Home stretch.

Trip Start May 26, 2010
Trip End Sep 06, 2010

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Monday, August 30, 2010

So the absence of a post in a while isnŽt because I died sky-diving, itŽs mainly because weŽve been doing stuff pretty much all the time for the last week or so. Or weŽve been sitting on buses, which we are all now, thoroughly, well and truly, sick of.
We didnŽt end up going sky-diving the day after the blog post, but got it pretty much organised so all we needed to do was pop into the office in BA. We thought weŽd spend the day seeing some of the places around BA, so we got on a train and headed down to Tigre. The train journey was entertaining enough, buskers every 5 seconds etc. The highlight had to be a really really angry rapper, backed by two really old guys that looked like theyŽd got lost and ended up meeting the rapper in a dark alley, where they made a deal to play music for him, if heŽd let them live. It was suprisingly good, but I suppose if your life was on the line it would have to be.
We got a pretty rubbish view of Tigre, except for one really nice restuarant, because we didnŽt really want to splash out on an expensive tour, knowing we were going to spend some serious dollar on going skydiving the next day. Tigre is a city which is on the delta of the Rio de la Plata, which runs pretty fair into Argentina. You get boat tours out to look at the delta, or in our case, the houses built on the islands. The biggest positive of the trip was some nice coffee, and these sweet little dulce de leche biscuits. Dulce de Leche is pretty much caramel, but slightly different... So yeah, after an hour of looking at peoples houses we got back to port, angry at the fact weŽd just spent money on a boat to spy on people, we had a little look around the town, then headed back to BA. The Don went and met his family again, while Ajay, Will and myself popped into the office (SKYDIVING!!!!!1!!!) and then chilled back in the hostel. That evening to get us over the disappointment of our boat tour, and the fact we were throwing ourselves out of planes the next day, we thought we would go out for my birthday dinner, courtesy of Big Bro, at La Brigada, one of the oldest steak houses in BA. Beautiful. IŽve been told apparently I talk about food a lot on the blog, but there arenŽt enough words to talk about this restuarant. It was the best, without a doubt. We had sweetbread, chorizo and grilled cheese thing to start with, then all had a beautiful steak, cooked to everyones perfection, obviously with chips on the side, then a bit of ice cream for puds. Gorgeous. Again, obviously accompanied with some lovely read wine, and a cheeky bottle of bubbly, just to make sure if the parachute didnŽt open the next day, weŽd have gone out in style. We got back to the hostel and slept, knowing it could be the last sleep we ever had...
The next morning, the second time weŽve ever been awake for the complimentary breakfast in the whole of South America, there was a couple of feelings in the group. Excitement, mainly from my part, bits of fear, mainly from Will, and plain grumpyness, all from Ajay. Way to early in the morning. Hahahah.
We got our pick up, a dude that we thought was just a driver, but it turned out Ajay actually fell out a plane with him. After about an hour drive out of BA, we reach a little airport, told to sit down, and wait and then left for half an hour or so. The dude returned with... a dvd of how we should jump. He played it to us once, then said `Right, sign here so if you die nothing happens to us. Thank youŽ. Wills fear meter went up to 4.7, when he saw that in the sign in sign out book, a number of people had never signed out, so we sat around waiting, watching people fix planes when all of a sudden, someone called Ajay to go get suited up, and all that involved was putting some harnessess on, then off he went. We watched his plane circle up for about 20 minutes, untill it was a speck, then two little dots jumped out the plane, one Ajay and his instructor, the other a camera man filming and taking photos. Probably needless to say, but he fell quite quickly, and then circle down with his parachute, and landing perfectly. For the first time this trip, when we asked how it was, the first answer wasn't "It was alright". Barty was next, and his was slightly more eventful, when one of his parachutes failed, and flew off, there were some nerves down with the rest of us, but when the second one opened, we were pretty relieved. It was one of those moments when we thought, "Glad we had that meal last night..."
Again a a perfect landing for him, then Will went up and came down, and was very impressed, and apparently the moment when he hung over the edge of the plane, his fear meter went up too 7. This is unheard of. But yeah. Pretty scary. I was pretty pysched about the whole thing, having to wait till last for all the others to go and hear how good it was, so there wasn't a moment where I thought, "God damn, I'm jumping out of a plane", it was all just, "Sweet, I'm about to jump 10,000ft." You circle for what seems an endless amount of time and then the door just swings open, the camera man climbs out, holding onto a the wheel of the plane, you're hung over the edge, then bang, you're falling. It was absolutely without a doubt, the biggest rush of my life. I'm sitting here a week and a half later, and I'm getting the shakes thinking about it. The first 5 seconds where you are falling are crazy, all your insides are going "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING", while your head is just going "THIS IS INCREDIBLE". It's unbelieavable, and slighty above whale watching as a highlight, although you probably couldn't get two more different things to do...
We spent the next couple of hours watching all the other people jump, then we napped in the sun, then we got driven home. Perfect day. We were all knackered, becasue of the early start, so we didn't even have a big last night out in BA. Shocking.
The next day we got up and went and bought some gifts for Wills uncle Cris, because we were now heading to the Campo for the weekend. I think campo literally means countryside, but they're basically ranches. They have something like 40,000 hectares of land, and it is completely flat, perfect for cows, or should I say steaks... We arrived late in the evening and got settled in, before the rest of the family arrived, as we were going to spend the weekend with Wills aunts parents, as well as Wills uncle, aunt and cousins... And the dog. Can't forget Lorenzo. We sat around a fire, had a couple of drinks, then everyone else turned up, and we had dinner, then a few more drinks. A game of poker then followed, which I somehow made it back out with the money I put in, as Will managed a ridiculous 120 peso win, about 30 quid, from his friends and family. Shocking. The poker went on a long time, so once that was finished it was straight to bed. I woke up about an hour before the rest of the boys, and I basically had some uncle practice, I will now be able to cope with a 5 year old and a 10 year old, anything inbetween and there could be a problem, but I'm relatively confident. The boys emerged just as lunch was served, which was, an argentine style BBQ. CanŽt really beat that as a breakfast. The rest of the day was spent playing with the kids, some rugby, some football, and then some tennis. Ajay and I played Cris and Martine (Wills aunts dad), and well, we played a set and lost it with ease, 6-0. Ouch. In the evening we did more sitting around the fire and drinking and dining. No one wanted to play any poker that night, knowing that Will had no remorse in his poker game. The night ended pretty spectacularly, when Cris made everyone have a go on the mini zipline in his garden. Ajay managed to clip the tree and fall, and Barty managed to at the end, when the line hits the end and flicks up. From where we were standing, we saw the him and the zipline go up, the zipline come down without him, and then a massive thud. Absolute hysteria follwed, and then bed. Which probably couldn't come too soon for Barty. Again I was the first up, and went and found the BBQ about to be served up, so went and woke up the rest of the boys. A beautiful breakfast of more steak was had, and then was the time for horse riding. We were told we probably shouldn't take them out of the field that the house was built in, because they get kinda excited if you do, and none of us are that experienced. Will and I went first, and got the hang of it pretty quickly, did a couple of laps of the field, then went back for the old handover to Barty and Ajay. Within about 10 minutes of them having the horses, we heard a cry of help, and went running over, via where we'd left out cameras... The scene we arrived to was hilarious. Barty and his horse were just standing with Barty shouting at it. Isabella (Wills 5 year old cousin) was on a different horse, just telling Barty to dig the heal in to get him moving again. Bartys reply, "He's obviously angry already, the last thing I want to do is kick him. If he's standing still I can't fall off of him." Then Ajay, who gave the original shout of help, emerged from behind the garage, which he had been circling for 10 minutes, with the horse taking him through a number of trees. It was absolutely hilarious. Without going to far, Barty and Ajay were more than happy to hand the reigns back over to us, and  Will and I decided we'd try and step up the game a bit and go for a cheeky gallop... When Cris heard this he shouted at the horses in spanish, ans damn did they kick off. I don't know what he had said to them, but it must have been pretty scary. After a quick gallop, Wills horse started to hare towards some trees, so I immediately pulled mine back to get him as far away from the trees as possible, and slowly trotted around to where the horses were kept, just on the other side of the trees to find another sight. Wills horse had pegged it through the trees, jumping left and right, and dismounted him and was now just chilling out eating some grass. Will was fine, and had a pretty nice story to tell, so everyones happy. I like to think my equestrian skills the highest in the group, the only one to have full control over his horse. We later did find out that the horse Will and Ajay had been riding was called, "Pocoloco". Literally, Little crazy. Hahaha.
The rest of the family left that evening so it was just Cris and us. A small ping pong tournament ensued, and Barty came out trumps, my late surge meant i hadn't enough wins to get to the final.
More sitting around the fire and some nice dinner followed, and we hit the hay. We ended up getting up earlier than we hoped, because a bit of rain fell over night, and if the more rain fell, we would have ended up getting stuck. I can think of worse places to get stuck, but Cris needed to head home, so we left, said our thank yous and goodbyes, dropped into BA's bus station and bought our tickets to Puerto Igazu, the Argentine side of Igazu Falls. It was a 18 hour bus, so we thought we'd pay the extra 5 quid and get the bed seats, which recline almost the whole way. We weren't disappointed. The only bus we've been on, which I haven't been sick of after about 6 hours. We arrived in Igazu, found a cheap hostel and headed out for lunch. I made a grave mistake here. On my trip to the cash machine, I left my Lonely Planet on the top of the cash machine and left it. By the time I'd realised it was long gone, and we're now pretty lonely guide book wise. Da dum tsh. Sorry, thats enough of that.
We planned to the Argentine side first, then the Brazilian the next day, chilled out for the rest of the evening, met some half American half Argentine dude who we went to dinner with, then went back to hostel for bed, knowing we'd have to get up to see Igazu.
Early start and a cheeky supermarket breakfast and we were off, to see the one of the worlds widest waterfalls, and they did not disappoint. We decided to get a little train to see the part known as "The Devils Throat" first, then go down and see the main part of the falls and have a little bottle ride. Devils Throat is impressive indeed, the spray coming from the falls completely blocks out the the sink of the falls, so you can't see to the bottom, you can understand why they call it devils throat, and then when you take in the sound of it, you really can see why it was named as such.
We wondered back round to the bottom, to get a view of all the rest of waterfalls from below, and then take a boat trip under some of the waterfalls. Walking the rest of the falls from the bottom, you got much more of a feel for the height of the falls, and the amount of water that is going over the edge at any time. We got onto a platform to get a photo infront of one of the big falls, and left it up to Will to give the camera to someone. He chose the oldest woman in the park by about 20 years, but when she gave us the thumbs up we throught he might have got lucky. When we got the camera we found out we hadn't. We had an out of focus picture of our feet. Wonderful. Why the woman gave us a thumbs up I have no idea, but she was obviously impressed she got it to take any sort of photo.
Anyway, we got down to our boat ride, without cuing somehow, and went for a little trip. It was a quick boat, and a quick trip, but we still managed to get absolutely, completely, really, well and truly soaked. Fun as hell, and we thought we might purchase a video of a trip until it turned out the video was about 50 pesos more than the actual entrance to the park. We dried ourselves off, eventually, went for another wonder, saw some absolutely giant ants then left, having checked off one of the big attractions of South America. That was probably the worst thing about it when I think back, it was absolutely rammed, and if there had been less people I can imagine it being a little more impressive. But only a little...
That evening we got back to Puerto Igazu and decided we wanted to get to the beach as soon as we possibly could, which we thought would mean get a bus across to Foz do Igassu, the Brazilian side of the falls. This was our first border crossing. It turned out to be the first of many, because of a complete lack of information (damn me for forgetting the book). We found a good hostel to stay in in Foz, a really cool place that we could have happily stayed at for a while, had we not wanted to get to the beach.
The next day we got up, went back to the argentine side of the falls, because we'd heard buses were cheaper from the argentine side. We got there, found a company who sold us tickets to Paraty, a beach town between Rio and Sao Paolo, and then waited, until we the man came running up to us, telling us the bus was leaving from the Brazilian side, not the argentine. Thankfully, this man drove us to the bus station on the otherside. By this point, the border police new us all on first name basis, and just happily stamped our passports without really looking at them.
We then got our bus, which wasn't the really nice reclining bed ones. I don't really want to think back to those 17 hours of my life, because they were horrific, and by the time we go to the town where we were then to get the bus to Paraty from, I was well and truly sick of buses. To then find out we had to wait 5 hours till our bus, and it was the 2 hours we thought it was, but more like 5, I nearly had a break down. Thankfully there was a plus side to this bus, we met Vicki, who we've stuck around with in Paraty, the beach town for the last couple days. And we also met Stu, possibly the most negative man on the whole entire earth, who managed to suck the soul out of everything, ever. But we found him funny, somehow.
The last couple of days have literally been spent on a beach, drinking beers, reading, playing with a rugby ball, swimming, and sleeping. Also I will now have a tan to show off when I get home, I was starting to get a bit nervous I wouldn't, but I'll be laughing now.
Next couple of day more beach, then we head to Rio, only for two nights, then I fly home!
6 days till I'm home people, I'm expecting red carpets and everything....
Hope everyones well.
!(Damn english keyboard doesn't have the upside down exclamation mark)Hasta Pronto!
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