Excitement was laced with nerves when I arrived into Rio. I had no idea what to expect, but I’d pretty much convinced myself I was going to be mugged at knife point. I’d heard stories and warnings which had me on edge slightly but then at the same time many people told me I would absolutely love it. Though I’d decided Brazil was going to be a separate trip, I had a flight booked to Manchester from there and so at least wanted to spend a few days seeing what the city had to offer.
Staying in a residential part of the touristic Copacabana, I felt quite comfortable and despite heeding all safety advice I had no qualms about walking all over the place. With just 3 days in Rio, I had to move fast and spent a day darting all over the City to see the sights… Christ the Redeemer, Selaron Steps, Tijuca forest, Santa Teresa and a quick drive by of one of the largest Favelas. It was hot and I was knackered but a cup of the popular acai sorted me right out. I loved the little local corner stands that served up a mix of fresh juice and a variety of Salgados. We’ll ignore the fact that a cockroach fell out of the ceiling onto the lady next to me as she was propped against the counter eating dinner. I took my acai to go…but still went back on multiple occasions!
Beach time was split between the famous Copacabana and Ipanema. Of which Ipanema was a favorite. Though drinks at sunset on iconic Copacabana were quite lovely. While sheltering from the rain under the bar awning on my last night I got talking to two elderly Brazilian men. They didn’t speak much English and I had zero Portuguese to contribute, yet we had the most interesting conversation for about an hour. I have no idea what we talked about but it was fascinating nonetheless. It was the perfect exchange for me to close out the South American chapter on and reminded me that one of my favorite things about travel is being immersed into new cultures and languages.
Over the past 13 months I’ve visited South America 3 times, on trips totaling 12 weeks and that have spanned 7 countries. Despite debates about the safety of the continent, the people have been nothing but good to me. They’ve shown patience as I’ve fumbled by on a combination of broken Spanish and international sign language, have provided advice, guidance and local recommendations. South America – Thanks for consistently looking after this solo chica. The time has come to explore a new part of the world but I miss you already!