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Rio de Janeiro 2014

RIO EST

Rio de Janeiro is synonymous with Brazil.  This Atlantic coastal city of 12 million persons is probably the first thing most Americans think of when you mention Brazil.  The name evokes images of broad beaches, Sugar Loaf Mountain, Corcovado, futebol (soccer) and favelas (slums).

PANORAMA-1

The nation is so much more, of course.  Just as New York City or Los Angeles fail to capture the larger essence of the United States, likewise Rio is not representative of the rest of the Brazil, which is actually larger than the continental U.S.

Nevertheless, Rio is a must visit and it is where Beth and I spent  one April weekend.  It was Beth’s first trip there.

SATURDAY

We got off to a smashing start—literally.  Moments after our taxi picked us up from Galeão International Airport we crashed into the rear of a black compact car.  Except for my bruised and scraped left knee, no one was injured.  But the female driver of the compact—a stranger to the city we later learned–was emotionally rattled.

Beth and I were subsequent witnesses to  nearly 45-minutes of heated exchanges, phone calls, and more conversations.  There were threats by the compact driver to post cell phone pictures on the Internet, a claim by a second woman waiting for a bus that she knew our cabdriver, saw everything that happen, and it was the other driver’s fault.  Our driver, of course, had his perspective.  It was all very lively.

Beth and I were subsequent witnesses to  nearly 45-minutes of heated exchanges, phone calls, and more conversations.  There were threats by the compact driver to post cell phone pictures on the Internet, a claim by a second woman waiting for a bus that she knew our cabdriver, saw everything that happen, and it was the other driver’s fault.  Our driver, of course, had his perspective.  It was all very lively.

A replacement cab eventually arrived and took us the rest of the way to our hotel.  We decompressed for several minutes from both the plane trip and our bumpy introduction to Rio traffic.  Then it was off to the beach.

Copacabana-18Copacabana-12

Copacabana was the playground of the rich and famous for decades prior to the 1960s song  “The girl from Ipanema” by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes  that popularized the neighboring beach and made it a must stop for tourists.

It was a beautiful fall afternoon in Rio, and Copacabana was well occupied with swimmers, sun bathers, families enjoying makeshift barbecues, and young men playing soccer-style volleyball.

Beth somehow managed to find some ambulatory merchant hawking beachwear and bought two beach tops for use back in the states.

Liz-Copacabana-Swim Towel

Next a stroll along the sidewalk, past a variety of vendors, restaurants, and sand artists.

SANDCASTLE

We stopped at a site with several exhibits promoting ideas for improving the city.  The sponsors explained that the campaign was to encourage people to vote at the various sites around Rio for community enhancement projects.   We voted and our reward was to wear these “attractive” hard helmets for a photograph.  Beth was correct—I look like a doofus.

 Steve and Liz-Better Rio

SUNDAY

The sun of Saturday remained behind clouds for much of Sunday. Nevertheless, the weather was idea for our first stop a Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) where we road the trolley car to the summit.  The panoramic view was gorgeous and we could have taken photographs forever.

TREE

liz camera

Our second destination was the Sambódromo—the venue of the famous Carnaval samba schools parade.  When the stadiums are empty, the dancers gone, the music has died, there isn’t much to see.  However, a few tourists forked over a few Reais (Brazilian currency) to wear some of the more flamboyant Carnaval costumes in exchange for photographs.  We passed.

Finally, we reached Corcovado  (Morro do Corcovado)with the iconic statue of Christ (Cristo Redentor) with outstretched arms as if embracing the city and occupants.  Steve had visited by car in the past.  But we took the train this time, which he said was a much better choice.

STEVE CHRIST

Drifting clouds at the top occasionally obscured the normally breathtaking view.  But an overflow crowd of spectators happily jostled to pose for photographs and video undeterred by the weather.  What’s not to enjoy when the faithful are in the shadow of the Savior?

Clouds

FACE

MONDAY

We returned to Piracicaba and the apartment of our Brazilian friends and their dog that we’re babysitting.

This was a short week as the Easter holiday started on Thursday before Good Friday and lasted through Monday.

Meanwhile, we’re firming plans for the remainder of Steve’s Fulbright activities through June as well as our next trip—this time to Iguaçu Falls (Foz do Iguaçu).

NOTE:  For a video record of our visit to Rio, please check our video on Facebook.  https://www.facebook.com/steve.coon.146


6 Comments

  1. Judy and Bob says:

    REALLY NICE AND THE PICTURES ARE BEAUTIFUL. What a wonderful experience.

  2. Dom says:

    Great stuff! Thanks for sharing.

  3. elizabethcbunce says:

    Oh, wonderful! So glad you got some great photos. CJ has been in fender benders (as a passenger!) on at least three trips. Yours sounds like the most exciting.

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