Saturday, August 16, 2003

Week 9 in Brazil, Take 2

Well, I’m afraid this update loses some of its impact now that I’ve returned to the states, but I didn’t exactly have time to write my final missive twice.  I literally used my last 20 minutes at the youth hostel in Rio to type the tale of my final week in Brazil and as a result, after hotmail ate my words of wisdom re week 9, I had no choice but to leave the tale for later reconstruction as I had a plane to catch.  By the way, many thanks to all those sarcastic words of wisdom (no I did not forget something, Nancy, hotmail just hates me and yes, my week was EXTREMELY exciting, thank you very much, Jed).

And so… I will attempt to reconstruct my final week for you, my patient loyal readers, and also for me, since I find it impossible to leave this tale unfinished!

Speaking of Jed, he would be so proud of me (I forgot to mention this in week 8), for I spent one of my final evenings with my family playing the Brazilian version of that game whose name escapes me, but you know the one — it’s a war game, involving lots of armies with the goal being to take over the world.  In any case, I had to keep reminding the apparent cheaters in the family (the father and the 14-year old son) that no, if they wanted to fight with x number of armies, then they had to actually move y number of armies when they won.  I constantly amazed the young boys in the house with my knowledge of “cool” games and (amazingly enough!) music.

But that has nothing to do with week 9.  Week 9 I spent in Rio (and what fun that was!)  For the first part of the week, I toured the city with the other Americans in our group.  We visited Cristo Redentor at the top of a mountain via train and an endless number of steps; trekked across two other mountains on our way to a third (Pao de Acucar) via rikkety, grindy, terrifying slow, cable cars (my mom would have freaked!); ate at a churrasco buffet (the Brazilian version of barbecue where every two minutes a waiter hovered over your shoulder wanting to drop giant slabs of meat on your plate – I kept them away with my newly acquired Brazilian finger – that would be a no-no-no shaking of the finger not whatever the hell else you guys are thinking); spent hours at the beach; visited several "hippy fairs"; trekked through a botanical garden; visited the soccer stadium (why I ask you); and attended a hideous, tacky, Las Vegas showgirl type show well-known among Rio tourists for its “realistic” portrayal of Brazilian culture and history [scoffs and rolls eyes].

My only regret is that I never did get the chance to leap off that mountain in Rio and hang-glide down to the beaches below.  They kept cancelling our reservation due to inclement weather.  Damn them.  Of course, in retrospect, I think that maybe the inclement weather was actually the universe shouting at us, “HEY!  Enough risk-taking already, you MORONS!!”

My final three days in Rio I spent at the beach, wandering through Copacabana, enjoying my room at the youth hostel that was so very different from the room of broken pipes, waterfall streaming across the electric control panel and telephone, sprinkling in my face at 4:00 in the morning, nearly electrocuting me as I attempted to turn on the lights and turn off the a/c via the same control panel, unable to see the water that was turning it into a hazardous danger zone… this was the room I stayed in at our “classier” and more expensive group hotel we stayed in for the first half of the week.  My youth hostel was much calmer and had lots more character with a hammock on the balcony, bunk beds in the rooms, hardwood floors, ceiling fans and older architecture.

In any case, that was my final week in Brazil.  For the most part, it was calm with a distinct lack of excitement (mainly because I wasn’t with the group that ended up getting in an argument with a taxi driver — well, I did get in some arguments myself, but I wasn’t there for this particular argument — and were forced to exit the cab in the middle of a bunch of favelas, or shantytowns, with no idea of where they were or how to get where they were going, and ended up getting picked up by mega-scary, machine gun toting military police… they were eventually given a ride to civilization after enduring a lecture about wandering where they didn’t belong and having to hear about the German tourist who was shot not two blocks from where they stood two weeks before… yeah, I’m thinking I was lucky to escape all that excitement!)

And so my experiences in Brazil ended with a 12-hour plane ride home, 4 hour layover in Texas, and a 2 hour flight to K.C.  All in all, it was a great trip, crazy family, river rafting near death experience, cable cars, excessive hours in class, military police and all.

But it’s good to be home too!

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