faces anew

I get off the bus at Centro or Downtown Rio as its called in my guide book, and look for a sign saying Southside. Southside, backpackers heaven, cheap and cheerful accommodation, plenty of bars, café’s and shops selling tacky tourist stuff. I glance at the impressive white houses, or as they are known by the locals. Built by the Portuguese when they invade, both impressive and imposing. The streets are packed full of the Cariocas and the camaraderie that goes with there name. Hanging around the street corners, talking in the middle of the road, people watching, shouting out and calling to each other. The bustle like no where else I have seen before.

A breed unto themselves, they are. Rio voted the friendliest city in the world.

I get a wave from a guy, sat outside a street café. ‘olá esplêndida menina’ he shouts. Hello gorgeous girl.

I smile, hiding my eyes beneath my aviators, pulling my rucksack higher onto my shoulders and walking on past. Walking amongst the crowds, pushing past couples, girls with girls walking through town, ready for a day at the beach, parading around in their bikini tops with cut off shorts showing more than their cheeks. I laugh to myself. This is going to be so much fun, I think heading down off the main drag into what looks like a busy market street.

‘Rua Republica do Peru’. Here it is, Brazils version of Khao San road in Bangkok, only slightly cleaner, and hey plus they don’t eat dogs here, I think. Music blasts from several directions, Women hand out fliers to the passing trade, as I get a few pushed into my hand as I keep walking. I catch glimpses of conversations, Portuguese, English and bits of German as I pass. Finally seeing the sign hanging above my head in bright chipped Red paint, ‘Faces Anew Hostel’. ‘Cheap N Friendly Stay’. Recomended in all the lonely planet books, it certainly looks cheap, and looking at the groups sat around on the steps outside it doesn’t look that unfriendly either. I climb up the steps, wanting to release my heavy pack from my back, as I make my way over to the bar. Putting my pack down in front of me and leaning in close, I turn and scan the room. A group of Americans talking noisily closest to me, laughing and joking and making comments about the loud Brazilian Trash that is being played on the T.V, a few guys heads down reading a map around on the large pool table in the middle of the room. A lone guy reading, and a couple of girls, hanging on every word that a local Carioca is telling them, animated and very loud.

And then a voice behind me in a English accent asks me, ‘if I need any help?’ And I turn towards the bar to find a bare-chested gorgeous guy smiling at me.

The End

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