We did it. Signed the waivers and bade the group farewell for two days.
The trip to Rio was easy. First we caught the 10am ferry back to Angra dos Reis.
Leaving Ilha Grande. Note the lingering clouds.
At Angra dos Reis the bus to Rio was waiting there for us! That solved the problem of getting to the bus station. We hopped on and enjoyed a 2-hour ride along the coast. Everything was picturesque, with turquoise waters and islands and beaches, but off in the distance we continued to see Ilha Grande shrouded in clouds. This was definitely the call.
Arrival at the Rio bus station.
Along the taxi ride from the bus station we went by the Sambodromo, the parade grounds and stands for Carnaval. I also saw the arena where Buddy Rogers won the WWWF title tournament in 1963, and also where Pat Patterson became the first Intercontinental champ in 1979, but my camera misfired so there's no photo here.
We checked into Mellow Yellow, a hostel recommended by Eli's friend from her previous tour. The hostel is right downtown.
TIM: Right downtown.
ELAINE: What do they have there, a couple of beds?
TIM: Why? You bringing someone else?
ELAINE: No, but don't you think there should be two beds? There's two of us.
(Tim's grin disappears.)
Actually Mellow Yellow is in Copacabana, not downtown, and we got four beds--i.e. sharing a room with two other random hostellers. Our roommates were an English guy Simon and an Indian guy from New York, I think Anook was his name.
The hostel is close to the beach, which is where we immediately went. We found a cool little pizza place (Pizzaria Rainbow) where we had pizza and caipirinhas.
Our Spot. This Is Rio.
We walked down the beach and I observed that Eli's footprints go much deeper than a human's prints. On the way back we drank coconuts. Not very flavorful but refreshing.
Back at the hostel we met up with Becky, Eli's friend from the last tour. We went to the bar and mingled with the hostel crowd, a fun bunch of people, which is why we chose a hostel in the first place. Kind of a Contiki atmosphere. Two characters who unfortunately I didn't get a photo of: one guy who looked just like Benny from ABBA, and another who was a dead ringer for Triple H. He didn't have the build but did have the height, nose and facial hair. They were serving lasagna in the bar so that was my Thanksgiving dinner. At least it beats going to Carl's Jr. with T-Luv that one year. We got a free welcome drink (some kind of daiquiri maybe) and then I had a few beers.
We were going out to party after that, and back in the room Eli was trying to hide money on her person, and to complete the procedure I had to re-hook her bra. That was heavy. I came to Rio to hook Eli's bra. This southern hemisphere is backwards in so many ways!
A bunch of us went to the Stone of a Beach bar down the street, where I had 2 Heinekens. Then sometime after 1am vans showed up to whisk us away to the "jungle party". It was not jungle-like at all; it was just some house that had been converted into a club. I drank a lot but nothing much memorable happened because it was too loud. Eli was arguing with an Irish guy from the hostel about plasma TVs, and then he drew me into an argument about Iraq which I didn't have the clarity or energy for. At the end of the night Eli had a blowup with a friend from the other tour, which I couldn't enjoy because of the noise. We left that place a little before 5am.
I think the jungle party was in Botafogo. I like the fact that Rio has a neighborhood called Botafogo, because one time at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas we saw Joey Buttafuoco. Small world.