Well it is so hot and humid I am breaking out a sweat just typing this! Our first day in Rio has been an interesting one. I have to apologise now because I think I have only taken four photos today, but there is a good reason for this I promise.
Our aim for today was to “find our feet in Rio”. Haha well somehow we managed to do the complete opposite, and got very lost lost! Twice! On a scale of 1 to awesome map reader I would say that that our map reading skills are currently at about a two.
We had two maps, but the problem was neither were that detailed and only had the main big roads marked. Of course to a veteran map reader this wouldn’t have been a problem, but for us it made getting lost very, very easy, and get lost we did for the majority of the day!
Ok, first off we tried to get to the main bus station as we needed to see about prices for our bus to Sao Paulo. The main bus station you say, this should be easy to find. Well that was what we thought and anyone who has been to Rio de Janiero before will probably laugh at us, but it took us at least double the time it should have to finally get there.
We tried to follow our maps but it was really easy to mistake a small side road as one of the main roads marked on the map. It doesn’t help that even the so called “small” roads here in Rio are hugely wide by our UK standards.
It wasn’t a problem though, we enjoyed walking around, even in the stifling heat, and we got there eventually and found what we needed. The bus companies seem to price match a lot and there were two main tiers for the bus to Sao Paulo from Rio. 69.00 Brazilian Real, or 81.00 Brazilian Real for the more luxury (or just generally comfy) option. Its a only a six hour journey so relative to some of the buses we will be getting its only a baby, and we expect to find much better value once we get out of Brazil.
Our previous “lostness” luckily didn’t pose any risk to our safety, unfortunately the second did. It happened the same way as the first. This time we were trying to get to the city centre, again something that should have been really quite easy. Following our map we made the same mistakes as before, but this time to a worse extent. Taking one wrong road after the other we ended up walking down a street that we believed would take us right to the center. We were very wrong, the further we walked down the more run down the buildings became, and I was acutely aware of the strange looks we where beginning to get from the locals sitting on the street edge in their dirty plastic chairs.
Despite this we continued to walk (next time we should follow our instincts) and eventually we reached a dead end. This really was a “Where Now?” moment, but we didn’t have much choice other than to walk back the way we came. At this point I realised we were walking at the base of a Favela. Just behind the run down houses on the left of the street rose hut after hut hanging onto the steep hill/cliff face. I must be so awkward living on such a steep gradient.
As we walked back along the street a group of locals (from the favela?) started to call to us in Portuguese and even Ben who has already proven he speaks pretty good Spanish couldn’t understand a word they were saying. My initial reaction was just keep walking as I thought they were trying to get us to come into their house, or what was left of it! Turns out they were actually trying to help us. They had realised that we were lost, having walked past them twice, and managed to sweet talk a bus driver to get us out of there by giving us a lift to the Central Station for free. That was a relief.
Funnily enough this was about the third time we had been offered help by a local without even asking for it!
Unfortunately being lost for so long meant we saw nothing of Rio’s famous landmarks, and I didn’t dare to get my camera out, but looking back it was a worthwhile experience! It also reminds you that not every one is out to get you, even in the more dodgy of areas.
Tomorrow we aren’t going to make the same mistakes. We have planned our routes and we will take more notice of road names trying to stick to the main roads. I also need to make up for the lack of photos I took today. See you soon!