Brazil is a incredibly beautiful country. All of its forest is rainforest, which is incredible on its own, but it's surrounded by majestic cliffs, rolling hills, jewel bright water and white sand. Then you've got random shit like iguazu falls lying around. If you can't tell from the pictures, the aching amount of beauty in that place with all of its rainbows and sunshine is so intense it's cartoonish. It looks like the living embodiment of something out of Avatar, or the Lion King. It's the vision of what European explorers wanted to find in the Americas.
In Rio, I was able to stay with a friend of my father's, saving me the terrible New Years prices in the hostels. They were very kind, and access to my own bed, home cooked food, and air conditioning was luxurious and heavenly.
Rio must be an incredible place to live. The food is excellent, the beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world, and there's tons of wild rainforest nearby to explore, not to mention nearby islands to visit. My first day in Rio I went to an art museum, walked around downtown, visited this incredible modern style Cathedral, and went to see big Jesus, which was incredible. Packed, but incredible.
The second day I went hang gliding. This was actually my second time hang gliding, but I was my first time doing it in tandem, where the guide takes you up high and you peer over this extremely high cliff and he explains to you that you're going to run off of it, and if you slow down or stop at the end of the ramp, you will definitely die. That was the scariest part, one you're in the air it's like flying.
That night was new years eve, and my host talked me into buying a cheap ticket on a party yacht to watch the fireworks. I was very eager for the fireworks, they are one of the main reasons I came to Brazil. I was very curious what makes them such a big deal. Fireworks are cool, sure, but surely there's not a lot of room for improvement?? Turns out there is. On copacobana beach, at exactly 12am, over a mile of beach erupts in fireworks. What makes it cool is the scale. Never before have I seen a fireworks show stretch a mile. The whole horizon lights up. It was incredible.
Party boat was pretty great too.
However, the whole time I was in Rio. I was fighting a deep exhaustion. I begged myself to rest. I told myself to lay on the beach, and I just couldn't do it. I couldn't let myself stay inside or sit still when there was a city to be explored, even if that meant exhausting hours staring at maps, sitting on the subway, and waiting in line in the hot sun. Everything was overwhelming. Going from small little mountain towns to cities twice the size of new York is a big change. I had to be ridiculously alert for pickpockets. At night I slept soundly and woke late, but I was always tired.
On the edges of my exhaustion came a frustration with Rio and myself. Myself for being whiny about visiting one of the most incredible cities in the world, and Rio for being too big, too crowded, and way way too hot. I had done most of the major tourist attractions, but I had a whole 10 days left in Rio. And I missed Patagonia. I missed getting up every day and preparing for a hike, then coming back to the hostel and playing cards for half the night. I missed the day in Torres when I went over the pass, and everyone kept asking each other, "how's your day going?" with big shit eating grins on our faces, because we knew we'd survived a blizzard, climbed into the clouds, earned a view of the glacier, and it was the best day.
One of the ideas for this trip that died in the planning stages was to go to North Brazil and camp in one of its most famous national parks, Chapada Diamintina. The trek requires an expensive guide and the timeline was really tight, so I decided I was going to chill out and spend a almost two weeks in Rio instead.
I was tired in Rio, even after days of sleep. I would be exhausted if I did Chapada Diamintina. But if I was only going to be satisfied if I was hurtling around the world at breakneck speed, might as well sprint to the finish and tight schedules be damned. Sleep is for the dead.
The minute I booked it, it was like a cloud passed. I calmed right down. I had a great last day in Rio. I went to an amazing samba club and danced all night. And then I packed for one last big adventure.Read more