A little slice of heaven.

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Heavy rain showers on Wednesday and Thursday provided a good mix up to my daily routine, a welcome change as I always enjoy a different environment and a challenge. The rain flooded our football pitch in the Favela, meaning that the children needed indoor entertainment in the community centre classroom. I could no longer rely on my gift of exceptional football skills, or more likely my height, weight and age advantage in entertaining the children, and would have to incorporate a much wider vocabulary than yelling gol, passe and chuta in order to successfully communicate with the next generation of Ronaldinhos and Neymar Jrs. Facing a classroom of cheeky 10 year olds armed with nothing more than a whiteboard and a marker pen isn’t up there in my top five all time favourite situations, but their enthusiasm to learn and their ability to ease my nerves with giggles and smiles resulted in the time passing quickly and left me wanting to spend more time with them to help teach English. After spending a few hours teaching various groups of kids the English for exotic fruits and types of clothing, I’m pretty sure they’re experts. The challenge also improved my Portuguese – I am now fearless should I be faced with the challenge of ordering a pineapple and orange smoothie or a pair of trousers in a Brazilian shopping center.
Perhaps heading out for drinks on Thursday night wasn’t the best of ideas considering we had to be awake at 6:30 On friday morning to travel to the bus station to catch our coach to Buzios for the weekend, and attempting to pack after having too much to drink the night before only made matters more entertaining. The three hour journey was probably the most enjoyable bus ride I’ve ever had, driving uninterrupted through the most picturesque landscape you could imagine, with forest and the continuous rolling hills and mountains providing the most magnificent roadside entertainment. We were to be spending the next two nights in a hostel, and it looked pretty good, too. It’s just a shame it was managed by a group of very moody and disorganised Argentines that had overbooked the hostel for the weekend, resulting in a lot of unnecessary moving around. Once we had organised all eighteen beds to accommodate our group, we left the hostel in search for food and to explore the town centre. Restaurants and upmarket but touristy shops lined both sides of the main streets whilst botequims (bars) occupied the available spaces between them. The coastline was amazing, and just as in Rio it became clear that the ocean and sand provided a valuable income to many of the locals of Buzios. Boat taxis were prevalent, as were the cart vendors selling anything from coconut water to barbecued chicken.
Friday evening, similarly to every other project-free evening, was spent in the bars. The botequims are generally fantastic in Buzios and in most areas of Rio, service is good, the beer ice cold and relatively cheap, whilst the atmosphere is almost always calm and enjoyable. In the smaller bars, it is often the case that drinks are accompanied by an impromptu and spectacular performance by a three or four piece samba band, always a welcomed sight and sound! All this information instantly becomes useless and irrelevant as soon as football makes it’s way onto the television however, with the local music being replaced by shouting and intemperate body gestures aimed toward dissatisfactory shots, passes, and appalling decisions made by the referee. In either scenario patrons often spill onto the streets, giving great indication toward the most popular venues to drink and socialise in town. Anyway, several beers later we were hit by the biggest rainstorm I’ve been caught in since I arrived in Brazil, the streets appeared to flood almost immediately and our plan to venture a few hundred meters from the outdoor bar we were at to the nearest club grew less appealing as our feet began to disappear under the rai water. Okay, it wasn’t quite that bad but it was very wet, and luckily for us a restaurant took us in and we could enjoy a few more drinks without getting any wetter.
Saturday was a good day. On Friday afternoon we had booked tickets for all of us to go on a boat ‘tour’ around a the coast and small islands around Buzios, it was definitely the best £15 I’ve spent since the warmest trench coat I have ever purchased from asos last winter. Setting off at 12, it was a two and a half hour trip in the most amazing weather, and though we took a few beers with us the boat crew provided us with a steady stream of freshly mixed caipirinhas every time we anchored to allow all the passengers off the boat to swim. Caipirinhas seem to be a staple in the Cariocan diet, and after consuming my fair share I can best describe them as a stronger and even sweeter mojito, though I’m still not quite certain of its ingredients. Whatever was in them, they certainly made jumping from the boat into the water a lot more fun. Music, alcohol, the ocean and sun? An afternoon well spent!
Saturday night was much drier than Friday, and after refuelling after the boat trip with fajitas at a Mexican restaurant we headed out to a crêperie/sports bar (?!) to start the night. UFC is hugely popular in Brazil, and as I enjoy watching one man spin kicking another man in the face as much as the next guy, watching 5 fights in a row whilst sat at a bar with a beer and a chocolate crêpe is my idea of a great Saturday night. The atmosphere in the open top bar only made the experience much better, with the noise in the bar during the heavyweight championship bout easily rivalling the noise heard in any packed out botequim in Rio during a local football derby. After the fights had finished at about 1am, we headed to one of the local clubs. It really was a local club, a fact that became immediately obvious by what I can only assume were the stereotypically large derrières of the many Brazilian women that appeared to act as an obstacle course on my way to the bar. Though I was feeling confident after a few caipirinhas and a few more Brahmas and thought I was dancing brilliantly at the time, in hindsight I am doubtful that I came close to rivalling the feet and hip movements of the other club goers. But, I had a brilliant time and I loved the music, I only wish I could have stayed there for another night.
So, the weekend in Buzios was a holiday away from what many would call a holiday in Rio. Though, as I hope these blog entries have established, my time in Brazil has so far rewarded me with far more experiences and challenges than I could ever have seen or done on any holiday that I have been on, and I’m sure there will be many more surprises to come.

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