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Sunday, 8 January 2012

Now, when was anything 100% safe?

 (os bueiros vão nos engolir)

When we arrived in Rio almost a year ago, we were given a ton and a half of great advice. So much life saving bits and pieces, we, being only human, could only remember some of it.

Anyhow, this time last year parts of Rio state had been subject to flooding that devastated towns and cost many people their lives. When we arrived in Brazil, the race to provide relief to these communities was on, and collection points around our new home from home were filled with spare clothes and toiletries, as well as tinned food for the hundreds that had become charity cases overnight.

Back in the city, the flash floods, although not an issue threatening entire villages, were taking people by surprise. And in the worst cases, the floodwater would lift the manhole covers and leave hidden holes underneath the surface of the water.

These holes occasionally swallowed poor unfortunate individuals who were either trying out their Gene Kelly moves, or simply wading through the water to cross the road.

Wind forward a few months and the frightening number of dodgy manhole covers pushed the powers that be to inspect them all (approximately a gazillion of them) and give them a percentage rating as to how unsafe they were. In august, wooden boards started appearing around loads of former manhole covers, pending repairs leading to their being decreed a suitably small percentage unsafe.

And that was it. Until last week, when an underground gas explosion in Centro caused 3 manhole covers to blow off. One wrote off a parked car and another injured a woman. The ensuing investigation has once again resulted in wooden hoardings being erected around loads of manhole covers in Copacabana, Centro, Tijuca and Botafogo, I assume to assess their potential for withstanding underground gas explosions.

Watch this space, and in the meantime, I wouldn't worry too much about walking on the cracks in the pavement, but I would definitely stay well away from the bloody manholes.

Oh, here's a decidedly more accurate warning than my anecdotal rambling: Prefeitura do Rio de Janeiro identifica mais um bueiro com alto risco de explosão.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Tell the teacher I'm Surfing......

Arpoador - the rock between Ipanema and Copacabana
With our guests safely on the next leg of their journey (although the journey to Ouro Preto was slightly less than safe in the torrential overnight downpour) - and the little fella safely incarcerated in the Creche with his inmates, and his Mum hard at work behind her desk - I was left to my own devices for a couple of days this week... So what did I get up to?

I did it all, in no particular order, but most of all I nipped into a couple of the surf shops in Arpoador, and eventually walked out the proud owner of my first board. (worth noting that if you part with all the cash you have on you and pay for the rest by card in the cafe next door, you get a decent discount.)

I strolled back to the flat along the length of Copacabana beach wondering how I could go from fully equipped to actually being able to take to the waves without killing myself.

A few youtube clips later and I decided that professional help was the best way forward. I called the guy in Arpoador and arranged my lesson for the next morning. Very sensible Andy, very sensible.

At the bottom of our street is a bright orange bicycle station - so I tucked the board under my arm and headed off along the seafront to the Arpoador (the big rock between Copacabana and Ipanema).

My teacher for the hour was Jean, and he sorted it all out. The beach was rammed and as I lay on the sand trying to jump to my feet nobody seemed to be pointing and laughing. Infact when we took to the water about 10 minutes later nobody seemed to be pointing and laughing then either. Either I was looking double cool and nobody even noticed that this day one, or, quite simply, nobody messes with Jean. (Its worth pointing out here that some of the local kids at Arpoador can get a bit territorial - especially if a hundred or so beginner gringos are getting in the way every bloody wave - best get a teacher who understands the law of the land....)

Anyway, I stood up and Jean whooped in the distance (probably because I no longer qualified for the free lesson he promises if he dosen't get you on your feet) - seriously folks - this guy is worth meeting. At R$70 an hour, it beats drowning too.

Try not to get run over, drowned, or the one that mows down a small child with a bucket and spade....

And here's (a slightly dated) video show Jean Carlos (the guy who I had a lesson with) - and his ongoing project that helps to get the local kids surfing. Its easy to see why he has so much respect.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Sanduíche de pernil com abacaxi

Now, at this time of resolutions, it really is hard sometimes to decide what to give up or take up. I decided this lunchtime to become an expert in this Don of sandwiches. Our guests of the moment were seriously impressed - and to be honest, who wouldn't be.

So, next time you roast an elephantine leg of pork - stick an obnoxiously over the top wedge of it between  two bits of bread. Add onion and chilli sauce and top with a slice of pineapple (yep, you heard right).

You'll never look back.

Happy new year.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Reveillon em Copacabana

We had mates over, and a babysitter. Result. Being Copa residents on our first New Year's Eve in Rio was in the bag.

Only thing was, I had absolutely no idea what 2 million pissed people in the rain looked like. I do now, and at times the crush was slightly worrying.

Over all though, a great time was had and as the fireworks began I have to say that it was pretty moving to be part of the gargantuan hedonistic knees up. - As we kissed and hugged each other (just because we'd managed to walk down to the beach without losing each other, I almost forgave the bloke that held my arm aloft in the crowd and rifled my pockets. Nice guy.

Anyhow - happy new year to everyone - may it bring you every happiness.

Next year I'm doing something much much more chilled out.

If you look closely, you can pick us out...

Try one of these....

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