Current date: February 11, 2003 5:25 p.m. (bus station in Rio)

Current Itinerary: Just arrived here from Buzios (what a great time!!!) I'll stay here for a day or two and then maybe to Ihla Grande or visit one of Doug´s friends in Pouso Alegre. Heading back to the East coast by this weekend...Vitoria, Porto Seguro and a few other stops before getting to Salvador by the 21st.

Note: Wow...thanks so much to everyone who has thrown your thoughts my way. I think I get more joy out of reading your replies and knowing that you are all with me than you get out of reading my journals. Please keep the messages coming...please don't be upset if you don't hear back from me right away...there are 230 of you and only 1 of me...so it can be tough at times. I still appreciate your messages and love reading them.

Note#2: I have learned from Ricardo that the "plate of fat" that I referred to in my previous journal was actually some stuff called dobradenia...which is stomach. Don't know what animal's stomach and I guess I really don't want to know.

Sunday, February 2, 2003
Woke up around 1...damn, these nights are taking their toll. We had decided the previous night that we were all going to head for the soccer game that the guy at the info booth had told me about on Friday. We even recruited a few extra folks...Haavard/Norway and Heiko/Germany. Other than that it was the same folks from the previous night...minus Chris/SP. I decided to let her recover from such a long day and night out with us.
I did a bit of e-mail after waking up and then we went and grabbed some food and headed to the game. We got to the game around 4:30 or so...about a half hour before it started. It was a great scene walking into the stadium...everyone was singing and going nuts. The game was between Santos (home team and supposedly very good) and Juventus (supposedly not so good). It was a good game and we had fun, but it was not like the game in Buenos Aires last year which was absolute madness. Santos won 1-0.

After the soccer game I took everybody to this awesome bar that Tony and I had gone to last year called Moca Bonita (beautiful girl)...and boy, that place was full of mocas bonitas!!!! Good lord.

It is a GREAT place that is totally packed on Sundays. They also have a "by the kilo" seafood (not chicken, Lorna) buffet which is pretty cool. Another great feature of that place is something I mentioned to many of you that will go into The Ultimate Bar. (note: I have this idea that someday I will open the ultimate bar where I will take concepts that I see from bars around the world and then combine them into one bar utopia.) Outside the man's and women's bathroom there is one common space with sinks and mirrors. It basically forces mingling (Jose, where's the mingling?) which is always good in my book. I mean, if you have your eye on a girl, all you have to do is wait for her to go to the bathroom. Anyway, the BEST part about that place is the way they serve beer. The have guys that just walk around with trays of beer. When your beer is about half to a third gone, they just put another one down...no questions asked. You can miss it it happens so fast sometimes...you turn your head, you turn back and BAM...new beer. There is NO SUCH THING as an empty glass in that place. Quite nice.

While we were there, I gave Carolina (from the club the night before) a call and also tried to get a hold of Luciana's brother (note: some of you asked who Luciana is...that is Doug McLean's wife who is from Recife, Brazil...where I will be spending carnival...if you don't know who Doug is, go to the "links" section on my website) I didn't get ahold of either but I left messages. I also called Chris and asked her to join us, but alas, she was too tired and was starting a new rotation the following day.

We all stayed there drinking until just after 11. We wanted to go to this place that Chris had told us about that has some sort of traditional Brazilian dancing called foha (sp?). When we got there, it was closing at 12 so we didn't go in. Since it was Sunday, it was tough to find a place that was open...we finally ended up in this barrio called Vila Madelena that had a bar that was still open. We stayed there until 2. Lorna was pretty bombed at that point and not much was open so we decided we would head towards home. The ride home was not one of Lorna's proudest moments:)

Anyway, the rest of us wanted to keep drinking but the only place we knew near the hostel was the corner store w/ the funny bathroom...not exactly a bar...more like a 7-11, but they serve beer so that would do. We went up there and of course it was just a bunch of old guys sitting for a bite...no matter. We came in and really livened that place up!!! We had beers and took some random pictures with these local old guys (that's right, I took my camera this time!). We left there about 3:30 and headed back to the hostel...but not before buying some beers to take back with us.

We got back to the hostel and hung out for the next few hours, drinking and talking as we lost people in the group one by one. Somewhere during that stretch of time, a dutch guy from Amsterdam got into the mix (I never got his name). At the end, it was him, Deb, Haavard and myself. We sat outside and it was a beautiful night. SInce Deb is from Australia, she decided to call home since it was the middle of the day back in Australia. I actually even talked to her mom for a minute. Kind of funny. She probably thought I was a lunatic. After that, the others went to bed and it was only the dutch guy and I. We sat outside talking and watching the sun come up. It was cool. He was telling me about how he was having the time of his life and how he wanted to continue traveling through the end of carnival. He was worried how that would go over with the folks back home...it was interesting to see. He was at the EXACT same crossroad that I had been at a year before. We probably talked about the whole thing for an hour or so and I shared my story with him. I don't think I have to tell you what I told him to do. I was glad I was there at that moment to listen to that guy...I think he needed it. There is nothing better than talking to someone who knows EXACTLY how you feel.

About 7:30 or so, I realized that it was once again time for the free hostel breakfast. I went down and had some papaya (surprise, surprise) and then hit the sack...smiling once again, thinking about all I had done since I had hit my own crossroad one year ago.

Monday February 3, 2003
Woke up around 1:00 when Lorna, Brad, and Deb were all just about to leave. I was sort of sad to see my new friends go but Deb, Brad, and I decided we would meet up in Rio later in the week and then go to Buzios together. I am doing my best to recruit people to go there!

Afterwards, I just hung in the hostel for a bit talking to Haarvard/Norway. Then I headed up to the mall that was nearby in search of a computer with a USB port so I could upload my pictures. Found a computer but I was unable to upload the pics...sorry folks. Eventually I will get to one.

While at the mall I called Ricardo again...and got a hold of him this time!! We decided to talk again later but that we would definitely go out that night. I also called Carolina and Chris and left messages for them.

I got back to the hostel around 8 or so, and just chilled for a bit. Ricardo was to pick me up at 10. While I was waiting, Chris showed up at the hostel. She had printed out bus times/places to stay for a place called Trindade, that she suggested that I go. I must say again to Chris, thank you very much for all you did for me. She is such an amazing girl and anyone who is traveling to SP would be lucky to get a chance to spend time with her. Anyway, it was decided that I would head for Trindade the next day. Sounded like a great place.

I said goodbye to Chris and thanked her and then a bit later Ricardo came. It was cool to finally meet him. We went to this cool bar, Piraja, and ate and had a couple beers. We talked for awhile and I told him the AWESOME story of the day I met Doug (I hope to write that one up soon...it is a really good one). We drove around a bit but not much was open as it was a Monday. He took me by his apartment which was cool. It was kind of weird to think that Doug and Luciana had lived there. After that, he took me back to the hostel. I wish we could have spent more time together. He was a really cool guy. He is moving to Rio this month so if I come back down that way, I will see him again.

When I got back to the hostel (around 2) I worked on journals/webpage for about 4.5 hours. Man, I have spent half of my money on using the damn internet. Oh well, it is worth it. I was thinking of just packing and getting up to the bus station to catch the 8 a.m. bus but in the end I decided that I had to sleep for an hour...I could just catch the 10 instead. That was the beginning of a pretty fortunate sequence of events.

Tuesday, February 4, 2003
Woke up from my short nap about 10 min. later than I wanted...which proved to be disasterous, or fortunate depending on how you look at it. I showered and grabbed all my stuff and headed for the bus station. I got there about 5 min. after the bus I wanted to catch left. Damn. I had to wait two hours in the bus station. Somewhere along the way (I think at the hostel) something bit me on the ankle. When I wwas sitting in the bus station, it really started to hurt. It started to swell a little bit, but I didn't think too much of it at that moment. At 12 I went down to the area where the buses leave from and I met these three backpackers from England that were also headed toward Paraty.

During the bus ride, my ankle really started to swell up. I was starting to get a bit worried...it also dawned on me during the ride that if I was going to head to Trindade, then it was going to probably be dark or close to dark by the time I got there. I figured since I had already met the three folks from England, that I would just look for a place in Paraty with them and then go to Trindade the following day.

When we got to Paraty...there were a couple other backpackers looking for a place to stay, including this Australian guy, Dave. (note: I think I before I die, I will have met every Dave on the planet. I am really running out of nicknames to tell all my friends named 'dave' apart). We all started walking together in search of a place. My ankle was killing me by that time...but I could still walk. This guy came up to us on the street that was from the tourist info place and started telling us about places to stay...the three English thought the guy was a bit shady and that we would get ripped off so they wanted to continue on their way. I wanted to hear the guy out and see if we could get a good deal...so did Dave...so we let those three continue on their way. That was a blessing in the end b/c we ended up getting an AWESOME room at this Pousada (it is tough to explain what a pousada is...we don't really have them in the US. The closest thing we have I guess would be a bread and breakfast. They are something like that but a bit more like a hotel. Maybe a cross between the two is a good explanation...generally the owners also live there) that had A/C, a TV, a patio, and our own bathroom (a premium on the backpacking circuit). I bargained the girl at the desk down to R$50 a night (about 12 bucks). Not bad.

I was particularly excited to take a shower in that place because the shower head looked like it was the Commando 450, imported from the former Yugoslavia...and from what I hear, the Serbs are fanatics about their showers. (Bonus points to anybody who get's that...extra credit if you can give me the next line). Alas, it was a farce...it was yet another low-flow shower....but atleast it was hot. After showering up we headed out to get some food and explore the town.

Paraty is a cool little beach town that reminded me a bit of Florianapolis. You can walk around the entire town in about 25 minutes. It has narrow stone roads...I mean that literally....large stones of different shapes and sizes placed down in the dirt...making a very uneven surface that looks good astetically but is very difficult to walk on. Especially on a bum ankle (for those who did Matacanes, it is something like that mountain path we had to drive to get there...that was the ride from hell by the way). These roads seem to be quite common in these small towns. It is cool though and they are not really for driving anyway, they are for walking. A concept that I really love in a town. Roads made for walking. Good luck finding one of those in Houston. Anyway, Paraty has a lot of cool shops/bars/cafes...as any town in Brazil probably does. Every place I go to down here seems to have such personality...it is a LONG way from the skyscrapers and minimalls of H-town.

We decided to eat at this cool place in the plaza at the edge of town. I went back to my old faithful from last year...the misto quente (grilled ham and cheese sandwich). I love those things and they are always cheap. We threw back a couple beers too. Another cool thing was that across the street there was a band practicing for carnival. Dave/Australia and I started getting to know each other and we clicked very well. I was pretty glad that I had missed that bus earlier and gotten the chance to meet him. While we were eating we saw the three English folks walking past so we got their attention and they joined us for dinner. Their names were Charlie, Jo (his sister,) and Henry. That Charlie guy was a bit annoying...he looked like a strung out drug addict. One of the first things he asked me was if I found any good coke (cocaine for you less-hip folks) in Sao Paulo...so he immediately started off on the wrong foot with me. Not that I really car whether this guy does coke or not, but it really isn't something you say just after meeting someone. He became more annoying as the night progressed BUT if it wasn't for him I would not have seen one of the coolest sights I've seen on my trip so far. Oh by the way, they ended up geting a room at a place nearby us and they paid the same as us...with no A/C or private bathroom though. Too bad. Charlie even told me taht he went to the same place we stayed at and asked about prices and the girl quoted him R$75...higher than she started with us:)

After they ate we all decided to head to this bar that the girl at the desk in our Pousada told me about. We got there and it seemed cool but Charlie didn't want to stay b/c he thought tthe caipirinhas (it's a typical Brazilian drink...sort of like a margarita but stronger and better) were too expensive. Please, they were R$6...not even 2 bucks...on top of that this guy was from England and the pound is even stronger than the dollar. I wonder how much he would spend on a gram of coke.

Anyway, (enough with the negative) they wanted to go down to this bar on the beach. It was closed but it still ended up being a damn good call.

There was a lightning storm going on that night and you couldn't have had a better view of it than out there on that beach. The beach was pitch black and you cold see the lightning for miles. It was so beautiful watching the lightning criss cross through the sky like spider webs. Truly a spectacular sight. We sat there just watching for about a half hour. At some point, it started to rain but we didn't really care. It was great just to watch the show that mother nature was putting on and listening to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. I can still close my eyes today and remember it perfectly.

While we were out at the beach, there was another group of people just a bit down the beach from us that were smoking weed...we could smell it. Well, of course, Charlie wanted some and we were all just about to go over and talk to them when the cops came and busted them. They came with guns drawn and everything...pretty crazy to see. We didn't move from where we were b/c we didn't want them to think we were running away...a move that probably saved us a bit of a hassle. While they were searching the other group a cop came over to us and asked if we were from Paraty. We said no and he told us to beat it. No problem officer.

We went to a little dessert stand that was nearby that also served beer. I ended up spending almost the whole next hour talking to this local guy...working hard on my portuguese. I have been able to communicate pretty well, but I want to use less spanish and more Portuguese. The guy was really cool though and very patient with me and teaching me a few things. After standing for all that time, my ankle was really starting tho throb and it had swollen to an alarming size. I had to get home to put it up...we decided we would go to the pharmacy the next day to get something for it. Went home and crashed in our nice airconditioned room around 1:30. Pretty early considering my previous four nights but I was looking forward to getting some quality Z's.

AC

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