One thing that really stood out in Rio was that there were no beggars. In the short time we were there nobody asked us for anything. People smiled and offered us food, things for sale, boat trips, the distant possibility of a good mugging, but the poor in the streets didn’t even glance twice at us as they fished in waste bins or trudged going about their business. Coming from the UK where begging has (in the last ten years) become a part of the scenery this perplexed me.
Nobody was wearing sunglasses. It was sunny. It’s only spring time, perhaps people feel a little silly wearing them when the sun hasn’t grown in stature.
And that’s it. We didn’t really find out too much more about Rio as we’re on a mission, on down to the bus station to hit the road bound for Parati.
The last time I caught a bus in Brazil it was from the jungle town of Manaus in the early nineties. I’d travelled up the Amazon and had had quite an adventure – broken down on the river in a speedboat with a chevy V8 in the back, spent all of my money drinking with locals in Peruvian Amazonian bars so had to hitch a lift on the river with the Brazilian Army (literally hitch a lift, I stood on a pontoon with my thumb out). That bus was held together with string and would regularly strand itself, whale like, in mud holes as we waited for a bus coming from the opposite direction to tow us out (itself descending into the same hole to wait for it’s own saviour). Our present bus couldn’t be more different. Expensive and very comfortable and very, very fast. We arrived in Parati rested after witnessing the gorgeous Costa Verde with it’s rich Brazilian holiday dwellings and vast Petrobras industry, in a four hour bus drive there were very few spaces in the sea without some big ship waiting for goods to export.
We’re in Parati now and what a different Brazil it is. Even Ipanema can’t match the swish restaurants and bars of this holiday town. The brightly coloured age old buildings sit behind three hundred islands that each has beaches waiting for you alone. The mountains pour down to the sea. Brazil is gorgeous, Bom Brazil.
The hostel we are staying in (The Rio Casa Hostel – named not after Rio De Janeiro but the fact that it’s a house on the river) is a gorgeous little gem. Painted in stone and yellow the tropical garden backs on to the Parati canal where the hostel boat waits to take you to island beaches. Here is a laid back Brazilian rhythm, people seem concerned with the environment, they talk without urgency and laugh a lot. There is an Argentinian fella who runs the bar, lived in London for a while and talks fondly of his time there, we drink Brahma beer and I type away at this blog under flickering lamp light.