Day 215. I planned on going up the big Jesus hill today or whatever they call it but the clouds were hanging low over the mountain top and the figure was hidden in the clouds for most of the day. So instead I headed out on a bus to the famous beaches of Rio, Botafago, Copacabana and Ipanima. I don’t know what the size of the engine was in the bus but the driver would have kept up with any Formula One car in a grand prix, I was being bashed around like a fly trying to get out of a glass box. Rio is quite a dull place to be on your own as there doesn’t seem much to do and see, more of a romantic kind of place, but on occasion there can be some truly horrific sights. As I was sat relaxing on Ipanima beach a very wrinkly old dark orange tanned lady wearing a white gown walked into my view and then for no reason whatsoever stood facing me, stretched upwards, and then let the wind blow open her gown. This revealed a tiny gold coloured string bikini and a truly horrific wrinkly body, the best way to describe it is that she looked like an over cooked greasy old foil wrapped turkey which someone has tried to open but thought better off it. While she turned her back I thought I’d leg it and made my way to Copacabana beach instead. I do hope she wasn’t the girl from Ipanima, she’s let herself go if she is.
As I dosed on the white sands of Copacabana in my sun bleached shorts, tattered sandals with dishevelled hair I was woken by two beautiful girls who asked……. “Should we call the police?” They thought I’d been mugged. I think the months of travelling must have made me look worse for wear and it probably is time to go home. I headed to an internet cafe and sent my last e-mail to all of my friends. It started, “I’ve been around the world and Iye, Iye, Iye can’t find my baby either, I think I’ll start a self help group with Lisa Stansfield.”
Day 216. It’s been a beautiful day today and the only day it’s been sunny since I’ve been here, well it would be as I was about to leave. I had one last look around town before heading off to the airport. The guy at the hotel got me a taxi which was really cheap and really showed how much the taxi drivers were ripping tourists off in this city. As usual there was just one more piece of hassle. I was told that I needed to pay a very expensive airport tax, so I went to the bank in the airport and queued for over forty five minutes only to be told that the $10us I needed to change to add to the money I already had was too small to change! So I ended up getting more out of a cash machine however, at check-in I was told that I didn’t need to pay at all as tax was included in my ticket Arrrggggg. I had to go back to the bank and queue all over again to get the cash changed back again! I figure that this will be one thing I will not miss about South America, the speed of service. Never put off today what you can put off tomorrow. I managed to find the CD I’ve been hearing all around South America and particularly reminds me of my time in Peru, it’s Manu Chao, Proxima Estacion Esperanza, good album. Sat in departures I couldn’t help thinking how small the world really is, I’ve just been around it, it does feel quite bizarre. After boarding the plane I found my last bed for the night on this trip. It’s the ninety eighth place I’ll have slept in over a mere two hundred and seventeen days, now that’s what I call travelling!