Breathtaking Bonito and the Incredible Iguazu Falls

So our last stop in Brazil is the beautiful Bonito. Where we shelled out the cash for the Abismo Anhumas tour where we repelled 72 meters down a narrow passage in to a cave.

After lowering yourself down you arrive in the most eery beautiful cave with a crystal clear water lake at the bottom. The formations of the stalactites resembled wonky Willy’s, strange looking thumbs and the dementors off Harry Potter.

After a brief boat ride we struggled in to our wet suits and submerged ourselves in the freezing cold water surrounded by tiny fishes. As we swam around observing the underwater world of stalagmites rising from the ground. A few hours later freezing cold, we felt like we were being birthed as we peeled off out wet suits.

We were then pulled back to the surface and headed back to town for our night bus to Iguazu Falls. Which turned up late and was a rattley old minivan with no toilet. Time to dehydrate ourselves for twelve hours whilst out heads bang off the headrests and we silently curse bring cheapskates and not flying. We arrive at 7.30am with all our bags, no sleep and no cash. We couldn’t be more unprepared if we tried. So after leaving Daisy at the bus stop with the bags I head to the nearest supermarket to try and get some cash out for the bus. As I approach the closed supermarket it looks like a scene off a zombie apocalypse movie as three individual middle aged men stand dotted around in the car pack drunk and swaying with blank expressions on their faces. And as I join them they all Lear a bit closer making me feel slightly uncomfortable standing there in my pyjamas. The supermarket finally opens and the casualty’s head for the booze isle whilst I race to the cash point desperate to leave this place. My card doesn’t work with any of the cashpoints and I end up walking around town looking for another one. Unsuccessful I walk back towards Daisy looking like a homeless at the bus stop in her pyjamas surrounded by bags. Just before I reach her as a desperate last resort I ask the hotdog van man if I can pay 20reals on card and he can give it to me in cash, which we debate for a while, whilst daisy try’s to communicate to me with her eyes. I can only guess she asking what the fuck I am doing and where have I been. In the end we team up with a lovely Argentinian family and all bundle in to cab for a cheeper trip straight through the boarder and to the waterfalls. We arrive laden down like donkeys and find some lockers to store our things and change out of these bloody pyjamas. Grab a map and head in to the national park ready to take on the 10k of different paths to all the falls.

No amount of pictures on the internet could have prepared us for how unbelievably breathtaking the waterfalls are. And they seem to go on forever growing in size and powerfulness. The water crashes to the ground causing huge whirling spray to rise making it impossible to even see where the falls end. Some paths leave you with panoramic views whilst others leave you soaking wet as you stand staring in awe.

So now with pulsating feet and starting to lag we decided to not stay the night in Iguazu Falls and go straight to Buenos Aires instead. So we load all our worldly possessions in to can straight to the airport which we approached without even realising as the airport is still a building site. We buy a flight straight from check in desk and check straight in. Bring on Buenos Aires.

Farewell Florianopilis

So two weeks in Florianopilis has flown by and before we know it, its time to leave. During our last week with the weather always threatening to rain and the sun struggling for its moment to shine, beaches were not on the agenda. And so sick to death with the shit chat with random hippies we will never see again. And nine bed dorms that have you waking up all through the night as people stumble around trying to find a toilet. We decided to check air bnb, absolutely the best decision we have made yet as we found a beautiful three bed apartment in a great location for the same price as a night in the hostel. So for the first time in nearly 5 months we had our own bedrooms!

We did a surf lesson on Campeche beach where I’m sure I swallowed my body weight in salty water, flashed the instructor multiple times and got completely battered by the waves. You certainly won’t see me on bay watch any time soon. Daisy on the other hand managed to ride the waves for a few seconds at a time before she plummeted to the ground. Pretty impressive. We both emerged an hour later half drowned and with stinging eyes. I will defiantly rethink my swimwear options for any future surfing. The next day we decided to swap surfing for sand boarding and headed for the dunes.

Being our second time sand boarding we managed to stand for slightly more time before falling to an even more dangerous near death. But relentlessly we got back up again and again heading for the even steeper hills, throwing ourselves down with blind faith and tumbling to the bottom bruised and covered in sand. When our hour was up we hobbled to the beach where we sat so covered in sand we almost blended in to the ground. Lunch was served by a stroppy teenager who was clearly forced to serve us and had his girlfriend hanging around in the background silently hating us with her eyes.

Finally when it came time to leave we ordered an Uber and tried to pay the bill only for both our cards to get rejected with the embarrassing insufficient funds. Fuck! The woman was not helpful but finally agreed to hotspot us some data so we could transfer the funds for lunch and scraper quickly in to our waiting cab. Running from one embarrassing shit storm to another as we covered his taxi in sand and spent the entire journey trying to discreetly brush it on to the floor. When we arrived Daisy ran in for some cash that he then didn’t have change for so after begging the neighbours we finally had the taxi paid and entered our apartment covered not only in sand but shame at the chaos of the last half an hour. That brings me to our last day where after a few days of storms where we barely left the house apart from to get the essential munchies and ate rounds of oat flour pancakes with goji berries and chia seeds until our bellies swelled and we sunk in to food like comas.

But on the final day the sun shone for us and we headed to Lagoinha de oeste a beach an hours trek away.

The treck there was easy and we chilled on the beautiful deserted beach for hours before we attempted the scenic rout back along a narrow cliff edge for over an hour where looking over the edge we could see sea lions poking up their heads for air. It then curved in to the jungle where now sweating and dangerously low on water we hoped beyond hope we hadn’t taken a tong turn somewhere.

Relief floods over us when we arrive on the beach finally. The next morning we say our goodbye to Florianopilis.

Sassy São Paulo

São Paulo feels like home from home and after the small town life we fall in love with the city. The tubes are more than efficient and make London look prehistoric with its cramped, delayed sweaty tubes. The carriages feel like penthouses with their air con and colourful chairs that don’t force you to sit in a rows avoiding eye contact with a stranger.

The area we are staying in is riddled with beautiful boutiques selling one off items, and having worn our clothes to extinction. Every item showing the signs of abuse. We decide it is finally time to lay our misshapen, off white, stained things to rest and adopt a new wardrobe. Day two and we head to Buntantan food and vintage clothes market where people rout through piles of junk looking for that one gem amongst the smell of dead peoples clothes. Then head to the food stalls and shoulder their way to the front to shout their order at very rushed looking staff. We indulged in both parts of this process and head home with yet more clothes. Feeling like something off a chic flick we defiantly got carried away and after two days we emerge new women. We now look far too clean for our hostel and hit the town. Where we end up in a swanky bar that reminds us of London. The gin and tonics go straight to our heads and before we know it we have joined a party of english speakers who meet up once a week to practice English. It’s a win win they get to hear a pissed up Brit in its natural habitat and we get to look like we actually have friends. And although we are in a swanky place we are still overdressed as we managed to turn up for a pyjama party themed night.

We stumble back to the hostel after an embarrassing money issue with the taxi driver where our card got declined so we showered him in change and left whilst he counted the coins. We managed it up the stairs and demanded a lighter so we could make drunken munchies before stumbling to bed armed with water. The next morning we rise, somehow without hangovers and feeling like we were winning at life we decide to hit the town again this time with a new friend. Once again we drink too much and chat political bollocks we know nothing about before deciding our bellies need attention and head to the Mexican up the road. We get multiple rounds of tacos before heading to a night club. A night club we decided was far too expensive so instead hung around outside drinking neat whisky and chatting to the locals. But Realising we could no longer stomach our drinks and every mouthful was a challenge we thought it sensible to head home.

The next morning barely a hangover in sight we head to the Japanese part of town where two quick efficient tubes later and you emerge from the station wondering how you made it all the way to Japan. The streets converted in to a marked wafting different delicious smells from every direction. Now with not enough belly space for all the new creations we want to try we get tactful deciding to order one of everything and split it therefore trying the maximum amount of flavours. The giant gyoza was swimming in a delicious sauce and the steamed bun felt like sinking your teeth in to a cloud. The prawn balls weren’t quiet as good but then maybe by this point we were spoilt. Followed by some sweet bean pancakes that really confuse the tastebuds in a good way. Next we move on the nick nack stalls where we buy things we don’t need at prices too cheep to question. A quick wonder around the town and the worlds tiniest Japanese garden and it’s time to drag our swollen bellies home. Deciding to walk it off before getting the tube, we leave Japan behind us and walk towards home where we stumble upon a run down part of town with a pile of puke every few meters and old grey buildings towering above us. After having only seen the bright lights of São Paulo its certainly a contrast. That evening after a few rounds of cards we take over the Netflix area dominating the sofas with our blankets and watch kill bill, and in every loading break we make up the stories to go with the Portuguese comics lying around. Giggling enough to drive the other back packers away wondering what we have smoked. (Let’s not tell them that we are naturally this blonde).

The next morning and time to say goodbye to our new friend and head out for more sight seeing. We start the day my favourite way and go for lunch. Where we order enormous bowls of ramen from Lamen Kazu, they defiantly live up to expectations and I slurp the contents down in record time and then help Daisy finish hers. (Moments like this remind me why we work so well travelling together). Next trying to fit in as many things in one day we walk home the scenic rout stopping at a park, then going to the top of a sky scraper for our classic view point where we were offered complimentary champagne. Winning! We stop at another park on the way home where we watch a hoard of skaters whiz by, a girl practising some very energetic dance routine to no music and a lost looking gringo play the harmonica. Wondering what the people watching us must think. On the way home we pop in to “Coffee lab” and order two caçhasa coffees… and wow they tasted like liquid heaven I won’t say more but go there!

Another day of adventures and we wonder back to our haven of a hostel “cafe hostel” where the owner is non stop singing, creating a ripple affect around the hostel as we all echo his cheesy tunes. That evening we head for falafel wraps at “Haya falafel” where we chose kale wrapped falafels and pumpkin houmos! Yummy!

That brings us to day five in the city and we head to the park to read our books in the sun, before visiting the modern art museum offering free entry on Tuesdays! We then head for lunch in “Jiquitia” where you can choose any three dishes on the menu to make your own set menu. Despite them being run out of everything the choices we did have were very nice. Made better by the incredibly sweet desserts. We arrive back home to find the hostel overrun with professional looking cameras and enough camera men to create a block buster movie. Only it’s not so no chance of us becoming famous no matter how much we hover around awkwardly trying to find a corner to ourselves.

So it’s our last day in São Paulo and what better way to spend it than to jump 12000feet out of an airplane for the bargain price on £50, which does beg the question is the parachute included? You’ll be sorry to hear it was and we will continue to clog your news feed for the foreseeable future. The dive was amazing despite missing our bus there and having to pay an overpriced taxi.

We all huddled in the back of the mini plane practically sat on each other’s laps, Nervously giggling as we watched the earth turn in to a patchwork quilt. After watching daisy plummet through the sky it was finally my turn. I dangled half in half out the aircraft and when thrown out my giggles morphed in to screams and my stomach struggled to catch up with me as the adrenaline coursed my body! All too soon the parachute is deployed and a few spins and a journey through a cloud later and I land on my feet only to be pulled back on to my bum in a fit of giggles.I feel like a child wanting to demand again again. That night we head to the bus station hoping to get the night bus to Florianopolis only to find out that we would have to wait till 23.30pm! Note to self: always book busses first unless you really enjoy 3 hours sat on uncomfortable plastic chairs people watching.

Unbelievable Ubatuba

After leaving Thea I felt slightly lost, three months of clinging on to each other like leaches, whilst hiking and non stop giggling. I arrived in Ubatuba which is a town north of São Paulo, this is where the Brazilians go on holiday, to see 80 different paradise beaches – which really are paradise. I arrived at Tie hostel, where I exchanged work for accommodation. Only to find Brazilian hippes smoking weed, Incense burning all round the hostel and singing Portuguese songs which instantly reminded me of the inbetweeners “why is there always some prick with a guitar”. Let’s just say that first impression aren’t everything, within hours of being there I had met my new family for 10 days.

Constantly pointing at random objects and saying what the name is in our mother tongue, finishing every sentence with “entende” this is where I learnt not to just reply with just “Si si” as it made me look like more of a gringa.

After exploring ubatuba city I decided to volunteer at another hostel further down south called Tribo hostel. This was the place that you could spend 5 years and it only feels like a month has gone by.

A tiny little town where everyone knows each other says “bom dia” every morning, bbqs in the locals homes, dancing forró in the rain and nicknaming ubatuba “ubachuva” “chuva” means rain in Portuguese. I was extremely lucky with the people I met as Brazilians will make you your best friend within the first five minutes of meeting you even if you don’t speak their language.

We watched the stars at night guessing which ones were planets and figuring out which way is north and south, swimming all the way to the bottom of the sea bed to collect sand even if we couldn’t hear anything else for the rest of the day, jumping of the rocks not knowing if it was safe, drinking red wine, learning “portanol” which is Portuguese and Spanish combined. After a month of sunsets and sandflies it was time to say our goodbyes.

Back to basics in Boiçucanga

So a month has come and gone, and at first travelling solo was a breath of fresh air. After three months of echoing each other’s laughs and having debated entire life stories it felt nice to pee with the door closed and meet new people. I arrived at the Liceu my new home for the next month to find I would be sharing a tiny bedsit style room with two blokes. But it is safe to say first impressions aren’t everything! I worked about 5 hours a day, teaching English to teenagers and adults and only god knows why I was entrusted with this task! As I taught them frases like “same shit different day” and “see ya wouldn’t want to be ya”. I even had to have a student tell me the name of a semicolon. But nonetheless they left with smiles on their faces and complimented my accent! (There’s a first time for everything). Our weekends started on Friday and we explored a different beach or waterfall every day. One of these excursions found us scaling a ridiculously steep hill in the mid day heat, this is where my new companions met the red face! But what awaited us on the other side was well worth the struggle, an absolutely beautiful deserted beach to our selves.

Another of our day trips took us on a walk through the jungle to a beautiful waterfall where we shivered in the freezing cold water giggling like kids.

One weekend I went to check out a food festival near by and ended up at a full on rave with drunk teenagers and a huge stage blaring the tunes.

My mornings were spent at Muay Thai classes something I have missed on this trip. (As if I haven’t had enough red faced sweaty moments). And my evenings cooking dinner and watching live music in the square. I guess it was about 10 days in that I realised one of my room mates had a slight infatuation with me as his eyes followed me around the room and he complimented me at any given opportunity. I decided ignoring this was probably the best method as a 36 year old man so hairy he looks as if he is rolled up in a sheepskin rug, isn’t my type. Turns out he wasn’t going to let me get away that easily and a few days later at dinner he threw me in the deep end with the words “Thea have you ever thought about us?” I nearly choked on my food and awkwardly laughed back the word us. That was defiantly a conversation I would rather have avoided. And now the next two weeks I spend avoiding eye contact and trying not to instigate conversation. Which was kind of easy. My other room mate turned out to be gay! Hallelujah! And not only that be he had as dark and sarcastic humour as me! And we spent more than a few days lying on the beach perving on the surfers as the emerged from the sea like gods! And more than a few evenings watching movies surrounded by popcorn.So after a month of sunsets and sand flies it’s time to say goodbye.

I’ve loved almost every minuet but now a month later I am sick of repeating the words pen and book and explaining the difference between tall and long… and am ready to be reunited with my short, sarcastic friend again where we giggle so much we manage to alienate complete strangers in seconds.

Parting in Paraty

Next stop after carnival was Paraty a place a little further down the coast. Paraty is beautiful and less busy than Rio which was a welcome change. Despite this we still managed to check in to probably the busiest party hostel with a hoard of drunken Irish cheering at any given opportunity. They were very entertaining for a short while until there already thick accents became thicker as they slurred their words and one began rambling political contradictory bullshit to people who weren’t listening whilst his friend tried his hand at beatboxing spraying the unfortunate audience with spit whilst another tried desperately to control his drunken friends shushing then every few minuets. A girl then came from another table announcing “by the way your friend just got his dick out”. This was my cue for bed. Where I lay on a ridiculously high top bunk in an overly sweaty dorm cursing the Irish as their voices boomed through the walls making my earplugs feel like megaphones. The next morning and after a sweaty Muay Thai class I was happy to see our new friends check out, and with only two broken hours of sleep we got a bus to Trinidade a nearby beach town with breathtaking views and a natural water slide a short walk through the jungle.

Waiting for the bus after a lovely day we met a man with a puppy and the cutest kid ever that hung off me trying to communicate in broken Portuguese.

The next morning we must go our separate ways, setting off on a new adventure volunteering. Daisy will be in Ubatuba learning to surf and I will be in Boisucanga teaching English.

Climbing Colca canyon

Now don’t ask me why but for some reason this entire trip we have found new ways to torture ourselves, having ditched the hangovers in favour of a more healthy lifestyle, we seem to end up on some ridiculously intense hike every few days. This time the Colca Canion Trek which thank god we decided to do in three days rather than the very rushed suicidal two days.

The first day we met our group just us and two other girls travelling together who seem to be equally sarcastic and crude. We had actually met them in Huacachina but never got beyond pleasantries but now we got on instantly as we decended in to the canyon. The walk was only a few hours but every step down I knew would be a step up and as the hours passed the dread grew.

We stopped for lunch at a very basic place with no electricity, hot water or apparently enough food as the portions were tiny and we ate our way through nearly all our snacks just to keep us going till dinner. Dinner was also pathetically small so before we could get hungry again we climbed in to bed. A long sleep followed by a slow morning and we set out along the canion to Oasis our next stop. So a few hours later and we arrive at our new place where the portions were slightly bigger and the pool an absolute dream after walking in the mid day heat.

We all flopped around in the shade and relaxed the day away. Exchanging embarrassing stories for hours. Again there was no electricity so after dinner and a few giggles we stumbled in the pitch black back to our room and called it a night. The third and final day started with a 4am wake up. Still pitch black and on empty stomachs we started the climb up out of the worlds second deepest canion. I cursed the people who reccomended this treck every time it looked like we were about to reach the top but didn’t.

Despite the complains we were right at the front and managed the vertical climb in 2 hours rather than the suggested 3 and got to the top red faced, sweating but some of the first to make it. Yay. But it’s never over when you think it is and we still had to walk from there to breakfast which we devoured in seconds before piling on to the bus, that seemed to go on forever stopping at various view points or to see lamas whilst I nearly pissed myself. The last stop was the hot springs my favourite way to finish an intense walk.