Sophie's a lovely girl from a tiny town near rural Cheltenham, in England. I met her today on the hike to Dos Rios, here on Ilha Grande. She's a very good-looking girl, but is unfortunately taken (don't you just hate it when that happens?) — her boyfriend, apparently, is currently travelling in Australia. Sophie has the ambitious aim of covering both South and Central America within the next 4 months: I say to her, good luck.
After dinner at the Aquario barbeque tonight — when we followed dinner with more than a few drinks — we were joined by a pair of absolutely plastered, absolutely insane Irish chicks. Can't remember their names (perhaps they couldn't, either!), but they were one of the funniest pair of people I've met on this whole trip: they were cracking us up for hours on end! Between extensive slurps of beer, these girls were recounting to us the joys of Ireland, the benefits of not giving a f$#% about anything much, and their love of the chicken dance. Insert raised eyebrow here.
These three lovely ladies, from the fine city of Buenos Aires in Argentina, came on the boat tour around Ilha Grande with me today. "Las Tres Argentinas" (lit: "The Three Argentinean Girls") are a bit older than me — in their early 30s, and one of them is a married mum — but they're still looking great, and still able to jump in there with the best of 'em. Literally. They came over to Brazil for a short holiday from their busy lives back in BA, and a short but sweet holiday is exactly what they're getting.
This is a precarious yet amazingly-successful trio, if ever I saw one. Kerry and Larissa are two English girls, backpacking round South America, as you do. Yuri's a local boy from Rio, and Larissa met him while staying in the big city. Larissa and Yuri are now a couple — and for a few days, at least, all three of these people are travelling together! I met the lot of them on the way to Ilha Grande today, and they're a great bunch, even if a bit insane at times. Yuri's got a great combination of local knowledge (and local language skills!) and adventurous spirit, that led to some really fun times on the island this week.
Most of the Irish lads that I've met on my trip have been too unfathomably blind drunk to really make a proper acquaintance with. Tom is one of the exceptions to this, being one of those rare Irish people who's only blind drunk for about half of his waking life. I met Tom on the way to Ilha Grande today, and I hung out with him on the island a fair bit, for most of my time here over the week. A fairly quiet and reserved guy, but good fun to be around nonetheless. And yet another of my fellow round-the-world-ers. G-d bless us.
This Dutch-speaking Belgian couple are on a really cool adventure: they're touring the continent in a converted Danish ex-army truck! They're staying at Paudimar, here in Foz, where they have space to park the big boy. I was given a tour inside their (dont-f$%#-with-me) home for the year, and it's lovely on the inside. I went to the Itaipu dam with them today, and tomorrow they're crossing into Paraguay to continue their expedition.
Sebastian's an easy-going traveller from Germany, who's got a massive blonde afro on his head, and who's hanging out in Buenos Aires for the week. Although he's not staying at The Clan — he's at one of the Israeli hostels, along with two girls he's travelling with — he pops into the bar every night, and he can be seen hanging around pretty much all the time. He's also a big fan of the fútbol in Argentina.
Most Israelis in BA choose to stay in one of about three "Israeli hostels", where they don't have to meet anyone else, and where they might as well never have left Ha Aretz at all. Michal and Or are in the small (but very nice!) minority that have chosen not to do this: they're currently the only two Israelis staying at Clan. Great guys: they refuse to come with me to shul for the High Holy Days; but they don't mind going for a beer or a good feed now and then.
She's told me her name about 20,000 times, but I still can't remember it: I think it's something like "Shasti". This blonde, beautiful, and incredibly friendly girl is from the wonderful nation of Sweden, and she's part of the crew here at The Clan in BA. We've come to refer to her simply as "The Swedich chick". Anyway, Swedish Chick is in town for a few weeks, and we see her at the bar on most nights, and sometimes she heads out with us to the clubs as well.
One of the very few South Africans that I've met in the Latin World, Ari is a veteran backpacker who, like myself, is down in Buenos Aires for Rosh Hashanah. He's a real character: he's been travelling the globe intermittently for about 10 years; and he's really into music, especially some of the more alternate local music that they have around here. He's lived in Israel before, so he's fluent in Hebrew; he's also working on his Spanish at the moment. He's hanging round the Chabad House for the new year, keeping the rest of us company.