They call me Johnny Blaze.

There are places you finish with while on vacation and say ‘wow, that was quite something’. And then there are places that make you go ‘wow, why am i going home?’ and then you cancel your ticket and go back to that place.

Ilha Grande made me do that. Everybody raved about Rio, Salvador, Sao Paulo… but this little island off the coast of Rio was a different story. Well, it’s not really ‘little’, obviously, as the name says. So after 6 days at ilha grande, which was initially 1-pushed to 3-pushed to 6, we (Jovan, Alisha & me) were off to Paraty and then Sao Paulo. One (really boring) day at Paraty, which was enough to see the whole town, and then the three of us were off to Sao Paulo. The place was just like Bombay, only with an astonishing number of guys hitting on me. We had spent 3 days in Sao Paulo (another post on that), and were supposed to take the 11 pm flight back home, when at lunch over a massive feijoada, i had a ray of light hit my head. Why were we going back? We could spend some more time around. This was vehemently rejected by both since they were keen on getting back to work. At that point i didn’t give a fuck about work. I had put in 3 years into a project which looked like it was being shut down soon by dinosaurs in upper management. Typical story.

So i walked into the airline office, and pushed the ticket back by 12 days. I saw the other two off, went to the bus station, and got on a bus to Rio at midnight. At 6 am, i was staring at the Rio ghettos outside the terminal. I decided to catch some more of the FIFA Fan Fest at Copacabana before going back to the island. And this time i got there right on time to catch the quarterfinals. France vs Germany, Brazil vs Colombia. That was a riot.


I even managed to con security and staff into believing i should be sitting in the press/vip box, where i saw Oliver Kahn and Tom Cruise, among others. But who looks at them when you got Copacabana femme fatales all over the place.


Germany and Brazil won, of course, so Rio was one massive party all night. It was hard waking up for the 8 am bus for Conceicao, which i missed of course, and eventually got the 11 am bus. By around 2 i was at the ferry boarding point in Conceicao, and managed to reach the island just in time to catch the last 40 minutes of the Arg-Belgium quarterfinals with my favourite Argentines, the Mango Tree staff. Well all 100 of them at the pub were Argentines, but these were my favourite.


I stayed at the Mango Tree during the earlier stint as well. So when these guys saw me back on the island, they told me to come back there, and even though i didn’t have a booking and they didn’t have a vacancy, they figured it out. I chilled in their office/house/reception/hammock till at night when one dorm had an empty bed. By next noon i had my own private room. #winning


I fixed up a gig at aquarios the next night, since by then i’d made enough contacts on the island, half the island called me ‘dj’. The other half called me Saeed. At first i didnt understand, then someone told me it was because everybody on the island was a ‘Lost’ fan, and there was someone on the show i looked like.

They loved the old school hip hop i dished out, but as soon as the girls got frisky, they needed that hardcore ‘brasil funk’ beats, the kinda tunes where the asses drop so hardcore, things get hazy. I stepped out from the decks for those sessions and jumped into the dancefloor till i have no memories.

The next day i decided to keep things productive, so i lay on the hammock all day talking to people passing by at the hostel, hit the waters during sunset, played cards in the town square at night. Finding company was easy. It’s finding the crazy bunch that i pull off best though. Guys that talk to walls, guys that walk off docks blind. Irish, Norwegian, Swedish, German, French, English, Chilean, Colombian, Swiss, Italians… I smoked them all off their heads. They call me Johnny Blaze, now.


One night after the musical performance at the town square, which shuts down at midnight, we (Jama, Pedro, Cesar and me) started jamming at our own table about 10 feet from the stage where things just wrapped up. Me on the shaker, Jama on the tambo, Pedro on that mini-guitar thingie, Cesar on the triangle. It all started with a Bob Marley accapella, but by the 5th song, the crowd around us was over 30 strong. By the 30th, we were shut down by the cops on the island (3 cops), and they had to shoo away over 100 people away at 3 am cos the peace was being disrupted.

This was us by song 2. WOOHOO.

The next day i took a boat trip around the island. Started at 10, first to the Blue Lagoon, and then 5 more beaches/lagoons until the last stop for lunch at 5. Then back to the island. I got lost. Off the beaches, in the jungles, by river trails, over cliffs, under water, and in my head.


Solitude has always been my best friend.



(catch the entire bunch of pics of the south american tour, there’s quite a lot, in the albums section here:


About johnny b

dj, writer, traveler, moonwalker, headbanger, mind expander, yoga instructor. View all posts by johnny b

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