An unexpected turn of events
When I was booking my hostel last month, I booked two different hostels to spread out my trip a little bit. The two hostels were in completely different parts of town, and I had no idea (at the time) which I would prefer. Today, I moved from one hostel to the next hostel. It seems pretty simple, but this would not be a day that goes as planned.
It all started with a late night dancing fojo and a late morning. I wanted to spend some time at the beach because I knew I would be moving away from the ocean and into the forest.
The beach was warm today, but extremely windy. I guess the red flags at the edge of the shore mean that you are not supposed to get into the water – the conditions are too dangerous. There were such flags today. :( So, I didn’t stay long.
After leaving the beach, I set out from my Ipanema hostel (that had begun to feel like home) and set out for the new one in the Tijuca Forest.
I needed a taxi.
Taxi drivers don’t always understand English and my portuguese is terrible. I needed some help getting a taxi. As luck would have it, help was available.
A friend of mine (who is from Brazil and speaks Portuguese) flagged down a taxi and he offered to direct them to the address for me. A taxi stopped, loaded all of my things while asking my friend about the address, but what should have been a 1 minute conversation turned into a 5 minute conversation. The taxi driver didn’t know the address. He removed my bag from the trunk and shut the door. He would not be taking me to the Tijuca Forest.
The next taxi stopped. They didn’t know the address either. Even with a GPS, my friend was talking to this taxi driver for about 10 minutes before he finally agreed to take me where I needed to go.
I felt like I was going into the wilderness… and I was right.
I arrived at my new hostel the same time it started to storm outside. The owner is a very nice man named Paulo. As he was showing me around, I began to realize I might be the only traveler staying in the hostel that night. My last hostel was almost completely full each night. This one was 15x more beautiful, but completely empty. A 60 minute cab ride and I’m transported to a place that’s empty and feels like it’s the winter off-season. What a difference!
I am secluded here, alone.
But, not really alone, because Paulo is here. And there is one other traveler – a 30 y/o Brazilian male. He just hasn’t arrived back to the hostel yet. Paulo tells me he exists, though.
Paulo is incredibly nice and welcoming. Fifteen minutes after arriving he was telling me to wait and he would take me on a tour of the forest. We hopped into his private vehicle and drove with the windows open so that I could see all of the sights. Windows open with rainy weather is not always the most logical combination. The inside of Paulo’s car was getting more and more wet, but he seemed not to notice/care and I was wearing my rain jacket, so I was also unconcerned.
For about an hour we toured around in his car. I had asked about places to eat around the park and hostel, so Paulo took me to an old historical looking building where we stopped and looked at the menu. The restaurant was incredibly nice – but empty. Paulo tells me it’s a famous landmark in the park and it’s owned by one of Paulo’s closest friends.
As we drove, Paulo pointed out numerous different properties that belonged to him. He has big plans for this area. Unfortunately, the hostel is his first project and the others are uncompleted thus far. I found his ambition very interesting. Paulo is a 65 year old chain smoker with a hitch in his get up, so I wonder how much time and energy he has to get all of these ambitious projects finished. I said nothing though. Regardless, he owns some very beautiful looking dilapidated properties and he has great plans for developing this area.
Paulo mentioned that he grew up around here. The area around the forest contains some very expensive looking houses, so I think Paulo may be rich. Regardless of his financial security, because he grew up around this park Paulo has lots of good advice.
- Paulo: “Sarah, when you’re in the forest tomorrow hiking – be careful not to step on any dry leaves or dilapidating logs. These are good places for tarantulas and scorpians to hide and they will bite you.”
- Sarah: (Sarah looks around and sees dilapidated logs and leaves everywhere) “Um… okay. Thanks, Paulo” (I try to say this as nonchalant as possible – as I imagine getting bit by a huge looking tarantula/scorpion over and over again on my walk through the-dilapidated-logs-and-dry-leaves-forest).
What would I do without that guy? :)
Anyways, I probably need a night to just rest and do nothing. So, I’m glad to be staying here for a few days. Tomorrow I will hike the forest. But for now, I am just chilling in a hostel big enough to be my own private mansion.
One more thing, Paulo assures me there will be monkeys with my breakfast tomorrow. Not as part of the meal, but as guests. Cannot wait! I hope to have some sweet pictures of monkeys on tomorrow’s blog!