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.

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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.

Crazy Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

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.

Hangovers in Huanchaco

After a night bus to Huanchaco we arrived spaced out and sleep deprived. So now starved and needing a coffee hit we headed off in search of somewhere to fit the bill. Some fruit and coffee later and we decided to head to Chan Chan an archeological sight near by. Safe to say it was not our cup of tea and without a guide to explain what we were looking at we ended up just discussing in depth what out next tattoos would be whilst wandering aimlessly and taking funny photos.

Which was not a good idea and just ended with us being escorted out.

That night we were surround by pissed up surfers and decided if you can’t beat em join em… this was a bad idea as hours later after rounds of blind Jenga we were loaded in to a taxi by a rather sensible 18 year old who wanted to make sure we got home ok. Despite this we only managed to stay in the taxi for a few seconds before we bundled out horrified by the price. And opted for a stagger home instead only stopping to devour burgers with the locals looking pretty classy with mayonnaise down our chins and Daisy’s bleeding knee. The next morning feeling like I had just been dragged out of a lamas arse and with a serious case of dry mouth I just about managed to drag myself out to the balcony. So I could die with a nice view at least.

That day was spent staring off at the walls of various cafes as we ate like bottomless pits, swearing we will never drink again.

Next stop Huaraz for some mountain treks!

Mooching in Mancora

Our flight back to the mainland was a turbulent death trap most of which was caused by our coffee shakes. The flight operated like a bus where once at Guayaquil we disembarked with only half the passengers as the others stayed aboard for the next stop Quito. We got straight on a night bus to Tumbes Peru and against all advice crossed South America’s most dangerous boarder at night. We hopped off the bus at immigration where there was a power cut and we stood in the dark the only light the bored staffs phones illuminating their faces as they scrolled social media, until the systems rebooted. Finally we were cleared and got back on our bus and drove through a refugee camp with Venezuelans sleeping rough and in tents. The boarders all over South America have seemed overwhelmed with refugees. We swapped busses in Tumbes and boarded the only bus leaving at this time of night. A bus run by some very obviously coked up men. At least 5 of them were wedged in the cockpit chain smoking and aggressively chewing on god knows what! So 2am tired and pissed off we arrive in Mancora with nowhere to stay.

Mancora is the Peruvian equivalent to Palomino (Colombia) but minus the power cuts. It has a laid back hippy vibe that bubbles over in to a party town at night. The beaches are long stretches with only a scattering of bodies.

There are plenty of food options and we have tried the £2 set menus all over town. Whole bbq fish, Chinese inspired Peruvian classics and ice cream coffees to die for.

We’ve spent our days lazing on the beach soaking up the sun or covering ourselves in mud at the mud baths trying to calm the sunburn. This being the only time it is acceptable to roll in the mud sober.

We have leisurely nibbled our way around town enjoying the slow paced lifestyle after our jam packed Ecuadorean escapades. In the evening we have enjoyed a few beers or pisco sours watching the town come to life, but quickly sneak off to bed before our minds become hazy. Being the good girls our friends back home didn’t think existed.

Throughout our stay I have been discussing ideas with a local tattooist and tonight before our night bus my ideas shall come alive.