Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dancing up a storm in Buenos Aires

Dancing is a popular past time in Buenos Aires - the tango capital of the world - and the city is known for its nightlife. So I made sure I got my share! Zouk is going strong in Buenos Aires, and even with the dominance of tango there's something for all kind of dancers. I went out to zouk to Maluco Beleza club, after a week’s break I couldn’t wait to get to burn the floor! The club has zouk/lambada parties on Fridays and Sundays where they first have a class (at around 11pm) and then social dancing until around 2:30am. On Friday there were plenty of people taking the class, enough for both beginners and intermediate groups. To my surprise I got paired up with a Finnish guy (yes!?) for the class. That was again one of those odd coincidences again, like meeting a Finnish samba friend in my hostel room at the Iguazu Falls!

The dancers and teachers there dance the Porto Seguro style and the girls wear the lambada style clothes. The music was a bit more leaning towards lambazouk but lots of good songs to keep me on the floor from the first song! The classes were simple and only a small routine was practiced (with comparison to very long sequences they teach in the parties in London). And then it was time to party! I asked one of local zoukeros to dance with me and after that I think I didn’t get a break the entire night. This was the first time I also manage to get some local friends and a Dutch girl who I met in Iguazu to join me (yay!!) and got them on the dance floor too!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Steamy walks, cold showers and border crossings at the Iguazú Falls!

After a very short sleep on my last night in Ro, I arrived to the hot hot hot Foz de Iguacu, the Brazilian village next to one of the world natural wonders, the Iguazu Falls. I crossed the border to Argentina (yay, a new country!), to Puerto Iguazu to get to my lovely hostel – covered in sweat by the time I got there. The hostel was indeed very nice, with a big garden and a even small pool! It was a very relaxing place after the noisy Rio and couldn’t be happier with some peace & quiet. My plan to rest that night didn’t go that well as I ended up going out for dinner with the girls from my room. And we had such a fun night, talking about all the usual stuff and having some very tasty pizza, wine and free caipirinhas! And – I got to climb over the hostel fence when we came back :D

On my first full day I decided to tour the Argentinian side of the Iguazu falls since I’ve heard people usually like that the most. It was a hot day, like all the others so far as well, and the park was pretty packed with people. But the views were stunning. I first rode the park train all the way up to the Devil’s Throat where you get definitely the closest of the massive U-shape waterfall. Where does all this white water come from?! The roar was amazing and a mist of water rises all the way back up.

The falls were MASSIVE - even just this part could not fit in one, two or three frames!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Carioca life – sol, sucos, zouk, samba and the amazingly beautiful Rio

I arrived to Rio de Janeiro at 6am on a Wednesday morning – and I was immediately surprised by the beauty of the city. The greens hill encircled by lakes and favelas, my tired eyes were happy to see Rio! My super artistic hostel was a couple blocks from the Arches of Lapa, right next to the hills of Santa Teresa. I was exhausted from 20 hours of travelling but wanted to get out so headed to Ipanema beach… and fell asleep on the sound of the big waves thundering to shore. Ipanema was a truly beautiful , massive long beach dotted with people and flanked by another beautiful set of hills. The sun was already setting when I came back to rest before my “big zouk weekend”.

For Brazilian Zouk in Rio see my previous post!

No rest for the wicked - on the next morning me and a couple people from the hostel jumped on a bus to Christ the Redeemer and after some waiting got our ticket for the train up! To pass the 3 hours wait we made a detour to Copacabana and I got my first introduction to the local “per kilo” restaurants: a big buffet of all the great Brazilian and international foods, and you pay for the weight of the food (around 4 R$ per 100g). Loved it (and yes I ate there again and in a sushi kilo restaurant later, yumm!!)! Our trip to the Christ wasn’t as lucky since the clouds had gathered, like the tourists, to the massive statue of the tallest hill – on a nearly clear day. We waited… and waited… and finally were rewarded with a moment of clarity! In a way it made the trip up there even more exciting. Sadly we didn’t see a view down – but I did see fantastic views from the Sugar Loaf later.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Zouk in Rio - setting the Brazilian zoukeros on fire!

One of the things I was looking forward to the most on my trips was to get to zouk in Brazil. I managed to fit an actual congress on my travel plans – the 3rd international zouk and lambada congress in Rio de Janeiro, organized by Renata Pecanha. The congress had four nights of parties and three days of workshop and my plan was to clock in as much dancing as possible.

The workshops were held at the choreographic centre of Rio, located in Tijuca (quite easy to reach with the metro but still took almost an hour to get there unless you lived there which was the middle of nowhere really). The teachers were mainly Brazilians, some familiar names for me, and there were four levels: beginners, intermediate, advanced and professional. I ended up taking mainly the advanced level workshops, some intermediate and some professional, and was pretty happy with them. The leaders taking part in the workshops were very good which made it surely a lot easier for me. Unfortunately I’m sure I missed a lot of info since most classes were if not entirely then at least 90% held in Portuguese. But I learned the sequences none the less. It’s hard to say which I would think were the best ones… Mafie Zoukers’ were maybe the most complicated sequences but I tend to like the technique workshops more (sadly no ladies’ styling classes!).

Workshops workshops workshops...

Leonardo Neves and Layssa Liebscher

Friday, January 13, 2012

Rum, rain & reggae in Belize

I knew it would happen at some point - falling way behind on my blog. The start of the year and change of scenery plus some previous engagements have eaten up all my days. But getting back on track slowly...

The new year was approaching and I headed towards Belize. After the cheap and organised Mexico it was a bit of a shock to arrive to the shabby and expensive San Pedro. The small town is located on an island, Ambergris Caye, about a two hour boat ride from the southeast corner of Mexico (Chetumal). I got a hotel room right on the beach and was happy with it since there were hardly any available, definitely no cheap options, and set off to explore the island. The sun had gone down and found a tiny tourist info to ask where I could go dancing. "Nooo no, it's too dangerous for a white girl". Ok... Not the warmest of welcomes.

Enjoying the sunrise from my hotel room balcony - the nice things about having a nice hotel room for a change!