losmorris (losmorris) wrote,

Sharon Comes for World Cup and other adventures

Once again my good sister Sharon was our first visitor in our new post. She won the prize as most frequent visitor in Peru (3 visits! Okay all you slackers out there – come on down and give her a run for it) and we are hoping she will be a frequent visitor again. The frequent visitor club rewards are pretty good – lots of local food, shopping and sight-seeing activities.

Since Sharon arrived before our HHE (household belongings for those not in “the know” on government acronyms) she was spared the fun of opening boxes and trying to figure out where to put all the household stuff that we had not seen since last August. Lucky her. Instead, she helped with neighborhood discovery, shopping and planning the tiny bit of a garden I hope to have. We had a bit of excitement while she was here too.

Fire on Goat Hill

Late Saturday night a fire broke out on Morro de Cabritos (goat hill), a hill on the edge of our lagoa, presumably started by kids playing with some sort of incendiary device. It's World Cup time and that seems to bring out all kinds of firecrackers and other treats that can cause damage as well as making lots of noise. The hill sits right behind some relatively large apartment buildings and apparently filled them with smoke and discomfort. The next morning, Sharon and I watched the fire-fighting effort - a detour from our morning walk that was well worth it.

A military helicopter pad sits on our lagoa and we regularly see them taking off for what we presumed to be some sort of rescue mission or official business. Today they were called into use as firefighters. Two helicopters spent the day scooping water from the lake,

Hauling it up the mountain,

And dropping it on the hot spots. After 10 hours of this process, the fires were out and the helicopters returned to their other rescue efforts.

Pão de Açucar

After two months in Rio we finally made it to Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) – we apparently need guests to inspire us to hit the destination tourist spots. We had great weather, friendly monkey (micos as they are called here) visits and fabulous views. Pão de Açucar is visible from Copacabana and many of the other beach spots around Rio and vies with Corcovado (the Christ the Redeemer statue) as the most famous Rio landmark. Here’s a shot of the famous mountain, right behind the FIFA Fan Fest event center on Copacabana beach.

Sugarloaf is one of Rio’s best known landmarks and getting there is an adventure in itself. First is the long line at the bottom. We discovered though that as foreigners we get to go to the front of the line and pay twice as much as Brazilians. The cost is not prohibitive so this is a handy hint for prospective tourists. To get to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain we travelled via a two-stage cable car journey in glass cable cars. Sharon was a trooper and shared a smile at the half way point.

Here’s a shot of one the cars moving from the first stage on top of Morro da Urca to the summit of Sugarloaf.

Views from the top are breathtaking. The 1,300 foot summit provides 360 degree views of the beaches, the city and Corcovado. Here is an overview of Copacabana in the background and Praia Vermelha in the foreground.

And across the bay to Niteroi, a city we are looking forward to visiting once we have our car.

While we thought the cable cars were adventure enough in climbing the to the summit, Sugarloaf is also popular with rock climbers. The shame is that this guy can't really see the great views if he is watching where he is going!

And, there are other forms of wildlife. These guys are all over the place at Rio’s tourist and other forested spots. We even have a mico that hangs out at our gym!

And, of course, the not so wild life – the intrepid travelers.

Tourists have plenty of opportunities to eat and drink at both the summit and the first cable car stop. We did sample the food and drink and Richard did some shopping for one of our favorite Rio items – Havaianas.

We got to Pão de Açucar in the afternoon since we had heard that sunsets are pretty cool there. So we stayed and were treated to a great view.

World Cup 2010

World Cup was well underway when Sharon arrived so she was treated to the wildness that is Brazil during this major sport event. For the one month period of the games, life here is focused on the games above all else. While all the games have fans glued to TVs in restaurants and bars, games in which Brazil is playing cause the city to stop – literally. Banks and shopping centers have special hours on Brazil game days with business closing down for a 3 hour period. Schools close, taxis disappear and I understand that even churches suspend services when Brazil plays on Sundays. Neighborhoods decorate in the yellow and green Brazil team colors.

The noise – or lack thereof – is incredible on Brazil game days. Traffic disappears as everyone goes to the closest television. When Brazil scores a goal we can hear the crowd roar from neighboring apartment buildings and the sound of firecrackers and whatever Brazil’s equivalent of a vuvuzela might be.

The biggest treat for Rio is that the city is one of 7 selected by the FIFA soccer association to house a Fan Fest event center. The event center has been under construction for the past 4 weeks or so and we’re looking forward to going in and watching some games ourselves. We’ll be heading down there shortly and I’ll add a blog post.

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