Bolivia ended in exactly the same way it had began, with chaos. We took a bus to the border town of Puerto Quijarro. We then had to purchase bus tickets from the border which would take us south through Brazil all the way to Sao Paulo. We attempted to buy these in Bolivia as there wasn’t a bus terminal on the Brazil side. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough money (Brazil is expensive) so we went in search of a cash machine. After walking the entire town and finding five empty ATMs we were at a bit of a loss of what to do, especially as it was Sunday.
Luckily, this must happen a lot and after a couple of hours of waiting one was refilled. It was explained to us that before we could buy the tickets we had to do the border crossing. So, we left Bolivia officially and after a couple more hours in queues we made it into Brazil. However, we now needed to go back into Bolivia to buy the bus tickets. It was very strange and very bureaucratic but made me feel a little better about the fact it isn’t just the UK that has systems like this.
Anyway, cutting a long bus story shorter, 20 or so hours later we arrived into Sao Paulo. We had decided in the short time we had it would make more sense to go to Rio de Janeiro first so naturally we took another bus, just a short 6 hours this time. It was close to midnight when we arrived into Rio and after an absurdly expensive taxi we arrived at a friend of a friend of a friend’s house. Basically, my Godmother’s neighbour (Leo) is from Rio originally, saw my blog and got in touch. I have to say thank you a lot to Leo who put me in touch with lots of people, gave me some great advice and personified the friendliness we experienced in Brazil. THANKS LEO! The place was amazing, it had a balcony that looked out over Rio and as we sat down the following morning we could see Sugarloaf Mountain, the bay and part of the city. The 60 odd hours it had taken to arrive definitely seemed worth it.
We set to exploring Rio, visited cathedrals, churches and the like. The following day we took the cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain and although the view from the apartment was great, this was better. We were able to see a lot of the city but also Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. These two beaches were our next stop for the day so after coming back down the mountain we made our way there where we sipped our Caparinha’s beachside before renting bikes. Darkness set in as we made our way back to the bike rental place but we were treated to an amazing view of Christ the Redeemer. The clouds parted just around the illuminated statue for just a few minutes. On our final day in Rio we visited the Botanical Gardens which are said to be among the best in the world, they were definitely impressive but it didn’t beat the Amazon which we had visited just a few days earlier.
From Rio we made our way back to Sao Paulo where we spent the weekend. As has been the trend we were growing tired of cities so we visited the main park there. It was amazing how many people were there skate boarding, roller skating, biking and running. It was great to see but it wasn’t long before we were back in the bright lights of Sao Paulo. We didn’t waste too much time before we took another bus, this time to a beach town called Paraty. We were relieved to be away from the hustle and bustle and I even managed to get in a little run before we spent the day on a tour. For a one day tour it was a huge amount of fun. We were taken to waterfalls, pools where we could climb the cliffs and jump in, there was a rope swing and perhaps most unique of all, there was a slide in a river made completely of the rocks that just happened to be there. It was like nature’s playground. To top it off, we also visited a Cachaca distillery, in fact two of them, where we sampled various different types and eventually gave in and bought a bottle of one.
Paraty was great fun and we wanted to stay longer but we had one more place to visit before we began the journey across to Iguazu Falls and then down to Buenos Aires. We didn’t have any more days we could lose so begrudgingly we took a bus with our new Dutch friend, Laura. Things weren’t all that bad as our next destination was Isla Grande, famous for its amazing beaches including one which has been voted in the top 10 in the world. I don’t know how they decide this kind of thing but it was really nice basically! The water was as clear as can be and the sand perfectly white. We had to take a two hour walk through jungle like surroundings to arrive there and as the trees gave way to the white sands, we were all a little awestruck with its beauty. We spent the day there and caught a boat back to our hostel.
The following morning we said our goodbyes to Laura and took the public ferry back to the mainland. We were in a race against time now and as we sprinted to the terminal, we were told the bus we needed to take was now full. This was like the pinch point of getting to Buenos Aires on time so it was pretty frustrating. We had some time to kill so found some free internet and planned a fairly ridiculous route that went from where we were, Angra dos Reis, to Sao Paulo, then a night bus to Curitiba and then another full day on a bus to Foz do Iguacu. We thought we were going to be late arriving into Buenos Aires where we were supposed to be meeting Pat and Al, two friends from home. Knowing Pat, it wasn’t a huge surprise when he told us he got the dates confused and was actually arriving a day later, suddenly we had our day back. We spent the night in Foz do Iguacu, our last night in Brazil, exhausted from buses but excited about seeing the falls the following day. It had been a whirlwind country and it’s a little ironic that the country I’ve spent the least amount of time in happens to be South America’s largest county.