that flying wasn’t really an option. Until the instant people teleporter machine was invented, the bus was our only option.

I started to think about everything I had wanted to do on this trip. The two most important things for me were Antarctica and Carnaval. I had already done both of those. I also really wanted to lay on the famous beaches of Brazil, bike down the World’s Most Dangerous Road, see the Amazon Jungle and see the salt flats in Bolivia. I also wanted to see Machu Picchu. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that I wouldn’t be sad if I didn’t make it to Machu Picchu this time. Part of the reason I wanted to go was that it was such a big tourist attraction…I mean how could you go to South America and not go to the famed Machu Picchu, right? Well for the amount of things I had already crossed off my bucket list, I wasn’t going to be sad to have to come back to South America another time. Machu Picchu could wait. I could not survive another bus ride.

When I explained this to Larry, she was relieved, but as always, the supportive friend who wanted to make sure I was really ok with skipping Peru. I told her I would go on a murderous rampage if I had to endure another multi day bus journey.  We left it at that, but I knew we were not bussing it to Peru.

When we finally arrived in Rio, we got to our hostel only to find that they didn’t have enough beds for us. The hostel people were great, and we got a private room for the price of a dorm. We were more than grateful for the room, as the crowded buses and the crowds of Carnival had me nearly at my limit with crowds and people. In our little room, Larry and I searched flights and destinations until we came up with a plan. Randomly, on a whim, because it was cheap to get there, because it was tropical and because I hadn’t yet seen the Caribbean Sea,  we booked flights to Belize. We were going to spend a month on its picturesque turquoise water beaches, then head back to Canada. This was a plan I could jump on!

Copacabana Boardwalk

I was ecstatic and overwhelmed with relief…it was true, NO MORE BUSES!!!!!!!!!!!!!  A single thought had never made me so happy!!

NOT where we stayed...notice giant Christ at the top left

We had a week in Rio and were determined to fit in as much as we could before we departed South America. Early the next day we headed down to Copacabana Beach. The whole way there, I had Barry Manilow’s song lyrics in my head. “At the Copa….Copacabana…..they fell in love”. Little did I know that these words would nearly ring true in the very near future. I was missing a bunch of lyrics in the middle, but all I could think of all day everyday we were in Rio was “at the Copa…Copacabana…” It was a broken record in my head that Larry and I were constantly belting it out at random intervals.

At the Copa...Copacabana....

We lazed on the beach, ate fresh prawns from a man selling them on the beach and gazed at the Christ the Redeemer statue from afar.


 When we had enough of the beach we hit the streets and window shopped our way to Ipanema beach. It was a lovely day, and already I was loving Rio! We had big plans for the week, including a football game, a tour of the favelas and more beach. Knowing I was not going to be suffering through another bus journey had lifted my spirits and I wanted to soak up all of Rio de Janeiro.

Copacabana Beach

Up next, a Brazilian football game, a ghetto tour and helping some boys find an ATM.