In our finals days in Rio we made sure to have many great adventures. Firstly, Deanna, Rachel and I navigated the metro bus system on our own and made our way to the Jardim Botanico (Botanical Gardens). Everything there was ridiculously over sized. Lilly pads the size of large tables, bases of trees the size of small houses! There are so many different plants here that we don’t have at home– many of which are very bizarre looking. Many pictures to show. Our favorite part was the Orchid Greenhouse. The flowers were SO beautiful! We were so proud of ourselves for taking time to get to the Jardim Bontanico. It was one of our favorite parts of Rio.�
The next day was another busy one. First we visited the Palacio de Tiradentes– the Rio State Assembly building. The building used to be a prison and was named after a man who was called Tiradentes–teeth puller– because he was a dentist. He is memorialized because of his resistance to the Portuguese colonization of Brazil and was celebrated after Brazil gained independence in 1822. The history of this country (and of this building) fascinates me. I was avidly taking notes during our tour. Yes, I was “that girl” following closely after the curator and asking questions when I missed writing down something he said. I may as well have had my pants pulled up to my belly button and toilet paper hanging from my shoe…
We also visited Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain). The view was great and as I was eating a sandwich and sitting on a bench at the edge of the mountain I met a family who I then spoke and sat with for a very long time. There was an older grandfather, his daughter and her daughter sitting and enjoying the view. We communicated through broken English, Portuguese and Spanish. They were so sweet and I think I allowed the grandfather to relive some glory days in which he had traveled to the US. Another family came into the conversation as well. A 20-year-old girl, her older boyfriend and her 2-year-old daughter. The little girl was the cutest little girl with tight little brunette curls bouncing with every step. She “fed me medicine” and I “nom nom nomed” her hand over and over again and she laughed so hard. She was absolutely precious.
THE BEST PART!!– Deanna and Rachel and I had met some American students during lunch one day and they told us about a mountain cascading excursion that was relatively inexpensive and said to be awesome. We looked into it and with the help of our professor translating–and also freaking out– we signed up!
We were picked up by our personal guide at 8 am on our last day in Rio and had a great time admiring Tijuca forest and we drove though to find our starting point. When we parked, there was a news crew that was there and they asked to interview us and our guide for the 12 and 7 o’clock news about climbing safety etc. Not only were we going to cascade waterfalls, climb forest mountains and swim in natural lakes, now were were going to be on Globo News before it all even started. Very cool.
The climb was fast and intense. I don’t think they understood the whole “first timer” thing because were we not 20, active and agile, we would not have been able to do this. We were using tree roots and climbing on all fours at times to make it up the steep hillsides and we didn’t realize until after we began that we didn’t even sign a waiver. Welcome to Brazil…
The scenery was incredible, even before we made it to the waterfall. When we got there and looked up we couldn’t believe that we would soon be looking down. The top of it was another waterfall, which flattened into a stream and area of rocks where we sat and got prepared. The waterfall that we cascaded declined at a 45 degree angle and then dropped off to a 90 degree angle and backwards we went one by one. Surprisingly, I think I did very well! I remembered to lean back and keep my legs straight the whole time!
The scariest part was definitely going down the straight vertical. Under the water I couldn’t see anything at all and had to feel my way down with my feet. When I really thought that I was going to die my next step ended up touching down into the water of the knee-high lake and I had made it safely onto the ground. It was a very exhilarating and empowering experience. I can’t wait to do it again.
To wrap up, I will share a very funny translation mistake that I made while in Rio. I had a pastry at lunch one day called a “Carioca.” The next day I asked my professor what stop of the subway we were getting off at and he said “Carioca.” I innocently said “Oh, how funny. I had a Carioca for lunch yesterday!” After wiping the astonished look off of his face, he informed me that “Carioca” means a Brazilian person…
Cheers to Rio and hopes that Salvador will prove just as exciting.