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Chris: One heck of a month (part 1: Rio de Janeiro)

December 2, 2010

Over the next couple of posts, all of which I hope to have published by the end of this week, I am going to go over what I have been doing for the past month, which I promise has been a lot. I am afraid that I wont be able to remember it all, but I can try to get the highlights, post a few pictures, and do the best I can. Just to give you all an Idea of what I have been up to, here is a brief list:

  • The CIEE trip to Rio
  • My trip to Iguassu Falls
  • Black Eyed Peas Concert
  • Stumbling into the ghetto with Jeanette and Ron
  • Back to Rio with my Parents, then showing them Salvador
  • Halloween at Vo Flor
  • Sao Paulo
  • Thanksgiving

So needless to say, that is a lot of traveling to do in a month, and throw in the usual beach life, hanging out, reading and sleep that I have in my normal life here, it has been crazy. The past month is a huge blur, but I think that the best way to go about it is from the beginning, so here we go. About a month ago today, CIEE took us on a trip to Rio, the “marvelous city,” and needless to say I was super excited about it. The first thing we did when we landed was go to an All you can eat pizza place. Brazil is famous for “Rodizio” which is a type of restaurant where they take the food from table to table and serve it to you. It is all you can eat, and if you are me, you take that as a challenge. The food was amazing! I mean I love pizza as much as anybody, so of course the more the merrier. But once we got to the dessert pizza I knew that I had had one to many.

Anyway, after nursing my way back to health after too many chocolate covered pizzas, I was off to see the town. One of the most famous parts of Rio nightlife is the famous area called Lapa. Which, I really have no other point of reference to compare it to. It is like a large street party, with an amazing number of bars, restaurants, and beer/food tents on the streets. It has live music, street music, clubs, and everything else that a young man, such as myself would want on a Friday night in the famous Rio de Janeiro. So anyway, my friends Ron, Manny, Lorena and I take a bus there, and we know that it is going to be a good night, there was a type of electricity in the air, and it let me know that a good time was to be had.

As I am writing this a month after the fact, let me just summarize the most memorable event of an admittedly foggy memory. I remember shots of Tequila on the street from a random street vender; I remember eating a hotdog with a quail egg on it, and dancing to reggae, but not normal reggae. Let me paint a word picture for you. So we are all standing there, after a few shots of street tequila, attracted by the sound of street music. It sounds good, I mean it was reggae, and sounded just like all reggae sounds, but as I got closer to the music with my friends, I noticed that there was something a little different about their instruments. As I got closer I noticed that the music was being played with garbage! Like literally things that must have been taken from rubbish bins, there was an old trash can, a broken key board, and other plastic and metal bins. This is all happening under a viaduct in Rio. I had a moment that happens only on occasion in my life, and mostly when I am drinking and traveling, I realized that I am actually really content with my life and where I am at this current moment.

Now that is not to say that I am not a happy person. But there are times, when I am in another country with my friends, that I realize that I am not worried about the future (something that I constantly worry about) and that in the here and now I am happy with where I am in the world and with my life (now that is a run on sentence, but I’m ok with that).

So on to day two in Rio: it was a Saturday, and we had a tour of the city planned and a trip to the famous Jesus Statue and Lapa steps. Unfortunately it was cloudy, so the amazing views of Rio from the Jesus were a little less breathtaking than the postcards, but it was still pretty awesome!

I’ll be the first to admit, that at times I can be a snob and scoff at the usual tourist attractions, and the Jesus was no exception. I figured that it would be lame, one of those things that is completely overhyped by tourism departments. I was, therefore, pleasantly surprised when the Jesus was in fact truly impressive. The statue itself is huge, like I mean truly impressively big… Looking up at it, picturing what it must have taken to build something that big, out of stone, it makes one wonder about the men and women who help to construct it. Then add that to the fact that it is placed on top of a mountain, with a spectacular view of the city, and I was amazed. After lunch, we walked back to the hotel in Ipanema, from Copacabana.  We were supposed to go to Mangueira, where all the Samba schools in Rio get together and dance. It is pretty amazing.

Sunday, October 10, was a free day, and we spent the day pretty much just walking around the city. We started at a Hippy fair, and people got gifts for their families. I walked around, looked at stuff, but in the end I decided that me coming back home would be enough of a gift for my family.

Monday, everyone went off on his or her own adventures, and I got dragged around shopping with Nora, Jeanette and Juliana. So I was allowed a LOT of time to meditate and mentally get ready for my trip to Iguassu Falls.

Stay tuned for more updates…

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