I know I know usually this kind of thing bores the pants off me especially as I am by no means green fingered or big on what’s going down in the horticultural world but some guys at the hostel had told us about this place and we thought sod it lets give it a go, and do you know what I am so glad we did.
It also meant our first experience of a Rio bus to get there. Imagine a dusty busy road add a clapped out noisy tin can bus, increase the speed and sweat levels and you get the idea. We literally jumped on as the driver stopped for a nanosecond and continued cutting in the tiniest spaces not batting an eyelid. We had to try and pass through a turnstile once we had paid the bored gum chewing teen conductor our cash as well as hold on as it sped along winding in and out of angry traffic.
Thankful to get off in one piece we stumbled into the calming oasis of the jardin botanic. Our ears were filled with exotic birdsong, monkey calls and people laughing. The lush green ceiling of leaves shaded our sun scorched skin in the stuffy heat and we walked through in a state of calm smelling perfumed plants and following winding paths around the place.
Sitting in an old veranda to eat our lunch we were quickly joined by a noisy group of Brazilian teenager school kids crowding round and staring at us. There goes the moment of tranquillity. However, as we got ready to leave in true grumpy old men fashion one of them asked if they could take a photo with us! Apparently the loud giggling girls were really excited to have a photo with an English person and within seconds we were shoved in for a group shot on numerous iPhone’s as their harassed looking teacher apologised for taking up our time. They were so lovely and made us feel like mini celebs we were happy to stay and try and talk to them.
There is more to see than just some pretty plants including an orchid centre, large greenhouse of rare medicinal plants, waterfalls, enormous palm trees possibly the highest I have ever seen, cheeky monkeys swinging through the trees over your heads, a huge collection of cactuses (cacti?) and large lakes with fat lazy fish swimming under face-sized lily pads. There is also a café and gift shop but both were quite pricey so we left a few hours later hoping to grab a drink by the heart shaped lagoon we had been during the free walking tour.
Well that was the plan but after making a few wrong turns and not understanding how huuaaggee this lake is we had walked for over an hour and still hadn’t done a complete circuit! We eventually fell into the bar that looks over the water which was so cool for school and had a cocktail list to die for before it slowly dawned on us that they didn’t open for another hour. By that point I would have drank the lagoon water I was so thirsty, so we cut our losses and headed back to have cocktails in the hostel with a lovely French couple. Sometimes it is easier to go with the flow!