Arraial do Cabo, Brazil
Landing back in Rio De Janeiro after a 4hr flight we made our way for the second time out to the blue city bus that would take us through the city and around the beaches to Ipanema. Traffic was heavy due to morning peak hour and what should have taken 40min was now going on 2hrs before the bus puffed and heaved and broke down on the side of the road. Great. Luckily for us we were in the vicinity of Copacabana beach, so hailed a cab to take us the rest of the way. There again was the Mango Tree Hostel, just as we left it 10mths prior but feeling just like yesterday. Here we stayed for the next two nights before heading to the central bus station to travel 2hrs up north of the Costa do Sol to Arraial Do Cabo.
It was a toss up between the ritzier neighbor of Buzios where the beautiful people such as Bridget Bardot used to sun it up, or Arraial, more of the working class neighbor but with the advantage of more spectacular beaches. So trading the boutique restaurants and hotels for a local pousada and real Brazilians, we pulled up in the late afternoon to the small town. Crossing the centre square we walked the 20min to our pousada that was set back off the main road that lead to the local town beach. It was always a nervous ordeal walking through local neighborhoods with all of our belongings and the fact that the town was surrounded by hills where housing looked no different to that of the favelas of Rio, we really didn’t want to steer off track. But of course we did, just a little. A black car suddenly pulled up beside us. Out jumped a middle aged man “Do you need help? What are you looking for?”…“Ahh yes, we’re looking for this pousada..”, he screamed out to a boy on a bike and soon enough directed us to the right place. Very helpful. Our pousada was a nice family run joint to which we scored the room up three flights with a view looking down to the local church. It didn’t look much like a church from the outset but on Wednesday and Sunday nights, it turned into something out of ‘Sister Act’ but without anyone singing in key. The locals all got up and had their turn of the mic that seemingly blasted out their tone def tune of praise to the beat of out of time onlookers. I wondered if I was becoming a jaded traveller when I opted to shut the window and wished they would just “shut the f*%^-up” because I wanted to watch an illegally downloaded episode of the latest Survivor.
Morning broke and we planned to spend the day at one of the towns three surrounding beaches. After checking finances online, I freaked. Murray’s skimmed card from Manaus registered another $800 taken our from our account. Now that made it $1600 all up. From the same source, ATMs out of Sao Paulo. This was becoming a small nightmare. We spent the morning on the phone to to Commbank sorting out the trouble, canceling cards altogether and relinking others to different accounts. Thank god for Wifi and Skype. After the ordeal was over, or so we hoped, I was feeling lethargic with symptoms of a cold. Becoming paranoid I wondered if I might have contracted Malaria… Amazon, mosquitos, rainy period, no medication…hmm…it was a possibility. So monitoring my symptoms and taking it easy we lost another day of just hanging about. That was two strikes just waiting for the third.
But after eating some incredible local cuisine from a family restaurant around the corner I got enough strength to check out the beaches. We walked through the town, in between the little hills hovered with coloured concrete blocks for housing and to Praia Anjos, a fine curve of beach overlooking the other side of the bay. It was a gorgeous setting but the beach restaurants serving beer and seafood came at a price..a lack of garbage collection which filtered out onto the sand. So after a short swim we walked back through the town to Praia Grande. The largest stretch of white sand with crystal clear deep blue water. This was the towns city beach and what a city beach it was. It was hot, in the mid 30s of the afternoon so we ran into the water. Argh..freezing! Compared to the warm Caribbean sea we had become so accustomed to, this was 6-7c cooler and you could sure feel it. But it was refreshing and a beautiful change to say the least. Up the road from the beach was a local Acai shop that served up fresh juices and Acai with delicious fresh tuna sandwiches.
Dosing up on the vitamin C in the laranja it only took a day to recover from my “Malaria” and soon enough, we found ourselves back on the bus heading south to Rio. Here we would spend our final days on the South American continent before flying to the Middle East. That was just after Murray had misplaced his Ray Bans to which the hotel owner conveniently loaded into his side draw and seemed to have no idea what sun glasses we could possibly be talking about. This was of course until one of the cleaners pulled the draw out right in front of us. “Oh there they are..how did they get there?” he mimed to us in Portuguese. So that was near strike number three.
We were both ready to go, everything was becoming too familiar and we wanted some culture shock…and a few shwarmas!