What a thrill to throw open our cabin curtains and see Sugar Loaf Mountain passing by. Rio truly has one of the most picturesque harbors in the world. We could see the Christ the Redeemer statue that matches the one we saw leaving Lisbon, but this one is on a much higher mountain. The cable cars dangled as they took intrepid tourists out to Sugar Loaf. Then we passed the domestic airport which must be on landfill jutting out into the bay. Planes coming in for a landing must wonder if they will find solid soil under their wheels. Plane traffic stopped briefly as we sailed right through their flight path.
We weren’t in a sight seeing mood today, having enjoyed all the major ones during our stay here in 2005. The internet was a more pressing need. The technique we had used in Europe, buying some coffee and using the restaurant’s internet, doesn’t work here. Restaurants don’t have internet and “lan houses” as they are know here are few and far between. As we search around the port area we came to a small hotel that had a wi fi sign. When we asked about using it, assuming that at best we would have to pay, the clerk handed us a password and pointed to the air conditioned lobby. A quick two hours later, email was read, bills were paid, some podcasts were downloaded, and we were ready to be tourists again.
When we read the Rio guide books, we are left with a queasy feeling since crime is such a common topic. Unlike other places, it sounds like the pick pockets do some blood letting in addition to relieving you of your cash. It made us very cautious during our last visit and we avoided the world famous Copcabana Beach as a result. But during the middle of the day it sounded safer, so we emptied our pockets of all but a few small bills and took a taxi to this iconic spot. The beach is as beautiful as its reputation would lead you to expect. It is wide, the sand is immaculately clean and it is bordered by the traditional Portuguese style black and white brick designs in the sidewalk. Vendors were there to provide for every beach need - umbrellas, chairs, food, drink; you could even buy a new thong bikini on the spot. Unlike the vendors in Turkey, if you said “no,” they accepted it and left us alone. Nearly every woman wore a thong bikini and many of them suffered from overly enthusiastic appetites. Brazilian women must have less hang up about their bodies’ appearance than we do. We didn’t get any dangerous vibes from those around us at all.
And then it was time to return to our home away from home for the last month and pack and think about what lies ahead. It will be a shock to face menus with prices, people whose language we do not know and the incomplete arrangements we have made as we head to Iguassu Falls. But at least it will still be warm.