Arriving in Rio De Janeiro (Brazil), I was excited, nervous, overwhelmed, and basically an amalgamation of all the emotions I had ever experienced. I felt like a child in a candy store but also like a tiny little fish in a sea of sharks.
I found it hilarious thinking back to all the times I had seen people with GoPros strapped to themselves and thinking, “what a weirdo”, NOW I AM THAT WEIRDO!
Door to door the journey was about 21 hours, which to be honest I have no complaints about. I slept for about 2 hours before getting up at 4am and strapping the GoPro to myself, so I was bleary eyed and running on fumes. I found it hilarious thinking back to all the times I had seen people with GoPros strapped to themselves and thinking, “what a dickhead”, NOW I AM THAT DICKHEAD!
On the Plane I was next to a nice lady from Florianópolis (Brazil), who was finishing her Doctorate in Portuguese! This was the perfect person to chat to to practise my Portuguese before landing.
Teaching Myself Portuguese
Up until then I had been teaching myself Portuguese using Youtube videos, listening to Podcasts and chatting to people using Tandem which is an amazing app, which links you with people who want to learn one of the languages you speak, and the languages you want to learn.
It is not location based and so I had spent about 5 months writing to people from Brazil – but only ever met and spoke in person with one person who happened to come on Holiday to Barcelona, (for anyone wanting to learn or practise a language I highly recommend Getting Tandem , (more on that in a future post).
Anyway, she had been doing research for her Doctorate in Guinea Bissau, which is a Portuguese speaking country in West Africa. I was asking her about her time there and what she learned.
She explained how amazing it was to be in a different country, in a different continent, where everyone had a different skin colour, yet the culture was so similar and made her feel so welcome.
Brazillian culture has a lot of influence from West Africa due to the slave trade but she said it was amazing that she felt like there was no hostility, or negative feeling because of this.
It got me thinking about The cultural similarities of the UK and other english speaking countries. The UK + Ireland basically just share the love of drinking – along with Australia. With Americans I think we share very little culturally, and personally I often find it extremely difficult to communicate with them.
The Canadians that I have come across have all been much more grounded and I think we understand each other a little bit more – of course that is thanks to Her Majesty The Queen (joke). South Africa I dont know so much about, but it fascinates me and will be a future quest.
It also made me think of all of the countries that the British Empire colonised, exploited, enforced our way of thinking, and then abandoned when we had bled them dry.
It made me angry thinking of Brexit and my opinion that the “Majority” vote was won on the whole because of racism, xenophobia and the dislike of other cultures,”destroying our wonderful British culture”. WE SHOULD BE WELCOMING CULTURAL CHANGE AND DIVERSITY.
Arriving in Rio De Janeiro
When we arrived above Rio de Janeiro in the plane there was an announcement saying that we couldn´t land due to bad weather, they told us we were diverting to Belo Horizonte.
I remembered that BH was about 5 hours from Rio in a bus and it made me start grasping the sheer enormity of Brasil. Its like trying to land in London but being unable to, and so flying to Newcastle to land for a bit and then nip back.
Luckily it only delayed us for a a few hours and didn´t bother me at all. The poor lady next to me was nearly having a panic attac as she had no way to contact her family and let them know she was safe, but delayed. Eventually someone gave her a phone she could use and this was sorted.
Immigration in Brazil
Waiting in the queue for Immigration I was preparing a speech for when I was questioned on my intentions in the country, (I didnt have a return flight or an outward flight), which is supposed to be one of the requirements for being granted the tourist visa.
I had quickly booked a hostel in Argentina and so was going to say that I was planning to go to Foz do Iguacu where there are waterfalls which border Argentina and Paraguay, (I do plan on going here at some point). After you leave Brasil you can then return again and stay another 3 months, (up to a total of 6 months per year).
However, much to my disappointment, they stamped my passport without saying a word! This made me think how insanely lucky I am to have a British passport and just go basically wherever I want with almost no questions asked.
Living in Barcelona and constantly meeting people from non European countries has made me realise how much we take for granted – before going to Russia last year I had never had to apply for a Visa to go on holiday anywhere!
This is not a luxury that people from other countries have. People are forced to live in fear and, “break the law”, just to try and make a better life for themself as an “illegal immigrant”. People dont usually flee their country or leaves their loved ones to go and leach off another country – they do it out of necessity.
When I arrived in Rio de Janeiro finally I was buzzing. Went straight to a taxi, agreed with his 100R$ (25€) fee with no question and had a nice chat with him on the way.
The rain in Rio had caused some savage flooding and so there was cars trying to drive through what basically looked like lakes on the road. My taxi driver did some pro driving and got us around this.
When I arrived at my one night temporary hostel it was an absolute dive – basically a squat – no lockers and very poor amenities. I was sooo happy that I had booked a week in a nice hostel months ago, before I had my flight, (as it is carnaval everywhere was either fully booked or about 400 million euros a night.
My first day in Rio I moved to the new nice hostel, met some nice people, got my bearings and joined in with some dancing and parades. I didn´t want to wear my GoPro on the first day until I had a sense of if this would make me a walking target. I quickly saw that everyone was instagramming and snapchatting non stop and could see the people that were going to quickly have their phones stolen.
The best thing about Rio so far is being able to walk around semi naked, (and fit in), WITHOUT looking like a Brit Abroad! For a sweaty man like me this is heaven.
Living in Barcelona you quickly adapt to a permanent state of extreme caution for your personal belongings. I wouldn´t even call it paranoia as the level of theft there is absolutely mind blowing.
I am trying to get my head around how to use this GoPro software and it is driving me insane. I am trying to make a montage video of my journey from door to door as I filmed most of it – and its quite funny looking through the videos and different stages.
I apologise in advance for what will be a very amateur video! I wanted to write this post now before the main day of Carnaval -which is today!- just to keep you all updated.
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