After having a job for nearly four years as a flight attendant, you would think I have outstanding packing skills. I don’t. I’m horrible. Preparing myself for a trip to South America, not knowing how long I’ll be travelling for, is not easy. In the past I have managed to somehow forget my swimsuit when going to the tropical island of Mauritius; I forgot to take shoes into London and several times I’ve had to buy clean underwear. Yes, back in the Emirates days I could afford forgetting these things, because I had a good monthly salary to buy clean underwear; I’ve been to London at least 20 times, so my 24 hour layover without shoes could easily be used for a 20 hour nap in my hotel room, and in Mauritius I would hang out with my colleagues and drink cocktails instead of going to the beach. Somehow I managed to fit everything in my backpack and I haven’t frozen to death or had to swim naked.
Panic attacks about packing and leaving home aside, I’m doing well. I had a bit of a bumpy start, with a more-than-12-hour delay! Stuck in Frankfurt, because of ‘technical issues’. Even after working for an airline, I still have no clue what this means. One thing was sure; I wasn’t going anywhere else besides a nice hotel next to Frankfurt airport for the next 12 hours. Oh well. Thank you, European Union for making airlines compensate you €600 when you have a delay longer than 6 hours, even if you only paid €360 for your ticket!
Rio de Janeiro
12 Hours and a good night of sleep later I arrived in Rio de Janeiro. The first three weeks of my trip I planned ahead because I was travelling with my friend Maureen. Brazil was on the agenda and we decided to book flights to go to Rio de Janeiro, the Iguazu waterfalls and the Amazons. After visiting these three places I have so much to say about Brazil, but I also find it very difficult to form an opinion about this enormous country. The media back in the Netherlands – and I’m guessing everywhere in Europe – make it seem like the most dangerous country on earth. My expectations about Brazil dropped a little. However, what stuck with me the most about Brazilians and Cariocas (the people from Rio de Janeiro), is that they loved to help us, tourists, out. Even if they didn’t speak a word of English. They are all super proud to be Brazilians and loved to show us their country. The first time we were trying to figure out the metro system, a girl walked towards us and asked if we were in need of help. Apparently, we looked like two little-lost birds. We told her we were going to the opening of the Paralympics. She was super excited and told us: “I’m going there as well! Where are you from?! Please follow me, I’ll show you exactly where you need to be! I’m sorry my English isn’t so good.” There are not that many places in the world left where someone is that genuine and excited to help you and show you around their city.
During the opening of the Paralympics, you can feel how passionate Cariocas are about sport. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Olympics or the Paralympics, or how much some people hate what these events did to their city, they all cheer for the Brazilians like there is no tomorrow. But when the president of the Paralympic Games was holding his speech and said “the president of Brazil, Michel Temer, will officially open the Paralympic Games” he was booed off the stage and never got to officially open the games.
A little story about living the hostel life. I like to think that I’m not a very materialistic person and that you can make me happy with the little things. I will sleep anywhere, as long as I can take a shower in the morning. The opposite is true; Emirates really spoiled me. I like privacy, clean rooms, comfortable beds, silence, etcetera etcetera. On top of that, our very first hostel in Rio de Janeiro had some really strange guests. Maureen and I were pretty jet-lagged the first few days and our beds were calling for us pretty much every night around 9 PM. We got woken up from our beauty sleep around 1 AM by two drunk girls fighting with each other. Luckily they went to sleep quite soon. However, around 3 AM we got woken up again by a very strange sound, which sounded like water was running and I first thought a bottle of water fell over. Turned out one of the drunk girls was pissing in our room! Maureen switched on the flashlight of her iPhone and the girl started yelling and babbling all sorts of gibberish. Apparently, she was sleep walking. After three days I was totally done with backpacking and sleeping in hostels, I was ready to book my ticket home. Thank God it couldn’t get any worse and everything went uphill from that day onwards.
What else you might like to know:
- The Iguazu waterfalls are a must-see in Brazil! Funny story from that day. Maureen got the scare of her life when we were on the train towards the waterfalls and an old Korean lady all a sudden touched her bare legs. She said: “You have beautiful legs, they’re so tall and white!” Her daughter was with her, got a little angry and told her she couldn’t touch Maureen’s legs. We found out that this cute and friendly lady was 90 years old and still traveling the world with her daughter.
- There are a lot of parts in Rio de Janeiro that I find very ugly and poor, but the views from higher up are amazing. Going up the sugarloaf mountain is beautiful, hang gliding over the national park Tijuca Forest is so much fun and of course you need to go up to see Christ the Redeemer.
- I saw a tarantula as large as my head in the Amazons and nearly cried. I was only one meter away from it and was ready to jump on Maureen her back.
- In the Amazons, we had a very funny tour guide named Joseph. He once made a documentary for the Dutch TV channel BNN, together with hottie, Dennis Storm. So, for all the Dutchies who are reading this, try and find this on the Internet and watch how we suffered in the jungle.
- Brazilians are known for wearing small bikinis. However, 80% percent of them really shouldn’t be wearing these bikinis in public. Or they should at least eat fewer hamburgers. We have seen some very large asses, boobs and bellies. All I can say about them, good on you for being so secure and not caring about others’ opinions.
I just had to say goodbye to Maureen, and I’m off to Argentina on my own. Totally not looking forward to being by myself, because we had so much fun together and she is definitely one of the most easy-going people I have ever travelled with. I booked two weeks of Spanish courses in Buenos Aires, so “Hasta la vista” and “Buenos noches amigos”!