“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”
It rained early this morning: just what we needed, more humidity. Already the weather has a stranglehold. I went out to get the papers and gasped. The weather woman claims this humidity will end today but Cape Cod will be the last place to feel the change. I guess I’ll just have to hang out in the AC.
Today is our last visit to South America.
When we were leaving Argentina for Uruguay, we decided to take a short hop plane ride across the Rio de la Plata to Montevideo. The plane was an old prop. When we got on board, the stewardess gave us each a small ticket and a hard candy. Come to find out the ticket was for a drawing. The winner, the man in the seat ahead of me, won a lady’s handbag. That was the first and has been the only time I was part of an in-flight drawing.
Montevideo was a lovely city with beautiful parks, statues and huge sculptures. It was small, especially in comparison to Buenos Aires. I was drawn, as I had been in so many other cities, to the old town. Many of the buildings there, dating from the colonial period, were a bit run-down, but it was still my favorite part of the city. You could see water from both sides of the main street. There were small places to eat, little holes in the walls where we stopped for lunch. The entrance to the old town was the last bit of the wall which had once surrounded the city. Later, we took a bus tour to orient ourselves. Part of the tour was a walk through the General Assembly building. It was empty. The military had taken over the country in 1973 in a coup and dissolved the branches of government. We saw the assembly room with its rows of empty seats.
We finally did some shopping just for the sake of shopping because with the trip nearing its end we didn’t mind hauling extra stuff. I bought some beautiful gold bracelets: one for my mother and one for me. My mother wore hers for the whole of the rest of her life.
We flew from Montevideo to Sao Paulo and had a bit of culture shock. The city was huge, and I felt like Country Mouse. There were skyscrapers, shopping centers and cars, lots of cars, and even back then millions of people. We wandered the streets and stopped in beautiful parks and a few museums, but we didn’t stray far from the center of the city, from the downtown. My Spanish had gotten pretty good throughout the rest of South America, but here I was pretty much at a loss with the Portuguese. I could figure out menus, but that was about it. Sao Paulo was my least favorite stop of the entire trip. We stayed only three days as we were eager to get to Rio.
We flew to Rio and took a bus into the city where we found a really nice hotel through happenstance. We walked by it and liked the looks. Our room was huge and even had a table and chairs.
I loved Rio. It had tons of things to see and great restaurants with wonderful food. We took trips around the city every day. One trip was to Copacabana and Ipanema. Even though it was winter in Brazil, we had to walk the beaches and across the sand. It seemed like a rite of passage. We did some shopping in the stores around the beaches, but they were a bit rich for me. I did buy a few small gifts to take home.
Another trip was to Sugarloaf Mountain. I had seen pictures of Sugarloaf jutting out of the water but never imagined I’d be there. We took the tram to the top. From the tram, as we traveled up to the mountain, we could see Rio spread below us, but it was the view of Rio from the top which was spectacular. Also from the top I saw a US submarine. It was the first time out of a movie I had seen an actual sub traveling on the water. It looked small from where I was standing, but the conning tower was prominent.
Of all the symbols of Rio, I think the most magnificent is the Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado Mountain. It stands over Rio as if to guard it or maybe bless it. A picture of that statue had been in one of my geography books. It was so beautiful I had kept the picture safe in my memory drawer, and I couldn’t believe that so many years later here I was standing on that very spot. We rode to the mountain then climbed the steps to the statue. It towered above us both awesome and breathtaking. Spread out below us was the city, the water and Sugarloaf. I felt on top of the world.
We were in Rio five days. The city was beautiful. We ate in a variety of restaurants, some hole in the wall spots, always favorites of mine, but on our last night we ate in an expensive restaurant as a sort of going away present for ourselves. We were celebrating what had been the trip of a lifetime. We had traveled from Caracas to Rio and been gone eight weeks. That last night we toasted our trip and each other. The next day we flew to New York then on to Boston. We arrived home filled with memories I have never forgotten.Explore posts in the same categories: Musings comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.