City, Beaches, and Cristo Oh My (by Nathan)
Rio de Janiero is engulfed by skyward reaching tropical mountains. At the top of biggest and most prominent peak stands Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), the famed symbol of the city. No matter where you are the Cristo is always overhead, always watching. We wanted to see what he saw. But we made our way slowly.
First we explored the lowlands, we baked in the sun at Ipanema, we drank coffee at Colombo, hiked the steps at Lapa and always just behind a cloud or shining brightly in the sun, the Cristo Redentor was there.
Our first vista of the city from any elevation was from the Morro da Urca. This smaller mountain was a great little climb leaving us both out of breath and satisfied that this was at least a little training for our eleven days of hiking planned for the Peruvian Andes in May.
Upon reaching the summit we found another creature with an omnipresent watchful eye. This common marmoset and his gang of friends looked like they would jump us and steal our granola bars if we approached too close.
The Morro da Urca can also be reached by cable-car for those not wanting a hike. From Morro we then took a cable-car to the main attraction, the Pão de Açucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain). The hill is named after its familiar shape to the loaf of sugar made during pre-industrial refining. It is a tall (400m) hill with shear and jagged cliffs all-around and of course has some of the best views of the city.
We arrived at sunset and we gazed out into the golden city. The Cristo, high up on the Corcovado peak was shrouded by his apostle clouds. The colors transitioned from a warm tangerine orange, then cadillac pink, then in flowed the deep purples, that, with the darkness brought the cool night.
The day finally came for us to visit the Cristo Redentor statue. Up close we were able to view the intricate details cast into the concrete: the seemingly flowing fabric, the tranquil facial expression, and the arms spread wide welcoming everyone to him and to Rio. The statue is an elegant piece of art deco, angular, flowing and full of emotions.
Turning around from the Cristo we saw the city of Rio from his perspective. The botanical gardens, Copacabana, Pão de Açucar were all there, tiny specks in this beautiful city. The buildings kissed the sand and the ocean appeared endless as it wrapped around the urban landscape. Rio de Janiero has it all: food, music, dance, beaches, city and transit. Could we move here and learn Portuguese?