A Travellerspoint blog

Brazil

MORE RIO

The Cathedral of Saint Sebastian

sunny 75 °F

5e622a20-3d49-11ea-a772-a32ad7eba270.jpg5d005030-3d49-11ea-84a4-b783b0bdfa23.jpg49d4a100-3d49-11ea-ba02-81789c120d57.jpg470bbd00-3d49-11ea-ba02-81789c120d57.jpg5d17f6e0-3d49-11ea-8204-5baa0c60f02a.jpg5d066ab0-3d49-11ea-878c-9ba53e4d2632.jpg

In the center of Rio's crowded and vibrant bustle, the Roman Catholic Cathedral stands apart from the modern governmental and financial office buildings and old warehouses. The cathedral looks like an Aztec pyramid, is wide open to passersby and yet still manages to feel like a house of prayer. We think it has something to do with the light. The darkness hovers about you as you enter, creating a safe and holy place here in the city's center, but that darkness is pierced by the lively movement of brilliant color from the stained glass. Light pours in from the huge cross-shaped clear window 250 feet above and from the lively stained glass panels that descend down the walls. There is almost no more decoration save for a coach (looks like it was borrowed from Snow White) carrying St. Sebastian (complete with arrows) that moves through the streets on Sebastian's Feast Day (January 20).

P.S. The little yellow flowers pictured here are absolutely charming. They are about the size of a thumbnail and enliven every place they are planted.

Posted by HopeEakins 04:01 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Rio de Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer

sunny 78 °F

5d000210-3d49-11ea-82ee-3b4de29d31c7.jpg5d205b50-3d49-11ea-9a79-9ddd7ccd1e26.jpg5cce91d0-3d49-11ea-82ee-3b4de29d31c7.jpg52f8b780-3d49-11ea-ba02-81789c120d57.jpg
We were off early to go up Corcovado Mountain where Christ the Redeemer stands with arms spread over the city. The statue was conceived and constructed as a religious icon, but it has become a cultural icon as well. We have heard many descriptions of what the Christ is doing: welcoming the world to Rio, being a symbol of peace, protecting the city, symbolizing Christ's dominion. The statue is BIG, 100 feet tall with an arm spread of 90 feet, and it rises from a 2300 feet high mountain.

You get up that mountain on a tram railway that opened in 1884 as a steam railway. After many variants, adaptations, and improvements, the tram is now a sparkling electric railway installed last year. The trip takes twenty minutes and is VERY steep. Once you emerge at the foot of the statue, you can't help but gasp at this gorgeous huge city that weaves in and out of the bays and ocean and mountains and favelas that surround it. And then you gasp at the statue, at its size, at the thousands of tourists that lie on the ground and lean over the railings to take photos at odd angles.

Around the back of the statue, buried beneath Christ's feet is a little chapel. Strangely, it is the chapel of the black madonna. The statue of the highly decorated madonna is small and accessible, and people sit on stools saying their prayers. It feels like the Christ is too big, too public, too stark, too municipal maybe to hear the prayers of the faithful. They need a little place where they can open their heart to a madonna who will listen and care.

Rio's population is 6 million; the urban area has 13 million. It is a lively city; walls have colorful graffiti that shimmer and ugly graffiti that mar the view. It is clean, the architecture is fascinating, and the cariocas (residents) are friendly and vibrant. Copacabana Beach extends for miles and there's not much free space on it.

Posted by HopeEakins 13:30 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Arriving in Rio

Wow!

sunny 75 °F
View 2020 Vision - around South America on HopeEakins's travel map.

We were having lunch on the pool deck looking out at the endless South Atlantic when small islands came into view and then larger islands and then Sugarloaf Mountain, the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain, and then the broad Guanabara Bay. The ship's destination lecturer gave us brilliant commentary as we sailed by the sights on our way to our berth. What a privilege! Sailing into Rio is fabulous. The iconic statue of Christ is 120 feet tall and looked like little more than a bump on the hill as we entered the bay; it grew to dominate our vision as we approached. We will visit it tomorrow.

Tonight we took a sunset cruise on a little catamaran, sailing around the bay. Leaving the marina that was the sight for the Olympic yachting events, we watched domestic air traffic take off and land, saw a beautiful palace of the former Emperor of Brazil, the Brazilian naval installation and the huge bridge that connects Rio with its neighbor across the bay.

One of the photos below shows the bow of our ship filled with Zodiacs. They are being readied for our trip to the Antarctic. They look very small.
We were having lunch on the pool deck looking out at the endless South Atlantic when small islands came into view and then larger islands and then Sugarloaf Mountain, the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain, and then the broad Guanabara Bay. The ship's destination lecturer gave us brilliant commentary as we sailed by the sights on our way to our berth. What a privilege! Sailing into Rio is fabulous. The iconic statue of Christ is 120 feet tall and looked like little more than a bump on the hill as we entered the bay; it grew to dominate our vision as we approached. We will visit it tomorrow.

Tonight we took a sunset cruise on a little catamaran, sailing around the bay. Leaving the marina that was the sight for the Olympic yachting events, we watched domestic air traffic take off and land, saw a beautiful palace of the former Emperor of Brazil, the Brazilian naval installation and the huge bridge that connects Rio with its neighbor across the bay.

One of the photos below shows the bow of our ship filled with Zodiacs. They are being readied for our trip to the Antarctic. They look very small.

5d276030-3d49-11ea-96d6-c93db3428b01.jpg5cb4a130-3d49-11ea-9146-255d97673ba6.jpg5c897280-3d49-11ea-ba02-81789c120d57.jpg48738a60-3d49-11ea-ba02-81789c120d57.jpg

Posted by HopeEakins 11:10 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Salvador de Bahia

Sunday at the Beach

sunny 90 °F
View 2020 Vision - around South America on HopeEakins's travel map.

00c104f0-3b9f-11ea-a6af-cfd770735879.jpgIMG_0177.jpg

Salvador, the former capital of Brazil, thrums with life. The city’s rich mix of black African and native Brazilian cultures underlays the colors and music that fill the streets, but two other factors blew it over the top for us. First, we docked next to a huge MSC cruise ship that disgorged 49 tours of 60 passengers each. Their busses and their folks were overwhelming. Second, we were there on a Sunday and were told that in Salvador, Sundays are very special, that everyone, black and white, old and young, rich and poor, get up early and get dressed up and travel as a family to go to ..... drum roll .... the beach. The beaches are gorgeous, but we were thinking of another word that ends in –ch.

IMG_0189.jpg099c79b0-3b9f-11ea-9a93-7fb05061aa36.jpg

We visited the prominent lighthouse, the craft market, and a monument to a cathedral demolished by the government in order to locate a new tramline. The monument is provocative: a damaged cross toppling into the sea. We traveled there not on a tram but a bus that displayed the sign pictured here. Even those with rudimentary Portuguese can see the difficulty: who gets to decide who is obese???

IMG_0227.jpgIMG_0229.jpg

Our bus took us from the lower city to the upper city; the residents take an elevator, the Lacerda, which whisks them up and down and costs onlypennies. At the top, St. Francis Church awed us, Francis, remember, the one who gave his clothes away to the poor. There we saw amazing gilt ceilings and altars, along with pulpits borne up by full breasted cupids. It was hard to find a place to rest one’s eyes. But then we emerged into a large cloister whose arcade walls were decorated with azulejo tile murals. The ten foot panels depicted the history of the people and the monastery and proclaimed adages to live by.

IMG_0205.jpgIMG_0227.jpg07fbc200-3b9f-11ea-9a93-7fb05061aa36.jpg

We imagined the monks walking prayerfully in this space and looked at the maxims that would have inspired them:
Everything obeys money
Diverse is the dominion of money
Money permits everything.

Hot and sticky and tired, we returned to our opulent cruise ship, unavoidably considering the contrasts between our luxury and the poverty around us. We were grateful for a wonderful dinner conversation with friends who are entangled with the same questions. And so we talked of local versus international mission, of giving money versus giving time, of responsibility to use the gifts we are given, of responsibility to rejoice and be thankful. Sorry, we have no answers, but we appreciate the help exploring the questions.

Posted by HopeEakins 08:08 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

NATAL, BRAZIL

and Capoeira

rain 75 °F
View 2020 Vision - around South America on HopeEakins's travel map.

IMG_0160.jpglarge_IMG_0161.jpglarge_5751fd30-39e0-11ea-9d12-49e6078d21dc.jpgIMG_0165.jpgIMG_0157.jpg

Natal, Brazil is on the point of South America that is nearest to Africa, directly south of Greenland and quite close to the Equator. The city seems to grow as you watch, with high rise apartments and hotels rising up above dilapidated houses and dirty streets. Most doors are covered with metal gates and fences; people don’t stroll in parks. We saw few churches or government buildings, just endless apartments to house the population that is growing rapidly beyond its 1.5 million level.

Available excursions today? A ride in a dune buggy that could be con or sem emocao (with or without emotion); both options recalled roller-coaster rides with our children. A trip to the world’s largest cashew tree. A swim on a beach described as “no longer pristine but reasonably clean.” We chose to visit a school in a poor neighborhood (actually, most neighborhoods here look poor) that teaches Capoeira, a fusion of fight and African dance moves accompanied by twanging and banging and clapping. The Capoeira Master held the children’s attention and had obviously trained them comprehensively. The students looked from 5 to 18; they banged sticks and leapt over each other and somersaulted and ate fire and breathed fire. They got very close to each other but never collided. The foot in the photo was mere inches from my face. One of our group had brought a bag of the (very small) chocolate squares that get put on our pillows each night. After the dance, she gave the candy to the kids one by one. There were almost enough pieces for each child to have one, but we feared that there wouldn’t be. But of course all was well - the first boy unwrapped his 0.16 ounce treat and carefully broke it in half to share with the boy behind him.

We learned much of the plight of these kids who would grow up in abusive homes, malnourished and uneducated, without the help of this school. Although a statue of Christ with broken hands stands outside its walls, the school has no Christian financial support or connection. It was moving, however, to see Christ present though wounded, there to protect his children.

We declined to learn Capoeira ourselves, although several people from the Whisper tried and were quite skilled!

Next we were off to a prison atop a hill that is now a craft center, with small shops in the cells. We walked through with no intentions of shopping until Bill spied a pair of lovely leather sandals for Hope. They are beautifully made; they fit, and they were reasonably priced. Aha! Despite knowing only the words for ‘Thank You’ and ‘Hope’ in Portuguese, and despite having no Brazilian money, we managed to make a purchase. A mere twenty minutes later we sniffed the air. It is likely that these sandals left the tannery this morning. The odor of cow skin is permeating the cabin, and the sandals will sleep outside tonight.

Posted by HopeEakins 02:49 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 5) Page [1]