Friday, February 12, 2010

The beach, ATMs, public transportation, and new friends

So today I started out by going to the beach at Copacobana with Kristie and Ben, the English couple that I explored with yesterday.  It was surprisingly easy to get to using the bus.  It really reminded me of the beaches in New Jersey with the water especially.  We took turns in the ocean so that we could always have an eye on our things, and when we were all together we had good conversation about traveling and our lives and how different things are here in Rio and back home.

When I asked them what time it was, I realized it didn´t mater at all, and we all laughed.  We then debated what time we thought it was.  Seeing that we are traveling now, the time of day, day of the week, or month are pretty meaningless to all of us.

After getting some ice cream we packed up and headed back to the hoste to rest.  We all discovered our sunburn, with Ben and Kristie having it over most of their bodies (they opted to stay in the sun almost the entire time), but me only being burned on my knees a bit and on my tops of my hands a bit.

I got a bite to eat at a place specializing in chicken dishes, and I got Chicken Bora Bora.  It was grilled chicken breast with some seasonings along with rice with fried potato, egg, onion, and ham.  I was only able to eat about half of it so I got a doggy bag.  I didn´t have my camera on hand, so I will post a picture of what it looks like once I eat there again.

A bit later others at the hostel told me about a big party happening in Ipanema, and an Autralian named Luke offered to help me get to a bank to get more money.  It turns out a few others also needed money, so the journey began.  Bank 1 was closed. We waited at Bank 2 while a young guy took about 20 minutes to complete a transaction, and after all that we figured out that the ATM didn´t allow you withdraw money.  Bank 3 didn´t accept visa, but with the tip of a young guy who spoke English we made it to Bank 4 and were able to get money.  I sure hope this won´t be as difficult for the rest of my travels.

Around 7:30 we headed out for Ipanema for the party.  We met a bunch of Brazilians that were starting the party in the metro, and they were friendly.  I asked if I could join them (since that is the way to truly appreciate another culture), and they offered to take me under the wing.  They seemed interested in me being American and loved hearing me sing Linkin Park and Beyonce, and we were communicating between English, Spanish, and Portuguese.  They bought me a Carneval shirt and took me along with them, and I was really surprised (but in a good way) with their hopsitality.  We took pictures all along the way, and they gave me their email addreses so we could stay in contact.  As they helped me get a taxi back to my hostel, we promised to meet up at least once more before I leave for Santiago.

To end this entry, I would like to share the philosopies of both taxi and bus drivers in Rio.  These are based on my observations and experiences over the past few days:

Taxi driver rules
1. Variety is the spice of life, so treat red lights the same way.  The first time you encounter one, go completely through it at full speed.  The next time, come to a quick halt, even if it minds jerking you and the passenger forward.  The third time, approach cautiously and go through it only when it is safe.
2. If other cars are stopped or in your way, this is by no means a reason to slow down or change lanes.  Changing lanes is acceptable only at the very last minute, and of course without the use of a turn signal.
3. Driving as fast as possible between cars that are halfway in your lane on each side is not only acceptable but encouarged.  One way or another somoene will move out of the way.

Bus driver rules
1. Brakes and brake pads are to be abused.  Passengers need to be tossed around as much as possible.  Stop as abruptly and as often as possible. 
2. Consequently, passengers should hold onto hand rails with the jaws of life with both hands until seated.
3. Pedestrians are a nuisance that need to be taught a lesson.  If one tries to cross your path, do not slow down.  In fact, speed up a bit.

I just heard that there is another party going on tonight, and I´m debating if I should go to it or not.  Will update with pictures soon enough.

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