Babiloni

Due to writing a lecture, updating the blog, flying back to Rio and intermittent WiFi, my entries are now a week behind.

So I’ll just fill in the middle bit. Before leaving Porto Alegre I had arrange accommodation back in Rio. I was back to the hostels bunking under strangers snoring. I knew from the booking websites there are hostels in Favelas and views overlooking the sea beyond the high-rises and bustle below brings the traveller onto another level of life.

I search the booking sites and choose Chill Hostel inside a Favela called Babiloni in Leme a small area tucked right at the end of the Copacabana beach. The map illustrates an avenue leading off a main road and then goes into a tiny line, a familiar indication that it disappears into a mountain – well the view did look quite high up.

I land at 5pm but by the time I’d waited for the bus and getting stuck in Friday afternoon rush hour traffic, it was dark. The bus driver stopped and shouted for me to get off. So with 23 kg of luggage I navigated my way over the uneven black and white tiles on the pavement. I hadn’t really planned to walk from the bus stop and hoped I could get a taxi up the hill, but when I hail one he says ‘Hey it’s just over there!’ and drives off. This doesn’t help me i’ve still got to climb the steep incline. Sound systems blast out from the beginning of the hill. I spy brightly painted murals electrically standing out in the dark against orange lights of the police squad bulbs.

It seems that there are hundreds of people watching me climb the 300 metre hill with all my belongings clung to me, trying to count the numbers up to 35. Beeston Hill hasn’t got anything on this but my i’m grateful for the experience of those bike climbs.

At 8.30pm I practically fall on top of Arnaud the French hostel worker as he opens the door, greeting me with a grin in bare feet.

Chill Hostel was apparently designed by Oscar Niemeyer in the 70’s for a celebrity friend. It’s a four story winding curving open planned wonderfully tiled and parquet wooden floors, built inside the mountain at an angle has a magic energy.

Anna is sat at reception she is Portuguese and has lived here for over two years. She’s getting ready to go out on another bloco party – the die hard carnival party goers are still going strong. It’s an Egyptian theme so she’s wearing a black bobbed wig. She shows me around the house through the shared kitchen, my dorm and then out onto the terrace and says ‘Welcome to Babiloni’. I’ve made it.

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