First Night in Rio

Well I made it!

I am in Rio de Janeiro! I just woke up this morning after a LONG flight but I am here. It does feel slightly surreal. All the travel guides said that almost no one speaks English and they werent exaggerating. After landing at the airport, on the way through to the formalities, I dont know if subconsciously I was expecting the passport control officer to greet me with a crisp "and how do you do today, sir?" but I didn´t expect her to know absolutely no English at all.

I stepped up to her desk, handed her my passport and filled-in landing card with a hello, and I think she replied back with a hello. She asked a question in Portuguese (have no idea what it could have been) but I smiled and nodded vaguely, then she stamped my passport and handed it back, saying something that I could only presume to be 'goodbye'! At this point I realised I would seriously have to start brushing up on my Portuguse and Spanish language skills.

They say that South Americacan create chaos out of the most ordinary things and I had a preview of that on the flight into Rio. Before we began our descent, the BA cabin crew started handing out landing cards (for non-Brazilian nationals) and customs forms. The problem is that all of it was in Portuguese! So while I could decipher some of the questions ('nom' was likely asking for my name) some of the other questions left me, and everyone else mystified. Even upon landing, instead of well-placed airport signs directing people where to go, airport personnel stood in strategic locations frantically waving people to where they were supposed to go. I tried asking one of them what some of the questions on the forms meant, but all that got was a "no English" followed by a shrug. So I just guessed what the questions meant and hoped for the best.

The journey from the airport to where I am staying took about half an hour. I landed at about 9pm and was out of the airport by around half past nine, so the trip was in night time. It felt surreal to walk out of the airport, into the slightly humid air, and step into a taxi with all my worldly belongings (well at least the ones I brought with me to Rio) stuffed in an 8kg backpack strapped behind me. The whole trip to where I am staying in Ipanema I kept thinking 'wow, I am actually in South America!!' and I practically jumped up and down in the taxi with excitement.

I have already met a few people in this backpacker hotel, but for the first night, I unpacked, figured out my bearing a little, then settled down to sleep.

It is the morning of my very first day in South America, and after this, I will shower, take out my day bag and explore my immediate surroundings. I am staying in an area called Ipanema, which is in Zona Sul, which is where all the action is. By Brazilian standards, it is one of the most upscale neighbourhoods in Rio de Janeiro. Last night after unpacking, I went round the corner to buy some food as I was starving. I spotted a few mysterious-looking items on the menu, but after intense deliberation, I decided to go for the traditional, safe option of a hamburger with orange juice. I didn't particularly feel like ordering something random, wolfing it down, only to discover I had just washed down a meal consisting of minced python with honey-glazed worms on the side.

Next update probably tomorrow or potentially the day after. I will ofcourse take many pictures and try to upload them with these posts

I'm in Rio!
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