Gone South 120 - Virginie, Marie & Arnaud

We've gone south for 120 days & invite you to join us (if only from a distance) on our trip through Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia & Peru. The initial idea of doing it by car was temporarily abandoned due to lack of funds to rent a car. This obviously doesn’t rule out the purchase of a car somewhere along the road. Should you want to see what we're seeing, doing and enjoying, come back here & drop us a line! We'll try to keep this blog updated with photos & comments. Enjoy it!

Location: Brussels, Belgium

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Back home

I`ve been back in Europe now for more than 24 hours and had tears in my eyes opening the blog from here for the first time. For weeks I`ve wanted to write another entry but just didn`t find the time, didn`t seem to be in the right mood, or couldn`t come up with the right words to describe what I felt....
Now I`m sitting here and still can`t come up with the right words. So many feelings rushing through me , while at the same time I feel like I never even left Europe. It doesn`t feel weird to walk through the streets here or to hear just English around me. It will probably hit me later. And I`m still experiencing jet-lag which might be slightly more pronounced than usual due to the fact that I only slept about 4 hours a night during the last few nights in Rio.
I`m going to cut this short because it doesn`t feel like the time is right to write a last conclusive entry. Maybe it`s because I`m not ready to say good-bye yet to this amazing trip and just want to keep this blog running, or maybe it`s because I`m in Manchester and haven`t ended it in Brussels as we had planned to do. I don`t know. I just know that I`m sad it`s over and while I was completely ready and even anxious to get back to Europe, to sort out my life, settle down and find myself a job, now I think back and will miss being able to wake up every morning wondering what to make out of this beautiful new day.
We have had the experience of a life-time, I`ve met some amazing people whom I really hope to keep in touch with, and despite all the difficulties we`ve had, the fights and the sad moments I can`t think of any other people I would have rather shared this with. Like you said Arnaud, this will have to be repeated! BUT this time with Michael as well!
Thanks everybody, for following us from Europe and thanks everybody else for making this an unforgettable part of my life! All of those in Europe, I WILL get in touch with you soon and hopefully meet up with as many of you as possible! Right now though, I`m going to enjoy these few weeks in Manchester :)


Monday, May 08, 2006

A few hours before leaving

This will be my last entry from South America - I can't believe it's time to go already. I can't spend long (in 2 hours we leave Ipanema), so plan to write a conclusion once home and we all hope to write something together with usefull information for future travellers to this fantastic continent.
All I wish to say right now is thank you to you all for being faithfull followers of our stories and images and I hope that those of you that have been tempted to come this way, can make it one day!
Big hugs and kisses, Marie

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Today´s pictures - this time we got to see Him!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Gay Paraty...

We´ve officially left 1 of our 2 homes in Brazil... and this time, I presume, for quite a while.

Returning to Paraty, waving hello to friends when crossing the hill with our backpacks, hugging Edouardo and family at Atoba at arrival, realising Mel was no longer a puppy, all felt as if we had unexpectedly returned from a perilous journey of self-discovery to the safety of the "shire"... It felt great.

We were allocated the best rooms with a magnificent porch overlooking the best pool in Brazil (where most of our time was spent!).

Edouardo, together with Dado, took us around Paraty in his infernally noisy pick-up, to go and dive in the waterfalls, eat out at a remote local restaurant and to catch a boat-ride to a fantastic little island restaurant.

Despite our educated guess concerning our friends' sexual inclinations and having spent many a great night in London and Brighton with gay friends, nothing prepared me for the little lillac and pastel yellow boat that came puffing into the idyllic little bay we were waiting in... Waving their straw hats, whilst tanning on the roof and sporting tight briefs, seventies mirrored raybans and holding out their champagne glasses, Edouardo´s friends invited us on board of the BASE I...

We spent a faboulous afternoon drinking caipirinhas, swimming and eating sea food until none of us could keep our balance and the boat drunkenly bobbed its way home in the sunset.

We´ve now left Paraty, Atoba, Edouardo and Dado, fluffy Mel, our porch, the swimming pool, the sea, the waterfalls and the islands...

I´m sad, but Rio, sexy Rio, is waiting for me!

Ciao, Arnaud

I had tears in my eyes when we left Paraty

Actual date of text – 1 May 2006

I meant to write sooner - when we arrived in Paraty - about how we'd returned to where we had started this 4 month adventure. The eternal excuse... a slow internet connection.
Walking the familiar road from the bus station to Pouso do Atobà, our humble home in Brazil, and entering the gates made me realise how quickly our journey has passed - a wave of sadness came over me. Thankfully with just a moment's reflection I remembered everything we'd seen and done and was reminded that time stands still nowhere when noticing the changes around me. New decking, new lights, Mel (the puppy four months ago) all grown up... returning to this familiarity was a luxury and the only thing we were interested in was lazing by the pool enjoying the sun filled days!

Only Edouardo, the fun loving Atobà owner's kind propositions got us to move. One afternoon for an exqusite fish and caipirinha washed meal on an island with 6 of his gay friends (forget the budget) and another to the cashueras (waterfalls) and lunch where only the locals know it's good.For the rest we satyed at "home", hung around the pool chatting to Dado, read, cooked in and went to bed early.

Today did however come around and it was time to leave. We were felt sorry for by Edouardo's brother in law when he saw us all strapped into our very heavy backpacks - remember how we'd left a significant amount of our stuff at Atobà in January when we realised we needed to make our load lighter - well it all had to fit back in - so he, kind hearted Brazilian that he is, gave us a lift to the station. Dado accompanied to say goodbye and now, since I formulated this text on paper in the bus to Rio, we're heading towards our last days in South America.

We've chosen familiarity once more by returning to Sofhia's B&B in Ipanema and denying another kind Edouardo gesture - his flat in Copacobana.Leaving Sofhia's will make our Rio goodbye much harder, tears will flow, but that's for in 6 days time...

Big hugs, Marie

A few more pics from Geribà beach - Buzios

Brazilian style posing on the beach


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A day on the beach in Buzios

Let me try to describe a typical day on Geribà beach - Buzios.
We start by catching a small, falling to pieces mini van thing at the corner which drops us off at the best beach in the world. We get ourselves settled and get our first drink (a guarana or cha mate leao com limao). It´s not long before we head for the waves, with or without a body board - the waves were excellent today and we´ve all got pretty good at the sport. When our hour´s up we dry off in the sun and contemplate what to eat. The choice is varied: vendors of milho (corn on the cob), kebab and grilled catupiry cheese on a stick, empanadas or ice cream roam the sea front all day. Once lunch is taken care of we play some palette. That has resulted in aching muscles and we´re no good compared to the teams of professionals we´ve seen! Again a splash about session in the sea and then an ice cold fresh coconut watching the shade dominate the beach indicating the end of the day is near and it´s time to head back in another rickety mini van!
Big kiss, Marie

Monday, April 24, 2006

Beaching it in Buzios

A game of palette on Geribà

Geribà beach

As always we were on the party boat

Working on our tan

One of Rio at night

Uma belleza!

Hello from Búzios!

As you may have realised, the amount of posts on the blog have steadily declined (actually, save Virginie´s last post, there are no posts) since we´ve returned to Brazil... This is in no way related to any lack of enthousiasm or home blues, nor is it related to Virginie´s chronic lack of cash... Brazil just happens to be paradise on earth and Brazilians are the angels... and there simply is no moment during the day or night that one of us turns to the others saying "let´s go and find an internet café and keep the blog updated"... Today, however, we´ve decided that duty calls and that some communication with the home country as well as an update of the blog is highly overdue.

Problem is... I don´t know where to start... The entire trip has been fantastic but there are just no words for what Brazil is... Whereas the nature in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia is of such vastness and sheer beauty, from the stunning lakes and glaciers in the south, the magnificent sealife in the east and the awe-inspiring Bolivian altiplano, and the culture and people of Bolivia is of such colour, Brazil just happens to have everything lined up to make it the greatest place on this planet to be and let be...

Cariocas (inhabitants of Rio) say that God made the rest of the world in six days, and devoted the seventh to Rio... I now know that it´s true! I know that you would all understand our lack of commitment to the blog at this very moment, if you knew Rio de Janeiro.

So, we´ll be heading home soon to enjoy summer in Europe, see all of you and get back to real life... But there´s no way Brazil got rid of me that easily... I'll be back!

Papi: You will soon wish you never asked about Brazil and Rio... You will beg for us to talk about anything else! Hasta pronto! xxx
Martin: You never warned us about this! C u soon!

First pictures of Rio de Janeiro

I´m afraid to announce that my entry will be short today as this internet place makes you pay for the amount of minutes you think you´ll need up front. So to avoid losing my entry including long awaited pictures, I´m keeping it short.
Although it rained our first 2 days in Rio and we only got to see the Christo´s toes, the sun was out soon enough alowing us to see what I now consider the most beautiful city in the world! I don´t think i´ll be very efficient in telling you exactly what it is about Rio, and actually all that we know about Brazil so far, that makes it so - all I should suggest is that you all make sure that it be one of your next holiday destinations!
Check the pictures - they´re close enough to the real thing and will have to be sufficient for us too when we return home to remind us of the place we´ll come back to as often as possible. We´re in love with Brazil and Brazilians!
Isabel Adler - thanks for your input on helping us discover Rio. I have tried Açai - they mixed it with strawberries - it wasn´t bad, but I´m not yet hooked. Next on the agenda, a night out in Lapa. Would be really nice if you were here to show us around though.
Martin - thanks for all your useful Brazil info too. We think of you very often, especialy from Buzios (where we are now) and which Arnaud is writing about at this moment.
Big hugs, Marie
View of Rio from Pão de Açúcar

Pão de Açúcar

Sunset over Rio

View over Rio from Corcovado Hill

Christo Redentor

Sunday, April 16, 2006


We´re back! And this time from Rio!

There´s something about Brazil, I just can´t begin to explain.....it´s put some sort of a spell on us because we are all miraculously cured from any ilnesses we had in Bolivia, we wake up in good moods and we are all thinking of ways of coming back, maybe even moving here, and that before we have even left!
Rio is amazing and Brazilians are simply, adorable. While we were beginning to get worried that maybe our first impressions of Brazil had been exagerated, possibly because we had just arrived from cold, dark Europe, we are happy to find that all our first impressions have been re-confirmed. I have lost my heart to Brazil and know that I will have to come back here again and again.

Today we went to visit the Cristo redentor, or Christ the Redeemer at the top of the Corcovado mountain. We had a great taxi driver/guide who took us to some amazing view-points to get an overview of the vastness of Rio. It really is split up in very different areas and bays because it gets interrupted by all sorts of rock-formations in the sea. The guide, who originally lived in a favela was well keen on explaining the whole favela phenomenon and way of life there, which made me feel that the favela tour might actually be justified. I´m worried that, the way that Marie felt about the Potosi mines, we might come across as voyeurs who get some sick kick out of watching people´s misery. But speaking to our taxi-driver who was so keen on talking about it and showing favelas to us, made me realise that it is such an important part of Brazilian city life that it would almost be shameful not to know more about it. We´ll see....I´m still broke so I´m not sure if I can afford another excursion. And just writing that makes me think how disturbing that sounds....I am too broke to go into favelas....hummmm. We will really have to think this trough.
Anyway, I have got to cut this short since A and M are making a move and I´m not in the mood for walking home on my own through dark Rio.
I forgot to say that we actually never got to see the Christ! I was about to cry, standing there, knowing that seeing it must have given us such a powerful sensation and only being able to see his toes through the fog....

We at least have areason to come back!
I gotta go and will write again soon! Sorry about this very very rushed entry!