Rio is one of those places that everyone wants to go to. Its iconic topography, beaches and of course Carnavale makes it one of the top destinations to visit anywhere in the world. Tourists flood here during the moveable feast of Mardi Gras when the whole city erupts in a festival of debauchery unparrallelled anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately for us and our meagre, backpacking budgets this also means a 1000% increase in the price of what can only be described as filthy and in some cases gangster infested accommadation. But let me start at the begining, or at least the beginning of our trip to Rio.
We arrived after three flights and about 24 hours, from LA. This was the first country neither of us had visited, the first country where neither of us spoke the language and the first country neither of us had visited previously so we were apprehensive anyway, but when you add to this apprehension a terrifying propensity for violent crime, I'm not ashamed to say, we were downright paranoid.
We stepped out of the Terminal with our bags and the first thing that happened as we sat waiting for our bus to the Bota Fogo (Mouth of Fire) area was that an insect the size of a Golden Eagle flew directly into my face. OK so that was an exaggeration but I'm not exaggerating when I say it was actually the size of a sparrow and that vehicles actually swerved to avoid it when I saw it again later. I jumped up, wildly swatting the empty air around me to the unsympathetic laughter of Emma and about 5 or 6 locals. It would not be the last time that locals shook their heads and muttered 'Gringo' under their breaths in an apparent attempt at exacerbating my already keenly felt embarrassment.
The bus journey did little to put our over active imaginations at ease. The traffic was awful and the ride into the city was beset on both sides of the highways with sprawling Favellas, all housing, to our paranoid minds, armies of handgun toting armed robbers just yawning and stretching and looking forward to a lovely day of relieving us of our possessions whilst facing minimal resistance.