We arrived in Rio on Tuesday night during a very high traffic time. (It is always high traffic time in Rio. Good luck to you idiots planning on going to the World Cup and/or Olympics!) We stayed just outside the city, in Recreio, in a lovely apartment right on the beach:
|The view from our apartment|
The owners, Lilian and Jaime, who so graciously allowed us to use their apartment, were there to greet us with a wonderful goody basket, mattresses and clean linen for everyone, and of course a kiss on the cheek. Keep in mind we had never met these people before, but they treated us like old friends. Tom had met their daughter, Layla, once at a conference. The generosity of the people never ceases to amaze me!
We decided to go out for a "little drive" that first night. Ha Ha! It took us 3 hours to find our way back. But it was an awesome drive up windy, jungly roads, through tunnels, and along white sandy beaches. Rio is one of the most geographically beautiful places I have ever seen!
The next morning, we went to the beach and enjoyed the warm air and cold water. Tom and the kids tried boogie boarding. Keira did not care for the big waves nearly drowning her. Tessa loved riding piggy back on Tom, and Jaden and Marissa got pretty good at "catching a wave".
It was a gorgeous day and a beautiful beach. Tom bought sand toys from a vendor on the beach and the kids played for hours.
I enjoyed just relaxing in the sun and looking at all the women (of all shapes and sizes) wearing "bum floss" and all the men in speedos. We stood out a bit. We are a peculiar people, we Higbee's. One memorable outfit was the old man walking along the beach with an election flier dangling from the huge straw hat on his head. He was deep bronze (kind of like my leather couch back home), wrinkly, and gray haired. He did not lack confidence, however, as he was sporting a loin cloth, of sorts, fashioned out of thin linen material and loosely wrapped around his lower region. I learned a valuable lesson that day. If you ever see an old man in a loose loin cloth coming down the beach in your direction, turn away before he walks directly in front of your beach chair. You do not want to see the side view.
Day 2 of our trip was a grand adventure, as we attempted to find our way to the world famous Sugar Loaf with no directions and a GPS that only worked some of the time. I was in the co-pilot seat on this little outing and, oddly enough, my navigational skills, combined with my Portuguese reading skills did not improve on entering a strange new bustling city. We had yet another unplanned tour of Rio de Janeiro.
No harm done. We made it--and it was well worth it! The views at the top are absolutely breathtaking! And we got to do a little jungle hiking on the mountain which was fun!
The next day, and after some serious begging, I finally convinced Tom to brave the streets to take us to see the statue of Christ (you can't go all the way to Rio and not see the statue of Christ!) I promised to be a better navigator. By this time, Tom had actually gotten the lay of the land, and we made it easily to the statue and back again--no "retorno"s for us!! The drive there was pretty cool. We drove up a very narrow and windy cobblestone street overhung with jungle growth. We had to park part way up and then ride a bus the rest of the way; taking us to the base of several flights of stone steps.
The statue was majestic, the views magnificent!
Tom wouldn't let me keep him.
If you looked straight up at the statue, it looked like it was slowly falling toward you because of the way the clouds were moving. It was a little disconcerting. I didn't look up much.
The last day was spent at a beautiful little beach just up the coast from where we were staying. We had a great time playing in the waves, digging in the sand, boogie boarding, even surfing (only Tom). All of the kids made friends. Again, people were curious about the blond haired, blue eyed strangers. In fact, on a couple of occasions on this trip, people asked if they could take pictures of themselves posing with Keira. So funny!
The girls playing with 7-year old Sophia
Jaden made a buddy, Gabriel, who taught him some boogie boarding tricks.
His mom, Raquel, spoke English. I LOVED her!!!
Sophia's older sisters (?) hung out with Marissa
By the end of the trip, Marissa and I both felt a little homesick...for Sao Carlos!! It is finally beginning to feel like we aren't just visitors here anymore. I think that was one of the best parts of the trip. Well, that, and the fact that the air conditioning broke on Friday and we drove all the way back (9 hours, mind you!) with the windows down, the breeze gently blowing through our hair:
I'm still trying to get the knots out.