Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rio de Janeiro - After All These Years

Not too long after leaving the Mid-Atlantic region we saw the edge of the New World and the coast of Brazil. I remember looking at the 10-day forecast for Rio about a week ago and there were 10 days of thunderstorms predicted with 60% chance of rain each day. Rio can be sloppy in the rain but it turned out that a break in the weather greeted our arrival. Have a look.

Here is a large river in central Brazil that appeared from under the breaking clouds. It was obviously in flood from the recent heavy rains and silt-laden. I tried to find the name of this on Google Earth but with no luck.

Rio de Janeiro and Guanabara Bay from 10,000 feet. A spectacular view of a spectacular place (remember the harbor at Rio de Janeiro is one of the traditional Seven Natural Wonders of the World). Copacabana Beach center left and downtown at the top of the bay

Here is a look at the front of our hotel, the Copacabana Palace, facing the Atlantic Ocean

The weather was fantastic for just this one day in between storms. This picture is taken from the top of the Corcovado where the Christ statue is located (itself voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007). The Sugar Loaf Mt. (Pão de Açucar) is obvious in the center. Most people in the north do not realize that the coast of South America here runs east and west with the mouth of the harbor (upper left) faces south. This is a view to the east in early morning light. To me Rio is like a blend of San Francisco and Yosemite Valley - a world class city in a world class location.

Here is the famous Copacabana Beach on a Sunday afternoon. So alive, so Brazil. Brazilians are typically not afraid to show their bodies in public no matter how old or wrinkled they may be. This can be a bit of a shock to those who grow up "Puritan-Land" to the north. To me, there always seems to be just a bit of a disconnect between these guilt-free southerners and us who shelter our skin from the cold and snow. One of the great challenges in traveling to, and learning about, foreign lands and people is to see life through the lens of their eyes, rather than drift towards the tendency to judge with our own. On a trip like this, I am reminded constantly about the need to experience rather than judge. But sorry guys, no close-ups of the string bikini's!

From the top of the Pão de Açucar, a wide view of Copacabana Beach, 3 miles long and teeming with throngs of worshipers who call this tropical city paradise.

From the top of the Sugar Loaf, I took this picture of the rocks around the entrance to Guanabara Bay. The water in the bay is highly polluted (skanky is an appropriate term that might be too soft of a word). The Brazilians have many challenges that face them if they want to clean this mess up. But above the shoreline, it is quite spectacular. The Santa Cruz Fort can be seen in the center and guarded the bay from envious French and Dutch sailors and pirates.

Lagoa da Freitas from Corcovado

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