How to open the page to this chapter???    Rio was everything I thought it would be and more.  Arriving a day before the others (those sharing the apartment with me), I found a hostel straight from the bus and arriving relatively late in the evening had a quiet night.  It was quite nice actually to have the time to myself.  Even though Im travelling alone, the moments of solitude are few and far between.  It was cool to again feel the pressure of a new situation where you know no-one, are alone and have to fend for yourself…. even if it was only for one night.

   The next day I bumped into Bo walking along the street and we established we´d actually been about 100 metres apart for the last 18 hours. Quite hilarious.  Spending the morning whiling away and organising the apartment we bumped into 2 of the other occupants and within 20 minutes were situated in a lovely, 2 bedroom, fully furnished, air conditioned, interior decorated apartment where we were to drop our bags for the next 4 nights.  Marvelling at how nice the apartment was my mind raced 96 hours ahead to the way it would look after 13 other people had made it thier home too.  Thats right, intended for 6 people, we, being the eperienced and tightassed backpackers we are, squeezed 14 people (Japanese in telephone booth style) into the tiny apartment keeping the costs to an astonishingly low level.

  The days following were characterised by the typical things people do in such confined spaces.  Talk, wait for the toilet, drink, wait for the shower, eat, wait for the toilet.  The only hitch in this otherwise fantastically orchestrated exhibit of extreme fund-saving was the single toilet whose existence copped a solid thrashing 24-7.  The bathroom quickly became a warzone afflicting the most innocent and hungover individual to an overpowering aroma and waiting line.  But, for $7 a night, one cannot complain about the toilet when your half a block from the famous Copacabana Beach.

  Whilst nights were spent taste testing as many $1 bottles of vodka and Caçarsa as possible, drinking the delectable Caprihñas (crushed lime and sugar with the rocket fuel Caçarsa) before experiencing the night life and vibrant street parties, days were spent absorbing the heat, chilling on Ipanema beach and observing the various sights of Rio de Janiero.   I am still amazed at that city.

  Rio is basically situated in the heart of a valley and is surrounded by cliffs, lagoons, and the ocean.  Parts of the city are hence scattered here and there with no logical connection from one suburb to the other.  Absolutely beautiful to look at, Rio is plagued with one way streets, and dead ends making my taxi driver acceptance test a nightmare.  We spent one evening at Cristo Redemor, you dont know it??  Yes you do!  The famous Christ statue sits atop Rios highest mountain and is visible from all reaches of the city.  I guess the idea is that Rio is watched over by the Almightys Son himself and hence all are protected. How there are so many stabbings, muggings and paranoid locals is anyones guess, but then again god does work in mysterious ways…….

       Absorbing the panoramic view of Rio de Janiero was amazing.  In every direction (duh, its panoramic) we could see the clusters of housing and industry which together form the whole city.  We could see all the islands and the lagoons as well as the many Favelas (slums) which line the loosely architecturally sound ciff faces.  All in all we took the sight in with awe and were even treated to a lightening show framing the city in a shadowy glory for all but a split second.  All up an amazing sight and to top it all off our big black african taxi driver sang Bob Marley at the top of his voice all the way up and then all the way down.  When the storm blew in literally ontop of us it was time to ´vamos´ and we departed.

  Returning to the apartment I got the best surprise of all.  Planning to reunite always in Brasil the time had come for the Guns of Navarone to once again blast in full force.  Waiting in the apartment upon return were Carmin, Tanner and Brian along with a new addition Dan and together we caught up with a bucket of Caprihña a few hugs and a very drunken night walking around the vibrant Samba filled suburb of Lapa.  The boys were back in town, and the guns are in full force once more.  My family from Bolivia and Peru have reunited and a páth with be burned to destruction straight through Salvador for the next 10 days (CARNAVAL!!!). That night I passed out on the spare bed in the lounge with Carmin right next to me.

  Reuntied and hungover, the following day was the reason we all had converged to Rio for the weekend of the 18th.  The Rolling Stones free concert on Copacabana Beach.  But that is an entry on its own, so for now just check out these photos of Rio.

 copacabana Beach

Rio from top of Christ statue

More Rio

Me hanging with Jesus

The poorer side of Rio, its everywhere