Saturday, July 9, 2016

Rio das Ostras, almost Paradise, but more like Hell

Winter in Rio. So Cold.

I'm in a real house. The bathroom has a real door and no one is sleeping in my room with me. There are no horn18-year-olds trying to hump me, no entitled black belts trying to leverage their way into my pants, and no motley crews of BJJ boys milling about in the common rooms.

I have my own room with a bed... no, better yet with two beds, and door and my friend from Maryland is tucked neatly away in her own room with her own bathroom.

Yesterday (Thursday) was stressful, so the luxury of waking up and not having to tip toe around my small favela apartment trying not to wake anyone up is a much welcome change.

Me being the dumbass that I am, I forgot my bag on the bus while heading two hours north to Rio das Ostras where my former MMA team PRVT randomly decided to set up a new affiliate. I came to claim a bag of my clothes and training gear that they took from Curitiba so the lost bag didn't really have much in it.

1 pair of Machinaboxing gloves, 1 pair of handwraps, 2 sports bras, 2 yoga shorts, 1 pair of normal yoga pants, 1 bathing suit. Ok, it wasn't much but it is a half of my favorite clothes that I wear on a daily basis. 

A slight break from my normal fight camp diet.

I managed to recover my bag with the help of an old lady and an Indian. The old lady was our Airbnb host who was kind enough to drive me back to the bus station and help me locate my bag... and the Indian was a member of PRVT who worked his magic to have them bring my bag back to me when they were insisting that I take several buses to another town to go find it.

This is a perfect example of what I call the Cria Effect.  Cria being a term for someone born and raised in the hood... Well in this case just a native of the country. Someone who is adept in navigated the sea of bullshit that is thrown at you when trying to accomplish the simplest of tasks here in Brazil.

The old lady took me arounds sight seeing. 
This is some lagoon. 

The people at the bus station told me very matter of factly that I could not get my bag back without taking a bus to another town and then another bus to a garage to sign for it. If you live in brazil you will understand that that also include 3-4 people along the way that will adamantly tell you that NO THEY DO NOT HAVE YOUR BAG, YOU'RE WRONG AND SHOULD GO BACK. You have to shut these people down and continue to insist if you ever want to see your stuff or get whatever your trying to do done... this is very hard if Portuguese isn't your first language and why you should find a Cria to help you out.

So again, the people told me I needed to go sign for the bag. They told the Indian I need to go sign for the bag, and then they tried to tell the old lady... but she wasn't having any of that. She sent the Indian right back all like "she TRAINS WITH YOU" (actually had no idea who he was I got a text message from someone from the team, went and asked for the indian and there was my in).

I was able to pick up my bag from the Indian the next day around lunch time (someone apparently snuck it out of the garage and on the bus to deliver). That's basically how everything works in Brazil, they call it a "jeitinho" or a little way. Its akin to a little kid having a tantrum in the store. They're told they can't buy candy so they throw themselves on the floor and kick and scream until they have their way. 11-8 this works in Brazil (can you have 11 out of 8 of something.... probably not, but this is Brazil).

Tips for Traveling in Brazil

1. AirBnB is a lot more popular that hotels and hostels. You can find a lot of really nice and affordable places close to the beach (Ipanema is a lot better than Copacabana). 

2. Clicbus and Decolar are great sites for finding bus or plane tickets. It is every hard to buy things online with a foreign credit card or without a CPF which is similiar to a social security number that foreigners can and should register if they are planning on staying for some time in Brazil. 

3. Have a big lunch. Brazilians always eat rice, beans, spaggetti, or frenchfries with meat for lunch but finding dinner can be hard... unless you want to pay for a really expensive gourmet restauarant that isn't really gourmet they just have the prices. Food by the weight is really popular but since I have no notion of weight/price I prefer all you can eat places. Expresso Grill in Copacabana is one of my favorite and its only R20.

4. Find a friend, forget a phone. When things go wrong making a phone call will generally make it worse. You need a new bus ticket... well your most likely going to have to take your ass to the bus station then. Can't figure out how to change your plan ticket... then be prepared to take an hour long bus ride to the airport to go to the company. Custumer service in this country isn't just a joke, its nonexisent... and making phone calls in this country takes at least 20 minutes to dail out. 

5. Use whatsapp. It is ridiculously hard to make phone calls in this country. You need to know things like. What state your calling from, what state you're calling to, what cell operator YOU have, what cell company THEY have, and the number for your company, the number for the state, the ORDER THAT THESE NUMBERS Go. So get Whatapp and an internet plan so that you can text message and make phone calls via wifi.

Exiting Rio Das Ostras! Not a second too soon!