Friday, 23 May 2008

All good things come to an end..

And so that was it. I'm done, finished, its all over. I only have one flight left and it comes back to Heathrow. I can already feel the depression snaking its cold fingers on my skin! Why oh why did time have to speed up for me! Not much I can do about it now and to be honest, I'm looking forward to seeing all you guys and having a routine again (what a terrible thing to wish for, but its true).

So I've spent my last few days in Bangkok, doing what shopping I can (I aimed for the ladyboy shops, they have 'big big' size!) and just psyching myself up to be back in my world again. The week I spent in Koh Phangan was lovely. Highly recommended as a get away spot if anyone ever needs one. The part I was in, Haad Salad is the quietest place on earth with a lovely white sand beach that's shallow for about half a mile. All the huts in that area are lovely and reasonable, the food is really nice (though not as cheap as in Bangkok) and you're unlikely to have a giant lizard walk into your room!

My only strenous activity was going to the Full Moon party held on the other side of the island. Now that was something else. They have a full moon, half moon and black moon beach party, any excuse if you ask me, but noone actually looks at the moon anymore.

Think of it as an Ibiza resort (boys and girls out to snog and much more in public), mixed with Ayia Napa crowds ('ollie 'ollie 'ollie...), set on Miami beach (men with semi-buff bodies and tops off included), add some Birmingham Broad St alcoholism (quarter litre of vodka with red bull [the amphetamine kind] and lemonade for less than 3 quid), some Croydon on a friday night youths (jailbait with fake ID), a splash of your cheesy 'I love you long time' Thai people and ladyboys and finally sprinkle on the top all the varieties of drugs you may find at a trance rave in a Liverpool warehouse and you might start to get a picture of the debauchery I witnessed. I have only ever once spent so much time with my mouth hanging open in shock (that was with a particularly seedy student job I shan't elaborate on) and I wouldn't know where to start with the stories.

Unfortunately I didn't take my camera, I felt the security risk (as you can imagine) was rather high, but I think maybe it was a good idea not to put too much of it on record. I had already made up my mind to stay sober and make sure I could remember it all and boy oh boy if that wasn't one of the best ideas I've had this trip! Go if you will, just don't get pissed and become part of the freakshow, its really not pretty!

I've been thinking about the things I won't miss about travelling to help me look forward to going home and I realised that living out of a suitcase and flying are vying for top spot. Its only taken me 21 years of flying to confirm I hate it!! After that would come being stared at like a museum exhibit and mosquito bites, again both equally frustrating as hell. Cybercafes also deserve a mention for being annoying places but after that I start to get picky. Hostel besheets, so called 'breakfasts included' that consist of hard bread and horrid tea, bus rides that take longer than 2 hours and have ice cold air conditioning and insects/lizards. To be honest, none of it would ever stop me from doing this again, its all part of the experience and I'm glad to say I've done it and wouldn't mind if I could carry on!

Oh and finally, I thought you would all be pleased to hear that I was finally forced to put my backpack on my back. Yes, in Thailand you really have to 'backpack' especially if you're planning on island hopping by boat. For me, what I envisioned to hopefully be a short trip off a boat and on to a coach turned into a 15 minute assault course down the longest and most rickety jetty I have ever seen in my whole life. By the end of it I was bent over double and just grateful that I had managed to stop from falling after tripping on stray bits of wood a thousand times. I really was not impressed although its not like you can go around the world with a suitcase on wheels now is it?!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

"Sorry lady, we no have 'big big' size"

Apparently its official now. I've heard it enough times in the last week to come to terms with the fact that I am size "big big". This applies to clothes and remarkably feet too. It is awful to be in the land where everything costs about 2 quid (Bangkok) from clothes to shoes and nothing fits....repeat NOTHING FITS!!!!! Its ok though you know, I'm coming to terms with it. I don't have any money to shop anyway and its not like its the end of the world right?! Wrong. It would have been great to go home with some nice new clothes, especially as I will be too poor to buy anything in England for a long time, plus after months of dressing and feeling like a tramp, this girl wants to look pretty dammit!

The problem here is they have a general one size fits all thing in shoe shops and clothes sizes. What makes this worse is that the average clothes size is a 6 and the average shoe size a 3 or 4. They are tiny here, I even feel tall which is saying something given that I try to claim an extra quarter on my 5'3. And unlike the Peruvian girls who also made me feel tall, these girls have no booty no titty no nothing. They are like catwalk models at less than half the height and they have great fashion to boot. I'm not giving up though, I'm spending my last 2 days in Bangkok, I will find something to buy, I may have to look in their maternity areas but so be it, somebody somewhere must have clothes in "big big" size!!!

Talking about Bangkok, lets talk about Lady boys. OH MY GOD!! I knew to expect them and I saw my fair share of he-shes in Brasil and Ecuador so it wasn't a shock so much. What I didn't expect was to see the standard of femininity and acceptance they have here. I mean as I woman I can still tell the difference, but it gets hard here, you really have to look long and hard to say no. I feel especially sorry for the drunken English boys on Kao Sarn Road (famous backpacker spot in Bangkok). I spent a hilarious few hours watching several of them going off with individuals who they believed to be female....would have loved to be a fly on many a wall that night when those guys discovered and extra 'member' and sobered up! I also worry for the safety of the lady boys themselves, but do not fear, one of Thailands most famous Muay Thai boxing champions is a lady boy too, go figure! (Nong Toom Google her)!

I'm in Koh Phangan now a tiny island in the south of Thailand next door to Koh Samui, literally chilling in my own little wooden hut about 60 seconds from the beach. I decided I didn't have the energy for party central Samui but I might pop over for a day trip or something! Even though there are other people around, its deathly quiet here, you can't hear a thing but birds. There are butterflies everywhere and even when its pissing it down like it did this morning for 2 hours, you still feel the need to be outside on the veranda swinging away in the hammock. This place is the perfect place to spend my last week, its picture perfect and peaceful, just what I need to face Larndan again!

One event I'm debating going to will be the full moon party next Tuesday 20th. Its the biggest thing that happens on this island, but I have never been to a trance rave and I'm not a pill popper so I question just how much I will be able to enjoy a 'psychedelic' rave on the beach with about 30,000 other people (no I'm not exaggerating that number!). Plus I've heard a few dodgy stories of people going missing and what not. On the other hand, given the calibre of people I've met here in Thailand, I could just head down there as the only sober person, with my camera and get some photographic ammunition against politicians and the future heads of corporations! I could probably make a mint off the sun newspaper in about 20 years time!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Sod homesick....I don´t want to come home!!

I´ve figured out how I can do this, Flow can open up a new office in Salvador, Brasil. The economy is booming out here and they need UX people, they may not be totally aware yet, but I can convince them. I´ll take care of doing the research for location and new business and all that....all strictly professional ofcourse. Then we can have consultant rotation every few months so everyone gets a chance to do a project out here...see? Easy. And that takes care of me having a job.

Then family, Inxs, I think the air here would do you good, you can come over and work in the office with me, or you can start doing your entrepeneur thing, there are loads of artists (musical and art) who need representation and profiling, I trust you´ll hook it up in no time! Abi, they have computers here, come and programme something and Keshia...the prisons are full and need your help! And that takes care of having my family around. My mother loves travelling so it won´t take much convincing to get her to come for a visit. Sorted.

Right so friends next; Aish and Nay, well I don´t need to work it out for you guys, just get your arses over here! In the meantime, I´ll look into opening a super cheap hostel too, so the rest of my friend entourage can take it in turns to come and visit me. Can you all see how easy it is?! This way I never have to come back to England! I can live in paradise for ever and ever and ever and ever!!

Okay so moment of madness over, coming home is creeping up on me double time. Exactly 3 weeks from today. I will admit I was homesick, but knowing that within 2 weeks of coming home I´m probably gonna have an onslaught of severe depression is kind of overtaking me! I have totally fallen in love with Brazil and I´ve probably only seen like 10%. There wasn´t enough time or money and I unfortunately haven´t been able to hook up the Brazilian uber millionaire angle...can´t imagine why?!

Salvador is the most amazing city, its cute, its huge, its full of character, it has amazing beaches, astonishingly talented people and it has business and makes it possible to work and live in paradise! Imagine! Ok so it suffers from a few issues, favelas outnumber middle class areas, security can be an issue particularly in the Pelourinho (the most fun place to be in town), but its growing and changing and like everything else in Brazil, things are improving.

Mayday in Pelourinho was fabulous, three extra outdoor music stages (adding to the usual 3) were set up for artists supporting improved working contiditions. There was Reggae, Pagode, Samba, Salsa, you name it, it was there. This was all free and nobody seemed to be bothered about the rain either. Twice this week Pelourinho has provided a fabulous night out, Tuesday night the famous Geronimo played his legendary weekly free concert on church steps in San Antonio, plus it was the international day of dance and where better to find fantastic dancers of every style than in Bahia!

Its funny, Pelourinho has a major security issue, so you normally only find Brazilians there at night, when sane tourists have gone back to the safety of areas like Barra. But the most fun is to be had at night with all the live music and entertainment on offer. I managed to strike a balance, always finding people to go with and learning how to keep notes and change in my bra!

The food here is amazing too. Mainly because it all reminds me of Nigerian food which I miss like crazy. Different types of flavoured rice, shrimp mocqueca (a stewish dish) with beans and ´farofa´which is a slightly moister version of Gari (but in powder not solid form). Then there is my favourite, Acarajé. Its beanflour, mashed into a paste and then fried into small pie like shapes (its basically what we call Acara in Nigeria but minus the tomato). Once fried, its sliced up and served with an ocra mix, fresh onion and tomato, a fish paste, small crayfish and seriously spicy pepper on the side. It is delicious and on average about R$3 which is a bargain! I could eat this all day every day.

*Sigh, I do feel I´ve found a potential home in the future. I may have to work on my Brazilian portuguese, so far I´ve managed to get away with speaking spanish with a portuguese accent; I´m a good mimic and it seems to have worked, but I don´t think that would hold out for long. But this place is seriously pulling me, I suspected it might and its definitely given me something to think about!

So, I´m off to my last destination, Thailand! I´m looking forward to having a ´holiday´now. Everything slows down and I recharge my batteries before coming home. Its gonna be a long journey getting there! I have to fly to 10 hours to Dallas, then wait 4 hours, then fly 12 hours to Japan where I gain 12 hours because of crossing the date line, so I leave and arrive at the same time but the next day. Then I spend one night in Tokyo which is only rubbing salt in the wound as I can no longer afford to spend my planned week in Tokyo, but never mind. And finally I arrive in Bangkok on Wednesday. Phrew! I´m tired just thinking about it!

Another countdown has begun though, I´ll be home soon....I´ll try and bring the sunshine with me!

Saturday, 26 April 2008

La Vida Afro-Brasilena

What can I say about Rio de Janeiro? Well, its exactly as you would expect it to be. The Miami of South America. Beautiful people, living in beautiful homes, wearing beautiful clothes and working hard to keep looking beautiful on the beach. Then there are all the tourists, there to peek at the beautiful people, maybe pretend to be one of them for a little bit and then go home and say they went to Rio where the beautiful people are. Its great, but its also very predictable and after a few days a little sickening.

I had a fantastic time there, thanks to my wonderful dorm mates Melissa, Sonia and Jennine and Ama and Cleo who are now safely but possibly miserably back in England! A few gems Ipanema and Copacabana have to offer include the night market, on every night till midnight and the hippie market every Sunday, loads of amazing hand made jewellery and leather items, nothing is cheap here but if you`re anything like me, you could spend hours wandering and browsing and trust me there is alot to see! Plus going out in Lapa was loads of fun, save for the harrasment of kids wanting money. The beach as ever was a wonderful experience, although I did start to feel a little like I was in a glass cage where everyone wanted to see and be seen!

I knew I couldn`t live in Rio, but I didn`t realise exactly why until I got to Salvador in Bahia, north of Brazil. This place is all soul. It combines everything I love about the Caribbean with everything I love about Brazil and is making me wish I never have to go home. For one, since I arrived, there has been no shortage of a soundtrack. In Jamaica earlier this year, Aish pointed out the fact that in the Caribbean (but especially Jamaica) there is always a soundtrack, music is always coming from somewhere and its exactly the same here, round the clock. Don`t come if you`re a light sleeper!

I`m staying in Pelourinho which is the historic centre of Salvador and it is absolutely heaving with soul and talent. On every street there is art that will take your breath away, I feel like I want to buy everything. But (rightly so), the best of it isn`t cheap and you can see why. You turn a corner and right on the street there is a band complete with drums and percussion having an impromptu concert on the street. You can`t help but love it and the people who create it.

Today I took a ride in an elevator that takes you from the Pelourinho, to the `Cidade Baixo`(bottom city), can you imagine an elevator in the middle of town?! Well, its bloody good idea, because one thing you will get sick of here is hills! The markets blow Rio and anywhere else`s out of the water. I fell in love with about a thousand things in the model market in Cidade Baixo and could afford absolutely none of them! And the view of the sea and the beach.....sorry..having a slight Homer Simpson and a donut moment just sitting here thinking about it. Its stunning.

I also took a personal wander around all the museums and galleries I could spot in this area. Absolutely fantastic, my favourite was the Museu de Afro-Braseilero where you can find wooden carvings of all the Orixàs followed in Candomblè. There are also a lot of classical works (both paintings and furniture) in the various museums where you can see European influences as well as African in a few pieces. The galleries have loads of amazing modern art (I`ve decided I`m a modern art person really) and the graffiti on the streets will sometimes blow you away!

Candomblè (Orisha worship, but they spell it Orixà) is definitely taking my interest, its as big here as it is in Cuba and I`ve already seen graffiti written in Yoruba as well been told that it won`t take long to come across someone speaking it here. I`m trying to go along to an Orixà house for a ceremony. Apparently you get to see them invoking the spirit of the Orixà and it can take anywhere between 3 and 10 hours. Its not a spectator show here and you won`t find leaflets floating around inviting you to it. Its a serious religion that people follow and its hard to attend a cermony, but it is possible. I`m told they sing old Yoruba songs and wear traditional costumes. I would never be able to see this in Nigeria, one because its believed only to be a negative custom these days and two because my mother would never allow it, but while here...sorry Mum, gotta try and have a look!

And finally, dropping all traces of refinement, lets talk about eye candy. My oh my are my eyes feasting!! I didn`t realise I had such a sweet tooth! Firstly before you all decide my moral standards are slipping, I`m looking not touching (I have no money to be anyone`s Sugar Mummy!), I`m happy to be a bit of a perv while I`m here as I don`t know when I`ll be back and there are just so many beautiful men to look at! (Giggle giggle!). Its for these kind of things that I wish my girls were here to salivate with me, it feels like it should be a group thing, but in your abscence I shall do my best to ogle at as many hunky men as I see! lol! ;-)

I`m exactly one month from coming home month! I don`t wanna!! But I can`t afford to stay, Brazil has chewed up my budget in no time and its time to go back to earning money...*sigh. I guess I have to come back to the real world sometime, but for least I don`t have to make believe I`m in Paradise, I`m actually here!!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Lola hits Copacabana!!!!

Yes ladies and gentlemen, this showgirl is now in Rio de Janeiro!! Woohoo!

Brasil has welcomed me with somewhat open arms, if you don´t count the rain, the grey skies and the absolutely boring ass city known as São Paulo. No disrespect, but there just isn´t anything to do in that town. Don´t raise your hopes if you´re going there as a cold tourist. I´ve heard that if you know someone there its different (where isn´t), but I wouldn´t pay to go back! Six hours bus down the road and we arrived in Rio in a severe downpour...severe being a somewhat understatement!

I have to say that Rio has lived up to expectation thankfully, with the only negatives being some poor weather for part of every day and the fact that Brasil is very very expensive! I´m basically living on London west end prices here in Ipanema. It was maybe naive to expect things to be cheap, but I didn´t expect to be paying the same prices as I´m paying at home. You´ll be glad to know I´m managing my budget though...dinner tonight is instant noodles!

So, once again, without meaning to, I have ticked off another wonder of the world. Friday saw me at the top of the Corcovado looking up at Christ the Reedemer and down on Rio de Janeiro. It was absolutely amazing. The statue itself is actually a mosaic, did you know that? It was worth seeing up close! Plus the views over the city are stunning, the only negative would be that there are so many tourists up there it is almost impossible to get a decent picture without 17 other people invading your shot, but wow oh wow is it still worth the visit! The Sugar loaf was also fantastic, on the beach side of the island, the cable car up also provides stunning views over the city, although once you get to the top of the sugar loaf itself, there really isn´t anything to do except spend money in very expensive shops!

I also managed to visit Maracanã stadium and stand in Pele´s shoes for a second...or his footprint in the hall of fame to be exact, and those of a few other famous Brasilian footballers who to me could be any man on any street anywhere! But there were some quite excited men on our tour so I guess it was something special!

Topping it all off, we went to the Sambadome to check out where carnival takes place and had the opportunity to try on some costumes. I picked one with yellow flowers in the headgear! lol! Just a shame I couldn´t take it with me all the way to Copacabana! (If you don´t get the reference check out Barry Manilow!)

And the important part, the beach. I´m staying on Ipanema beach which is gorgeous, when there has been sun, its been a pleasure to sit on the beach and appreciate the...ahem... Brasilian form. I can confirm ladies that all...yes all Brasilian men wear those lovely form fitting brief shorts. This can be somewhat offensive when it is accompanied by severly pregnant bellies or bear like body hair, but 90% of the time I can only describe it as an absolute pleasure! I make no apologies if I sound just ever so slightly perverted, but I know I´m in no way as bad as the gazillions of tourist men feasting their eyes on the thong bikinis of the usually quite round bottomed Brasilian women! And before you I will not be buying or wearing a thong bikini. Full stop!

Copacobana beach is a little more rough and ready, more men and therefore lots more prostitutues! It´s also home to the famous Help nightclub which is home to your sex tourist and your prostitute of every age, body shape and quite commonly here sex, including the so called 3rd sex (Trannie central). Its a shame having your camera out would probably get you robbed cos a lot of this stuff has to be seen to be believed!

I´ve managed to meet up with my mate Ama here who has spent the last 3 months in Brazil, ´learning portuguese´(code for living it up I´m sure)!! ;-). Last night, we went to Lapa, the party central of Rio and had a fantastic time. R$3 (1 pound) caipirinhas on the street accompanied by super delicious barbacued meat on a stick followed by a lot of Samba (or my version of it anyway) in a club called Lapa 40 degrees. Live music and a fantastic DJ meant I stumbled back into the hostel at about 5.30am this morning and woke up at 10 with a stinking hangover. Their caipirinhas here have quite a large amount of rum and it really doesn´t take that much to get you seriously inebriated!

Unfortunately, there has been one giant super niggle while here in Rio. I´m staying in a hostel called Girl from Ipanema, lovely place but with some issues on the security front. It´s in a mews like alley with several houses, mostly hostels but private homes too, on either side of the alley, but there is a gate at the entrance of the alley. There are a lot of people coming in and out mainly because of the many hostels here. My hostel has three houses scattered in the alley with the house I´m in having the main kitchen and dining area for all 3 houses. You get a key to the gate and the house you stay in, but the door to our house is almost always open to allow people from the other houses to use the kitchen. Sound off key? Well yes, especially when you know that the door to the only girl´s dorm that I´m staying in didn´t have a lock on it. I remember feeling a little off put and feeling the need to put a padlock on every possesion I had in the room when I checked in.

Well, fate doesn´t like to be tempted. 3am on Friday night a man managed to get in the gate, walked to our house, came in through the open door to the house and walked straight into the girls dorm where myself and two others were fast alseep. He picked up two rucksacks on the floor and walked right out again completely unheard. All this was caught on CCTV including the part where he walked right past the now sacked security guard who asked no questions. Needless to say I was pretty much almost out the door when we found out the following morning. A man walks into a girls dorm unchallenged? Seems we were a little lucky he only walked out with two rucksacks!

Thankfully, security has now been tightened, locks changed, doors closed and new security guards, but I was hellofashakenup! Its good to know the hostel had CCTV as well and was able to pass it onto the police, but I had to ask, whats the point of CCTV and no locks on bedroom doors?!?! And thanks to my paranoia, none of my things were taken, but I have a lot of sympathy for two other girls who despite not loosing money or passports did loose their diaries and other personal books, one of them had all the contacts and stories from her 5 month trip and is only 2 weeks from going home! Depressing.

But, despite it all I´m safe and thankful and loving the Rio vibe! The fact is that kind of thing could happen anywhere and you just have to be prudent as much as possible. I decided not to move becuase given the situation I´m probably safer in that hostel now than anywhere else, plus it has a fantastic atmosphere and a reasonable nightly rate. Don´t get me wrong, my safety comes first, but it looks like they´ve bucked up their act!

Tomorrow I hit the beach again, and on Wednesday I fly to Salvador, the ultimate beach and party town in the north. Can´t wait!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

To Do list No.109. Visit 8th Wonder of the World......tick!

Okay, I haven´t actually been to any of the original 7 wonders of the world and can not claim to have had any pressing desire to do so. However, when you´re in Peru, you would be stupid not to make the trip to go and visit Macchu Picchu!

As I said in my last post I had a very quiet and relaxing couple of weeks staying with my adoptive family in San Miguel, Lima. I literally did nothing and it was bliss!!! Then I spent a few days staying down town in an area called Barranco which is right next to the super posh and very hyped (but worth seeing) Miraflores area as well as being 2 seconds from the beach. I´m sure you guys are pretty aware about me and the beach by now, so nuff said on how much time I spent there!!

When the decision had to be made as to how to get to Cusco, the town in the south of Peru from which you can get to Macchu Picchu I clearly lost my senses. I´d heard it wasn´t close to Lima, but based on word of mouth from other travellers along the way I was willing to take the 16 hour bus journey offered by Cruz del Sur; top operator in the country. The one concession I did make was to travel 1st class; it was only 6 quid more and definitely worth the money. 20 hours, motion sickness, 4 badly dubbed films with english subtitles (when the originals were in English anyway!!) and some dodgy looking hot water later we made it to Cusco. Never again in my life so long as I am in a position to choose will I do anything so foolhardy as to get a bus for that long or listen to other people when they tell me 16hours is not so bad!!!! Duurrh!

Firstly, I will say that travelling 1st class is the only way, massive leather reclining seats with footrests and only 9 people in the cabin (everyone else is upstairs on the double decker) so its nice and quiet. Other than that, it makes no difference what class you are in when you´re travelling Peru by coach. Roads that are built into mountains resulting in ridiculous meandering curves means the toilet is pretty much a nasty disgusting mess after the 1st two hours. The so called meals you get served leave a lot of taste to the imagination and only give even more reasons for you to have to visit the toilet! And the wonderful drivers, who are advertised as changing every four hours for passenger safety, clearly get bored with the whole thing and decide to test out the new traction wheels by speeding up on bends and seeing who can get the most passengers to throw up on their shift. The only person who fared worse than I was Darrell** who is not travelling on my backpacker budget and was quite openly resenting my insistance we get the bus cos it was cheaper and all part of the experience after the first 10 hours!!! Sorry!!

I am despite it all eternally grateful to have made it in one piece with no incidents! Needless to say, the budget for the return journey was added to in order to catch the simple one hour flight back to Lima! It only cost $89 compared to the bus´$ much for trying to be a cheap arse eh!!

Cusco has about 100% on Lima in terms of character and atmosphere. The town is cute and easy to get around, the roads, the churches and the people just seem that so much less hung up, which is in sharp contrast to Lima which is a cross between Miami and Shepherds Bush....go figure. Don´t get me wrong, I did like Lima, but when you get to Cusco, you feel the change in atmosphere, and the rivalry between the two cities (Cusco used to be the Peruvian capital hundreds of years ago) certainly maintains that!

So from Cusco one morning at 6am we caught the four hour train up to Macchu Picchu, this was followed by a 30 minute bus journey up the rest of the way and then.........paradise, the most tangible sense of history I´ve ever felt and God. I know that everyone who has seen it has the same sense of wonderment whether they took the train or bravely (I wanna say foolish but I know its cos I´m a sissy) followed the Inca Trail.

The place is truly amazing, survived for hundreds of years almost completely intact despite landslides and earthquakes that took out modern power plants and towns around it. Surrounded by astonishing drops and views of moutains on every side and roaming with llamas! I can´t express it in words and only some of my pictures actually show how fantastic it was, but I tell ya, if you will never regret seeing this place.

So I did Peru, I loved it and its on my hit list of places to come back to. Many thanks to Mr and Mrs Katy and Katy´s whole family who I fell in love with and who looked after me literally like I was one of their own. I have pictures from Paulito and Isabella´s birthday which if I don´t get a chance to email to you (Paul and Katy) before I get home, will be with you asap! Mama Greta and Tia Gisela tengo amor por ustedes para siempre! Nunca puedo olvídar lo que ustedes hacían para mi. Besos, abrazos y mucho más!

So, guess where I am now? Brasil!!!!!!!! Yey!!! Landed in São Paulo on Saturday morning. Already I know my 12 week Brazilian Portugese course last year did bugger all and I haven´t got a clue what anyone is saying. This is not going to be an easy leg! I´m all for it though, I´m in Brasil after all...woohoa!!! I´ll be headed to Rio on Tuesday trying to procure me a showgirl outfit to wear on Copacabana...;-)

**Darrell bless his cottons is the only person who took me up on my offer of all company welcome to join me on any part of my trip!! He´s with me for three weeks in all, his only concession being living on my super cheapie budget! for the rest of´re missing out!!!

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Why do natural disasters occur when you`re sleeping?

I`ve always wondered why natural disasters happen when people are sleeping, or at least at the worst possible time they could happen. Obviously there is never a convinient time for a natural disaster to occur but some times of day are definitely more inconvinient than others!

Let`s take this morning for example. For the last 3 days my hostess (shout out to Greta and all the Cruzalegui`s!!!) here in Lima has been talking of feeling tremors during the day and the middle of the night. Two nights ago, I watched her nightly routine of clearing chairs away from the dining table and clearing the route to the front door. Last night we were watching Scent of a Woman on TV (its so nice watching TV in the evenings again...*sigh) and she asked if I felt a tremor, I didn`t feel a thing. I started to think that she was maybe being just slightly too cautious, that is until this morning.

7.50am this morning, I jumped out of bed (literally in one movement) right into an earthquake. The whole house was shaking, Greta had just run into the bedroom to wake me up (I`m still not sure if it was her or the earthquake that woke me actually). It was extremely loud and the whole building sounded like a huge jackhammer was giving it a good beating. Having just woken out of deep sleep, I really cannot remember what I was thinking, I was just completely panicked thinking what on earth was going on! 10 seconds later with me holding 1 year old Isabella on the stairs halfway out the building it stopped. And that was it. Everyone had a look around, made sure everyone was ok and went back to their homes.

Isabella bless her, had no idea what was going on and was looking at me like she usually does and laughing her head off. I was only one sanity point ahead of Gigi the dog who was uncontrollably shaking and had managed to piss on the living room floor. I still don`t know how I felt at the time, on the news we heard it had been between 5.3 and 5.8 on the scale with 5.5 being the most quoted figure, but as the epicentre had been out at sea we had feared better than otherwise. I do know that I am utterly useless at disaster management! Everybody here had been through it before, knew what to do, how to act where to go, I was just a straight up liability!

I am surprised that 10 seconds managed to feel like an age and that I woke up, panicked, ran and had the prescence of mind to help with the baby before heading almost completely out of the building. Its like time slows down and some kind of instinct automatically kicks in.

I`d like to say I never want to go through that again, I`d hope that if it happened at a more convinient time of day, I would act like a sane human being or have some sort of logical thought pattern, but to be honest, I can`t be sure and I`m not willing to put my reactions to the test thank you very much! I really hope they don`t have any more tremors or quakes while I`m here....I hope its not too much to ask!

Other than this morning my first week here in Peru has been bliss, I haven`t done much, like seriously, this has been the slowest week I`ve had this whole trip, but I think it was due! I`ve eaten a lot, slept a lot, managed to watch CSI (love cable TV) and I`ve spent time walking around this superb area of San Miguel where Ì`m staying. As I said its a couple hundred metres away from the sea, the buildings and houses are gorgeous and the local marina and shopping complexes have amazing shops and casinos to boot! Beats the hell out of a lot of classy areas I`ve seen in other countries.

I`m off to visit Lima town centre this evening, have a look at their old town, maybe try out some more delicacies, I tell ya if at any time I lost weight on this trip, I`ve managed to gain it all back this week thats for sure, but thankfully I didn`t have space in my suitcase for weighing scales! ;-)

Girl Around the World