Archive | March, 2009

Adios Rio!

31 Mar

The Rio trip is over for now. I need some peace and quiet! Lapa truly is the party capital.

So what happened in the final few days:

    Biking back to Copacabana

    Biking back to Copacabana

  • Went on bike ride with Glenda round Ipanema, Copacabana, Lagoa and ended up at Botanical Gardens (definately worth a visit when in Rio – great orchirds, humongously ugly plants of all varieties that somehow manage to seem quite pleasant, tiny monkeys and plenty of unusual fruits. Go there when it’s sunny for best results). On the same road as the botanical gardens is a little ice cream shop called Mil Frutas. They let me try about 12 different varieties before I eventually decided on Orange and Ginger. Simply the best ice cream I have ever ate in my life. The ice cream is quite expensive but it is definately worthwhile. There was apparently a very famous Brazilian behind us in the queue. I later found out it was Chico Buarque, a famous singer whose songs have been covered by pretty much every popular brazilian musician to have lived. I had been listening to an album by Ney Matogrosso which I later found out was completely Chico songs, so there be the evidence.
  • Went to Afrobeat night at Clandestino (below some hostel in Copacabana) with Kamille. Unbelievable songs, rarely do I get to hear Fela Kuti played so loud. It also made me want to discover a lot more afrobeat artists, as there were some seriously funky grooves being played here. Unfortunately, the people I was with wanted to leave so we went in search of another party. I can’t remember the name of this place, but it wasn’t too hot so we headed off to Piste 3. Here they played Nirvana, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Blur, it was pretty much like heaven. Unfortunately, this party was not enough either though so we headed off to Casa da Matriz. This is someone’s house that they have converted into a nightclub. Very strange dancing in someone’s living room. I arrived back at the flat at 7.30am. I think I mentioned this in an earlier post.
  • Went to gallery opening with Fabiola (collection of stickers plastered over 2 rooms, creating a technicolour vision of Rio – very nice indeed. I think the exhibit was called ‘A Gentile Carioca’ which means a friendly resident of Rio). Afterwards, we headed up the hill to a house party. I can’t remember the name of the area, Morra de something, but was a beautiful little place on top of a hill. All the streets were about 4 foot wide, and every house seemed to be full of people spurting out raucous laughter like no man’s business. The party was in an artist’s studio. Each room had a different discipline. One room had huge murals and paint splattered from floor to ceiling. Probably the primal scream room. There was a room for more considered paintings and some nice acrylics were on show here, but my favourite was the music room, where one of the housemates had taken apart a huge array of amps and electronic devices, mixed up all the pieces and then started to recreate them. The ability to make strange noises will never lose its appeal.
  • Fresh fruit market on Sunday. Are mango, papaya, guava, abrico and manioc. A little disappointed that every amazonian fruit I encountered tasted like papier mache, but hey, the papayas were good.

And I think that’s it for Rio. I will definately return at some point. For now, I am heading to Sao Paulo for an evening before getting the night bus to Isla de Santa Catarina, or Floriannopolis as it’s better known.

Vasco 9 : Flamengo 8 (at the Maracana)

26 Mar

The Maracana¨Vasco, vasco de gama, vasco de gaaaaaaaaaama!¨ There was no way I was ever going to come to Brazil without going to the Maracana, so once I found out there was a local derby coming up soon after I arrived I knew I was going to have to go. Getting a ticket to these games is easy. Find any football club in Rio. Find a queue leading up to a hole in the wall. When it gets to your turn look through the hole into some kind of dimly-lit cave, say the name of the game you´re after and follow it with arquibancada, por favor. This last part is to ask for the grandstand. This is the upper tier of the ground. The bottom tier is for wimps. Once you get to the game, savour the atmosphere outside for a little while, you´ll probably get to see some fireworks. Once you enter through the main entrance you can get to whatever part of the stand you want. Green is for the hardcore fans, neé hooligans. Yellow is for the drums and for the diehards who ain´t too bothered about a punch up. White is for families, couples and neutrals. If you carry on walking around you will then reach yellow and green again, but for the opposing fans. There´s a blue section as well on the far side but I think this is for the rich kids, so we won´t worry about that.

I arrived just as the game was kicking off, heading straight for the yellow section. I was tempted by the green but getting in there didn´t seem possible. So, yellow it was, in the Vasco end, by the way. Vasco are the smaller of the two sides, suffering relegation from the national league, and looking a shade of the team they once were. I love the underdog so couldn´t resist.

Vasco da Gama fans eruptingAfter 10 minutes, one of the Vasco wingers makes a run for the by-line only to be tackled by one of the Flamengo defenders, who clears the ball to safety. Instantly, the ref runs over, pulling a red card out of his pocket on the way. The Vasco end erupts, everyone´s hugging each other, the dozens of 12 foot Vasco flags are waving from side to side, and I´m struggling to remain on my step. The game goes on, with Flamengo playing some neat triangles, working out 3 or 4 openings. They seem reluctant to shoot and the keeper only has to make one save, but they´re all over them. With 10 minutes left in the half, the Vasco striker, Carlos Alberto (this is the same Carlos Alberto who scored the first goal in the Porto v Monaco Champions League Final, for anyone interested) is put through on goal, he squares up to the keeper and plays the ball into the bottom left-hand corner. Only one problem, the linesman had already flagged for offside. As Carlos Alberto has already been booked for winning a tackle earlier in the game, it´s no surprise when he has to make a sudden charge to the dressing room. Flamengo are back it in! Their fans are delerious. The score remains 0:0.

Flamengo looked great in the first half, my feet are starting to hurt and the sudden downpour cause me to change my position in the second half. I head to the white section, or calm section. This is full of Vasco fans, Flamengo fans and neutrals. I´m not used to this lack of segregation at a football match.

Flamengo attackingA similar pattern occurs in the second half, however it´s Flamengo who have the first man sent off here. Again, the ball was won fairly. Shortly after, a Vasco corner played right into the goalkeeper is dropped and a Vasco player is left with 5 yards and no chance of missing. Vasco are soon down to 9 men too, but have a rare break away, 3 Vasco attackers against 1 Flamengo defender, which ends in the second goal of the game. The ref, quiet so far, doesn´t want to be forgotten though and sends off 1 more Flamengo player for good measure. I think that´ll give him the headlines. The match pretty much fizzles out after this. There aren’t too many players on the pitch and they seem a bit tired out. Kleberson (ex-Man Utd and Besiktas) comes on for Flamengo for about 25 minutes but doesn’t really have any end result.

And then it ends. Vasco 9, Flamengo 8. Or is it Vasco 2, Flamengo 0? How are these games scored again? I can’t remember. Vasco won either way though so that’s good.

So it is true, you really can’t make any kind of tackle whatsoever in the Brazilian game. No wonder they don’t produce many great centre backs, they only get to play half of every game. The fans seemed to enjoy the red cards as much as the goals though so maybe this was all part of the entertainment value.

The major talking point for me though was the lack of segregation in the stand. A Vasco fan cheering in the stands completely surrounded by upset Flamengo supporters, and no trouble. I am told, however this really wouldn’t be the case in some of the bigger derbys, such as Corinthians v Palmeiras. On the metro home, both fans even sing together. Perfect!

Partied out? But it's only Thursday!

20 Mar

I’ve just woken up. Well, that’s kind of a lie. I woke up a while ago wretching from the lack of any liquid in my body, scrambled around in front of me for loose change, dived out the house, ran to a cashpoint, found the cashpoint wasn’t working, ran back to the house, got more bank cards, returned to bank, cashpoint still wasn’t working, told by the attendant that cashpoint wasn’t working, found another cashpoint, got cash, bought drink, felt better and then started writing this.

We went to four parties last night. I got home as Glenda set off for work. Friday and Saturday are still to come!

First few days in Brazil

20 Mar

Couchsurfing is king! I am staying with Glenda for my entire week in Rio. Originally I was only going to stay for 3 days but apparently I am ´normal´ so can stay longer. The apartment building, all marble floors and buzzing television sets with occasional whooping mongrels, is situated in Lapa, dead-centre in the middle of Rio. It is the party capital, full of young, trendy natives, whielding over-sized drums, boozy old men trying to get their hands on some ass, of which there is much, and the odd tourist, taking a detour from the stag night paradise of Copacabana. All of this, by the way, is no fun when you´re trying to sleep. I have the keys to the apartment which is good news as my first two days are mostly memorable for my lengthy nap times.

On Wednesday I met Felipe in Niteroi, visited the Contemporary Art Museum (one of the best exhibits I´ve ever been to, all provocative images and abstract cartoons that made me wanna go and watch the Life of Brian. They know how to do surreal in Brazil) and went to his house in Saõ Gonçalo for lunch. The feijaõ e farafa was a delight and should be eaten every day, with some gusto!

Thursday: the sun has got me. At first I though it was joking, but no it really has got me. I think I might be able to get that starring role in Crabman: The Opera after all.

My bed is the one on the right

My bed is the one on the right

An Introduction

17 Mar

I feel it’s only right to start this blog by giving some kind of idea of its purpose. There’s a million blogs out there and there surely has to be reason for this one to exist. The trouble is the more I think about a defined existence for this fella here (for it will be a masculine blog) the less clear it becomes. This has led me to only one conclusion, I’m surely on the road to find out. This may or may not involve rediscovery of one’s self via the Bible ala Cat Stevens at the end of his song, but I’m damn sure it should be interested.

At the moment there are only but a few certainties regarding this journey:
1. It will start in Rio
2. I will reach Buenos Aires mid-April
3. I will be mostly sleeping on couches, using the hospitality of the South Americans wherever possible!
4. I will not be using any guide books. I think travelling without guide books can really open you up to new experiences, and forces you to ask people as many questions as possible. Curiosity is king!
5. I will be documenting all this through my blog. However, in addition I am taking my laptop and a microphone around with me. Hopefully I will be able to pick up the sounds of Sudamericano and maybe sing a few tunes too!

Next post will be coming soon!