Jim here: Before talking about our next day, I want to share a few thoughts about this beautiful city. Like most of our fellow tour group partners, we had heard a lot of bad things about the crime and grime of Rio. We were all uniformly amazed at how green and friendly the city is. There are miles of beautiful green belts along the coast, lots of trees and tropical foliage , and people walking and exercising all over the place. The whole experience was unexpectedly lovely. True, there are the shanty towns or favelas, but if you don’t want to go into those neighborhoods, you certainly don’t have to. We could all think of parts of our hometowns that we probably wouldn’t venture into either. I don’t think it is any different in Rio.
Stacy here: While Rio is a beautiful city, there is a lot of stuff that just doesn’t work like it should, from education to transportation to public construction. I have to confess that I am really alarmed by being in a place where you have to be so hyper-vigilant all the time the time that you can’t even wear your wedding band or watch out in public. Moreover, unlike in many parts of the world, where there are “safe” areas, citizens in Rio, no matter their socio-economic status, live all on top of each other. not only does the crime and other problems of the Undoubtedly, when we return, we are supposed to visit a favela, and get a much more unbiased view of the societal issues here, but for me, the fact that on a daily basis, you are confronted with the sad reality that the country of Brazil is failing its people makes this a sad city for me. Enough editorializing; on to the trip …
Our second day in Rio started with a boat tour of the harbor. We also hadn’t realized how big the commercial waterfront is in Rio. Everyone knows about the famous beaches, but there is also a vibrant and historical bay and harbor with many interesting sights. We saw the entry to the bay where a hundred years ago,they used to pull heavy chains across the opening to keep out unwanted ships. The harbor is also home to the modern Brazilian navy and coast guard.
After our harbor cruise, we had a light lunch at a local museum and then headed for the cable car that takes you to the top of Sugarloaf mountain. The mountain got its name from the pyramid-shaped bags of sugar the Portugese used to export from the region. They were shaped that way to maximize the amount of cargo and minimize wasted space. The cable car trip to the top was quick and very scenic. Unfortunately, we didn’t have nearly as fine weather as we had had the day before so the pictures were not as spectacular.
This was also our last day with Mark and our Essence of South America tour group, so we had our farewell reception that evening. What a great group of folks! It was a large group of almost 40 so we took a while all getting to know each other but by the end we all felt like old friends. We were very fortunate to have such a wonderful group to share our Essence of South America adventure.
Tomorrow (Thursday) we will fly to Santiago to meet our friend Rebecca and then Friday we will take the short flight over the Andes to the wine country of Mendoza Argentina.