I´ve fallen in love……
2007-11-28 to 2007-12-04
“Never judge an island by the port that you leave from to get there´´ is a famous old Irish saying that I have just made up! But after our 20 hours of bus hopping to get to the pier where we were to take the boat to Ilha Grande, it seemed to make a lot of sense.
The smelly pier teemed with people all intent on making you feel like you were in the way so I walked around to kill an hour before our boat trip. I went for a BIG MAX burger at MAX burger joint (wondering if the good folks at Mc D´s know about this blatant rip off!) and from where I sat I saw a Quicksilver shop (instead of its more famous Quiksilver counterpart) and a shop called TACO that looked exactly like GAP shops around the world. But in this world of fake rip offs, I came across a truly unique sight.
A hatchback car was doubling as a hearst as a funeral procession passed through the town. I couldn´t actually work out who was the main mourners as no-one seemed to be wailing in grief and everyone wore an array of colours, almost anything other than black. It just looked so peaceful and respectful and seemed to celebrate life, even now at this most terminal of times.
The island is really big but any island without roads is ok by me! I love these places and there is always a great vibe, if you have never been to a place without roads, you should treat yourself.
Natalie and I took a 90 minute hike over the hills to the other beaches and we rewarded ourselves with a sleep on the beach. On our way back we came across a little monkey, not even the size of my hand, that posed for photos like a pro! We met Liza and Eamon from Ireland and took a pulley boat out to a floating restaurant bar which some people swam out to. The novelty seemed to work because it was always busy.
That evening a few of us went for dinner where Eamon and I plumped for the Crazy Beef Sandwich which was actually quite good (presumably made from Mad Cow I suppose!)
But the time had come to head to Rio, so after discovering that a lot of the Swedish words the girls had thought me were actually curses and not ´thank you´, ýou´re welcome,´and so forth as I was led to believe, I said goodbye to them and headed north!
I got to my hostel and it was like an episode of ´This is your Life´as I met a load of people that I had met on my travels so far. Always a fun get together as all of our respective paths have construed to throw us back together again, each of us having survived our own difficulties (like Norwegian heavyweights in my case) and increased our story loads to share again.
We went out to a street party in Lapa, several blocks of this area which are turned into a massive outdoor party with drinks and food being sold on the streets and the street kids trying to sell you chewing gum while the older ones tried to pick your pockets! Really enterprising kids!
I went to Ipanema beach next day to see if I could find the girl from the song but she proved elusive. Again I was confronted by the abomination that is Speedo´s but that was offset by the local girls again.
Some were playing a variation of volleyball in so much as they were playing football over a high net. I fell truly, deeply, madly, magnificently, completely, sincerely, genuinely and wholeheartedly in love with about 3 of them at the same time as they exhibited their skills in a dance sexier than the Tango to me. I was getting quite heady by the realisation that I was in a place where not only could I find a girl that understood the offside rule in football, but could actually play it aswell, that I had to sit down!
Next day we got another dose of football as 30 of us were taken from the hostel to see Vasco de Gama play their last game of the season. After going to so many matches in the past, it was kind of embarassing to be herded as a group to the game while the locals looked on at the gringos who they presumed were frightened stiff. To be honest with you, this was where I had felt the safest since I came to Brazil.
The fans were simply amazing. 90 minutes before the game they were singing and beating their drums without break, huge flags flying being waved by big men around the stadium. I thought we were going to get packaged off to a quieter section of the ground so I was quite surprised to see that we were absolutely immersed in the crazy section again, surrounded by the drums and the incredibly vocal fans. We were the only ones drinking beers, the rest of the stadium were just high on life.
Before the game, some under 6´s came out and the crowd acknowledged vigourously a recent competition that the little tykes had won. The game was a walkover 3-0 victory for the homeside but the real winners were the fans. (Check out the video I took of the fans on this site) I went outside after and bought some beers for the bus trip back and then bought some from the fans who were there too, courtesy of the Irish. They all took turns shaking my hands, sang Vasco songs for ages and then insisted on having their pictures taken with me. And all for the price of two cans of beer!
I have to wait for my new passport to arrive from Buenos Aires, via the Danish Consulate but I didn´t want to spend a week in Rio waiting for it, so I looked at a map, booked a flight and 5 hours later I was arriving into Salvador in the North West of the country.
This was the centre of African Slave Trade for several centuries, was the home of the first lighthouse in the Americas, was where Amerigo Vespucci first landed on this continent and is the home of the largest Carnivale in the world (and you thought it was Rio de Jeneiro!) So much history here, great foods and music everynight, I think I have found my base for a week.
I have checked into another great hostel with Russell and Kyeko being amongst the nicest hosts I have ever met. As Russell said, it really didn´t feel like work to them and it kicked off a thought in my head about wanting to own one of these places one day and the immortal words “ Find a job that you love and you will never work a day in your life´´