Tuesday, April 22, 2008

where´s the Rio?

By the way, Porcão means Big Pig, and yes the steak house is so called because it is all the meat you can eat. As it turned out afterwards the desserts were not included in the price of the buffets, which proved to be my undoing as those of you who know my dessert reputation are no doubt able to imagine.

I wonder in fact how it can possibly be that Brazilians are not all overweight. All their foods seem to contain sweets or cheese, or both, wrapped in pastry dough or deep fried. Or both.

During my climb up the Pão de Açucar I learned the etymology of Rio de Janeiro. I had indeed been wondering where that rio (river) is anyway. Well: When the Portuguese explorers first arrived the tide was just going out, causing a very strong current out of the bay; so strong that it prevented the Portuguese from entering the bay. They thought the current was a river. This happened during the month of January, hence Rio de Janeiro, the January River.

Leaving Rio, the next destination was Ilha Grande, a beautiful island just off the coast about 3 hours south of Rio by bus. There are only two ferries each day, one at 8:00 and one at 15:30. Due to a cascade of connection problems with subways and buses we were way too late to catch that ferry, but decided to head on down to Angra dos Reis (the ferry terminal) anyway. Upon arrival, more than an hour after the ferry had already left, we found out that there was a small boat leaving at 5 o´clock. We jumped in a taxi and chased another group of backpackers who were pulling the same manoever. The boat was fairly small and filled with nothing but backpackers. Much much more fun than just taking the ferry!

Ilha Grande is a small island paradise. It has no roads, only one village, many hiking trails, secluded beaches, excellent scuba diving, and other assorted activities. A true backpacker´s destination. The village is tiny, has no hotels or banks, yet it does somehow have 118 hostels crammed together. (I didn´t make that up. That´s the actual number). While shopping around for the best hostel deal we happened across a Capoeira practice session. Capoeira is a mix of martial art and dance, originated when African slaves in Brazil wanted to practice fighting skills without arousing suspicion from their owners, by disguising their fighting as a dance.

On the agenda for tomorrow: Scuba diving!

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