I have been meaning to put my trip into writing for the last couple of days but I have been super busy from the moment I stepped on American soil. However, I will attempt to recreate my trip best I can. The flights to Brazil were difficult for both my mother and me. Hurricane Matthew was shutting down the Southeast coast and I was concerned how our flights would be affected. The night before we were to leave, my mother’s flights were canceled and refunded to her. My flights were moved up a few hours but still leaving in the afternoon. In a panic my mom worried about whether to cancel out trip all together but she decided to purchase new tickets at over twice what she originally paid and make the trip regardless of cost or Matthew. This decision left my poor brother to deal with the farm and the Hurricane. My sister who lives in central Florida paid no heed to the category 4 whirling devil approaching her coast line. I began the 5 hour drive to my airport to catch my 1st flight. I used a parking company near the airport for the 1st time. I have to day they were overly efficient and made me feel scattered before my trip even began.
My flight nearly went off without issue. My middle flight was delayed about an hour for “over-weight” issues. This caused me to miss my last connection but in a happy chain of events caused me to travel with my mother on out last connection to Rio De Janeiro. My mother’s flights went fine. Her issue was trying to deal with non-English speaking people. I, having traveled since I was little, relied more on kindness of others and the ability to hear and connect foreign words to my language. I feel my mom holds on to her comfort zone as if it would save her. She doesn’t do well in pressure situations like these. Thankfully an English speaker helped her transverse the confusing airports. I have to say that in Sao Paulo airport when you come out of the terminal it feels like you walked into a Las Vegas Mall; all bright lights and loud noises. It was dazzling.
After a short taxi ride we arrived at our hotel on Copacabana. It was a fun ride with lots to look at and marvel at. Here is a city that grew up in between towers of granite. To look at the place you imagine how it might of looked before people moved here. It was raw and wild before giving way to the desires of humans. A brief walk through the Fort of Copacabana showed that Brazil is only slightly younger then the United States and had been inhabited by many different nations. I think you can see it. The influences of these different people. The people of Brazil themselves is a mixing pot. Many beautifully sun kissed “white” skinned people right alongside the darker skin of Africans. I wonder if they have the same mentality of colored people in the United States? Do Brazilian Blacks want retribution for their ancestors? I digress. The hotel was clean and our room was fine. Could not ask for a better place on the main strip facing the beach. Mother and I immediately took off down the beach to enjoy the day.
My requirement to my mother for this trip was to preplan excursions. She, of course, did not do this. I had spent time looking at tour companies in the area before we left and had made some arrangements before leaving home. So first we booked a sun rise tour of Cristo Redentor. I have to suggest that if you are in Rio De Janeiro and want to see Christ the Redeemer the best time is first thing in the morning. Otherwise, the crowds push you out of the way. Even having an early start to our tour there were many people at the park and always in the way. I was a little overwhelmed with the height of the statue’s base. Just where you stand to take pictures feels like you are on top of the world and clouds actually passed by the statue while we were there. Amazing. We could also see the whole or Rio De Janeiro and was awesome to get an idea of the layout from on high. That tour took us till midday and we spent the afternoon walking the main strip looking at street venders and snacking on local food and beer. After traveling so far and seeing so much bed time came early. The next day we took the suggestion of our tour guide and looked at tours from a local company called Rio Line. It does all the major sights and we thought the prices were fairly decent so we booked an afternoon tour to Sugar Loaf and for the following day to a Favela. The morning before our 1st afternoon tour we walked to the Hippy Market. It was a few blocks of the main drag and was a fun walk and a great market for art. I tried to curb my spending but sometimes it’s hard. Sugar Loaf is a cable car ride between two towering pillars of granite (at least I think its granite) and while the sights were lovely it really wasn’t all the exciting. After the tour we had a very nice sit down dinner in one of the sidewalk cafes. I had fettuccini with steak and my mom had a burger with fries. Oh my dear mother. However, in my scoffing of her meal I have to admit Brazilian beef is probably some of the best I have ever had. The spices used woke up some long forgotten taste buds and made the meal very satisfactory.
The morning before our Favela tour we walked around Fort Copacabana and read about their history and took in the view from the south end of Copacabana were you are able to look around the corner to Ipanema Beach. By that point in our trip I probably had walked a few miles up and down the beach and was well acquainted with the land marks and best places to eat and shop. There was a few signs that the Olympics were held not 6 weeks prior but mostly everything had returned to business as usual. I was very excited for our Favela tour. I knew it was a slum but I always thought the color you see was because the people were still proud and brought what color to their poor lives as they could. I was wrong. The color is from the government that paints the viewable side of the houses so it’s less of an eyesore for the rich 1%. Our tour guide was wonderful and actually lived in the Favela he took us too. He said that to get his job he had to fib and said he lived in the “projects” because there was a huge prejudice toward Favela people. If you look at the Favela from the outside it looks like someone to blocks and just kept stacking them. Each small floor is a home. Sometimes 5-6 people live in 300 square feet. That itself is amazing but then as we walked into the Favela and started navigation the areas. You might take a tiny trail and some uneven stairs to end up at someone’s home. It is indescribable but know you must visit these places to see the truth about their living conditions. These people are kind and giving but are held in poverty because of a trick of the government. A trip the American government also uses. Welfare. If you pay for everything and give people no reason or desire to work for themselves then you own them. You control them. These poor people get food and utilities from the government so why do they need to be a better people. Also the schooling is almost nonexistent. The children go to school only 2 hours a day maybe for 3-4 months a year. Many of the young ones do not know how to properly read or write. It was very life changing to see this place. I have been to a lot of poor areas but this was really just beyond my comprehension. I am so grateful for my blessings.
After this tour we went off to our second hotel. This one was in “south” Rio but by taxi it took an hour. Barra Da Tijuca was a place that seem to get a lot new structures for the Olympics. The hotel, a Hilton, was beautiful and very posh but so far from anything worth seeing. The first day at this hotel we took a cab back to Ipanema and wondered around the area then in the evening took a tour to the Botanical Gardens and the Tijuca forest. The gardens were amazing a few hundred acres of 200 year old trees and beautiful flowers. It was very lovely and we spent a lot of time just wandering around enjoying nature. Afterwards our guide took us in a jeep to see the national forest and drive around the mountain some. We saw Toucans and monkeys. The vista from some of the points were wonderful. The last stop we wanted to see was closed so instead we went to where hand gliders land after jumping off a huge cliff above the beach. There I had a wonderful slushy drink made from the local berries. The night before I might have indulged in the local drink a little excessively and this slushy made my stomach very happy. The next day we had free and wandered around the mall near our hotel. It was very similar to malls here so I wasn’t very intrigued except for the book store. I found a cook book and a comic about the Secret Lives of Dogs. Having nothing to do my mother started pushing my buttons and so going back to the hotel I went to sleep.
Leaving to come home was a little stressful because my mother was nervous about the trip home. I told her it was way too early to get anxious so she went off to drink. She isn’t pleasant when she drinks. I stayed in the room and hid away from her wrath. We checked out and took a taxi to the airport only to find it was the wrong airport. So another taxi to the correct one check in and went to out gates. We had a couple hours before taking off so I walked around the terminal, probably my own nervous energy, and my mom went to her gate. Just before we were to board my flight was canceled and I scramble to get rebooked to get home. I lost mom somewhere in the airport since we were flying separately. My flights home were uneventful but I was concern if my mom made all her flights well. I was back in my home state before I heard from her and told me everything went well. I was able to grab my bags and start the 5 hour drive home midmorning. I planned to arrive home early evening. Once back in cell coverage my roommate texted me that she was in the hospital and asked if I could bring her phone charger. As if being in the hospital was no issue. I, of course, told her I would. She is still in the hospital and is ok just hoping for improvement over her symptoms. I am very happy to be home, even as much as I love to travel. I am most content with my little “purr box” on my lap.