Steve's Adventures in South America
I bought a one-way ticket to Venezuela and I'm not coming back until my tube of toothpaste runs out...

Sugar Christ & Jesus Loaf

More coffee for breakfast and I join a Dragoman Mini Bus Tour to see the 2 main sights of Rio - Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer and the Sugar Loaf Mountain. Our tour guide is a blonde, blue eyed German woman called Lisa who cares less for us as she does for taking personal phone calls on her mobile. Ring ring... Ring ring... "HELLO. I'M DOING A TOUR. WHAT...? MY FIRST TIME? NO, THEY DON'T KNOW!" Or when she is conveying information to the bus she stands at the front and stares vacantly straight at me. Scary.

Christ the Redeemer

We take the train to the top of the Corcovado Mountain and the statue of Christ. There's a chapel in the base of the statue but it was closed for renovation. The outstanding views from the top have always been there, the railways have been there for centuries but only in the 1920s did the Catholic Church decide to adorn the mountain with a giant statue of Christ because, err, they could! There's only one walkway by the Christ and that is where people stand to take photos of the Christ and where they stand to have photos taken of them with the Christ and where they stand to take photos of the view and where they battle through all the standing people to attain their own standing position. Not very well thought out.

View of Rio from Corcovado

I sit on the wall to keep out of the way - I deliberately chose a spot with a 3 foot drop on the other side as not to draw attention to myself. No such luck, a security guard blows his whistle at me. I close my eyes and fantasise about being back in the refreshing freedom of Guyana where they wouldn't even have a wall, let alone a paid bigoted Nazi with a whistle. I open my eyes and survey the scene before me - swathes of tubby tourists being herded through the sights amidst a flurry of incessant camera clicks. I am not impressed. Back on the train I overhear over privileged western girls prattle on about Australia and other tourist destinations they've seen on their around-the-world trip paid for by Daddy. I'm still not impressed. Okay I admit the views of Rio and its Copacabana and Ipenema beaches from the top were good but I would have enjoyed them even more had I struggled to the top under my own steam, rather than by train.

Sugar Loaf Mountain

View from Sugar Loaf Mountain

Next stop - Sugar Loaf Mountain. There is no history to this place, it is just famous for being a view point and being in the Moonraker Bond film (where Jaws bites through the cable). Still the views are cool and you take 2 groovy cable cars to the top. On the way down I start chatting to a couple of lads and a group of rather tasty girls. I convince myself I should join them to see a football match that evening between 2 local Rio teams, Vasco and Flumiense, at the Mararana Stadium for R$45. I figure it'd be character building to do something I don't want to do and besides it seemed like a good time and place to see my first ever football match - Rio de Janeiro at Carnival time.

Mararana Stadium

The Metro ride to the football ground was rammed and the girls enjoyed the heated atmosphere. Though I just saw drunken yobs shouting and swearing! Girls, go figure!? We all had London Underground Tube type tickets to get into the stadium but there was still a plethora of staff to help us through the entry machines, because most machines were either jammed or just plain broken. Once I was in I followed the wrong crowd of Westerners and lost my group completely so I sat on my own and observed the match. It was unspectacular and through a complete lack of defence on both sides it resulted in a 4-4 draw.

John, Uttam, Emily, Amanda, Fran & Kristina

A note on Brazil - it's a country that promises so much modernism but fails to deliver upon execution. Like a multitude of cash machines which don't work, aren't plugged in or only service their own bank; Spectator view points with no thought given to tourist through put; Modern ticket machines at the football match which still require ticket staff because they don't work. Sigh.

Planet of Beer!

At the hotel, Rick and Uttam of the group I recently latched onto have been moved into my triple room. I join the group for dinner at a cafe called (roughly translated) "Planet Beer". Yeah! The average young and ignorant age of the group becomes transparent when one starts chatting about the intelligence of Brazilians and foreigners in general, "Because they're not really that stupid you know. I mean us British are always good at technology and that, but these guys are good at languages, init." Sigh. Later everyone heads back for an early night, except me and Mr International Relations who head out to a local bar. After a few beers he decides to get in a few local brews. "I'm well miffed off. I ask the guy for some local drinks and he understood the word local and all I get is couple of bleedin' Mojitos. That's hardly different to back home init?" I have to politely explain. We then get chatting to a local lad and a couple of his female friends. In my inebriated state I quite fancy the girls and thought I was getting on rather well them too! That is until the local lad tells me, "We don't like your friend much." Arrr, possibly time to go home then. My new room mates tell me I rolled back in at 05:30. Good effort I thought.

Posted by Steve Eynon