|From Ouro Preto we boarded an overnight
bus and arrived in Rio de Janeiro this morning. Rio ranks among the best for name
recognition; say "Rio" and people know what you're talking about. And
no other Brazilian city conjures more images in a traveler's mind. Our first impression
happened at the bus station, pre-dawn hours, as our bus arrived and dumped us
in the terminal. Disheveled, we looked like everyone else although our hairs stood
more on end because we felt nervous about pick pockets. The crowded station seemed
like a perfect hideout for them. Our fears never materialized - no one accosted
us except the taxi drivers. A taxi drove us to Copacabana beach where we tried
to find a cheap hotel. We found a hotel, not so cheap, about $50 per night, a
decent place to stay. Then, instead of beaching it like normal Brazilians, we
ran up and down Rio's downtown market districts and arranged our flight to Africa.
Rio is one of the most densely populated places on earth, the downtown area forested
by pastel colored apartment buildings, metallic skyscrapers and crowded with pedestrians.