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Sian's Worldwide Adventure!

I will be keeping a diary of my travels here and updating it as often as I can with pictures and news of what we have been up to and where we have been. Leave comments or messages and I can reply to them!

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Location: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

We have took this oppprtunity to write some more of our blogs as we were heading to the beach for another day of bumming around in the baking hot sun when it started bucketing down!! We had to turn round and come back with sad faces so hopefully it will pass and get hot hot hot again!

So, we got to Foz do Iguaçu airport (tiny tiny, didn't even look like a plane would fit outside!). There was another flight scheduled to be taking off at the exact same time at us which I thought was very odd at an airport this size and worried that it would either mean huge delays (common in S.America) or maybe a crash of some sort?? Haha well everything was fine and we left on time. We had been a bit worried about these flights as we have not heard good things about Brazilian internal flights - e.g. the runway at one of Sao Paulo's Airports is too short (cause of the big crash in 2007) so we made sure we didn't pass through there! And big delays, cancellations etc.

A strange thing is that in Brazil flights don't just go to one destination - they all go to two and most go to three! So when you are looking for your flight on the board there are other destinations up too (very confusing at first!). The planes land at the first one, people get on and off then take off again then do it again at another stop before reaching their final destination.

We hadn't realised this before we got to the airport as our booking confirmation said we had two changes but didn't tell us where we changed, what time the flights were or the flight numbers etc. Then we were told we stay on the plane. Bit odd but OK, better than connecting at airports with the chance of missing other flights!

So here we go, take off in a Brazilian plane (honestly I was actually a bit scared because of things you read! There is one Brazilian airline - that I actually haven't seen at the airports - which is said to have pilots without quals, no maintenance of planes etc etc) But it was fine and my confidence in Gol began to grow - everything seemed very proffessional and safe and you actually realise that there are so so so so many flights that leave all over Brazil to go internally as its so big even from the tiny airports!

Johnathan was quick to bag himself a row of three seats to himself and was gone without a word for a sleep (we had got up at 3am with about 3 hrs sleep which in Johnathan's eyes is near criminal!) The flight time to Curibita was 50 minutes and after a while we just seemed to be going round and around in a big circle. Oh god!! Were we lost? Was the pilot drunk? Could he not find the airport? Had the navigation system failed???? Not quite, he later informed us we were circling the airport as it was 'closed'. Hmmm, airport closed?? When a flight was scheduled to land there and presumably people would be wanting to check in for it? I didn't know whether this was poor translation or airport management and we never found out actually! I decided to have a little snooze, after all we were staying on this plane so didn't have to worry about our connection to another one and if we were a bit late into Manaus (Amazon) we had been told the meet and greet would be waiting for us as other poeple were also joining the flight. So round and round and round we went over and over again. I was hoping that they would remember to mention this when fuelling up so they would make up for the fuel we lost! Johnathan had no idea and I decided to have a little sleep, it was actaully quite relaxing just flying in a cirlcle! Well it ended up that we circled the airport for over an hour and a half! When the pilot announced that the airport was 'open' there was a big round of applause. Did this always happen in Brazil? I could just imagine some airport caretaker sitting at home, thinking he was sure there was something he had forgotten! Oh yes! Open the airport!

So we landed and the pilot informed people who were continuing to Brasillia and Manaus to stay on the plane. Johnathan woke up and I told him what had happened - he said he had heard applause and though we had landed and the Brazilians were releaved that we had done so! Not phased then?? We stayed on the plane (as advised) and soon realised we were the only ones on it. Oh well. Then some woman came up and asked to see our boarding passes, well this is a palava in itself as in Brazil boarding cards do not have a bit of card in sight and are just huge reams of papar that are about as tall as me! She said we had to get off the plane. We said we are going to Manaus and she said again that we had to get off the plane. No further information. Off the plane we got (very very confused by the way) and just started wandering through the airport. Some man saw us and aksed if we were going to Manaus then took us to this room around a desk where it was very busy with people jostling for attention and looking very angry! Oh dear...

So we just got in this crowd around the desk where it looked like people were being put on different flights. I knew this because reams and reams of these 'receipts' were being printed out and flying everywhere. Oh no what a mess! We had absolutely no idea what was going on, why we had been taken off the plane and what was going to happen now. We handed over our boarding streamers and waited. A lot of tap-tapping on the computer and mumbling to the other steward and many a ream of paper was shooting out of the little printers (and deforestation of the Amazon sprung to mind). He handed us back six of these massive receipts and called over the woman from the plane who spoke the most broken (if not shattered on the floor) English I had ever heard! Mean I know, its not as if we speak Portuguese! She showed us that we would be boarding a flight to Curibita then changing and getting a flight to Manaus, problem was we dodn't get into Manaus until 5.30pm! Five and a half hours after we were meant to! We were so annoyed as we could not understand why that plane could not just carry on to where it was going??!! It was so frustrating as we tried to ask why that plane wasn't going anymore and we never got an answer, she just said that it wasn't going anymore because the airport had been closed. Riiiggghht...

We went to the board and saw that there was a Gol flight leaving at 9.30am (In about an hour rather than 2.5/3) so why can't we be put on that. She started saying no that is not our airline so we had to walk her to the board and show her it said 'Gol'. Maybe she forgot who she worked for? OOOhhh so she went back to the desk, messed around a bit and said no it is not going there anymore. Great. We didn't push it as they seem to just randomly do this and she clearly had no idea what she was going on about! It was so annoying! We were fretting now as we were going to be very late for the tour and were on different flights so how would they know what flight we were on!! I didn't want to end up stranded in an airport in the middle of the amazon! We asked this woman if there was internet in the airport and even did the action of typing on the computer with our fingers and she informed us there was no internet here. Oh god! How would we get in touch with them!?

She started sayin VP? VP? we had no idea what she was on about at first and then she added lounge to it and I realised she must be offering the VIP lounge. Johnathan was still clueless and started getting angry so I had to quickly tell him what she was saying. We agreed to go here (normally I would be pleased about this but at that moment I couldn't care less but I was getting upset and thought there would be less people there to see!) We went to the VP (Very Person??) Lounge and I didn't even touch the free drinks. People were on their laptps using wifi so Johnathan was trying to aks if we could borrow it for a second. Noone knew what we were going on about and Johnathan decided he was going to find internet - there was wifi and that woman didn't know what she was on about so there must be internet! Off he trotted, leaving me alone with my thoughts - not a good idea when Im upset especially as normally Johnathan remains calm and positive in sticky situations so I can freely freak out then be reassured by him! But this time even he was worried and annoyed etc. So there I was, how were we going to contact them? Were we going to be stranded? We would miss seeing the monkeys and going on the alligator hunt! This whole Amazon business and booking the flights around it had been a nightmare and we had been so stressed about it and wasted so much time over it and I had had hardly any sleep and was tired! So I started crying and I was by myself, I tried to stop and managed but I had been spotted! Some old man was looking at me and probably thought, what is so bad, I thought our VP lounges were quite good?? Maybe he thought I was a spoilt foreigner who is used to unlimited champagne in our VP lounges! Embarrassing.

Johnathan came back with good news - there was internet, a whole cafe of it infact and the airport was actually massive! We ditched the VP lounge and headed straight for it. We emailed every email address we had telling them what had happened, what flight we would be on, what time we got in, our phone number etc and hoped for the best! We just wished that the flight from now were Ok and on time and that this didn't happen with every flight!

The other flights were fine and after the second one we received a voicemail from good old Miles (our contact with Chimu adventures who was very helpul and quick at replying) saying that he had sorted it and they would be there to meet us at 5.30. Great, we wouldn't be stranded and they had our flight number. Still going to miss two of the best trips though!! The other flights were fine (and actually all of the other we have had have been bang on time (trust the one to go wrong for the Amazon) and touchwood our one to Rio on Tuesday will be too. The only thing is Gol doesn't like giving out food on these planes and give you these odd cracker things - we have had every flavour now! Johnathan was not impressed! I cannot tell you how miffed he was, getting onto the plane muttering to himself about 'bloody crackers'.

We made it so now it was time for me to stress out about our bags! If we had changed flight from what was on our luggage tag and got two more flights since, I just could not see the bags showing up too! Honestly I was so worried, especially after my Thailand experience and was thinking how awful it would be to be in the amazon for 4 days without our bags. I'm such an optimist aren't I! Johnathan must have knew I'd be a nervous wreck as he gave me a job to do and sent me off to get a trolley. The baggage claim area was tiny so I ended up hovering at the side like a nervous wreck watching every bag come out. Then I saw Johnathan's big girly backpack (his always comes out first!) and then mine came out after and I was so releived!! We could start to relax now, we were here with our bags ready to enjoy the amazon, we were just hoping we would still catch the aligator trip!

It was nice not to have to think when leaving the airport as we had someone there to greet us with our names on a card (never had that before hehe) and we were driven to the port (I use the term loosely as we were in the middle of the amazon and it was basically a muddy hill) where we got in our boat - a not very sturdy looking motorised canoe! It was scary at first, especially getting in with your rucksack on and I nearly fell in and its the kind of boat that will capsize if too many people go on one side so it was a case of sit still! You got used to it though and it was really nice and relaxing and I always remember it when thinking about the amazon because we were happy to finally be there and we were on a boat on the amazon river! It was a really nice ride and I just loved looking at everything and the sun was setting so it was actually gorgeous!

We got towards the lodge and I suddenly realised that it was probably going to be really nice, we were still in backpacker mode but this isn't backpacker territory people here were all on holiday in Brazil and had booked this as part of their holiday (plus it cost us enough!). We could see it all lit up in the distance and it looked so nice, we got off the canoe (with difficulty) and got to the reception where there was a welcome drink for us (cocktail made with a local fruit). Johnathan thought it was a pina colada! We were still anxious about the alligator trip as we had seen a few motorised canoes leave as we were pulling in and were miffed that they hadn't waited for us! However we were told that tea was served at 7.30 (yey no cooking!) and that after our guide will explain our itinrary as there was a trip tonight. Woohooo alligators here we come! We toddled to our room which was a private lodge in the middle of the jungle - and I mean middle!! We were walking for ages and wondering how we would find our way back to the recpetion and restaurant! The lodge was lovely and we got ready for tea all excited!!

I would say that the meals were also a highlight of our stay in the amazon hehe, no seriously the food was amazing and buffet style so we stuffed our faces! Me and Johnathan should not be left unattended by a buffet, especially for 3 meals a day for 4 days. The food was gorgeous and had loads of local stuff, we came down one night and there was a massive catfish in the middle of the table smiling at us all! Another welcome addition to breakfast times were parrots! They were gorgeous, one of them was a big multicoloured one that liked to perch above the omelette station and survey the restaurant. During the day you could see them dotted about the jungle through the lodges and he would speak and say hello hehe. Other two visitors were smaller green parrots and they would jump around from table to table taking food of people's plates. Everyone loved them they were so cute! One green one flew onto my plate when I had finished and started chewing on the left over watermelon seeds. They obviously don't like to eat them all because he was just spraying then all over the table! They also liked cake (so do the Brazilians for Breakfast. Not my cup of tea but Johnathan had ate the equivalent of a birthday cake every morning!) and would sit on the back of the chair biting the big slab of cake from their claw. It was amazing watching them do this, they can stay so steady on one foot while they eat from their claw and bring it up to their mouth. When they were full they used to fly back off into the jungle. They were never there for dinner or tea so maybe they are early birds and like their beauty sleep! Lizards would make an appearance too after the parrots as the parrots would make such a mess and there would be cake and fruit all over the floor. The lizards would come in (big bright multicoloured ones) and scoot off with the crumbs. I saw one lizard loking particularly pleased with himself when he found something and when i looked at his mouth he had a big plastic coated tablet in it! I felt really mean and he scooted off before another lizard could get a look in. Maybe it had a good effect and he had some hallucinations during his day around the jungle!

This was my first chance to try Brazil's national cocktail - a Caipirinha. This is a bit like a mojito - but more strong and more sour! Its made with Cachaça which is a spirit made in Brazil from sugar cane and they have it with a lot (lot lot lot) of sugar, ice and about 3 limes! Its really nice but very strong and I can only have about 2 or 3 of them before I get very very thirsty! The beers in Brazil are really nice too. Theres Skol (not as you know it haha), Brahma (not as you know it either, its a pilsner here not the light one like Corona) and Bohemia which is probably the nicest one. People may wonder why I am reviewing the lager as I hate the stuff but I've been drinking it out here, well as shandys! I really like them but still can't manage straight lager (but I did have a whole glass of Bohemia when ordering a lemo in a bar went horribly wrong and I had to do without!) Its nice because its so hot here so they are refreshing and we take them and lemo to the beach. Also its cheaper and its the end of the trip and all! haha

So we ate about twice our body weight for tea and hauled ourselves to the bar. I have never been so stuffed in all my life - Johnathan seriously made up for only eating crackers! We could not stay in the bar that long because seriously we felt that full and bloated! Also we had found a really nice comfy couch with a little table in the corner to slob on. We couldn't understand why it was empty and people were sitting on the other chairs but we soon found out. We heard a flush and turned around and realised they were right behind the toilets! Not great we thought but never mind. Then, sorry if you are eating, but we got the most unpleasant stink ever! It fell over us like a wave and we had to move it was disgusting! Why can't people go back to their lodge in the jungle? Its just laziness. That seat is probably for new arrivals to lure them there then see how long they stay when someone has been the toilet hehe we saw a few people do the same actually! Oh that reminds me! We were walking back to our hostel in Buenos Aires and this man walked past us actually pooed himself on the street! I am not joking, it made the loudest noise and you should have seen the way he walked off, too much rare Argentinean steak maybe! hehe (luckily his trousers were brown!)

So we spoke to the guide and he told us our itinrary and that we would be doing both of the trips that we missed! We were made up and made our way to bed ready for our early start in the morning! The trip the next day was to 'The Meeting of the Waters'. We got in a big riverboat and made our way down our river onto the River Negro headed for the Amazon River. This boat ride was nice in itself! We went past traditional houses built on stilts at the river bank, the city of Manaus (more like a town really), fishing boats, floating petrol stations for boats and we saw dolphins! Johnathan didn't though and wasn't quick enough with the camera. Also something we didn't expect is that there are a lot of rich people around, don't know if they live there or have holiday homes there but they were all speeding around on the best, most gorgeous speedboats and Jetskis I have ever seen! They were like something out of James Bond and they were all very glamorous with women sunbathing on them in their bikinis and the men in their speedos (they like as little as possible when it comes to swimwear - teeny tiny speedos, thong bikinis and basically there is not much material to the bikinis at all, I feel overdressed in my normal one!) I felt like I was in Cannes or Monte Carlo or something but it still never looked right because the water around the amazon looks all muddy, not cristal clear blue that you picture with that kind of thing! I felt frumpy in our big boat and wanted to hop on a speed boat, I had already chosen which type I would have lol.

We came to the meeting of the waters and it was really impressive! The river Negro and River Amazon flow into each other but it is like chalk and cheese, they are completely different. The Amazon is fast moving, cold and is very cloudy with a lot of sediments and the River Negro is slow moving and warm and quite clear and has a black appearance obviously. This means they don't properly flow into each other and run alongside each other. Depending on the season they can run alongside each other for 5 miles or 50! The part where they meet though is really good. It reminded me of oil and vinegar in a bottle, looking ahead and behind you could see the line where they meet and the two separate rivers either side. And the rivers in the amazon can be up to 120 miles wide! This one was about 5 I think so it was a really nice scene! All the facts like that about the amazon are really impressive actually. Just how big and vast it is and how long it takes to cross the rivers etc. An area the size of France has been deforested but it looks quite small on the map (obviously its not small though). Honestly the place is huge! The scenery when we were flying over it to land was amazing and we took some piccies out of the plane.

We headed on down the river to a local village. We passed the flooded forest on the way which was really good, loads of huge trees just sprouting out of the water! The people that lived in the village were originally Brazilian people from other areas in Brazil who were told to go to the Amazon as there was a living in the rubber trees there. They wern't native to the Amazon. The village was lovely and everything was built on stilts and you could see how high the water gets during rainy season when they have to move out of their houses. We looked at the rubber trees ( I was expecting trees that looked like tyres but sadly no) and how they make rubber from them (sadly us good old Brits took loads of the seeds and planted them all in Asia). There were cocao trees there too and they were nothing like I expected! They have big orange friuts on the and when you open them up there are gooey white balls inside, you suck on these which are really sweet but don't bite into them as inside is where the cocao seeds are that are made into chocolate and they are really bitter! There was a woman there who makes the chocolate and I thought Johnathan was going to kidnap her! That could have been John's present lol. Walking around the village was done on (very wobbly) wooden walkways which were tiny and could only have people in one direction! I was terrified of them giving way because by the boat was loads of water and everywhere else was thick mud! Johnathan actually tripped over one of the loose boards and went flying but sadly (i mean luckily!) didn't fall into the mud.

We went to another local village for a huge buffet lunch and it was lovely! Loads of local fish and veg and fruits! One of the fish that we had talked about with our guide was served up there and it was one of the nicest fishes I have ever had and I won't be able to have it again! It is massive!! And the guide showed us one of its scales which I would describe as the size of a giant's big toenail and you could file your nails on it!!! (I actually have one on something I bought there so remind me to show you!) He also showed us the tounge which was huge and rough as a peice of coral! Wouldn't like to bump into that fish! The boat ride back was really nice and relaxing and the sun was getting lower in the sky. It was just so nice being there and I felt really lucky. It was all too much for Johnathan and he was alseep, lolling on the side of the boat before you could say piranha! And he did is usual of waking up just as we were pulling in to our bit of the river!

That night was again spent shovelling food into our mouths and I would like to say that we were sampling all of the delicious local food for you all at home! How kind of us I know! Then to the bar. We were knackered - it is so so so hot and humid in the amazon as you can imagine and it wipes you out! The sweat just comes off you in bucket loads and you actually look like you have just had a dip in the amazon! We found a very very very comfy area with hammocks and had a little relax which turned into me actually falling asleep in them with Johnathan having to wake me up! Imagine, what a role reversal! Honestly I was there for the night! But I was just being a local, they get river boats to go to different parts of the river which takes days and they all sleep on hammocks on the boat. It was that night that we met the dreaded Ukranian! I had noticed on our trip that she was a fully fledged looney tune and steered clear. Johnathan however was not so careful! She saw me in te restaurant while Johnathan was perusing the puddings for a possible third or fifth helping. who knows! She had spotted his current cake on the table and came up to me and it and said 'oooo cake how cool. I did not see that, wow' etc etc as if it was the most amazing thing she had ever seen! I said oh its over there with the puddings (suprisingly) trying to shoo her away and made eyes at Johnathan. He didn't get on to it and hung around. She was then stuck to us like glue. I knew it would happen and sure enough she was heading back to the table with Johnathan. Oh for **** sake! She was seriously off her rocker and her trolley and she had long since seen her marbles! She lived in USA so spoke English (and actually 6 other languages!) amd she was babbling on about absolute crap for ages and kept rambling on about weird stuff then stopping to do a crazed laugh which terrified me! She actually at one point, spoke at length abouth the particular peice of watermelon she was about to eat and how hard she had worked at cutting it into the perfect shape. And how about she had got lost on the way back from her room (understandable) so she had listened on the path and heard Englidsh voices in a lodge (well let me tell you, there the only way your hearing people talk in a lodge is by going up to the door and listening through it!) This kind gent had pointed her in the right direction and then probably mavelled at his lucky escape! She then dragged us off to the games room incase she got lost and was a complete maniac all the way. So this is what happens when a Ukranian goes to America?? Oh and guess what!? Out of all the lodges in all the jungle she was nextdoor to us! We couldn't believe it! So we were stuck with walking her home. We got to the games room (that we didn't know existed) and the lad that had shown her the way was there. We wanted to escape as quickly as possible so I said I was going to the toilet. Johnathan stayed so I had to go back and escape again! I came back and said shall we get a drink? Johnathan agreed and we left. We felt really bad in a way because we had just dumped her with this lad but seriously we had to get away! When we left Johnathan was like omg what a loonatic she is crazy! I was pleased because I thought Johnathan was going to be like Oh don't be mean shes nice and friendly blah blah blah but even he was taken a back by this one! The American lad must have thought the same because he quickly delivered her back to us in the bar - like a game of hot potato! Johnathan quickly offered that we would escort her back to her lodge (she was saying how tired she was) and we wouldn't want her to get lost now! She was like oh no you have a drink and we said no no don't you worry we'll take you now and take our drinks with us! We were not chancing this one! hehe So we tried to avoid her after that as much as we could but we kept bumping into her. She would come over to you when you had obviously seen her and tug you on the arm and say 'hello!' really loudly! It was really odd and I saw her do this to some randomer who had just got off the boat off the airport and it reminded me of something a kid would do. Also every trip we went on she would buy some ridiculous souvenier and insist on wearing it the whole day e.g. a feather headress and huge dangly feather and fish scales earings which looked ridiculous! We saw her in the airport at some souveneir shop with some of the same outrageous accessories on and muttering to herself, 'ooo when could I wear these? Oh I know for my birthday!' o....k....

So the next day we were up bright and early (and full of breakfast buffet!) for a trek in the jungle!! We were already hot but being deeper in the jungle made a huge difference - we immediately were 10 times hotter and were dripping wet within seconds! Its like you have just jumped in a swimming pool! Its so weird because its like its raining but with no rain, thats what it feels like its really hard to explain. We also had to wear trousers (didn't help the hotness or the sweating) with them tucked into our socks - true Liverpool scally style circa 1999-2000. This was to protect us from the poisonous ants that were crawling around on the floor all around us (always good to know!) which can crawl up your legs and bite you and leaves you with severe pain for 24hrs. Not good when there were 3 more buffets to go! Also there were mosquitos here and you could here their horrible little noise everywhere. There were no mosquitos by our lodges or the hotel as they chose a spot on one of the rivers where the ph was too high for them so that was good. We had to put our deet on which is the industrial strength mozzy repellant we wear. I have always thought it cannot be good for skin as when you put it on, anything you touch after that gets the colour wiped off it and transferred onto your skin - like paint stripper. It is not good you walk around half the night with big ink smudges all over you and its ages before you realise. Also there was this big massive buzzy fly (the noise was horrible) that kept following us and took a liking to me in particular and kept landing on my top. Flys etc don't bother me unless they can hurt you and this one could. The guide said it can bite! And to whack it if we got the chance. Everybody else was trying to wack this big bug fly thing but I didn't want to for two reasons. 1 it was huge so wacking it would probably mean it would bite you anyway and you would be left with a massive fly carcass on your hand and 2 it kept landing on me so while everyone was trying to hit it they were probably making it angry and who would it lash out on! Actually I have just remembered, on the way out from the jungle (we were walking through dense trees and branches etc) I felt something bite me really hard and I screamed out! I thought this fly had come to take its revenge as I was leaving, I then felt really stupid as I realised it was a branch that hit me! It was catching though and afetr Johnathan saying oh shes only moaning because a branch got her, its nothing! He then screamed like a girl (sorry for the sexism but it really was a shreik!) and was insisting that something had bit him through his tracky pants and his socks - yes yes Johnathan if you say it then it must be true! Needless to say there was not a mark on him when we got back.

The trek was really fun and we started it 'I'm a Celebrity' Style-y. Our guide was showing us some survival tips for if we were lost in the jungle (I was slightly concerned at this - I thought he knew where he was going!?) and one was to find these little nut like things on the floor and open them up and inside was a larvai/caterpillar thing that eventually eats its way out of the nut thing. This animal has never been out of this thing so is very clean etc etc and a good source of protein as it eats it way out of this nut which is a coconut type thing. You have to pick it out and eat it from under the head (it was tiny!). The guide did it and then Johnathan volunteered (I would like to point out at this time that this thing turned into a beetle eeeeeeee - had he not stocked up on the breakfast buffet? Will he really eat anything - well yes everybody we have our answer yes he will!) The guide found him a nice juicy one and he chewed away on it - he said it tasted, and I quote, 'of cocnut and shit'. Delicious! Sadly his failing career wasn't then catapulted into the limelight with ad deals and crappy talk shows!

We walked around looking at the different trees etc they were really interesting and we found a tree that a wax thing comes out of and when it is burned it gives off an insence smell. It was really nice and our guide (who was brought up in tha rainforest ) said this was used if you had a cold. It could also be made into candles. We found trees that medicines come from. Most of our medicines still come from the amazon! Also we looekd at the trees that have all the natural oils. We found some really really poisonous ants and were told that the natives make boys put there hands in a glove of these about 20 times as a right of passage as in the future they will have to provide for their family and will have to be strong and hunt etc. Apparantly no one has died doing that which is cheerful to hear! We found a really cool tree that was concave. Well I say found, the guide was ahead of us and then we heard terrifying loud gunshots! Oh no! I jumped out of my skin and didn't know what was going on. We found out that it was him banging this tree with his knife and it was a jungle phone! hehe You can hear it about 5km away and you hit it a certain amount of times for different messages! No chance of signal loss then.

There was more fun stuff too. We all had a go at firing poisonous arrows fron cross bows onto a target - I was expecting to do my usual and be rubbish at this type of thing, but I actually hit it and was made up with myself! Johnathan stepped up, full of confidence after eating the beetle baby and the arrow landed right at his feet hehe, not that I am boasting or anything! The guide then showed us how the would set-up a trap for animals with these arrows and it was so impressive! Johnathan redeemed himself on the tarzan swing though! I knew it was hopeless for me - I have not an ounce of arm strength and when it was my go my arms gave way in approximately 0.001 seconds - fun while it lasted but I am no monkey in the making! Johnathan had his go and was actually quite impressive - don't tell him this though! And was swinging about for ages. I videod this so I'm sure you will all get bored to death, I mean treated to this speactacle!When we are back! One last thing of the trek, the guide was trying to coax something out of a small hole - ooo what was it we were very excited! Then he told us he had seen a massive tarantula dissapear down there. You could notice a slight change in the atmosphere as people backed away and tried to interest the guide in answering other questions - I myself was also hoping this tarantula would not pop up for a visit!!!

We went to see the wild monkeys next and I loved it ( I was really looking forward to this, I love cute things!!). The monkeys are wild and live in the rainforest but come for food at 11am and 4pm so people can get to see them. They are not handled by anyone and have no human interaction so they do not become tame. The food is put down and we go and watch from a certain point. We had to be careful too as they could attack (especially the alpha male; Fat Tony!) It was so good watchimg them. There were wooly monkeys (they must have been hot!) and squirrel monkeys and monkeys with big red faces (like Johnathan's now but more on that later!) which I can't remember the names for. It was hilarious they were swinging through the trees all over the place - they would drop down so far and then catch themselves at the last minute on a branch! Everyone was sneaking aroun Fat Tony and the squirrel monkeys were hardly getting a look in they would get chased away and had to quickly run and get food while noone was looking. It was so fun to watch and we took good videos of all the action! There was a baby monkey there who actually doesn't live with the rest of the monkey group as he is an orphan. His name is Chevchenco and his mum died pretty soon after he was born so he was rejected by all the other monkey folk! If left he would get killed by them so some of the guides look after him. He was adorable and you could stroke him and he loved it. When the monkeys were running for their food he tried to hop on with a mum taking her baby monkey but she flung him off! It was hearbraking to watch and he ran to his favourite guide and clung onto his leg! Poor Chevchenco there is no way you could leave him there.

After this we had an amazing relax in the hammocks, Johnathan was well away and I chilled out reading my book while all the lizards ran underneath me. It was then time for buffet number 6 and following this a boat trip to a native Indian tribe. Me and Johnathan had mixed feelings about this trip, we don't really like visiting things like that as its very toiristy but not that we just find it odd and uncomfortable going to nose at people. Its like in South Africa and here in Brazil, you can go and have tours around the slums and favelas where you walk around with a guide and basically go and nose at how poor people are and how hard they have life and I couldn't think of anything I would like to do less. If I was those people I wouldn't want rich tourists walking around where I live taking pictures of where I live because they can't believe how crap it is. But this tribe had approached the hotel asking if they would visit so they could do traditional dances and sell some of the handicrafts they made. So it was a bit uncomfortable watching it all, but loads of people love it. You can tell some of the people do not want to be doing the dances etc at all because they put no effort in and talk and laugh amongst themselves which makes it even more uncomfortable. During the dance they pulled some people up to join them and me and Johnathan were included and honestly it was awful we wanted to die! As I said we don't really like this kind of thing anyway so being brought into it was so cringy for us! But learning about their history and culture etc on the boat on the way there was obviously very interesting.

We were very excited about the trip in the evening but then it dawned on us what we were actually doing when we got there!! Us and the guide were doing the Caimen (alligator) spotting trip as we had missed it the first night. I suspected as it was just three of us we would be in the tiny tiny terrifying paddle canoes that can capsize at the shift of a bumcheek! And when we got there we were - we were given life jackets and I was terrified, it was bad enough getting in the thing and we had our cameras. It wobbled all over the show and we could have easily tipped up. Also, we knew this but the aim was to find the caimen, paddle right up to them in the pitch black and the guide was going to bring one 'onboard' for us to look at! This sounded great at first but when you are out there in this tiny unsteady boat in the pitch black, paddling through all the trees etc (which other boats wouldn't fit in) you start to get scared! I was thinking what if he sees one then tries to get it and there is a struggle and we capsize and get eaten by caimen? Or what if they just attack? Or one swimmimg past would be scary enough as we were so low on the boat and pretty much on level with the water. Johnathan admitted he was scared too. I was then thinking I don't want us to get one! The guide has a torch and you can see the red eyes staring at you which was amazing to see but they are scared of us so they swim off and hide - meaming there is probably loads under the canoe!!! Once we got used to the canoe though I really really enjoyed it. It was so relaxing and atmospheric and I realised I was in a little wooden canoe in the amazon on one of the amazon rivers paddling through flooded rainforests, getting so close to everything that we had to duck under trees etc and it was really picturesque and we could hear bullfrogs all around us and see caimens' red eyes all around. I loved it! (Was stil a bit nerby though!) We did get a caimen but it was a three month baby one and really cute, I even held it - it was so hard and it did not try to bite at all! He told us certain features of it etc then we put it back and had a slow row back to the lodge for buffet number 7 and some Caipirinhas!

The next morning was our last and we wnet out in a small group (including this looney Chinese woman who carried around a stuffed monkey everywhere and had extremely long armpit hair - I know this is irrelevant but she did and I will never understand it! It is no effort at all to not have this so I do not understand why people do it!) do some Piranha fishing! Anyway we loved this - I thought I might be a bit bored because I am not really a fan of fishing but it was hilarious! The Chinese was the first to get one and we all looked at its teeth etc and put it back. They are so hard to catch!! I actually had the first pull on my line but when I pulled it out there was no fish on it. They are so quick and have learnt to eat the bait around the hook! Loads of times you would feel a pull and pull it out so quick but you would just have a baitless hook!

Johnathan was next so he was made up with himself. then he got another one! He was determined and pulled it out of the water so fast that it went flying over the boat and landed on the roof! It then managed to wriggle itself free and escape! I was next - to my utter disbelief!!! And I pulled it out but then it sadly flung itself off soon after :(. Then one of the American's was pulling in a big one and we were excited but suprised that it wasn't struggling, sadly it turned out to be a leaf hehe. He was seriously gutted! Then it was Johnathan's turn for another but this wriggled free too. The piranhas must love it actually - the bait was beef so they must weigh it up and decide to take the risk of being hooked for this sumptious meal and they win most of the time too! Again it was lovely to be in the boat in the jungle and listening to all the jungle sounds. A toucan landed in a tree above us so that was nice to see and they have such a lovely song.

After this it was sadly time to leave the Amazon so we took full advantage of our motorised canoe ride back to the shore. We had agreed to tip the guide - as you do but were worried about how much etc - we never know what you are meant to give and what everyone else gives etc. We got to the minibuses that were taking us to the airport and Johnathan just jumped in it and said I'm not tipping him anymore noone else is!!! I couldn't believe it and told him to stop being such a stinge and that we had agreed to tip him!! But he had got in the van with the money and we had missed our chance! I was mortified and so annoyed with him - what an absolute tight arse! I couldn't believe why he had done it and was so embarrased. I said I had seen other people do it and talk about it and thats what you do!! He said the people our minibus didn't tip their guide and I said that is because he is accompanying us to the airport and sure enough they all tipped him when they got out. I was so annoyed and he knew I was and he knew he had been shocking but it doesn't change anything, I cringe when I think about it - he must think we are such stinges!!! Wish I had the money! Naughty Johnathan! He has since said he doesn't know why he did it and that he should have tipped him - yep so why didn't you?! Imagine Johnathan in America - they would deport him!

We had to wait round in the tiny boring Manaus airport for 5 hours until our flights to Salvador so that was veeerrry boring and we had no money to buy or do anything. The flights were fine and on time. Oh there is something I forgot to mention about the flights. When they land they don't gradually slow down on the runway but they slam on and I mean slam on! Everything and everyone gets flung forward and I should claim for whiplash! I wonder if its because if this runway too short business?? But seriously it feels like in that one landing the tyres will be ripped off and worn to nothing!

So we were in Salvador now. It was about 00.35 so we had to get a taxi to our hostel (on the beachfront thank you very much!) which was a bit annoying as it cost 90 Real!!!!! Which is about 30quid but not advisable to get a bus at that time when you don't know where you are going! You get the taxis from a stand in the airport and pay before you get in so thats good as it means you can't get ripped off by them going all over the place.

We were looking forward to being in Salvador - It is in Bahia in the Northeast of Brazil and is boiling hot year round (even though now is the middle of their winter) and has about 70km of gorgeous beaches - yes please! We took advantage of it and spent a week here as we wanted to get some sun and beaches before we got back to rainy old England!! It did not dissapoint! The first day was overcast and rainy but it soon brightened up! On this not so great weather day we had a toddle round and explored etc and that night was a big night in Salvador. Salvador was the first place the portuguese went to in 1500 so has a lot of history. It also had a thriving slave trade so there is a big African population there. it was such a great city and we loved it. It had loads of African influences - the food, big fish stews etc, music - absolutely amazing they lived for music there - drums, reggae, dancing, samba, salsa, anything! The whole place just had a great atmoshphere and was so lively! Also because of the slave trade the old town was gorgeous. I had read that the buildings were nice and was expecting some nice ones dotted about but when we got to Pelourinho (old town) we were both blown away! We wern't expecting it, every single inch of it was gorgeous! Big thick deep cobbles, amazing building, windly little streets, hills lined with verandas and shutters and fountains and palm trees etc etc it was lovely walking around and we loved it! Like I said Tuesday nights are big in Salvador and there is a huge street party all over Pelourinho after mass. All the bars are open, there are food stalls, clubs, bands, samba in the street, salsa in the street, singers etc etc we loved it. Was one of the best nights we have had! Seriously, the atmosphere and the liveliness and the effort - you would think it was a party they held every year never mind every week!! We went to a little bar and had Caipirinhas and food - best felafel ever!! Then we went to these steps nearby where everyone was crowded on these huge open air steps dancing away and drinking while a live band performed and sung - the people are such good dancers too! Then we went to a few more bars and went to a little packed square where there was a samba band on and everyone was doing the samba and we joined in and there were bars all around and people everywhere! Then we went to a slasa club which was in one of these lovely buildings. Again this was really good and had a little balcony where you could watch what was going on in the street below. They also had a comfy hammock that we had a little rest in hehe. It was such a good night and i could not stop taking pictures. I would say right that is definately enough pictures and put my camera away (not best to have it out on show because of pickpockets) but then I would see another amazing building or view and have to get it out again!

We were knackered from all the dancing when we got in (and maybe the drinking) and felt a bit worse for wear in the morning! We spent the next day wandering around Pelourinho by day and it was lovely - bought a few things too!

Will leave this blog here as I think its quite long!! Will finish Salvaor soon hopefully (we come home soon!) So hopefully I can get Salvador done and maybe some of Rio!? But loving Rio anyway.

Lots of love

xxxxxxx


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Recent Messages

From Natalie
Wow - another adventure unfolds!!! Loved the stuff about the Amazon - all the stress was worth it I think. Particularly appreciated hearing about the man who pooed himself, crazy Ukranian and Chinese lady with armpit hair. The bit about monkeys and alliagtors was ok too!
Can't wait to see you soon

Lots of love
xxx
Response: Yes we saw some strange species in the Amazon - mainly the humans! Had a fun day in Rio yesterday seeing all the sights and hitting Copacabana beach today! Will be home soon and cannot believe it! xxxxx
From Mum
Hi, what a stroke of luck getting your photos back! Glad all worked out, the falls sound fantastic! Well on the last lap now - definitely won't be getting any steak in for you after your Argentian beef! Great to speak to speak to you over the internet - enjoy your last week. Looking forward to seeing you both back. Take care, as usual xxx
Response: Helllo!

Made up about the photos and dying to see them all now which will be one of the first things we do when we get back because we can't see them on this camera and not chancing it again with the pc! Yeh its such a shame we only discovered skype a week before we come home its such a bargain and was nice to speak to you for longer! Off to the beach again now (really hot here so making the most of it beause when we first get to Rio its raining so really really hope it brightens up so we get at least 1 day on Copacabana beach!). Going to Samba tonight too so that should be good! Lots of love xxxx
From Paula
Hi Sian
Glad you got your photos back. The falls sounded incredible, something you will always remember. I went to see the very first show Cirque did in Las Vegas about 15 years ago because Jonathan Ross was raving about this show he had seen in Vegas and I was due to go. It was sensational and you had to keep looking around to see what would happen next. Keep up the great stories.

Paula xx
Response: I know I was made up, thought my Buenos Aires ones were gone forever! Its so good isn't it! Wev'e seen one of the Cirque do Soleil shows advertised in Salvador but its really expensive for some reason! Not long left for our stories now! :( xxx
From Dad
Hi Sian, another hillarious account, you shoud go into travelog writing after this. "A Year in Provence"? - eat your heart out Mayall!

xx
Response: Why thank you! Really like writing them! Going to print them all off when I get back so I have a little diary of my travels. Only 9 dyas left can't believe it! xxxx
From Natalie
Hi,
That all sounds a bit stressful, glad you have it all sorted now. Now you can just enjoy the ast leg of your trip!
We are off to Ireland on Wednesday, going to see Liam's mum and also to County Mayo for a few days.
See you soon and keep having fun!
Nat
xxx
Response: It got a bit more stressful then was fine again! Had a really good time in the Amazon, in Salvador now. Have a fab time in Ireland! See you soon! xxx
From Dad
What a palava! No problems ith picking you up from Mcr airport. Let me know the flight details nearer the time. xx
Response: Yes it was! Then our flight to Amazon was delayed 5 hrs so we missed the first afternoon of our trip! All went well after that and the Amazon was amazing! Thank -you will email you the details. Lots of love xxx
From jackie
Sorry Sian the hello travellers was my message.

have a good time in Argentina. Look after yourselves. See you soon
Response: hello! yes been planning r nxt travelling trips already - wantto travel everywhere haha! No more dorms either - can afford private rooms in S.America! Argentinas been so good, going to Brazil today then to the amazon tomorrow! Hope you're having a good summer, look forward to seeing you! lots of love Sian and Johnathan xxxx
From Liam
Hi Sian hope Agentina is good. Look after that young fella Garry he is drinking to much! Will his liver fit on the plane????
Response: Hi! Argentina is very good! Need to update my blog soon. Leaving for Iguazu falls tomorrow. Yeh he is drinking a lot, not a day goes by where he doesn't have a drink! It won't end either because they are very cheap here in South America hehe xxxx
From Dad
Hi Sian

Been back from Italy 1 hr 20 mins. Saw Natalie & Liam there. I'm tired now so I'll be in touch with more news soon.

xx
Response: Hello! Well I´m glad you got in touch within an hour and a half! In Buenos Aires now and love it, need to catch up on blogs but this keyboard is really hard to use and always a queue for this computer so will do it soon. Lots of love. xxx
From
Hello travellers

I am sure you have the travelling bug now, two weeks in Spain will never do now!!! It was so funny about the dorm waking up when someone you don't know comes in , this has happened to me and really freaked me out I think I screamed so lound it woke everbody up. mum tells me that you have a passion for some kind of noodles may be we can have a japanese night when you get back. see you both soon keep safe!!!!
Response: Who is this sorry? No name on the message. xxx
From Natalie
Hi,
just catching up as we ae back from our hols now. Had a lovely time and even saw Dad!! So funny! Weather was beautiful and ate lots of pizza, pasta etc etc. The night pi8cs of tokyo were lovely. Looking forward to hearing more about NZ
Ciao!
xxx
Response: Ola! In Argentina now, got here last night so it is our first day here today and it is very cold! Glad you had a nice time, your pics looked lovely. Going to do blog and put NZ photos up soon! Lots of love, xxxx
From Paula
Hi Sian
Wagamama sells urdon noodles and I always have yaki urdon, it's fab. Your Dad had them as well, when we went to see James Taylor recently in Manchester and he loved them too. I thnk there might be one in Liverpool. Japan sound wonderful and keep up the great stories.

Paula xx
Response: Hello!

Yes I get that too I love it! There is one in Liverpool One, maybe they sell them there?? And I can make my fabulous Udon noodle creation! We absolutely love Japan! Went to the fish market today and had to get up at 4am but it was fab! Lots of love xxxx
From Natalie
Beer festival pics are great~! Yet again I was left giggling away to myself after reasding about Johnathan's beer induced state! I a very excited about sampling your Udon noodles on your return.
lots of love
x
Response: Glad you like them! Think it is one of my favourite albums, drunken Johnathan photos are always a winner! I am making my udon noodle dish again tonight - got t o get practasing! hehe xxxxxx
From Natalie
Hi Hunny,
missed you call - booooooooooooooo! sorry about that. Was Liam's leaving do last night and feeling slightly worse for wear today! Going to check out your pics now. Finished school now so should be around more if you get chance to ring again.
miss you
Lots of love
x
Response: Hello! Don't worry, its been really hard to ring everybody because of the time difference, got through to my mum at like 2.40 in the morning the other day and was half asleep haha. Just got to Sapporo now, its the beer festival and a firework festival tonight too. Been a long journey from Beppu - about 26 and a half hours and had to get on another night train so pretty tired but off to the Sapporo brewery now. Lots of love xxx
From Dad
Hi Sian

Just managed to navigate the new style blog, and read the two that I missed when I was in Belgium.

I've always thought that I didn't want to go to Japan, but now I'm not so sure.

Hiroshima will be poignant I'm sure.

Love

Dad xx
Response: Hi,

Was hoping you would be able to figure out how to read the ones you have missed! I was thinking that the other day when you said you wouldn't fancy it but I really think you would like it! Hiroshima was really sad - especially the A Dome and the museum! Just got to Beppu now - the Onsen (natural hot springs) capital of Japan so looking forward to all that. Had amazing weather in Japan but it is raining today when we have got to the part by the beach! xxx
From Jackie
Hi Sian and Johnathan

So glad your having such fun. Sian I can't believe the scooba diving!!! Thank you both for the post card it liiks a gorgeousplace. It really cheered up my day to hear from both of you. Enjoy the rest of your holiday, but looking forward to seeing you soon!!!!
Response: Hello!

I know but it was just too scary and I hated it haha Glad you've got the postcard thought they might take years from Thailand! In Beppu now so going to go to all the hot springs and sand/mud baths :). Glad we cheered up your day! hehe. We are looking forward to seeing you to - we'll all have to get thinking where we can go for a meal!! Maybe Japanese style-y! haha Lots of love, Sian and Johnathan xxxx
From Ruth
Hi Sian

Just a quick note to say thanks for your postcard. It arrived at lunchtime. The beach looks lovely - would love to be there now instead of in this rain :-(

We're just about to start the summer fayre - lol. It has been raining for about 20 minutes. Can you imagine us all (parents, social workers and kids!!) all in the gazebo - think I will stay in my office and watch from afar!

Anyway Sian, must go now. Take care. Will message you soon.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Response: Oh good I'm glad it got there before you finished! Yes the beach was very nice hehe. Hope the summer fayre went OK! What did they have there?? xxxxx
From Mum
Quad bikes.....ahh! Agree completely with Natalie! Crazy journey! Glad I survived the tale never mind you, but maybe leave them alone now. Hope your journey to Kyoto wasn't as traumatic. Lots of love to you both
xxxxx
Response: Well its all over now and we survived! Won't go on them again! Journey to Kyoto was fun - high speed Bullet (shinkansen) train! :) xxx
From Natalie
Oh my god! You two are crazy - don't ever let Johnathan talk you into such madness agasin!!!
I was holding my breath reading the whole thing. I think I would have just left the quad with the big rocks! Very brave.
Lots of love
xxx
Response: Yes I know, I'm just glad we survived haha. It did seem like utter madness while it was happening like very surreal haha xxxx
From Ruth
Hi Sian and J

Love reading your blogs. How scarey did that quad adventure sound. I felt as tho I was with you both. You were very brave :-) I think my bottle would have gone right from the beginning. At least it's a boss story to tell your grandchildren - ha ha.

You seem to have been away for ages - does it feel that that to you?

Well nothing changes here in school. We are into our last week of term now - things are more manic than normal. We had a visit from a mobile zoo yesterday (yes you did hear right - a mobile zoo - here in a special needs school). They brought sheep, goats and lots of small animals. The sheep and goats were in pens at the front of the school - god how must have it looked for passers by. In the afternoon we had the children's music production. Our friend Alan (mature social worker????) took centre stage. We felt really embarrassed for him. He actually gave Sophie Murphy a sheet to read (bearing in mind that she is blind). I was glad when it was over. We just cant get rid of him. He wants to come back next term (over my dead body Di said). Also we are having a Summer Fayre on Thursday. This was decided last week by who other but Paul. Letters have gone out to parents and social workers to invite them. Cant believe he's only given everyone a weeks notice. God knows how it'll turn out. Will probably rain - will keep you informed. Lots of other news, but dont wanna bore you. Will save it up for next time.

Anyway you two - keep having a boss time and keep the blogs going strong. Im sure we all look forward to them. Take care of each other.

Luv n Hugs

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Response: I've just laughed my head off reading your message! Told Johnathan too, that just sounds like the usual antics there at school, being away for a bit they seem surreal but I can imagine! lol I love your little update stories! :) (especially when they are that hilarious! - You couldn't make it up could you!) It does really feel like we have been away for a while now and I am missing everyone. It feels weird getting on a plane when you leave one country and fly to another because you are so used to getting on a plane and going home! Loving Japan though, its so mad! Going to the Geisha festival tonight! I sent you and Di a postcard before I left Thailand so I hope it gets there before the school term finishes! Lots of love xxxxxx
From Paula
Hi Sian
This is the best story yet, think you nearly died about 5 times. I always have a look at your blog before bed and I always go to bed laughing. Sure you want to be a lawyer? You'll look back when you're old and feeble and think "what a great time we had".

Best wishes, Paula x
Response: Haha glad i can entertain you! I honestly thought our luck was up! Just got to Kyoto and the big Geisha festival starts tonight so very excited! :) Lots of love xxxx
From Natalie
Hiya,
wow you have been vvvv busy since you got to Japan - relaxation over!!! It all ssounds really interesting though. Can't wait to hear about the Geisha festival!

Still really enjoying the blogs!

Lots of love
Nat
xxx
Response: I know it has been quite non-stop, knackered most nights! Going to Kyoto tomorrow - looking forward to it! Everythings going so fast!!! Good luck with school, lots of love xxx
From Dad
Some that!

Have fun in Japan.

xx
Response: Some what? Off doing more sightseeing today then off to the bars in the Asahi Brewery tonight! xxx
From Dad
Nice to hear from you again. Maybe a Thai massage would sort my back out. xx
Response: Or make it worse! haha xxx
From Natalie
Just checked out your latrst pics. Loved the beach bars with beds in! It has been reallu hot here too - although not flip flop melting hot! Be carefull on a quad bike!!! and safe journey to Bangkok
lots of love
xxx
Response: Yeh they are so good, so nice to relax in and we always make sure we make the most od\f it as we know we'll miss it when we are home - its s gorgeous! Doing quads tomorrow - had a heavy night last night so didn't think it would be best to get them today feeling rough haha Heard its hot, glad your'e getting a nice summer!!! I'll send you an email soon and I have your postcard that I wrote ages ago in Samui but I'm going to post them in the airport - they get there quite quick if you do that apparantly! xxxx