Rio, Goodnight and GoodbyeM.J.C.
31 December 2016
A.C. and I were ready to return to New York City. We missed our house and cooking for ourselves. The American flight out of GIG was empty, and we claimed multiple rows. Coach felt like first class. Never had ten hours in the air been more pleasant. With the windows covered, there were no signs of our risen altitude. The plane was quiet with the exception of the circulating air. We bade Rio farewell and enjoyed the luxury of a good night's sleep.
30 December 2016
Cristo Redentor looms over Corcovado Mountain. One of the seven wonders of the modern world, Rio's icon is beloved by locals. We traveled to the base of the art deco structure by van. Like the number of clouds engulfing the statue, the quantity of people in the crowd was abundant. The view from the middle of the rainforest was clouded by mist and light rain.
The view from the top of Corcovado Mountain
While the idea of attending Carnaval at Sambódromo Marquês de Sapucaí in February was appealing, the samba show at Leblon's Plataforma was a safer option. The Brazilian dance has African roots and an infectious spirit. We were delighted to have been invited to the party. The headresses worn by the women resembled birds-of-paradise. We joined the celebration with attentive eyes and rhythm in our feet.
The samba show at Plataforma is underway.M.J.C.
28 December 2016
Breakfast is served on the 26th floor of the Sheraton Leblon. L’Etoile, the hotel’s French restaurant host the traditional, early-morning affair. Guests may enjoy North American classics from omelets to champagne before the venue turns fully français. Successfully seeking out good breakfast abroad is cause for celebration. It is too early for champagne, but a bottle is chilled in case a toast proves opportune. O. removes our plates, and we linger to admire the beach below. Our sentiment is reflected in the view of the serene ocean.
27 December 2016
The best views in Rio are seen from a high altitude. Thus, we considered Pão de Açúcar a summit to be conquered. Although the cable cars took the strain out of the ascent, we were full of adventure nonetheless. Our group of English, Portuguese, and Spanish speakers moved as a single unit from sea level to Morro da Urca to the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain. The company was good, and the spirits were high on the journey up. As Botafogo Bay and Copacabana Beach appeared in panorama, the mist rolled in from all sides.
Pão de Açúcar as seen from Morro da UrcaM.J.C.
19 December 2016
The favela of Vidigal sits at the base of Morro Dois Irmãos. While the term "favela" brings to mind characteristics of a slum, we perceive the neighborhood as pacified. Residents maintain daily routines without threats of violence or drug lords. Unlike most of the dwellings in the two hills, the houses along our Estrada do Vidigal are appropriately spaced and a short distance to the beach on foot. The majority of residences in Vidigal are located higher up the rock formation, inconvenient to the water's edge. We imagine ourselves traversing a mountain of steps and dipping roads with books and other items purchased outside of the favela. We do not foresee the feat being successful without the assistance of a motorcycle taxi. Nevertheless, we would probably carry one item up the hill at a time in the name of self-sufficiency.
The View of Vidigal from the Sheraton LeblonM.J.C.
12 December 2016
The Sheraton in Leblon is our lifeline in Rio. A.C. and I considered it our second home in the seaside city for the services and food it affords us. Every afternoon we descend the steps from of our primary house on Estrada do Vidigal, crossing Avenida Niemeyer. We proceed directly to Casa Da Cachaça for lunch. The pool and the ocean beyond can be seen from the terrace of the restaurant, where we sit in wooden chairs. The red and white checkered tablecloths covering the dark wooden tables remind me of Tuscany. But the presence of a marmoset, a species native to South America, in a nearby tree brings me back to Brazil. Salad and pizza become our traditional lunch requests. Since food enjoyed on vacation does not count, there is no such thing as consuming too much pizza. After our first daily visit to Cachaça, we take up cobalt blue chairs by the edge of the ocean. The water rolls as we observe the horizon. The sea air and ease of good conversation send us to sleep.
09 December 2016
The airline options for travel between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro were limited. We asked A.L. for advice on which company would ensure our safe arrival. Azul, named after my favorite color, won our votes. Our goal was to arrive in Rio in the least traumatic manner and within one hour. The flight was prompt, but the experience was not without its shortcomings. The plane was small, and the trip was shaky. I prepared for danger by saying a prayer, holding my breath, and curling into a ball. The attendant offered water. A.C. accepted our drinks with the hand that was free of my grasp. I was relieved to land at SDU. The driver greeted us with a sign bearing our names. Rio began to reveal itself as we moved towards Leblon.