Day #11,057: After a most amazing half-day in possibly the most beautiful city in the world, I woke up sick as a dog. Or at least as sick as Mr. M had been two days prior.
About the best you can hope for when sick in a foreign country is a robust healthcare system and divine intervention. Lucky for me, we were headed to Corcovado that morning- home of Big Jesus. (“Christ the Redeemer” sounds so formal and like it should be followed with a boom of thunder. I feel certain He’d prefer something a little more caj.)
After some serious Vitamin C-loading at breakfast (true to my hippie roots, I strongly believe most of the world’s ills can be solved with vitamin C), we took a crazy cab ride down the hills of Santa Teresa to Corcovado.
Even with my foggy head, I was still pretty darn excited to see Big Jesus in the soapstone flesh. Did you know at 130 feet tall He’s only the 5thbiggest Jesus statue in the world? Where the heck are the four bigger Jesi hiding? He’s also, rightly, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
As with all major architectural attractions (think people ‘holding up’ the Leaning Tower of Pisa or posing like Lady Liberty), it was highly amusing to watch other people take their photos. The popular poses at Corcovado include: (1) putting your arms in a ‘Touchdown’ formation so it looks like you’re holding Big Jesus up at the armpits, and (2) mimicking Big J’s pose to create a sort of “Jack and Rose on the Bow of the Titanic” shot.
A really good samba band played us back down Corcovado, and I could tell I was not feeling well when I felt more like sleeping on Mr. M’s shoulder than dancing in the aisle. Stupid germs.
As I’ve said before, Mr. M & I love ourselves a good botanical garden, and word on the street (thank you, Kina!) is that Rio has one of the finest.
The gardens were great- lots of tropical plants, a beautiful cactus garden, monkeys snacking on a ripe jackfruit tree, even coconut popsicles at the garden cafe- but one thing in particular caught our attention.
Everywhere you looked (no really- Everywhere) there were amateur photography shots going down. Pregnant women, quinceaneras, engagement shots, class photos… I’m pretty sure we even saw one teenager trying to nail a better Facebook profile pic. Public restrooms were taken over and transformed into makeshift dressing rooms. It was a little crazy.
Once we’d had our fill of observing the local flora and fauna, we struck off to walk the famous beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Ipanema and Copcabana beaches are marked by postos (literally, numbered posts), which serve as a kind of beach address. Some postos are known for hosting sporty types and are jam-packed with beach volleyball games. Some are famous for their beautiful young things. Others are more family-friendly. How very well-organized of you, Rio… and possibly clique-ish.
Although I went in expecting Touristy Overload, I enjoyed Ipanema a lot more than I imagined. (Due in no small part to getting to sing the one line I know from the song “Girl From Ipanema” over & over & OVER again. One posto in and Mr. M was looking for my off button: “I get it! All the men she passes go ahhhh! Next.”)
Because it was a Sunday, the main street along the beach was closed to vehicular traffic, and street and sand alike were filled with people playing, sunning, and generally enjoying life.
For those who might wonder, the thong bikini truly is a Thing down in Brazil. Women of all ages, shapes, and sizes happily strut around in bottoms far skimpier than my average underpants (Writing this made me feel a little bad for Mr. M. Sorry, dude) and don’t give it another thought. Except for one 60-ish-year old woman, whom we watched yank her string thong Up, and who was clearly giving it another thought, namely that suit bottoms just don’t come as Flossy as they used to.
With our prudish Puritanical roots, we Americans seem doomed to fuss & worry over body image. It was honestly quite refreshing to see all these women waving it around like they just didn’t care. For all the hype about Brazilian body image, the beaches of Ipanema seemed, happily, to be a very come-as-you-are, bohemian sort of environs.
Copacabana, on the other hand, was a little less enthralling. It honestly looked like the sort of place whose heyday has come and gone. A little ragged around the edges with garish nails dug in to hold onto a former glory. Nonetheless, it was crazy actually to BE on the Copacabana beaches, and it allowed me to channel my inner Barry Manilow; one’s never too ill to sing loudly about Lola the showgirl with feathers in her hair.
Having walked five miles or so, we were both exhausted and in need of sustenance. We decided to splurge on lunch & comfy seats poolside at the Pergula Restaurant within the famed Copacabana Palace. I do believe we succeeded in classing down the joint, but it was so much fun (And relatively inexpensive! Full lunch for two with drinks totaled $30!).
As we cabbed it back to Casa Cool Beans, I realized I was absolutely positively Exhausted. Mr. M & I walked for an early dinner nearby, but I felt nauseous. It’s serious sad time when I’m too sick to enjoy food.
As much as I hated doing it, I had to cut the night short and face-planted into a bed of crumpled tissues before 9pm.
Vitamin C may have let me down, but Big Jesus did not. Considering we were sick for about half the trip and still managed to see and do everything planned can only mean we had a bit of Divine Intervention.
Cue the boom of thunder.
Details of the Day:
Give it all you’ve got to make it to Corcovado before the tour buses show up around 10am. So worth it. The lines were verrry long when we left around 11am.