Monthly Archives: July 2001

Greetings from Curitiba

Dear All,

Oh yes, it is me again! Feeling a little frailer than usual, as I have had VERY little sleep in the last 72 hours and feeling a little sorry for myself!

The rest of Asuncion was great; I still can’t get over how little it felt like a capital city. Our supper with the American Ambassador to Paraguay was cool, we went to their house first which was lovely and warm and had a wonderful fire, which I roasted in front of while we were there (Antonio Espinosa was at Manchester Met with Chloe’s Dad also it turned out that he is a patron of G.A.P.). We then were taken out to dinner to a steak place by them; luckily there was salad for Chloe, which was really kind of them. There was a young Paraguayan lawyer there too both whom Ed and Chloe fancied! He took us out for a drink after supper but unfortunately I could not make polite conversation as I spent my time over the loo as there was a pepper in the entrees at the Espinosa’s house and I was pretty ill, as we all know I can be! What an enjoyable evening! It was all a little embarrassing really and I just wanted to get back to the hotel and go to bed.

We then had our 15 hour bus journey here which was a hell of a lot more comfortable that the last long one that we got on but I still could not sleep on it, even if I did have 2 seats to sprawl across. The bus did not leave us behind at the border which is what we were really worried about.

Curitiba is a much more pleasant city to be in than most that we have been in so far in Brazil, mainly I think because cars don’t make such of an effort to try and kill you at pedestrian crossings, a truly pleasant experience I can tell you! We have been on a train journey today that passes over 67 bridges and through 13 tunnels, WOW! The scenery was meant to be amazing and it was at times. There were sheer drops to the sides of us at one point where my stomach did rather take a MAJOR turn. It was really misty this morning though and so we did not really get the best view. Again the guide did not speak English and the translation that we were given made absolutely no sense what so ever! (Opened on the 2nd of February 1885 the rail way runs from Curitiba to Paranagua it linked the colonies to the harbour. It leaves Curitiba at an altitude of 900m and tit descends a steep mountainside o the costal lowlands. The track is 110 km long. The views are described in the Lonely Planet as “sublime and, depending on the cloud formations and tone of the sunlight, often surreal: threatening mountain canyons, tropical lowlands and vast blue Atlantic.”) Chloe and I have come back here to the Internet and so that I can sleep, hopefully. The room is like ice cold and I slept in 7 layers and my waterproof last night and I was still freezing. (Hotel Imperio Tel. 264 1684, Avenida Presidente Alfonso Carmargo No 367) SO all of you lot can take a flying leap in your swimsuits or what ever, parading around in the UK!

I am off to find a cheap pair of earrings now as I managed to wash mine away in the shower in Asuncion. Well-done Em! We move off tomorrow to a Germanic town called Blumenau. It is meant to be lovely and pretty, but we will just have to see about that!

Love and hugs to one and all,

Em

Xxx

FARTS – WHERE IS ALL THE PROMISED INFO THEN??

ALEX – OH NO the calligraphy results are out, Sylvia called Mum forgetting I am away – she passed which is good. I have no idea and I don’t want Mum to open them and find out so if you speak to James can you please tell him. Hope that you have done ok.

JAMES – Hope that you aren’t freezing your socks off in Buenos Aires. Find us a nice hostel with WARM ROOMS or at least really thick blankets!!!

TOM – Hope that the party went really well and have an excellent birthday tomorrow.

HELS – Thanks for Big Bro info. I knew that Brian would win; I wish that I saw it. I bet that he was crying. I want ALL news on Dan’s trial please.

FARTS – YOU DIE, WHERE IS ALL THE INFO YOU PROMISED????

LAURA – So true, it will be cool that we will all graduate together after all, lets hope that we are in the same lot though!

NED – Arrgghh, you are nearly off, Milton is now looking even more thrilling I bet!

FARTS – HAVE I MENTINOED ALREADY THAT YOU ARE USELESS????

PETRA – When is the wedding? Tell me info! If I can’t be there then at least I can think about you on your special day. I want to see some photos.

HUGO – Keep swallowing, at least now you can take the mars bar ice-creams from the freezer and hide the wrapper down the back of the sofa and in-between books on the bookshelf and anywhere else you can think of and Mum won’t get annoyed!!! She knows it is you so you can’t deny it!!!! I’m thinking of you babe.

FARTS – ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

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First Impressions of Paraguy and Asuncion

Dear All,

            Firstly I am on a strange Spanish keyboard and I am not entirely sure how to access some of the keys and so excuse me if there are some wobblies, the spelling mistakes are just my poor English!

We arrived this afternoon after an almost tearful goodbye from Laura this morning.  We got a taxi in the end over the border to Ciudad del Este in Paraguay as Laura told us that the bus went at 10 this morning but instead it went at 8 and the next was at 2.  Oops!  We had this adorable friend of Laura’s who is a taxi driver that took us over the border and waited for us at the two passport controls that we had to cross and even took us and helped us get our bus tickets once in Paraguay and changed money, probably on the black market, but he assured us that it was a good rate!

We arrived in the bus station and asked for the bus to Asuncion and we were ushered, as though the bus was about to leave that they wanted us to get on, we noticed that the darned thing was just pulling in.  Now we thought that the last journey was bad on the 15-hour job.  This bus though MUST have stopped every 5 mins for some local or other to get on and try and sell us random things.  It stank to high heaven and the loo was very unsightly, unfortunately I was only told that after drinking a can of coke and so I was crossing my legs the whole way and concentrating on my book which I managed to read 350 pages of. (All those that were at school with me, Mrs Footman would have been impressed! I just wouldn’t have told her what it was, nothing sinister, just the most recent Rosamunde Pilcher)

Arriving here I got the distinct feeling that I was actually in Romania, which I rather liked!  It brought back fond memories of the many train stations that I had visited whilst I was there back in 1998!  People trying to sell you the most useless things and having taxis shoved in your faces.  We got a taxi and I nearly died.  The car, if you can call it that, was more of a rust bucket than the blue ford that I used to have and it went much slower and louder and really felt like it was going to fall apart every time that we went over a bump.

Chloe and I booked into a hotel which, thank the Lord, has a hot tap, we were so ecstatic we almost cracked open the champagne and I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to either a bath or a hot shower tonight. (Chaco Hotel, tel 492066, Caballero 285, Asuncion, Paraguay) Ed is staying in a hotel around the corner, as he was not fussed about paying loads more for a hot shower and so on. He doesn’t seem to have any electricity in his place, which is rather unfortunate. (Hotel Miami, tel 444950, Mexico 449, Asuncion, Paraguay) Chlo is not feeling great, the cold is really getting to her, Ed and I are walking around in sweatshirts so its not that bad, but she does feel it more than I do.

We had a little meander earlier and walked past a few shops and saw a few sights, many of the buildings here look like Hanul Manuk (not all of you will have seen it as it is another Romanian link), the old horse stables just off Unirii.  Very comforting.  There are the familiar street sellers selling absolute tat and the little boxes where you can buy cigarettes, I noticed that there are many brands that are similar to ones found in Romania, which made me smile again!  You really would not have thought that this place was a capital city though as it is so calm and placid to say, Rio or any of the other places that we visited. (We saw such places as the Palacio de Gobierno, which is the Presidential Palace and was intended as a residence for Francisco Solano Lopez who died in the war of the Triple Alliance.  It is now safe to approach it to take photographs, as prior to the ousting of Stroessner it was once ordered that ‘every person observed gazing at the front of his palace should be shot in the act.’ On talking to Antonio the following evening I was told that he had been thrown in jail back in 1976 as he was caught with another visitor taking a photo of the palace.  It seems a bit mad to me but there we go! Next to it is an old Navy ship that is floating on the Rio Paraguay, which we went and had a look round for something to do. (It was here that Ed took his “I’m the King of the World “ photograph!)  We saw the Palacio Legislativo, which was begun in 1844 and completed in 1857, and it is home to both houses of the legislature.  Next to that is the Catedral Metropolitana, which was built in 1845, and it is the Roman Catholic Cathedral.  The Panteon de los Heroes is a public Mausoleum for the country’s greatest military figures and is guarded by a somber honour guard.  The main remains in there that are guarded are those of Carlos Antonio Lopez and his son, amongst others.)

The prices are much cheaper here than in Brazil and it is pretty cheap for us there, so you can imagine we are in heaven here price wise.  The language cross is a small problem as I have only just got used to my limited knowledge of Portuguese (they speak Spanish here!) and the money change from sensible to absurd amounts is quite tricky too!  Electrical goods and so on are well cheap and Chlo and I are really tempted to send back a case full of them and make a huge profit!

Well my 20 mins is up, Ed is on next, it is quite expensive to use it in the hotel but we all want to keep in touch with everyone! Hence my typos are probably quite frequent. (They have been edited out!)  I am not watching the screen, impressive hey!

Loads of love to one and all,

            Em

            xxx

The Brazilian Side of the Falls

Dear All,

            Oh my word.  And I thought the Argentinean side was good.  The Brazilian Side is just, well, out of this world!  It gives you the most amazing panoramic views over pretty much all of the falls from various viewpoints.  I mean you don’t get to go so close but the views are SO dreamy you can’t imagine.  I could have stood watching them all day.

We all went in a helicopter ride over the falls and I managed to jump in the front and so definitely had the best view. It was only about an 11 min flight but it left me totally speechless for quite a long time and the views of the whole of the falls were just superb.  I only hope that my photos will do it some justice.  Some of you are lucky enough to get postcards from there but they do nothing to show you the real beauty. (The Brazilian side has a larger park with 1550sq km of rainforest but the Argentinean side is in far better shape.  There are masses of walkways, which give you the most wonderful views of various parts of the falls in particular the Garganta do Diablo (Devil’s Throat) and of course getting so close to the falls always leaves you feeling a little wet!  The 275 falls as a whole are over 3km wide and 80m high.  That makes them wider than the Victoria Falls and higher than either Victoria or Niagara.  Before the falls we discovered they were a Holy burial place for the Tupi, Guarani and Paragos Tribes.  Many of the locals are not keen on the helicopter rides over the waterfalls because of environmental concerns.  Apparently the pilots now just fly the helicopters higher so as not to disturb the wildlife so much.)

We leave here tomorrow and batty Laura, who we now think is an alcoholic, and I think we are going to have a little problem prizing ourselves away form her.  We take a 5-6 hour bus journey to Asuncion in Paraguay and Chloe and I are booking into a nice hotel as we are totally fed up of having FREEZING cold showers every day because there seems to be no hot water.  This afternoon I think Chloe and Ed are going to the bird park, I really wanted to go but I am so shattered so I am going back to Laura to catch 40 winks!  I am going back via the Lavanderia to collect our washing – at last clean clothes!  I had to go out and buy a new pair of trousers yesterday as I had put both mine in the wash and it was freezing, not suitable weather for shorts at all!  I did quite well as the sizing is totally different and we don’t speak any Portuguese.  The trousers fit fine except there is almost a train of material at the bottom as they are obviously for people with legs up to their armpits, not me!!

Anyway enough about my trouser situation!  I am off to sleep now, loads of love and hugs to one and all,

            Em

            xxx

Greetings from Foz do Iguacu

Dear All,

Yes it is little old me again. Thank the Lord I am out of that dive of a city otherwise known as Sao Paulo. My god what an utter dump, I don’t suggest a visit to ANYONE.

In a much more pleasant place now as you can read from the title which was a 15 hour bus journey over night on a VERY uncomfortable bus on a VERY bumpy road. Not something that we will be doing again in a hurry, at least we know now why there was such a huge price difference between the two bus times that we were quoted! No blankets on the air conditioned bus and so stone cold, not the best temperatures for trying to sleep!

We are staying in a pousada, which is basically like a B & B and Laura, the woman who runs it, is as mad as a hatter but lovely too, always wanting to help and sees us as her children. (Pousada da Laura 574-3628 Rua Naipi Nr 629, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil) We left at about 9:30 this morning and popped in here (an internet café!) as it was open on our way home this evening, we reckon that Laura will be pacing the floor waiting for us!!! It is unbelievably cheap staying there although Brazil obviously doesn’t go in for hot showers and I am getting really sick of cold showers. Even more so now that it has turned like British weather, not really what we were expecting here, we knew that we would get it in Buenos Aires when we get there. So Chloe has one of my jumpers and I am sleeping in one and my waterproof has not been taken off in a while! I am surviving though, the difference in the temperature between here and Rio is just so unreal. Who would have thought it was so hot in Rio that we could have been walking around in bikinis, not that any one would have appreciated the sight of Frosty the Snowman, at least the others could have spotted me at a distance if needed!

Went to the Itaipu Dam yesterday, which is meant to be one of the 7 wonders of the modern world. I had seen loads of pictures of it with the water flowing through it but there was none when we were there and so I am afraid that it did nothing for me in the end. I am glad that I have been to see it all the same. The bus journey was a little random. We were dropped off in what felt like the middle of nowhere and we were pointed in the direction of the dam and walked for a little while (400m) before we came to it. It was just a really bizarre experience. (Itaipu Dam is the world’s largest hydroelectric works. It cost US$18 billion for Paraguay and Brazil (it is on both of their borders) and has the capacity to generate 12.6 million kilowatts, which is enough electricity to supply the energy needs of Paraguay and Southern Brazil. There is so much concrete in the dam that it could have paved a two-lane highway that started in Moscow and ended in Lisbon or 240 Maracana Stadiums! The dam has created a 1400sq km lake due to the destruction of Sete Quedas, which was the world’s largest waterfall with 30 times more water than Iguacu. The local weather patterns and populations of plants and animals have been affected but the complete environmental repercussions of these changes will not be felt for decades.)

We met a really nice Ozzie bloke (James Liddy) in the pousada and we went to the Argentinean side of the falls with him today as it is quite a trek and he had done it before, so we thought that it was wise to go with him instead of getting totally lost by doing it on our own! There and back we got onto 13 different pieces of public transport, 14 if you include walking! The views though, Oh were they worth it or what?!! I have absolutely no intentions to try desperately to go to Niagara Falls now after seeing them. I mean, I really can’t explain the views; they were just out of this world. I could sit here and try and try but you will just have to come and appreciate the awesome sight that they are for yourselves one day. I am glad that I had my stupid waterproof on, even if I did look like a bit of a fool, as the spray from the falls was very intense at points as I am sure some of you will see from the photos (If they come out!). (The Argentinean side is known for its close up views of the falls and the forest that you can walk though to see the falls. There is a shuttle bus that takes you along a dirt road a few kilometres from the park entrance to Puerto Canoas. From here we took a hair raising boat ride to Garganta do Diablo (Devil’s Throat) where 13,000 cubic metres of water per second plunge 90m in 14 falls arranged around a little pocket. The view was amazing but I am sure that it would have been even better in the sunshine. The sound of the roaring water, huge rainbow arcs, drenching mist and in the distance the sound of parrot and hawks cruising over a deep green forest, can you dream of anything any better than this!?)

We are going to go to the Brazilian side of the falls tomorrow and we are going to get a helicopter ride over them, which will be fantastic. I just can’t wait! We are also going to go to the bird and butterfly sanctuary tomorrow too, hopefully, as I am really keen to go there. I think that other than that we are going to do some washing and relax before our next big move. I think that we are planning to leave here on Friday at some point and head over to Asuncion in Paraguay for a couple of nights, just to get another stamp in the passport really and also it looks like it is meant to be really beautiful. We may come back into Argentina then to the Jesuit Missions somewhere that is in the vague direction that we are going in. We saw pictures of them at the bus station today on the Argentinean side of the falls and we all seemed fairly interested in them.

I think that is pretty much all my lot for now, enough to wet all of your appetites for what I have been doing in the last couple of days!

Keep well, and keep emailing, it is always nice to feel loved every time I come to email instead of just having a load of junk mail waiting for me!

Lots of love to one and all, postcards are on their way, I keep forgetting to take them out with me! Start buying your magnifying glasses now as I am warning you some of the writing is VERY small indeed!

Em

xxx

SAM – Didn’t think that they were you at all, I was rather confused, thought that you had some weird side to you. Girl sounds like a right cow!

FARTS – Cheers for Big Bro updates, how about Eastenders? Other news is cool too, looking forward to hearing more about that. It is a horse, a white one apparently, it has been bugging Chloe and she thinks that it is called Artex. Could you please confirm? We have another task for you part of which we know the answer to. Tee hee hee – wait and see!

HELS – still no churches, waterfalls any good??!!

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With Love From Rio!

Dear All,

Bloody hell what a journey! 22 hours of travelling all on my tod and I was very glad to see Chloe and Ed at the airport here. I managed to sleep a mere 10 mins on the plane, that’s 10 mins better than usual!

Hostel that we are staying in is much better than expected. Clean and safe, which is the main thing! It is in an area of Rio called Copacobana, which no doubt most of you have heard of! (Copacabana Praia (547-5422) Rua Tenente Marones de Gusmao 85) We headed down to the beach for a stroll yesterday in a bid to keep awake and it is amazing. 4.5km of white, almost litter free, sand. Can’t really complain. (It lies in front of one of the world’s most densely populated residential areas of the world) We are heading there this afternoon for a session and check out the local talent (well that is Ed and Chloe really, I will be concentrating on preventing myself from coming away looking like a lobster!) We, of course, are going to have to be ultra careful with our belongings so that they don’t get stolen. It is not as scarily dangerous as I thought it was going to be and I don’t feel too scared walking around but I am fed up of being eyed up by dirty old men the whole time! I am walking around without a bag, I feel safer like that and I have my money and passport stuffed under my arm, which I have to say, is not at all comfortable!

We have booked our tickets for our next port of call which is a town called Sao Paulo, which has a population of 20 million -! We are just breaking our journey there but we can’t yet buy tickets on, which is a pain.

For the middle of winter the weather is quite pleasant here at a mild 28°c! I can see why the translation of bikini is dental floss; I will not be following the fashion trend. Instead I think I will look like someone out of the 20’s with my cossie on!!!

Well I had better go. Loads of love to one and all

Em xxxx

MUMMY AND DADDY – CAN’T WORK THE DARNED PHONE CARD AT THE MOMENT, I DON’T FEEL THAT SAFE STANDING ON THE STREET CORNERS TRYING TO CALL. HOPE YOU GOT MY MESSAGE ON THE ANSWER MACHINE OK. I AM FINE THANK YOU FOR MY JELLY BEANS; THEY WERE A HELP ON THE PLANE AS THE FOOD WAS SICK MAKING! LUCKILY NO EFFORTS FOR IT TO SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY AGAIN! LOVE YOU MISS YOU

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Greetings from Copacabana!

Dear All,

My word we had a really busy day yesterday. We started off by going up the Corcovado to see the monument of Christ the Redeemer which pretty much dominates the skyline of Rio. Oh my word, it is the most amazing thing. It is absolutely massive and towers over the whole of the city. It is clean and well kept and the views out over the whole of Rio from it are just out of this world. I could have spent all morning up there but we were being driven by some random little man that the hostel had organised for us and so we had to move on as we had him as a driver for a limited time. Dad would not have liked the drive, hairpin bends a go-go to make you feel incredibly sick! A real tourist treat! (The Corcovado, translation of which is hunchback, is a reference to the mountain alone and Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) is the statue that lies on top. The mountain rises up to 710m above the city. The statue itself welcomes visitors to the city with out stretched arms and stands another 30m high and weighs over 1000 tonnes. It was originally built as a national monument to celebrate Brazil’s 100 years of independence from Portugal but the centenary came and went in 1922 without the sufficient funds to start the construction. In 1931 the French sculptor Paul Landowski, thanks to some financial assistance from the Vatican, completed the statue)

In the afternoon we went and visited Maracana Stadium. The Wembley of Brazil and it was amazing. Unfortunately we couldn’t walk on the pitch like we were all hoping but we got to sit in the seats and get a feel of the place. It must be THE MOST amazing experience to be in there watching a match with a full crowd! It is totally in the round and so you would be able to see nearly all of the crowd from where you are sitting and so feel the enormity of the crowd. The strangest thing that I noticed was that at either end of the extended pitch there was a pay phone, what on earth were they needed for in that position – Pele to use it to phone home? “Hi Mum, just at the stadium, yup just scored a goal!” (The stadium easily accommodates 100,000 people but for the World Cup Game of 1950 and Pele’s last match it squeezed in closer to 200,000 fans. The seating though has since been greatly reduced.) We did think about going to see a match if there was one on whilst we were there. I can’t remember if there was one on or not, but we decided against it as they are pretty raucous events with the crazed fans supporting their teams in all sorts of ways from chanting, waving banners, pounding huge samba drums, exploding firecrackers, Roman candles and smoke bombs, launching incendiary balloons, throwing toilet paper, beer and even dead chickens and, which really disturbed us the most, mugs of bodily fluids. Not really what we wanted at the very start of our trip. It can also be incredibly dangerous and we weren’t feeling that adventurous then!

After that we went on a ferry ride to a neighbouring city called Niteroi as the ferry ride was reported to give you the most amazing views back over Rio. And that it did. We also managed to time it really well as the sun was setting just as we came back into Rio, beautiful. We then went up to San Teresa, the area where Ronnie Biggs used to live, and had supper in a little Brazilian restaurant next door. (Bar do Arnaudo, Rua Almirante Alexandrino 316-B, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) I had a 15cm sq hunk of goats’ cheese and a 600ml bottle of beer, a weird combination for supper I know!!! When he lived here you could book in to go and have a bbq with him at his house on a Saturday night which would have been quite amusing but he came back to the UK only a couple of weeks ago due to failing health.

This morning we have spent the morning on Copacabana beach as Chlo was meant to be going hand gliding but it was too windy this morning. We all had henna tattoos done on the beach (FAKE ONES DAD, THEY LAST 5 DAYS!!!), which was a highly amusing experience. I am fed up of people whistling at me while I am trying to sun bathe, as they want to sell me some cheap tack. BUGGER OFF!

We leave for Sao Paulo tomorrow, a 5-hour bus journey; I hope that the bus is air-conditioned. Yesterday it was a mild 36°c – a little hot and sweaty. Today I haven’t seen a thermometer it is breezy but really humid.

Not quite sure when I will next see an email machine (I think I meant a computer!) but I hope that some of you will have made an effort to email me by the next time that I check. Thanks Farts by the way, now can you please email me the lyric’s to Shaggy’s Angel and find out what the name of the horse is in the Never-ending Story, that is your task from Chloe and I for the week!

Loads of love and hugs to one and all,

Em xxx

I seem to have missed out a whole chunk of the things that we did in Rio. I was positive that I sent an email called The Girls from Ipanema or something like that but on checking with everyone it turns out that I was imagining it! Chloe got to do her hand gliding and Ed and I were able to go up to the top with her and watch her jump off with her guide. She just had to run off the end of a steep ramp and was away. My stomach turned as I watched her it was awful! We went for a stroll along Ipanema beach, which is Rio’s richest suburb, and the most chic beach. It is safer and cleaner than Copacabana. There are different part of the beach that attract different crowds, there is the gay part of the beach (which Ed obviously liked!) the hippie, leftists and artists part and the young and beautiful also go down to that part at sunset to smoke a joint. We went in the middle of the afternoon and had an ice cream, slightly different! It is advised that you don’t swim in the waters as the waves can get big and the undertow is apparently very strong. There was no way that I was going to strip off anyway with all the thin bronzed beauties around, I would have stuck out like a sore thumb!

We went to Garota de Ipanema (Rua Vinicius de Morais 49, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), which was where Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes wrote The Girl from Ipanema. A recent Brazilian Playboy survey rated their beer (chopp) as the best in Rio, so it had to be tried really! We went out for supper in the Copacabana Palace, which is favoured, by royalty and rock stars and so we had to put on our best clothes. It was a tough choice as to wear trainers or flip-flops in case they had a dress code! Thankfully they didn’t. It has a great pool that we sat by and had our three course meal with wine and it cost us only £33 each. The rooms are kind of expensive hence we didn’t stay there. I’d love to stay there at some point, it looks gorgeous. We were trying to see if there was anyone famous around but I guess that it was not really the time of year for a trip to Rio!

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