Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Report # 5

Hi to all,

This is really a continuation of number 4 which I sent this morning.

My impressions of Brazil:- a place full and full of people - huge contrasts between well-off and poor which is sad but the people are aware of it and hopefully over hte years the social problems willl be resolved. The people are friendly and fun - evenn the poor and homeless are able to laugh and sing. Very hard to understand the spoken language - the sounds are so foreign to my ears - but others who speak several languages say the same. Even when they repeat something several times I have to say I can”t understand.The traffic is wild and furious with horns blasting all the time but they all get thru and seem to willingly accomodate each other. The buses drive at a great frenzy and have suddeen starts and stops and scream around corners but with no problems. The bikes (motor) are the thing there are thousands of them and they weave constantly between the various rows of cars and people with their horns beeeping all the time.Some amazing buildings - mix of old and new - and slums thrown in with the mix. Some stories to tell - when I first arrived in BA I realised the one thing I had forgotten was a torch (to go to loo at night mainly but also to find things in backpack (mochila). So planned to buy one. Next morn on my travels between bus terminal and hotel and back again a guy ran thru the carriage and gave everyone a gift (so I thought!!!) I glanced at it and thought it was a key- ring - probably a promotion of some kind. I dropped it in my little day-pack got off at the next station and thought no more of it. But next trip someone else came along with another gift - a card full of all sorts of sewing needles and it had the price on the top (1 peso) asnd some people actually paid the guy on his return trip a few minutes later, while the rest gave the item back. THEN i REALISED THAT THIS WAS A FORM OF INCOME FOR THESE PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO social security (bloody caps lock!!) and I checked my little item and it was 2 pesos !!! and guess what - its a torch!!! 4 cms long as thick as a pencil and gives a brilliant blue-white light runs on watch-batteries and even has a spare set of bastteries. So on my first day I robbed some poor Argentinian of part of his income. Sorry buddy - didn''t mean to.

The other thing is about Sugarloaf - I read the guide book to say you could climb to the very top if you were fit so guess who decided to climb it!!! there are two mountains with a valley - dip- in between; the first is Urca at 220 mts and then Sugar at 396 mts. I walked the paved path at the base expecting it to wind behind the hill and allow climbing from rear. But path stops and sign says dont go past here without experienced guide!!, so I backtracked to where a side path branches up the hill and started out. Brandon, it is about 150 mts up with high steps at about 35-40 degress - sort of like steep stairs, rocky twisting and winding and in rain forest. I was out of breath in 5 mins but made it to a point where it flattened out heart was at about 145. (my max optimum)I branched to right towards sugar and reached the end of the path at the base of the sheer vertical rock face of sugar going up another 250 mts. Two guys were climbing with all the professional ropes etc that one needs. I backtracked end took the left path and got tp Urca all hot and sweaty after 220 mts steeeeep climb. Brandon, your stairs will be a breeze after that. Anyway took the cable car to Sugar and back down. Terrific trip well worth it. And tell your friends - they cannot climb Sugar, only Urca. Today went to get ticket to Salvador - 28 hours up the road - but ticket is $100 instead of $50 expected from guide. so did not have enough cash on me - have a large locker at hostel with all valuables locked in - Mary, the extra padlock came in handy!! So have to go back again. But tonight met a guy - Brazilian - staying at hostel who is from Belo Horizonte which is near to Ouro Peato the world famous baroque town and he says I have to visit it so may do that and then go to Salvador from there. Ouro is only 4 hrs from here. Plan to leave Sat (it is now Thurs night) Eating all the local food but stock up on yogurts and chocs for emergencies. Thats enought for now - till next time - presumably from up the road a ways. No safety problems at all in any respect. I must say I am taking all precautions and am very aware that I cannot afford to have any accident like falling or cutting etc as that could be a disaster. So I take lots of care in even walking, crossing streets, using implements etc. I am well and happy and enjoying the trip

Love Nobby