Tuesday, September 1, 2009

México & Brasil 2009

Well, as some of you may already know things got off to a rough start. I blew it, and didn't check my visa for Brasil before coming here, I didn't think I was given a visa with a typo but from now on I'll be checking for those. I left LAX pretty excited to try and learn some portuguese and to do whatever it is I was gonna do here, and got to Mexico City for my layover. It was a stretch to kill the 5 hours there in the airport, but I did my best. Around 11:30 pm, we boarded the plane and took off for Brasil... or, better said, ALMOST everybody boarded the plane and took off. I was stopped in the jetway and directed to the desk where I was promptly told I wouldn't be getting on the plane and I was to go downstairs and get my bags. When I asked "what the deal was," the best answer I got was that I had to go "fix things."

So, I was already tired, but around 1:30 am I made it to the other terminal where I thought I could find some information, but everything was closed... so I milled around for a bit, then found a REALLY cozy spot on the tile floor for an hour or two of shut-eye. Around 5:30, I was awoken by a guard telling me not to be such a bum and get off the floor, so I moved to a table til about 7 when things opened back up. I went to the immigration office and was told to go to the Brazilian embassy to fix things. Also, I had no map or information about Mexico City (DF - Distrito Federal) at this point, so I jumped in a taxi with hopes of fixing things and getting on a plane that morning, so I could at least make my connection later that day in Brasil. I got to the embassy and the guy told me to go to the consulate instead. Right. I hopped into a taxi to the consulate, and was in the right spot! The nice woman sent me on a scavenger hunt to find a photo studio, a bank, an internet cafe, and a photocopy place. I was literally running around the neighborhood asking where these places were to get it all back by the 1:00 deadline. I made it at 12:45 and all was well. I then jumped into a cab taking me to a hostel I called earlier, because I realized I wouldn't be leaving on a plane that night. I arrived to the hostel just in time to cancel my internal brazilian flight and for the futbol match between México and the US. After a giant lunch, it was all I could do to not fall asleep during the game, and was glad we lost just so I could go to sleep.

16 hours later, I woke up. I guess 6 hours of sleep in 72 isn't enough for me. My roommates told me there was talk of me being dead at the breakfast table because I had been in there for so long. I told them I wasn't dead and just had a long day. Oh, by the way, I was to spend 6 days in DF while they processed my visa. I lost this time in Brasil, and the $500 I spent in taxis, visas, and flight changes, but I had a great time there and I'm actually glad it happened. As I emerged from the room, the other guests and the owner looked at me somewhat puzzled. For the first hour or so, I felt as if I could only communicate in grunts and hand gestures. For example, I pounded the table when I wanted more watermelon at breakfast.

I had always thought of México City as a dumpy place, but that was just my ignorance of the city talking, and I'm looking forward to going back. Over my week there (I ended up staying an extra 2 days cause it was fun), I met a few really cool people and saw quite a bit of the city. I ate a load of delicious food, per usual, and spent quite a few days just walking around getting lost and wandering through some of the random markets. I really enjoyed seeing Diego Riviera's murals in the Palacio Nacional showing the history of the aztecs and the spanish invasion. I also visited the 3rd largest pyramid in the world, Tiotehuacan... or something. Big pile o rocks, no biggie.

One of my favorite things about the city is the Plaza Garibaldi, not so much for the way it looks or anything, but its where you go if you want to rent Mariachis. I think every town should have these. The Mariachi guys hang around decked out in their black suits and instruments talking with one another til someone comes along and hires them for their party, girlfriend, graduation, or whatever. I think I will encourage this back home when I get there.

I think the massiveness of the city really hit me too, moreso than other cities I've visited. I got lost with a friend in a huge outdoor market surrounded by huge boluevards, and I got to thinking about the unbelievable amount of people who are street vendors and taxi drivers there. It put a little perspective on the job first mentality back home.

As the week ended, I said goodbye to a few of the friends I made, and walked, subwayed, trammed, planed, bussed, bussed, taxied, and walked, arriving in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Like DF, I was a bit weary of the city, due to all of the horrific robbery stories you hear about it, but I've been here a while now and think its great. I have learned to never not go to a place just because of what you hear. Except for maybe Guatemala City. Here in Brazil, I have been CouchSurfing, which some of you know is a short term pay-it-forward cultural exchange type thing where you get to stay with a local at their house for free (but help with groceries, cleaning, etc). My friend from Colombia recommended that I stay at Cristiana's house here in Rio, so I contacted her before coming and set it up. I didn't know before, but she's way into it and has people at her house all the time. When I got here, there was an Aussie, Swede, Swiss, French, 2 Argentines, and a Brazilian staying here, with 2 Peruvian guests of honor that live close by. The official language of the house is spanish, because Cristiana, the brazilian owner, is in love with all that is Argentine.

The weather my first weak was bleak. I really didn't do much during the daytime because it was grey and rainy, but after Cris came home from work she'd take whoever wanted out somewhere in the city... or we'd stay in talking and playing music til late. One night, some of us went to a concert in one of the favelas here in Rio, it was pretty amazing. Another night, the frenchie made us a chocolate fondue for dinner with 7 pounds of chocolate, it was absolutely amazing; it was a week ago and I think I still have some chocolate in me.

After a week, I decided to go to the small town of Buzios a few hours away, I found someone on the site there and went. She picked me up at the bus station, and took me to the house. It was actually a hotel that she and her sister owned with their mom. 9 months out of the year they don't use it for guests, and don't work really, so I got a room there. We all hung out in the main living area, and they cooked me some amazing food. I was lucky cause they spoke spanish too (lived in spain for 3 years), so we could actually have some intelligent conversation, rather than me struggling with portuguese. Because, you know, I'm all about intelligentical things. Anyways, the weather there was much much better and I spent those 5 days either on the beach, in the kitchen, eating someting good, or making a caiprinha... mmmmmm.

I had to say good bye, but they offered to let me come back anytime I wanted to live there in one of the rooms, as long as I helped with cleaning, maintenence, and cooking... hmmmmmm. Sounds pretty nice, huh? My portuguese is funcional at best. I can have conversations with people by Portugues-ing my spanish, and they tend to understand me. And I've picked up the basic verbs and stuff, but I still think its hard.

And now, I'm back in Rio de Janeiro again at Cristiana's house. I was a little sick yesterday but I think I'm better now. I went to Copacabana beach today and fell asleep in the sun. I'll have a few more days here before I head south to meet up with Carolina and her fiance, getting ready for all the wedding activities!!!

Unfortunately, I don't have any horror stories about foods I've been eating or anything like that, I'll try and do that though... I know how much you all love hearing about my near vomit enducing experiences. I tried to eat some maggots one day, but couldn't find any.

Also, so you can all stop wondering, I AM returning home this time, I have a rather important wedding to attend the weekend after I get back.


  1. México city at night
  2. Siesta in DF
  3. Piramide de la luna
  4. Diego Riviera's mural
  5. Breakfast in Rio
  6. Parque da cidade, vista of Rio
  7. View from my room in Búzios
  8. View from my spot in Búzios
  9. Below: Jamming on the street in Rio after a concert


  1. They have those mariachi guys hanging out in a park in LA. I saw it on the travel channel when Anthony Bourdain goes to Los Angeles.


  2. I'm just going to ignore the fact that you stated you were glad that the U.S. lost to Mexico so that you could sleep. That was so wrong.

  3. funny.

    that's it. i thought it was funny. i'm glad i wasn't with you when you got stuck in mexico. not that i have anything against mexico. i just have something against spending lots of money on taxis.