I want to record it all in case I forget even a minute of it. I know there are bits I’ve forgotten already. But I’m grasping at what is still fresh.
An overnight stay in Santiago, Chile came first. I’d scoffed when friends had teased me about South American men, thinking I’m impervious to the greatest of charmers. Hah! The very first one I met, a taxi driver, could easily have swept me away, had I been 20 years younger, of course. Oh, alright, 30 years younger.
I know fellow blogger, Ginger, a former Rio de Janeiro resident is keen to hear my impressions of Rio. It’s nearly a month since I landed there and my lasting impression is much the same as the first. It was an assault on my senses. The heat, the noise, the sights, the smells. They were all strange and new to me. But the main impression was (and still is) the contrasts, the beauty and the ugliness, the extreme natural beauty, the wealth and the poverty.
We spent my first afternoon on Ipenema Beach. You know what the beaches are like where I live, right? I like them deserted and if there are people around, I like them at a distance. I’m accustomed to listening to the waves breaking on the shore. Ipenema was crowded. We found a vacant spot, hired chairs and an umbrella and I lay back and stared. There was so much to look at. People, people, all sorts of people. Those there for the surf (not many of them), those there to catch the rays, those there to be seen and those there trying to make a buck. I felt so sorry for the vendors, trudging up and down the hot sand, under that hot, hot sun. Shouting to advertise their wares. So many shouting at once, so much noise and close enough to the road to be able to hear the noise of traffic as well.
I guess I was a bit jet lagged on my second day. I encountered my first Brasillian queue, the first of many. It was very long, the day was scorching and I don’t do standing very well. There must be a better way to move the scores of visitors to the statue of Christ the Redeemer. But it seems that Brasillians accept queues as part of life. And I guess most visitors are like me and would be prepared to put up with the disorganisation just to be there, to see this fabulous icon and stand there at its feet and look out over the natural beauty of Rio. I felt quite overcome by it all, could barely believe it was me, there.
An unexpected stop on our guided tour was a visit to The Chinese View in the Tijuca Forest. Our guide told us its interesting history but I can’t remember the details and today Google has been no help. It offered a lower, different perspective of the city.
Before calling it a day we had a stop at Escadaria Selaron, 250 steps which are covered in over 2,000 tiles collected from over 60 countries around the world. We found the Kiwi tiles eventually.