Sitting inside our hostel suite, overlooking the sprawling city of Rio de Janeiro, we are taking the day off from sightseeing. Yesterday we explored the Tijuaca Rainforest, where Christ the Redeemer statue looks out over the entire city of Rio. The views are literally breathtaking: a 360 panaroma of the entire city, harbors, forests, favellas, mountains, and islands. This rainforest was replanted in the 1800''s and now hosts and incredible array of orchids, birds, anteaters, sloths, and monkeys. Walking through this jungle is not recommened... so we had to do it. There are steep paths that cut thru this lush bush that open up onto views of the Christ statue that can only be seen off the beaten path. We didn't see much in the way of wildlife, as most of it comes alive during the night. Our only heart pounding encounter was with a wild monkey, who did not appreciate being video taped. We respectfully, and quickly backed up the trail, at the sight of his powerful muscles.
The trek off the mountain took about 3 hours, and dumped us out in the middle of a bustling city street in the middle of rush hour. Here the primates were just as wild, if not more so, then our forest dwelling brother. Travis communicated with the natives using sign language, and repeatingly saying "LAPA, LAPA", which was the name of the bus stop we hoped to find. Everything turned out fine, as we finally elbowed our way off the jammed packed bus, and onto the jammed packed street and side walk, where we were able to plot our course towards the youth hostel in Santa Tereza. Still unsure of our current position, we spotted our landmark; a white cat perched serenely near his dog house (?), just as we saw him earlier in the morning.
The final leg of the trip was a steep climb up the winding streets of Santa Tereza, where we pitched our tent under a mango tree in the backyard of the overcrowded youth hostel. This arrangement saved us a day of searching for accomadations, as everything was full due to the holiday weekend here in Brasil, and pleased Paul, the hostel owner who wanted to experiment with tent camping. He gave us the night for free, including breakfast, and called us his prototype.This was only for one night, after which we were to move into the "honeymoon suite". Being grateful for this arrangement, we drank a bottle of wine, made instant bean soup, and laughed about one hell of a day in Rio.