Nov 24:  Rio de Janeiro

I woke up at 8am (3 hours of sleep) and was wired.  I stayed in bed till 11am though, which I think is when Eli got out of bed.  Simon's sheets were gone so we assumed he moved to a different room.  My John Kerrys (i.e. flip flops) were also gone so they must have moved as well.

Becky, Eli and I took the cable car up to Sugar Loaf.  It's a two-step process:  one ascent to Morro da Urca, then another to the top of Sugar Loaf.

From Morro da Urca.  The beach there is Flamengo.

Flamengo area and the the domestic airport off to the right.

I don't know what that little neighborhood is called, but the water is Guanabara Bay.  Airport from the previous photo is on the left.

Here's where you catch the second cable car to Sugar Loaf.  It's a cable car to nowhere!  The problem with Sugar Loaf and Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer statue) is you never know what the weather will be like until you get up there.  The clouds/fog change rapidly so it's impossible to plan.  Obviously we didn't ascend Sugar Loaf at the best time.

There's a cable car, going to nowhere like I said earlier.

Up on Sugar Loaf, the clouds dissipated briefly and I got this shot of the Copacabana area.

Sugar Loaf, from the parking lot back down at the lower cable car station.

We wanted to go to the beach in Ipanema since we'd already seen Copacabana, so we took a taxi down.

The Girl from Ipanema cafe, where the song was written in homage to a hottie who walked by here every day.  The walls are covered in lyrics and whatnot.  The three of us ate here and I had another "filet mignon", which again was just a regular steak, but still good.  Eli and I left Becky here while the food was being prepared because she was trying to find an ATM where her card worked, and I needed money too.  In Argentina and Uruguay I used less than $200, but in Brazil this was already my third ATM trip.  Back at the cafe we got the waiter (my favorite waiter in South America, a very enthusiastic and earnest fellow) to play "Girl from Ipanema" on his harmonica.

We then went to the beach and tanned a while.  This was different from any other beach I'd been to, with all the vendors walking around selling towels, beverages, food, etc.  One henna artist started drawing on Eli's foot, and she didn't put her foot down in time (just a coincidence that I used a foot-based figure of speech there in an anecdote involving a real physical foot--sorry) and ended up with this:

Then the guy asked R$70 for it.  Eli talked him down a bit but the tattoo was ill-timed given her ATM card problem.  Then the guy tried to draw on Becky and me as well, but we put our feet down.

Back at the Iguassu helicopter I first got the idea for a photo of Eli hitting me in the head with a coconut, in a crude recreation of the 1984 Snuka-Piper incident.  I wanted to be hit somewhat hard to sell the move, but we couldn't quite get the pose right:

I should have deleted this pic, except the more pics I have of Eli in a bikini the better.

Still not quite what I wanted.

I'm selling it a bit here, but I was saved from a serious beaning by the surprise appearance of Crazy Pineapple Man.  "I'm Crazy Pineapple Man.  I have a pineapple where my hand should be.  Isn't that...CRAZY?  Now give me some candy!"

We walked back to Copacabana, which wasn't too far, less than an hour.  We saw a disturbing sight along the way.  An ambulance pulled up in front of us and I noticed a crowd gathered round.  Drawing closer I saw a guy in the street with his head propped up.  Closer still I saw blood.  Then right as we walked by I saw his broken bones sticking out of his leg.  Still causes me physical pain thinking about it now.  Maybe because it was the same spot where I broke my leg once.  (shudder)

We also saw a less-disturbing sight:  The World's Most Confident Man.  He had a bit of a Carlito look about him, with shaggy hair (dreads maybe), no shirt, a relaxed amble and a satisfied smile.  He checked out Eli as he passed, and might have nodded.  In 24 years of watching wrestling I have never seen such confidence, arrogance and cockiness, whether real or worked.  That guy is my hero.

We still had not seen Christ the Redeemer, aka Giant Jesus.  We knew where he should be on top of Corcovado, but those clouds just would not go away.  I actually saw Waldo on this trip (painted on a wall in BA I think) but not Jesus, Rio's #1 tourist attraction.

Copacabana beach, nearing the hotel.  Sugar Loaf (right) is cloud-free now.

We went back to the hostel and drank in the bar.  Eli went down to the room, came back and reported that we had a new roommate to replace Simon.  He was hairy, of undetermined age, and reportedly scantily clad.  I was afraid to go down and see this creature so I proposed an organized safari.  "Crikey!  Look at the size of 'im!"  Anook went down for a look and said the room was a no-go zone.  But the new guy (Hairy Jorge) came up to the bar later and didn't look all that gross.

[Dec 22 2006:  I usually don't go back and add stuff to my travelogues after they're done, but I remembered this today and it's a substantial omission.  Before we went down to the bar, while Eli was showering and I was on the turlet (common facilities, not in the room), the door lock spontaneously changed its properties and our keys stopped working.  Several hostel employees came up to try to fix it.  Meanwhile we were locked out of the room for like a half hour, and me in nothing but a towel.  I couldn't even use the time to shower because my soap and shampoo were in the room.  Eventually they fixed it.  And before that were were both in the room in towels, and I thought of calling LG, so that he could Costanzaishly tell me to keep my towel on.  "OK, that's not bad."]

We were supposed to go out to the street party later in the night.  We were told that pickpockets are everywhere so we shouldn't take anything.  So I locked up my stuff and just put my key in my left sock and R$75 in my right.  But I embellished a bit to Eli and Becky:  "All right, I have money in my right sock...6 condoms in my left sock...I'm wearing in the rectum...I'm ready to go!"

At 12:30am the vans arrived to take us to Lapa for the street party.  This is a ghetto where the streets close at night and they have drink and food stalls and vendors and bars and a wild time is had by all.  The street party rocked.  My first drink here was a tequila shot that Eli accidentally dumped a huge mound of salt into, but I drank it anyway.  And I got a caipirinha that they had to give me in a regular cup and then a smaller cup for the overflow.  I had a few caipirinhas tonight.  We went to a bar/club at some point where I was wearing a top hat for a while.  Not drunk enough to dance, or maybe too drunk.  I was hanging out with the Lady in Red from the hostel (I think her name was Bridget, a Scottish lass) and I think I got some brief lip action.  I don't know who I left with (Eli told me not to wait for her and Becky) but I took a taxi back to the hostel.  Ran into the Lady in Red by the pool and we had a long drunken hug, during which she pointed out that I'm a hot guy, have so much to offer and can do better than Eli.  You know, Scottish girls can be very perceptive.  Good talk.  Thanks.  Although she also said I look like Dustin Hoffman rather than Tom Hanks.

I looked up and noticed that the sky was bright, as it usually is during the day.  I checked my watch and it said 6am.  That explains it.  I went to bed a few minutes later and found Eli already asleep.  Found out later she and Becky had arrived a few minutes before.