Category Archives: Brazil

Salvador! (Not to be confused with the country of El Salvador, or that weird-moustached painting dude Salvador Dali)

Brazil is a bloody big country – you couldn’t walk across it in a day, that’s for sure – and boasts a diverse range of environments and cultures. With time running out on my South American adventure (this leg of it, anyway, because it looks like I’ll be back there before anyone has a chance to miss me) I flew far up the coast from Rio to Salvador, the capital of Bahia. On its golden beaches I found a very different Brazil – wilder, noisier and rawer. The sun beats down, the drums beat loud and you could be forgiven for beating yourself off on the beach because there are so many bikini babes around. I didn’t do that, though, in case any Brazilian mobs are reading.

Unlike Floripa, which is relatively modern and western, Salvador feels like it’s straight out of Africa. As the beating heart of Bahia, where the descendents of Brazil’s black slaves are the overwhelming majority, Salvador feels a long way from the western world. After travelling through Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, which all wear their European histories with pride, it was a culture shock to jump into a city that’s as far removed from Madrid or Lisbon as you could possibly imagine.

Salvador’s Old Town is truly beautiful – at least from a distance. Brightly-coloured towers cling to the rugged cliffs, overlooking the glittering Atlantic Ocean. People scurry through the streets, selling fruit and vegetables. The crumbling Portuguese architecture shines under brilliant blue skies. There’s no doubt that it’s pretty, but Salvador is drenched in the ever-present feeling of danger, because it’s one of the most dangerous cities on the planet. If you want to rock up and take heaps of selfies, don’t be surprised if some dude in a Neymar soccer shirt snatches your brand new iPhone out of your hand and kicks you into the gutter.

The bizarre Elevador Lacerda is the most curious thing to see in the Old Town, joining the upper and lower sections via an 85 meter elevator (just in case the name didn’t give it away). It was built way back in 1873, but I honestly don’t know what the point of it is, since a decent set of stairs would do the job better. As it is, locals line up around the block to travel up and down, and a trip in it is the best way to experience the overwhelming stench of 45 sweaty Brazilians at one time.

Salvador is famous for it’s beaches, and the best of them are a decent bus ride from the inner city. With the standard of buses in this part of the country, I decided to save myself the hassle and check out a couple near my hostel. Praia do Porto is the most famous, and is crawling with tourists, locals and beach vendors flogging everything from sunscreen to cocaine. I’d never considered taking up a crack habit, but I was bored and the bloke selling it had a winning smile and a charismatic attitude, so now I’ve been forced into prostitution to cover my $1200-a-day habit.

The strangest thing that happened to me during my trip to Salvador occurred within hours of arriving. I scraped into my hostel around 1am, tired and grumpy after two days of travelling, and dreaming of 12 hours sleep. Fernando, the little bloke who checked me in took a shine to me, however, and strung out his tour of the hostel as long as possible, including an in-depth seminar on the cultural history of Salvador. When he showed me to my room, he lingered for a while, looking at me shyly. I thought it was a bit weird, but was glad when he finally gave me my key and fucked off. That wasn’t the end of it, though.

As I was undressing, there was a knock on the door, and when I opened it Fernando was standing in the moonlight with his hands in his pockets. He flashed me a toothless smile, and spat something dark and slimy onto the ground.

“I finish at two,” he whispered. “After that I’ll be in room 16.” With that, he flittered into the night.

I was relieved to finally have a chance to pull myself off sleep, but as my head hit the pillow there was another knock on the door. When I opened it, Fernando was there again, flashing me an impish grin.

“Would you like some chocolate?” he asked softly. When I told him I was on a diet he looked crushed.

“I wasn’t talking about that kind of chocolate…” he said sadly, caressing his dark skin, before disappearing into the moonlight.

It wasn’t until the next morning, when the sun was up and I wasn’t three-quarters asleep, that I noticed the rainbow flags and erotic male-on-male posters decorating the hostel. Turns out the Delicioso Doodle Hostel caters to a certain demographic, and turning up there as a staunchly heterosexual man was like waving a juicy steak in front of a hungry vegan. Oh well, Fernando, I’m sure someone will want a an arse and a half of your full-cream dairy milk!

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I Go To Rio

Travel blog-writing wankers with sticks up their arses will tell you that you can’t experience everything Rio de Janeiro has to offer in just five hours, but they’re wrong – very fucking wrong. With my bus from Floripa taking six hours longer than it should have, and a flight to the northeast of Brazil booked for the same night I arrived, I had barely any time in Cidade Maravilhosa (roughly translated as… I dunno, something about cicadas), but I saw it all. Every last bit of it.

So bloody well take that.

Yes, just like dancing gay champion Peter Allen did several decades ago, I gave in to the rhythm and let my feet follow the beat of my heart as I strutted down the streets of one of the world’s biggest cities. Unlike poor old Pete, I didn’t go around shaking other blokes’ maracas, so I might escape his tragic fate.

Here’s some of the cliche sights I saw during those 300 minutes. Big-arsed sheilas in tiny bikinis:

Some dude taking a shit in the street:

Dickheads dancing the Macarena:

A street- wise youth gang busting a groove in a favella:

I even visited the world famous Copacabana Beach, and thought it was a pretty bloody nice place indeed:

All of that stuff was great, but while in Rio I really wanted to see the city’s Big Thing. Coffs Harbour has the Big Banana, Nambour has the Big Pineapple, and Rio has the Big Christian. I knew he was on top of a hill that could be reached by cable car, so when I saw one, I hopped on. The ride to the top of the Sugar Loaf (if there’s a better name for a hill anywhere, I’ll eat my undies) is truly spectacular, and Rio is one of the most incredible and unique cities around. Massive mountains climb out of the rambling buildings, with golden beaches providing breathtaking decoration.

When I got to the top, I eagerly looked around for the Big Christian, but couldn’t find him anywhere. He’s 30m tall, so it’s not like he was hidden behind a palm tree or something, so I asked a little bloke who works there where the statue was.

“Estúpido gringo,” he laughed. “You’ve come to the incorrect hill. Christ the Redeemer stands proudly atop Corcovado, several kilometres from here. If you look behind you, you’ll see him. He is quite majestic.” And then he shoved an empanada in his gob and sauntered off.

But when I looked around, the Big Christian wasn’t where he was supposed to be. There were just clouds. The weather had fucked me again! I was devastated, and lined up with hundreds of other to take a selfie in front of a whole lot of nothin’.

While I was doing that, some self-obsessed creep who was hoping for the perfect Instagram snap started going berserk, ranting about the weather and knocking food off people’s tables. He was so enraged that he almost stepped on a marmoset! He was coming my way, waving his selfie stick around carrying on like a pork chop, but as I turned to run I slipped on a banana peel and went sprawling on the ground. I scraped my knee and started crying, when a fat little brown bloke with a gap-toothed smile and a goofy haircut trotted over to me.

“Such grace! Such courage! Such ability to fall over for no reason and pretend you’re hurt! You’re exactly what the Brazilian soccer team needs to win the next World Cup! Are you available over the next two months or so?”

“Who the fuck are you?”

“Why… I’m Ronaldo! The world’s greatest soccer man! I’m famous!”

“Yeah, yeah, maybe in Brazil. But in Australia people would walk right past you to get an autograph off Super Hubert. Look, I don’t have time to join your pub soccer team. You’ll just have to go and win your World Cup thingie without me.

Praia do Rosa: It’s bloomin’ good!

Santa Catarina, in the luscious south of Brazil, has so many beaches that you’d go mad if you tried to drink a beer on even a quarter of them in your lifetime. So when it came to organising a romantic weekend away, I allowed my Brazilian lady friend to choose the destination. She has fantastic taste in men, and also proved to have fantastic taste in beaches, and thus we ended up in Praia do Rosa.

The beach is just 80km from Florianopolis and its million inhabitants, but it really feels like it’s a world away from the city (and not just because the journey takes hours by bus). Praia do Rosa is incredibly rural, with chickens and cows roaming the dirt tracks. It’s a place where time moves slowly, and that’s a good thing because the views are pretty bloody good.

Like many places along Santa Catarina’s coast, Praia do Rosa is like a little slice of Bali. There are Buddhas all over the place, bamboo shacks, and beer that’s every bit as cheap and refreshing as Bintang. Hell, I even found a bar called Lombok (nobody was getting their arms hacked off with machetes, though, as far as I could tell). If I had little blokes racing up to me every five seconds trying to sell me pirated X-Men DVDs and dodgy Rip Curl shirts I would’ve forgotten where I was.

If you’re staying in Praia do Rosa, make sure you get a place overlooking the ocean, otherwise you’re wasting your time (right, that’s my travel blog advice for 2018, see you next year). The sunrises are spectacular, and if you’re back from the beach you’ll feel like you’re camping in a farm. There are also a few other beaches within walking distance, such as Vermelha and Luz, and I can say from experience that the trek is much more pleasant if you bring along a woman with a nice bottom and ask her to walk in front at all times (two bits of travel blog advice in one year. I might need to have a lie down).

So that’s it. I had a top time in Praia do Rosa, saw some awesome places, spent most of the time drunk, ate grouse food that cost less than a packet of chips back in Australia, lay around in hammocks with a pretty lady to keep me company, and basically continued my quest to never act like a responsible adult. Sometimes life can suck balls, but if that’s the case, just head to Praia do Rosa and have a caipirinha on the sand, it’ll sort your shit out quick smart.

Floripa Madness!

There are certain places on this big fuck-off blue ball called Earth that I truly believe I was drawn to. Whether to meet someone who would touch my soul or to experience something that would change my life, I didn’t choose to visit these destinations – they chose me. Florianopolis, in the south of Brazil, is one of those very special places. I stumbled in for what I thought would be three nights and now I’m regretfully stumbling out 15 days later, feeling as though I’ve experienced a lifetime in a single fortnight. Yeah, Floripa is a pretty damn cool place.

It was by pure chance that I ended up visiting the island. As well as boasting some of the greatest surf breaks and paragliding sites on the planet, Florianopolis was also at the centre of a major international drug smuggling ring for many years. The story of drug runners and millionaire kingpins was told in Kathryn Bonella’s fantastic book Operation Playboy, which my old man read a few months ago. He told me to read it, I did, and the picture painted of Florianopolis meant that I had to include it on my trip through South America. And they say drugs aren’t good for anyone!

The actual city of Floripa is nice enough, straddling the coast of Santa Catarina and the edge of Ilha de Santa Catarina, but the true beauty comes from some of the further flung spots. There are 42 beaches on the island, and most of them are spectacular. I set up camp in the hills overlooking Barra da Lagoa, a fishing village lined with palm trees and golden sand. It’s a peaceful place that reminds me of Bali, with monkeys swinging from the trees, bamboo houses, open-air bars and restaurants, and a good vibe. As I walked down the beach for the first time, with emerald hills rising above me and the azure waves crashing at my feet, I already knew that three nights wouldn’t be enough.

People check out Drunk and Jobless for the naked photos of me humping statues and wild stories of alcohol-fuelled debauchery, so I’m not going to post an entry that reads like a teenager’s diary, but I was fortunate enough to meet someone wonderful on that mystical island off the coast of South America. Someone who showed me the beauty of Brazilian culture, taught me that beer belongs in the freezer even when it’s cold out, didn’t judge me for wearing skin-tight womens leggings in public, and introduced me to the magic of caipirinha and the kilo lunch. We spent enough time together that I now wear thongs inside and wash my underpants in the shower, like a true Brazilian. Floripa is a place anyone would enjoy, but one person made it truly incredible for me.

Right, the mushy stuff’s over, somoving on. Florianopolis is a magical island, and if you’re drawn there, don’t fight it. Go snorkelling, hike up mountains, drink cheap beer in great bars by the water, sit in the sun and smile, perve on stunning women wearing G-bangers, wear a G-banger yourself and not feel like you’re being judged for doing so, lie in a hammock and watch the world roll past, gorge yourself on pizza for three meals a day, enjoy strolling through the crime-free streets, visit the nudist beach, get caught in a Brazilian truckers strike and not be able to go anywhere because there’s no petrol, swim in crystal clear waters, kayak past the most incredible waterfront houses you’ll ever see, dance the samba with locals, end up with lots of useless change in your pocket, and watch the sun set over the water with a good bottle of cheap wine. Fifteen years wouldn’t be enough time there, let alone 15 days, so there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be back. Put the Brahma in the fridge!

You say Iguazu, I say Iguacu

The hottest rivalry between Argentinians and Brazilians doesn’t involve soccer or empenadas, it’s all about who offers the best view of Iguazu Falls. If you wanna get headbutted by an Argie, tell him the Brazilian side is better. If you want to get stabbed by a Brazilian and have your shoes stolen for drug money, tell him the Argentinian side is the best. Honestly, it makes all that trouble in the Middle East look like Friday Night Mud Wrestling at Doyalson-Wyee RSL. The two teams can’t even agree on the name – Iguazu on one side, Iguacu on the other.

After giving my verdict on the best place to view Victoria Falls, I’m here to settle the score on Iguazu. And the truth is that the Brazilian side, whilst offering far fewer viewpoints, is more spectacular. On the other hand, the Brazilian side is also busier than a $2 hooker, meaning the main lookouts are absolutely packed with chumps taking selfies. So, if you’ve only got one day to visit the falls, go to… the Argie side, but you won’t be disappointed by either.

The Brazilian side has a single track to walk along, offering unreal views straight across to the face of the falls. It gives a better idea of the immense length of Iguazu, and there are some truly awe-inspiring spots that seem too magical to be real. I wish I could’ve relaxed on a rock and just soaked in the view, but I was constantly pushed along by the selfie-obsessed mob, which kinda ruined the ambiance. It’s a bit like porking a really hot single mother and constantly having her kid butt in with, “Muuuum, can you make dinner?”

The end of the track is the definite highlight, with a boardwalk heading out towards The Devil’s Throat, as well as a series of platforms basking in the spray of some other massive fuck-off waterfall. The whole area is bloody grouse, and it’s safe to say that nobody who stands in the presence of those waterfalls will ever forget the experience. Yeah, yeah, it all sounds pretty similar to what’s on offer at the Argentinean side, and that’s because the tracks on each side never stray more than a few hundred metres from each other.

Adding a bit if personality to every visit to the Falls are the resident coatis – a breed of giant raccoon that loves chasing pricks around and trying to eat their lunch. These knobs are like that annoying bloke at the pub who keeps hanging around in the hope someone will leave half a schooner on the table while he goes for a shit.

There was a bit of excitement for the ladies when the members of Brazilian beefcake dancing troupe Power Muscle turned up, stripped off, and posed for a few photos in front of the falls. The boys were enjoying the attention until I removed my shirt and shorts, blasted Spaceman out of my phone, and started gyrating sensually. Suddenly Power Muscle were forgotten, and dozens of horny Latin American women did their best to eat me alive. I think it’s safe to say that Iguazu Falls wasn’t the wettest thing around that day!