Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rio Reflection

I am all packed up and ready to start the last leg of this fantastic journey south to Buenos Aires. I have been in Rio de Janeiro for 3 weeks enjoying the Carioca life. Just as my Brasilian friend predicted I have found a place I just cannot leave. I feel as though my trip is over and it is time to find a job, a place to live and continue my life here, in Rio. However, I did not structure the trip with this as a feasible option. I am delighted to return to North Carolina to see my youngest sister graduate from high school and two months later be a part of my other sister's wedding. Family milestones on the horizon that I would not miss for the world, or Rio. Not to mention the fact that I am broke and need to get back to work!

When someone asked why I like Rio so much I find it easy to explain to a Carioca, but difficult to explain to someone who has never experienced Rio. With this being said, I do not believe that just coming here, drinking some acai and going to the beach is sufficient. Everyone has their own way of travelling, of knowing a place and its people and culture. But the more open I am, the deeper I dig, the more I engage, the more I love, the more I smile, the more I say "yes" the more truly affected I am and the closer I come to understanding my environment. I realize that I am travelling, without any major responsibilities or the problems of everyday life, and that this is no perfect place. Every society has its problems. However, Rio has a magical mix of ingredients resulting in a lifestyle unlike anything I have experienced. Beautiful warm turquoise Atlantic ocean water punctuated by distant islands, surrounded by towering rock domes, meeting long sandy beaches filled with beautiful people swimming, surfing, dancing, playing volleyball and relaxing next to a wide boardwalk of cafe kiosks selling coconut water and ice cold beer as Cariocas run and ride past under the warm sun. You cross the street and enter the tree lined streets of the neighborhood of Ipanema. Juice bars and restaurants on every corner filled with businessmen, surfers and bikinis. You can hike luscious jungle trails taking you to the best views of your life, surf perfect warm waves, exercise along the many beach paths, cool off under waterfalls, explore the many lagoons by day and eat, drink and dance all night next to contagious smiles and mesmerizing moves. This is how I will remember Rio.

I am surrounded by positivity. I never hear my Carioca friends wasting their time bad mouthing others, judging or setting up a barrier of pretense. There is more of an emphasis on what we do have, and not what we do not have. Brasilians are rich in natural resources and quality of life, and they know it, love it and share it! Granted, I cannot understand all conversations or interactions around me, and maybe it is just the nature of the people I have met, but I would like to think that there is a sincere affection for life which is why everyone seems so damn happy.

Because of these elements I have never felt some comfortable or happy around so many people. I do not typically prefer cities, but this one is different. This is a marvelous city!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pedra da Gavea night hike. Sunrise over my favorite city. Pure magic!

We started the the hike after taking the bus from Ipanema to Barra da Tijuca around 2am. Then walking through town, up a neighborhood to the trailhead.

We wasted no time shooting straight up the rock climbing roots and rocks. Taking breaks for fruit and water.

The moon was near full, poking through the thick jungle foliage, rarely reaching the ground. The local frogs put on a free concert all night.

After two hours of 1500 ft of vertical climbing we reached some exposed rock sections. The strong wind and city lights far below made these sections challenging for my nerves, but with experienced friends near by and my trusty headlamp we persevered.

Above is the top of the Pedra da Gavea just before we summited. It was very dark as I needed to use a 2 min. exposure for this image.

We made it to the top, around 2500 ft above the sea level start, for a quick rest before sunrise!

Facing east over Rio as the first bit of light arrives.

The white lights in the center line the beach of Ipanema where I am staying.

Some other folks made it just in time!

Christ the redeemer on the left, the Atlantic on the right, the Lagoon in center, Niteroi across and ALL Rio.

After surfing all day, going out at night and a strong hike I was exhausted, but fully intoxicated by what I saw.

We took a nap in the grass, just meters from the edge, for a few hours after sunrise, before descending.

To give perspective the rock face above and right is the same as the one from the long exposure night shot from earlier taken while we climbed.

Juan catching some wind facing west looking over Barra da Tijuca.

The other side of this field is where we slept and watched the sun rise.

The rock face we scaled in the middle of the night with only a headlamp and an insane urban view.

This insect was glowing and shining like a green diamond. The most beautiful bug I have ever seen.

Lindsay acting like Jane.

I got a good swing in before the vine snapped mid-air sending me quickly to the dirt. If you zoom in you see that there is a foot and a half of vine above my hands then nothing. Hilarious.

Jaca fruit. Hangs off of trees like a big wart. Some people eat it, but it is less than appealing to me.

Hanging with the curious dog while waiting for Juan. A good day to say the least, but ready for bed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ok fine, I'll stay another day. It's a holiday for god's sake!


My friend Lindsay acting as my model. Much thanks menina!

The Welshman can't manage to eat Acai and put on sunscreen at the same time. All laughs with this one.

This is the first time that I have ever been this comfortable surrounded by this many people. It must be a special place!

She was attempting to carry both coconuts, but as I approached she dropped them and gave me the death stare.

We stayed on the beach hours past dark, as did most of the city. Above is a band playing traditional Brailian music at the beach bar. Pure bliss.