Mix Español and Português and you´ll speak: Portuñol!

NOTICE! More pictures will follow. It seems temporarily impossible to upload more pictures at the moment. So, patience please ... Voy a poner mas fotos mas tarde, en este momento parece ser imposible ponerlas ...


Hello again!
It has been quite a long brake! I am used to write a message about every month, but this time it took a bit longer. For once, I am going to try to keep this message relatively short, though I already know on beforehand that this is going to be very difficult again ... I just can´t stop myself once I am writing, I guess.
About two months ago I crossed the border that separates Argentina from Paraguay, probably South America´s least known and least visited countries. If this state is known for something, it might be for rampant corruption and maybe also for militarist regimes. Surprise might be that Paraguay used to be the most developed country in South America! But that has been a long time ago. In the sixties of the nineteenth century Paraguay lost the war against the Triple Alliance (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay) and ever since then it has run far behind its neighbours. Not very surprisingly: it is quite hard to fully realize to which extent this all out war crushed the country. One statistic should give you an idea though: in the war 90 percent of Paraguay´s male population was killed! 90 percent! Up till today, Paraguay has had to overcome many other problems (another war and a crude dictatorship). Quite heavy stuff! It is considered the second poorest nation in the subcontinent ... and you can actually notice well that rather extreme poverty in the countryside (e.g. many farmers still plowing the fields by means of animals) ...
All these problems in the past and the present have given the Paraguayans the image of being very hardened people. One Argentine guy told me that ´you can´t destroy a Paraguayan. They are as hard as steel.´  Difficult to say if this is true, but one does notice a spirit of ´survival despite everything´. You will realize this when you go to one of Paraguayans ´free of toll´-cities, of which Ciudad del Este is the most famous one. These cities are big commercial markets where Argentines and Brazilians come to buy clothes and especially electronics, seen the fact there is no tax to be paid. Walking around in Encarnación, another of these cities, I was constantly invited to have a look at ´our very special promotion´. And even if they didn´t have in stock what I wanted, they would go and find it in a neighbours´ shop to sell it to you for a slightly higher price. A very quick-of-the-tongue, commercial attitude.
This ´commercial´attitude also translates itself in other ways. One minute after crossing the border I already found out that Paraguay is still one of those countries where being a foreigner means you have to negotiate about everything; other wise you´ll pay too much. From the border I wanted to go to Asunción, its capital, in a small Japanese bus that was completely loaded with people and luggage. I showed the ticket charger 5000 guaranies (1 euro is about 5700 guaranies) as I knew this was the price. However, he told me I could pay when we arrived but that it would cost 10000 guaranies, ´because of the luggage´. Me: ´Okay, dude, then let me here. I only have 5000.´ Upon that, he gestured that 5000 was okay. That time I ´won´, but I am sure that I have been overcharged a couple of times afterwards. Sometimes, you just don´t feel like bargaining when the ride is only 5 km far. It can get tiring …
Another funny experience was with the police in a small town. Because of the fact that in Belgium voting is obligatory, I had to go to ´a local authority´ to ask for a document that would state that I was in Paraguay and thus unable to vote. So, off I went, to the police! They were of course very friendly and only made me wait for about half an hour before I was called to the policeman who was charged with my case. He asked me to ´sit down, my friend´ and showed me a nicely outlined document confirming that I had presented myself over there. ´What do you think, does it look good?´ Me: ´Yeah, that´s what I needed. Thanks. And Goodbye ...´ Of course I knew what he was going to say: ´That document costs something. You have to give me something.´ So I grabbed a 5000 guarani-note out of my pockets and asked him if it was okay. He: ´No, it should be 50000.´ Me: ´Okay, then I´ll leave the document here as I don´t have 50000 with me. Sorry.´ He: ´Hmm, I suppose it´s okay then.´ Funny thing: the same police guy saw me half an hour later in the streets while waiting for the bus, and came up to me to shake hands and talk a bit. A very friendly person! Because, this has to be said: apart from the fact that they often want to take advantage of you, I found people in Paraguay actually to be very nice and friendly. And they always ask you why you are travelling in their country. ´Don´t you prefer to go to Argentina or Brazil?´ That ´why did you come to this country?´-feeling is quite recognizable in many Belgians as well: ´So, why did you decide to come to Belgium?´ With the difference that Paraguayans are very proud of theirs, especially in the light of the past World Cup where their team made it quite far …           
The truth is: I have met quite some very nice and spontaneous people in Paraguay. Of most of them I don´t even remember the name, but one of them was Shirley, a woman who lives in the capital Asunción and who teaches English. She is part of couchsurfing and I stayed in her house for about a week. Very nice! We had so many interesting conversations. She told me a lot about her country and about her life. I almost felt sad leaving her and the city of Asunción, which is not an unpleasant city and which is very strange to some height. Imagine the House of Commons besides slums. Imagine many poorly built houses a few blocks from private upscale mansions ... in the middle of the city. Imagine the mango-season: Shirley told me that the city is full of mangoes at that time and that you can just go out with a plastic bag and come back with the bag full of mangoes! Every single day! In the capital city! Imagine people collecting apples in the centre of Brussels, haha!
One of the other positive side aspects of travelling in Paraguay is that you´re almost all the time the only stranger in town, so people are quite curious to find out things about your country. They´re not very used to foreigners who are not either Brazilian or Argentine. But you´re a REAL stranger, as you don´t talk their language: guaraní. In theory, every Paraguayan is perfectly bilingual Spanish-Guaraní. The latter is indeed the most important of the native languages, but is today spoken by many people who are NOT indigenous! This is actually a unique situation in the whole South American continent. Anyway, when they don´t want you to understand what they are talking about (e.g. when they want to gossip about you), they just switch from Spanish to guaraní and it is guaranteed you won´t understand a word of it. In rural areas, it´s even quite hard to find people communicating in Spanish among themselves. I guess they feel better when they can communicate in guaraní, their language. Sure there are some very interesting socio-linguistic studies about this phenomenon. In the rest of South America the indigenous languages are often frowned upon and many Indians feel ashamed to talk their own speech. Not in Paraguay. This shows in some way how history, compared to the rest of the continent, has been really different in this small country. Probably a lot has to do with the coming of the Jesuit missions in the eighteenth century who built out some kind of pre-communist communities in which there was a more ´equal´ exchange of native American and Western culture, a more harmonic symbiosis between the two poles. Without wanting to romanticize the whole undertaking it is generally agreed upon that the way the Jesuits interacted with the local guaraní population was a much better experience than any other colonizing enterprise undertaking in the rest of the continent, which was much more oppressive. The Jesuits are partly responsible for the fact that, as I told before, Paraguay was up till the mid-nineteenth century the most educated and most developed nation in South America! Of course, when the enterprise was becoming so successful as to interfere with interests of the Spanish Crown (i.e. to extract – or: rob - prime materials the cheapest way possible) the latter lobbied in Rome to have the Jesuits expelled. And, what a surprise, they had their way!  

After having spent two weeks in that unknown country I headed back to Argentina, because I was going to meet my good Argentine friend Dario, his wife Andrea and their two lovely and well-educated children in Posadas, the capital of the province of Misiones. By the way, this most northeastern tip of Argentina is a very small province comparable to the size of my country Belgium. So, when I tell this to any Argentine they have a tendency to burst out in laughter: ´What?! How can a country be as small as Misiones?´  Belgium is actually such a badly known country! Few people seem to really know about the beers, chocolates and French fries. Being a Belgian means that you´re constantly being confused with other nationalities. Lately, here in Brazil, I have, AFTER having explained I´m a Belgian, being mistaken for a Swissman, a Dutchman (Van Basten!), a Bulgarian, a German and even someone of Nebraska! I guess I am really a citizen of the world, haha!


Anyway, to get back to the subject: Paraguay – Argentina. At the customs office in Posadas, I was warmly welcomed Argentine style by the good-looking female customs officer: ´Where the fuck is the exit stamp of Paraguay, you stupid?!´ (free translation). Argentina shares a lot of customs offices with their neighbouring countries meaning that the officers of the two countries sit side by side. This is actually a very practical thing. However, my attempt to explain her that I thought it would be likewise at that border crossing, just pissed her off even more: ´We are in Argentina, stupid, not in Paraguay!´  And with a lot of fury she put the Argentine entrance stamp in my passport. Oooh, I just love that passion! What does this mean? It just means that according to Paraguayan authorities I am still inside the country. No problem as I am not there (better than the other way around, I suppose), but it could turn into one if some given day I would decide to go back. But then, in Paraguay there is always a way to solve problems … Anyway, when I wanted to get back to the overcrowded (and I mean OVERcrowded) bus to get to the centre of Posadas the driver set off just before I´d enter the bus, resulting in me screaming a well meant ´hijo de puta´ to him! Bienvenido en Argentina! Yep, border crossings really do suck!

But then, when you get away from that damned border you´re always amazed by how nice and friendly Argentines are. So, the next day I met Dario and his family and we started driving around the province of Misiones. Beautiful green, rolling hills, small villages along the way, waterfalls … great! We stayed at a very nice camping ground (as there are so many in the country) and we spent a lovely weekend together. It´s also always very rewarding going for a walk with Marco and Favito, their two children, as they are adventurous types and show a genuine interest in a wide variety of topics … moreover, they are actually very funny! If one day I would have children I wish they would have the same kind of mentality …

What a great weekend that was! I love travelling on my own, but it is true that sometimes you feel the need to meet ´an old friend´, this friend in this case being someone I didn´t even know before embarking on this trip … Let´s say, a ´semi-old friend´ in this case.  

After Dario and his family went back to Chajarí, I decided to visit Misiones a bit more and this was very rewarding. Misiones is the homeland of ´yerba mate´, the national drink, but apart from that it still has a lot of jungle, especially in the north of the province. And of course I have to mention the world famous Iguazú waterfalls! (Iguazú is a guaraní word and means ´big waters´) I visited them on the Sixth of July, as some kind of birthday present to myself. Now I can officially conclude: the Niagara waterfalls are beautiful, but Iguazú … is just on a completely different level! 275 waterfalls, jungle all around, lots of beautiful walking … The waterfalls just get more and more impressive the more hours you spend there. It is such a huge collection of natural power that it seems someone put them there to show you the beauty of it and nothing else … The incredible sights (watch the pics), the noise of the water falling down, the smells of the jungle … a small paradise! The only drawbacks are that it is relatively expensive to visit and that there are actually a lot of tourists! The best moments are very early in the morning and late in the afternoon, when all the big tourist groups are not there yet / have already left. Then it seems just you and 275 waterfalls. I still get the chills just thinking about it. Impressive to the second degree!       

That same evening I celebrated my birthday with an Argentine and a Mexican in the hostel I was staying in and then it was time to set foot upon a country that has since long been arousing my curiousness: Brasiiiiiil, lalalalalalalalaaaaaa!

Let me ask you a question: What do you think about when hearing ´Brasil´?

- beaches? I have checked some of them: awesome! However, I still need to visit lots of them if I want to be able to say something substantial about them. Of course, is it really important to say substantial things about beaches? … Anyway, the ones I´ve visited so far have convinced me, that´s for sure!

- caipirinhas? Check! In the last month I think I have drunk more caipirinhas than in the rest of my life. Logically, I have drunk some of the best ones in my life as well. However, one of them might have been the WORST of my life ... and that in Brazil!

- criminality? Well, what can I say? It´s a bit like in the rest of South America: if you avoid some areas it should be ok. I was even surprised that Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo actually felt much less ´dangerous´ than I had expected on beforehand ... But of course: this is not Switzerland and you do see a lot of odd things in the streets, e.g. the quantity of homeless people sleeping under a cardboard in central São Paulo ... impressive!

- beautiful women? Well, let´s say that -to be honest- I am not always that convinced, but when they are beautiful, they knock you out! Moreover, Brazilian women are really proud of their bodies and don´t mind showing their round body lines. For some reason, I don´t seem to have a problem with that ... 

- transsexuals? In Rio, but also in São Paulo you see quite some of them. And in some way the cliché that you can´t recognise them from ´normal women´ bears some truth. Sometimes your eyes follow the beautiful body of a woman passing by, just to realize later on that you were admiring a transsexual. So ... I guess some of them did a good job!

- carnival? Well, it´s not the right moment of course. I did go to some samba-evenings in Rio de Janeiro though. These evenings take place the whole year round. During them people are already rehearsing for the D-Day in February. 

When you think about it, Brazilian life seems to be about partying and romance! Well, having travelled in most South American countries it is actually quite refreshing to see so many couples kissing in any kind of public space (and sometimes you can see those hands going close to erogenous zones). In Spanish speaking Latin America kissing in public of course also happens, but couples are more reserved and tend to avoid ´exaggerating´. Not so in Brazil: no problem! In big cities you also see homosexual couples walking hand in hand frequently, something you´ll notice much, much less in Spanish speaking Latin America. So, speaking in general terms, Brazilians seem to be much more relaxed when it comes to sexuality. And about the partying: in many Latin America countries partying is something you do behind closed doors, except during some special festivities. This is quite different in Brazil where you´ll see much more movement in the streets itself. Moreover, if you go to the centre of the big cities on any given day you will see a lot of people sitting in the streets with a bottle of beer in their hands. Work´s done, let´s get out and have some beers! There is a strong street culture in which people of very different backgrounds seem to participate ... making Brazilian cities very interesting to hang out in! On top of that, it´s easy to get in touch with them. I am often amazed how many people I have been talking to on any given occasion. I go for a cup of coffee and have a chat with the old man beside me. I go to a museum and a 12 year old kid starts talking to me. I go to a bar and chat with some nice ladies. There is a kind of attitude of taking things easy and not worrying too much. Everything always seems to be alright at the end. Tudo helachi! (= Tudo relax. - Everything relaxed.) Maybe Brazil should be more known for this than for its insecurity problems …

This relaxedness is expressed in many ways. To give you an example: A few days ago, Daniel, a carioca (inhabitant of Rio) I met in a national park, gave me a ride to Belo Horizonte, the city I am currently staying in. Belo Horizonte is a city of about 3 or 4 million people, so you would expect a person from another city to have at least a map to be able to orientate himself. He only had a small, basic map of the centre. No problem. When we were about to enter the central zone of the city he just opened the window to ask for the road to another driver: ´Oi brotha , como chego ao centro da cidade?´ (Hey brother, how do I reach the centre of the city?) While both pulling up after the traffic light had turned green he continued driving beside Daniel in other to explain the route. And even after that the other guy sometimes came driving just before us with his hand out of the window to show us where we had to turn left and right. Tudo helachi! Everything is gonna be allright!  

So far, I have had the pleasure to know some very different places inside of the country. Of course, there are the three biggest cities that are all located in the Southeastern part of the country. Right now, I am in Belo Horizonte, the capital city of the state ´Minas Gerais´ (General Mines). Belo Horizonte has some interesting places to visit, but is not that much of a special place to visit in itself. It is surprising though to know that the city was founded in 1897, counting about 10000 inhabitants at the time. Today, Belo Horizonte is Brazil´s fastest growing city, counting about 4 million inhabitants. It is also famous for the beer- and cachaça-drinking culture. (A carioca who lives in BH told me that the only thing there is to do in BH is actually drinking …).

São Paulo is of course a much more well-known city, if only for the size of it. It is one of the biggest cities in the whole world … and the first thing you realize is indeed that! Super size! The city just never seems to stop. In the centre there is a 150 meters high skyscraper called ´Edificio Italia´. You can take the elevator to the roof terrace and walk around 360 degrees to admire the urban jungle. It doesn´t matter which direction you look at: you´ll see skyscrapers everywhere. To get an idea of what I am talking about, take a look at the pictures underneath. São Paulo is also well-known for its helicopters. Traffic congestion is such a big problem that the rich prefer to travel in their own private helicopters. The poorest, of course, are not even able to buy a subway ticket. São Paulo is all about these type of contrasts. You´ll see the newest and most expensive car models. On the other hand, there is a whole bunch of homeless sleeping in any covered area. It has very modern buildings and top-notch, luxurious private mansions, but even in the centre you´ll see lots of high skyscrapers ready to be demolished, with all windows smashed in and with graffiti all over the building. And of course there are the favelas, but they are quite far away from the centre, unlike in Rio de Janeiro where you can see them almost everywhere. So, being undeniably a gigantic world megapolis with a wide variety of people (e.g. the biggest Japanese community worldwide outside of Japan itself) São Paulo is also a pretty rough city … not your fancy, pretty touristic town, but an interesting jungle indeed.

São Paulo was also fun in another way. I met two crazy Belgians (it really felt as if we had known each other for years! We even knew quite some common people!) and one night we went out somewhere in the centre. However, I lost them later on and found myself out of a club at around 4 am in the morning without any cash. Shit! I couldn´t even take the subway! So, I decided to walk the avenue back to the hostel I was staying at. However, I hadn´t thought about the fact that the hostel was about 15 km from the centre, so I arrived at around 7.30 in the morning. (On the map it seemed pretty much in the ´centre´.) Of course, it´s a very unique and special way to get to know a huge megalopolis like that, haha, … but I was very glad to finally arrive and crash on my bed … The next morning I asked myself why I hadn´t begged some small money from somebody … 1 cm on the city map can be 15 km in reality.

Oh yes, before I forget, there is Rio de Janeiro of course! Known the world allover, this cidade maravilhosa will not let you untouched. It´s one of the most unique cities I have visited in my life. Don´t forget it´s a city of almost 10 million inhabitants. However, it feels smaller in some way. This has certainly to do with the fact that it curves itself around a whole range of steep, green hills on one side (think of the world famous Jesus statue). This way, nature is always nearby, often within sight. On the other side, there is the ocean with its numerous beautiful white city-beaches, of which Ipanema and Copacabana are without any doubt the most famous ones. But Rio is of course very known as well for carnival and parties in general. The Lapa district is the most famous one in this sense. Especially on Friday night people gather in its streets to drink some beers or caipirinhas. You can go and party in one of its many clubs, or you can just spend the whole night in the street, enjoying the often spontaneous concerts of samba music and marvel at the garota´s dancing sexy … Rio is a city that can get you hooked for a loooong time …

So far, I have also known Ilha Grande, a paradise island in Rio state and the beautiful colonial and old gold mining towns Ouro Preto (´Black Gold´) and Mariana in Minas Gerais, as well as the Serra do Cipó national park with its many cachoeiras (waterfalls) … but this is enough for now. I refer to the pictures below.

Brazil still has so many things to offer – that is the feeling I get. It´s a spectacular country with a diverse population and many natural wonders … It´s also amazingly huge and wide. I am sure I can tell you some more about it in my next message. Hopefully, by then, I will speak some more Portuguese, in stead of Portuñol ...

So long, so far! Hope you´re all okay and enjoying the good weather, wherever you may be, with or without a ciapirinha. Um abraço forte!


174.JPGA day away from Asunción with Shirley. We spent a beautiful day in Areguá, close to the Ypacarai lake.













This is the coffin of the Paraguayan soldier. It is open to public and guarded by two serious guards. ´Don´t laugh with our country! This is serious business!´















183.JPGThe building in Asunción in which you´ll find the coffin of the other picture here above. Also very typical: fancy buildings with in front of it poor ladies selling whatever they can put their hands on.
















On the left you can see one of the statues of a fancy, green city park. Just right beside it: slums.


















With Shirley (not in the picture of course) and a Roumanian guy I went to Yaguarón, a bit outside of Asunción. I am drinking terere (an icecold mate drink). In Yaguarón there are some nice rocks to be climbed. Splendid views!








202.JPGOne of the splendid views in Yaguarón.













A caterpillar in 264.JPGYbycui national park in Paraguay.

















271.JPGYbycui National Park.













282.JPGYbycui National Park. I was kind of amazed to get a grasp of this fight between the ant an the butterfly (looks more than a wasp though). It took many, many minutes and at some point I thought the butterfly was dead. But nothing appears as it is and a bit later the butterfly escaped. However, not for long I guess because it couldn´t fly anymore. Crude nature!






285.JPGThe climate is quite humid in Paraguay. So you can see all kinds of mushrooms. But be careful with the ones you try out ...
















309.JPGYbycui national park. What a beautiful transparent butterfly!

















Another butterfly, camouflage style. The red ´eyes´are supposed to resemble the eyes of an owl to protect themselves from predators.









322.JPGAnother view of the Ybycui National Park.














Typical view of the Paraguayan countryside.











351.JPGIn Paraguayan towns you´ll see 4x4 jeeps beside carts pulled by horses. A meeting of two different eras.












 Let´s say a quite romanticised wall painting of the Jesuit Missions in one of the Paraguayan towns.












The ruins of the most touristic Jesuit Mission in Paraguay, that of Trinidad. Funny detail: in many countries an Unesco World Heritage site like this would have generated a whole tourist infrastructure. Not in Paraguay: I camped just beside of it!









Another view of the site in Trinidad. Some five minutes after this picture was taken it started raining cats and dogs! 

















Another Jesuit ruin in the village of Jesus, nearby trinidad. This is also a Unesco World Heritage site. The Jesuit missions on Paraguayan soil have, contrary to te ones on Argentine soil, been very well preserved. The latter ones have actually been destroyed by the Paraguayans a long time ago ...








Run! the ants are attacking!














Back in Argentina! Driving around in oh so beautiful Misiones wih Dario, Andrea, Favito and Marco.












Favito and Marco, two adventurous guys trying to cross a mountain river.

















Misiones, Argentina. The river you see is the Uruguay (yes, it goes all the way south bordering Argentina and Uruguay). On the other side of the river you can see Brazil.  











Misiones. Damn, I don´t remember the name of his waterfall. Anyway, a very lovely place to visit, but this will change completely. They are going to construct a cable car that will pass just in front of the waterfall. And then of course they can ask a higher entry price. And ... the whole attraction of it will be gone forever! Poor Misiones.















At the entrance of one of the Jesuit Missions sites in Misiones, Argentina. This is a goodbye picture. When will I see them again?











This seems as if one tree is paratisizing, but in this case it´s not like that. At least, that´s what I was told.
















The ruins of the Jesuit Mission in san Ignacio, Argentina. Most of the sculpture work was actually done by local indigenous people.












Of course: the World Cup! Kids having a ball after Argentina defeated Greece.













With a French guy in a natural reserve in Misiones. The river you see is the Paraná and on the other side you see Paraguay.  












Koop geen kat in een kap, of geen kap in een zak, of een stuk uit uwe kap, of teveel binnengekapt? Die rode neus verraad natuurlijk wel wat ...











One of the most typical views in Misiones: a truck transporting mate leaves.













Misiones. The guy next to me repared my backpack. When I went back to get the backpack, we started drinking! Many ´last beers´, haha!












With Juan Pablo and his German girlfriend Bianca at the Paranariver in Misiones. What a sunset!












Or do you prefer this picture?













Together with Juan Pablo and Bianca and two other Argentines. Guess what we are doing. Having a barbecue of course!












Wanda, Misiones. In the seventies of the past century a woman washing clothes felt something hard in the river sand. A whole series of precious stones were discovered. Now you can visit the mines.  










Wanda, Misiones. Precious stones.














Puerto Andresito, Misiones, Argentina. Empanada´s (meat and vegetables in a pastry), salad, cassava. Typical Misiones food.  

















I was staying in the house of this very nice family in Puerto Andresito in Misiones. With the father I went driving around for a whole day to get to know the region.











In one of the national parks in Misiones. Dirty backpacks seem to attract a lot of butterflies!












The emblem of Comandante Andresito with a tractor in it! Actually, the village was founded in 1979 as a post to stop Brazilian immigration. In this very northeastern corner of Argentina, some people speak better Portuguese than Spanish.









There they are: the Iguazú waterfalls! This part is called ´la Garganta del diablo´ (the devil´s throat).























































































The Fifa Fan fest on Copacabana beach in Rio. The final is playing. You see the man in the centre of the picture yawning?












Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, parel aan de kust. Ik wou dat ik ook zo´n Rio de Janeiro had ...












Rio. The Real Gabinete Portuguez de Leitura, I like his building. Inside it´s even much more beautiful with loads of old books and everything in wood. As if you´re walking around in the 18th century.









Lapa, Rio. This staircase is full of tiles from all around the world. I even spotted two Belgian ones: one from Kontich and another one from Beveren. Okay, I admit, Rio is much more spectacular than those two towns, that´s for sure! But then, which town wouldn´t like to be immortalised in Rio!















Rio, the Maracanã football stadium. Not the biggest in the world but the stadium that once recorded the greatest number of attendees ever recorded. The flag is from Botafogo, one of Rio´s teams (that lost that night against Flamengo, another team from Rio). Right now, Maracanã is under constrcution - getting ready for the World Cup in 2014!







Rio, at the waterside.














Rio is also hills with favelas on them.













In Santa Teresa. This neighbourhood is famous for its ´bonde´, the tram that crosses it, an adventure in itself! This wallpainting had to help the Brazilians to bring the World Cup back home ... In front of it, people are waiting for the real tram.








Imagem 292.jpg

Abraão, Ilha Grande (Big Island), state of Rio de janeiro, a paradise with lots of white beaches and walking paths through the jungle.












Near the ´Pico do Papagayo´, the highest peak of the island (1000m).













Ilha Grande. From the peak you can see Abraão lying down there.













Ilha Grande.














Having a ´festa´ in one of the discos in Abraão on Ilha Grande. All the others are party people from Rio de janeiro I met on the camping, except the guy on the left who is Cédric from Belgium (you could have deducted that from the beer in his hand, haha).









After the festa and before going to sleep: caipirinha-time!













One of the beautiful beaches on Ilha Grande.













Same beach, same paradize.














Walking back to Abraão from the beach above I had this encounter with this very poisonous snake! Watch out!












And just 100 metres further these monkeys were playing around ...

















Ilha Grande.














São Paulo, estação da Luz. Nice building, the area around is quite grubby though.













São Paulo = a lot of graffiti everywhere ...













The centre of São Paulo. Seems a bit like New York in some way ...

















Tohim and Baahtchi, the two crazy Belgians playing pool ...

















On top of ´Edificio Italia´: São Paulo is huuuuuuuuge!













São Paulo.


















A fruit market in downtown São Paulo.













São Paulo does have quite some charming places such as the Mercado Municipal in this picture.

















But then next to it you find these kind of deserted skyscrapers.

















This one needs no explanation ...
































Once more on Ipanema beach with two Peruvian guys I met in Lapa.













Rio has a botanical garden that kicks ass! Orchids ...













The botanical garden in Rio.



















After having tried to look for a toucan in various national parks in Argentina and on Ilha Grande, I actually saw the first one in my life in the botanical garden of Rio ...  















Sambagathering in the Gamboa district of Rio.













With Juan Pablo, a Colombian friend (next to me), his girlfriend Daniele and some Brazilian guys.












Rio. With Cédric from Belgium in Confeitaria Colombo, one of Rio´s fancy places.














Niteroi, on the other side of the bay. The side of a museum designed by Oscar Niemeyer (the architect who also designed Brasilia, the capital city).











































































































































































































































































































































































That cone is actually the cathedral of Rio. What an original building for a church, right?

























































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