The Brazilliant adventure starts here!
Jane Harvey-Berrick on tour with Stu Reardon and Franggy Yanes
The Gift Box Team (Roberta and Esther)
Well, sort of! My flight to meet Stu was delayed by four hours – yes, you read that right – FOUR HOURS! The good news is that I made the flight, literally the last person to board. In fact, I was that annoying person who rushes up just as the aeroplane doors are shutting, when everyone else has been boarded for ages.
On the down side, my luggage didn´t make it and at the time of writing, It’s still stuck in the UK, or possibly somewhere over the Atlantic. Stu offered to lend me a t-shirt. I think I’ll take him up on the offer – then auction it off LOL
We left the cold of UK to step out into bright Rio Sunshine and the warm smiles of our hosts, Roberta and Carol from The Gift Box.
Annoyingly, after flying all night, Stu looks as gorgeous as ever. I look like old ham. Yep, it’s steak and old ham.
Waiting for us at the hotel is the delightful Franggy Yanes. Not that I want to make you jealous (much) but he gives the best hugs. They always share a room. Fran says that Stu is a cuddler. Who knew!
A shopping trip is in order to replace my lost luggage and then we spend the afternoon at the stunning resort Costa Brava Clube. I really know I’m on another continent as the huge former volcanic mountains surge into the sky. Sugar Loaf Mountain is the most famous, but the landscape is dramatic and stark, contrasting with the lush greenery that surrounds us, and the impatient calls of monkeys and macaws in the trees.
I guess we’re not in Kansas anymore!
In the afternoon we have a chance to relax, while the boys find a friend who’s flying a drone out across the pounding sea, the ocean a bright blue. It’s always fun to see Stu and Fran fall into their two-man comedy act. Their friendship is real and warm, and they spend a happy afternoon flying their toy plane (drone), as Stu slowly turns pink in the sunshine.
Then it’s back to the hotel to take a late evening flight to the famous Foz De Iguaçu – the biggest waterfalls in the world.
We’re all up early, despite a little remaining tiredness from a long flight, but there’s too much to see to waste daylight.
Fran and Stu have broken out their shorts and between them, they catch a lot of attention as we had out to the Falls.
First stop is an incredible aviary to exotic birds. I always hate to see animals in cages, but in this case, conservation is really importante to many of these endangered species. Stu looked pretty at home behind bars – just saying…
The macaws and parrots steal the show, loud and squabbling with their flashy feathers and ‘look at me’ personalities. The flamingos were stately and serene, and oh my gosh, the butterfly house was something else.
And then we head to the famous waterfalls. We can hear them before we see them, and the landscape is suddenly full of cascading water, the spray rising into the air like steam. And boy oh boy, it’s hot!
The air is full of the forest fragrance, and the wet t-shirt competition between Stu and Fran is fierce.
We ride the rapids and out little inflatable goes completely under the falls. It’s thrilling and deafening and we all have the biggest smiles, even as we look ridículous in our plastic waterproof sheets that make us look like giant condoms.
Time for lunch after a strenuous morning of enjoying ourselves. The buffet is incredible and I think our hosts are on a mission to double our weight before we go home. I’m intrigued by the potato salad that turns out to be banana and walnut – called banana nozes, it’s good! Fran has TWO ice creams, Stu only one. I look on in awe and envy.
Then we walk down the winding path to get closer to the pounding water. We pass incredible wildlife along the way, beautiful butterflys and these playful little critters, Qatis, and then walk into the spray until we’re soaking wet, grateful for the cool water, laughing and a little crazy.
The boys make more crazy videos (which you can see on their Instagram Stories @stureardon @fracrox) but on a more serious note, talk photographs, cameras and lighting. Their pictures are amazing.
This beautiful county is going through a tough time with its economy right now, but everyone is so upbeat and friendly. I think it’s catching because I hugged the airline representative when she told me my suitcase was on its way.
The team are a little stressed as two flights have been cancelled. Portuguese author Sofia Silva is travelling with my lovely cover model Gergo Jonas, and right now, they’re stranded in Lisbon. Is this trip fated! Roberta makes urgent calls to get them into a hotel for the night and then onto another flight.
On the other hand, I’ve turned into a complete sheep and just go where I’m told. Next stop tonight is dinner and a show. I couldn’t ask for better escorts.