Thursday, May 01, 2008

Rio de Janeiro - de verdad

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!!! Here for the Latin American Poker Tour or, more importantly, my 78th holiday this year with Hass and Rury.

I arrived late with Carles Rodriguez – our Spanish blogger. Carles and I had already managed to fit in a mini-break in Madrid and saw Plaza Mayor, the Changing of the Guard and gorgeous, wonderful Tiago.

Twelve hours and two crap films later, and we’re in Rio. All that remains now is to get the Intercontinental Hotel which we manage in a record six minutes as our cab driver is on speed. There - to my delight - are Siktilt, lining up the Caipirinhas and listening to the hotel band singing Girl from Ipanema

None of it looks anything like the Rio in Vegas but the next morning I wake to a stupendous view which makes up for this initial disappointment – pounding Atlantic surf, a favela and someone chasing a chicken.

On further inspection, the chicken chaser turns out to be a jogger. The favela looks fun though and I aim to check it out later today – a scrappily-built shanty town clinging grimly onto the side of a steep mountain. It’s a mere chicken’s throw from my bedroom balcony and dripping poverty straight onto the hotel lawn.

By breakfast, there are armies of chicken chasers dressed in jogging shorts running along the paseo. They’re a determined lot, these Brazilians – there’s a tropical rainstorm going on, the heat is clammy and there are no chickens. Marta takes us on a tour of the hotel to view the tournament facilities. Thrillingly, we are getting real life, armed police as our security plus samba lessons during the welcome party. This is one-up on the Dortmund hoola hoop girl, and may even beat Jan Heitmann’s card tricks.

More to follow....