Okay, so I've been lagging on the blog lately...my apologies. I ended up staying in Buzios a couple days longer than expected because it was so lovely. After enjoying my time there I came back to Rio where I'm currently staying with a girl named Joanna and her mother in a part of the city called Tijuca. It's near lots of restaurants, bars, and shopping, and is only about a 10 minute walk to Maracana Stadium where the finals of the 2014 World Cup will be played. The other day I went for a run around the stadium and was somewhat startled when I arrived to see it surrounded by as many police and military as there would be at a BCS Championship game. Apparently there was to be a game played there that night by two of the city's rival teams and it was going to get crazy, so I ran for a bit and watched as the fans started showing up in their black and white striped jerseys and as the police monitored would-be hooligans. I say would-be because the city passed a law making it illegal to sell beer within two kilometers of the stadium in hopes of discouraging alcohol-related incidents in fighting, heckling, etcetera. This isn't to say, however, that fighting and heckling don't occur without beer (the chants of "punta" and vulgar hand gestures are neverending in the stadium and directed toward referees and opposing players constantly, or to anyone who might cross the wrong-person's path), but the lack of beer vendors has supposedly improved the nature of the fans and decreased the number of violent outbreaks. While I would have enjoyed going to the game, Joanna and I had other plans to attend a birthday dinner for one of her friends at a nearby restaurant.
I love the Brazilian way of greeting people: a gentle embrace and a kiss on both cheeks starting with the right side. This is the way to greet everyone, even me! So that night I must have exchanged kisses with at least 20 different guys and girls who accepted me immediately. Those who spoke English spoke to me, those who didn't went through Joanna, who happens to speak Portuguese (duh), English, German, Spanish, and is currently learning French (boy, do I feel like an underachiever in the language department). Joanna is extremely nice and patient and welcoming, and she and I have formed a fast friendship. She is planning on going to either South Africa or Australia at the end of the year to practice her English and I have already said I will be visiting her in either place. Tonight we are going to a Samba school where her dad owns a bar and she works as a bartender, so perhaps I'll be able to learn some new moves :)
Sunday I leave for Foz do Iguacu, a place on the border of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay where there are waterfalls said to put Niagara to shame. I'll be hiking around there for a few days before deciding where to go next; I recently had the idea to visit Uruguay as well, so I may head straight there or go to the island of Florianopolis in the southernmost part of Brazil first. Oh, decisions, decisions...
Hope this Friday the 13th is working out for everyone!