Day Two - Blame it on Rio

Refreshed after a twelve hour nap we were up and going by an impressively early seven o' clock. The night stay at the way overpriced hotel had a full breakfast buffet included which certainly softened the blow to the checkbook. Over the following few days I would learn that Brazilian breakfasts consisted primarily of fruit, coffee and a bakery's worth of tiny pastries some pretty tasty, others as delectable as warmed over Spackle. All the same we were still on our way by nine or so to start the day. True to Dad's way of doing things he didn't really have a solid plan of how to spend our two weeks here or where to go nor how to get there. I rooted, wistfully but unsuccessfully, for an Amazon adventure but he seemed little enthused. For now we decided in getting a car rental and heading out of Rio asap. The city has a number of attractions to be sure but personal safety is reputedly among the worst ranked worldwide for a major destination and I carried my camera and lenses which I count as among the few possessions I have that are worth anything. A year after the fact I'm still shaken with having had my previous camera stolen in Ecuador so anything to lessen the chances of a repeat is fine with me.

Avis, then Hertz tell us sorry no cars for rent which has to rank right up there with McDonald's running out of beef patties. "Why is your office open then?" I asked in my head where it's always okay to ask impolite questions then with an increasing sense of unease sidestepped an unpromising looking Thrifty to waltz into a car rental agency whose name and logo must be known only at a local level. Luckily here they did have cars for rent. The lady working the registration computer only asked us whether we wanted a car with or without AC. We asked for with, reflexively, despite it being "winter" here and after an eternity of klickety-klacking at her keyboard she made her ancient dot matrix printer from circa 1985 screech and scratch until the poor thing made a surprisingly legible contract. It's funny, I'm sure, to them, how easy it is to convince gringos in need when you "discount" from $100 a day to rent a car down to the bargain rate of $75 but, believe it or not, it works really well. We just about felt like high-fiving each other over our prescient luck. And off we go in a standard issue little stickshift Fiat with an engine unfit for a lawnmower putputting into a sea of traffc filled with other Fiats. Nine out of ten of these cars being tiny hatchbacks on comically small tires darting in and out of lanes like gnats around a streetlight. After a thorough calculation I determined ours had been made from exactly 102 recycled Coke cans and whose various parts were ingeniously attached together with Velcro. Several hours later our wheezy little Fiat made it to the city outskirts heading north. We had settled on the town of Ouro Preto as our first destination and after a tortuous drive up and down hills we made it to this historic town well past sunset.

Day 3