A Deserting Carioca (A short stay in Petropolis)

1 Sep

No more cleaning, my time at the hostel is finally up. To be fair, I did very little cleaning, but any cleaning is too much I’m afraid. I decided the best place to go after spending a month on the beach was the mountains so headed to Petropolis. I arrived yesterday to find the only hostel in town had been closed, meaning I would probably have to spend more than I wanted. I tried to find a couchsurfer here too but out of the four that live here only one replied, and he was out of town on business. I eventually managed to find a 93-year old German Brazilian who owned an Inn. We watched the US Open and I found out about skin diving (apparently doing this with an aqualung is just plain cheating) until his receptionist turned up. It turned out that the old man had told me the price was R$99, I thought he said $29. This was just too high to even begin to find a compromise so I moved on, feeling slightly gutted that I wouldn’t get to see his skin diving photos. No-one in town could recommend anywhere even close to the R$30 I wanted to pay so in the end I had to make a sacrifice. The cheapest place I could find was R$88. I managed to barter him down to R$66 which we shook hands on, though afterwards he tried to explain to me that 66 is basically the same as 70 so I might as well just pay R$70 yeah. No way! It’s twice what I wanted to pay but I figure after not having to spend a penny on accommodation for five weeks, and also having access to a swimming pool, amazing breakfast and general swankiness I can’t complain too much.

By the prices of the hotels here it seems that Petropolis is very much a place for the Cariocas of Rio to come and spend their money when they feel the need for a break from the beach. It is certainly a grandiloquent place to come, full of palaces and regal glamour. Santos Dumont, who I believe was one of the first people to fly came from here, as did some of the old Brazilian royalty. For me, it’s again just a huge reminder how big the gap is between the rich and poor in Rio, or even the gap between middle class and poor. You’re looking at middle class people earning at least 3 or 4 times as much money as those on the lowest paid jobs.


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