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.
Carnival was as you can imagine crazy. The streets are full of drunken people in tutus, Lycra and covered head to toe in glitter. Everywhere there are huge trucks driving the streets with samba bands blaring their anthem. Whilst hundred of people try to sell you beers, caipirinhas and snacks. To one side you have beautiful beaches the other sky scrapers and you are surrounded by chaos.
We were lucky enough to have an apartment just out of it all, which became our sanctuary for the long hangovers we have become unused to. After not drinking for soo long we have become complete lightweights and after a few caipirinhas we are stumbling home slurring our words and downing water. Amid the drinks and dress up we did some of the classic tourist attractions Christ the redeemer was so high up one gust of wind and the clouds consumed the statue making it invisible and two seconds later they would part giving us a great view.
Sugar loaf mountains were amazing the view is priceless from the top and we stayed up there for hours taking it all in.
The botanical gardens were beautiful and we didn’t realise we had arrived on woman’s day until the tickets were free. Winner! We walked around the greenhouses dripping in sweat in the mid day heat.
The stairs in Lapa were very colourful and full of drunken youth dragging out the carnival as long as they could as us tourists stepped around them trying to get the perfect picture.
All in all Rio has been a blur of beautiful beaches and strong cocktails. And I would love to do it all over again but I’m not sure my liver would survive.
A boat and two busses later and we arrive in Popayan armed with some seriously toxic bed bug spray. We splashed out on a private room, locked ourselves in the bathroom with all our stuff and gassed ourselves out. Going a bit OTT with the bug spray looking and feeling like mad women when we finally tumble out with red eyes and serious headaches, hoping we had finally got on top of this infestation. Waking up with no new bites felt like winning an all out war! And although 100s of bites still remained scattered on my body I knew their days were numbered! We took our clothes to the laundrette changed rooms and strutted off to Silvia. A town so high in the mountains that Daisy shivered in her inappropriate attire. We bought some fruits for breakfast and scaled the nearest peak for our tradition of a viewpoint.
Everywhere In Colombia seems really easy to get too but is like a series of hunger games on the return journey. As everybody fights for a spot on the designated method of travel, on this occasion a bus. But feeling unbeatable after our victory with the bed bugs we decided against the scramble and strolled off in the general direction of Popayan. We successfully thumbed down a lift to the next town with a local and jumped on a conveniently waiting bus. Where we began attacking our bags of fruit, devouring tomorrow’s breakfast! Offering it to the locals and dropping it all over the place.
That night we ate at a place called Pita and as you’ve guessed it sold pittas.. with a variety of toppings. After a game of backgammon where me and Daisy realised we can’t play anything other than cards without bickering and Daisy wanting to quit because she’s loosing! So we left. I was definitely still hungry as I don’t believe hummus qualifies as a side so we shared some cake at the hostel whilst laughing at how pathetically competitive we are. (And for the record I won backgammon but maybe don’t tell Daisy I said that).
The next morning we grouped up with some people from the hostel and headed to the hot springs. Swerving the usual tour and catching a bus. The hot springs stank worse than my exes curry farts and at first I was hesitant to go in and cursed the children splashing in my general vicinity. But half an hour in and now immune to the smell we began rubbing smelly clay all over ourselves (doing as the locals do).
After a dirt cheep meal we went back to the hostel where we no joke tried a slice of every home made cake, rating them in order. My favourite being the chocolate, orange and zucchini followed closely by Daisy’s favourite Banana and cardamon and lastly the still amazing coffee and chocolate. Yum! That night we all went for Tapas at Restaurant Carmina. Where we drank wine, ate delicious food and drifted between intellectual debates and chatting shit. Until full and giddy we wondered home missing our turning for the second time since we’ve been here. The next morning we checked out only to later realise we had been undercharged. Alright for some!
So Cali is a big, busy city where the people seem less friendly and the constant heat leaves you feeling clammy from the minute you wake up! The first thing we did, after breakfast of course (our priorities always firmly on food) was head to the closest viewpoint. The city stretched for miles, ugly spewed-out buildings as far as the eye can see. Here we indulged in one of the local delicacies, something I can only describe as a Colombian slush puppy. Fruit flavoured ice and a mountain of fruit all rammed in a plastic cup that tasted even more amazing than it looked!
After walking around for hours we decided to cool off at the hostel, whilst intermittently muttering occasionally about the heat. Then we headed off in search of a local market offering some beautiful local seafood dishes. Now I usually pride myself on being a bit of a bottomless pit when it comes to food but this time I really over did it and had to undo my skirt and lean back in my chair sighing occasionally. I only moved at the mention of coffees, where we hobbled the 20 steps away and ordered caramel frappes!
It was here we made out first real Colombian friends where we laughed for hours discussing different sayings and slang words from the area. “El que no oye consejos no llege a viejo” (if you don’t listen to advice you won’t live a long life) which I think might have been a hint for us to listen to advice. My personal favourite and one I believe we have been living by even before we knew it is “donde fueres has lo que vieres” basically meaning “do as the locals do”.
With that being said we went for a beer with our Aussie friend that we have bumped in to literally everywhere since we met in Taganga!
And we attempted to dance salsa with the locals to the great amusement of those watching as we shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other, red faced and sweaty but persistent in learning what looked like simple steps. After sweating out our body weight and noticing that the time had flown by we fled the ball like Cinderella, wanting an early night ready for Buenaventura tomorrow.