In the course of my trip I’ve been to 16 countries. About half the time I visited a country I explored much of it and about half the time I just picked one city or region to investigate. Brazil unfortunately fell into the latter category. On the positive side Rio de Janiero is not just any city, it’s an amazing one. Brazil and Rio have been high on my list of places to go for many years and I thought it would be a great place to end the international part of my travels this trip.
The beaches: I stayed at two different hostels, both right on Leblon beach, which is right next to Ipanema which is right next to Copacobana. Three of the most famous beaches in the world, beautiful sand, beautiful water, beautiful people. There’s a jogging path along the whole strip, workout stations every quarter-mile or so, including an old school muscle beach type open air gym that’s free to anyone, and volleyball nets everywhere. One cool thing was watching the locals play footvolly which is exactly what it sounds like and I thought was more fun to watch then the soccer and vollyball games that were going on as well.
Climbing “The Italians”: A classic 5.9+ multipitch up the face of Sugarloaf, the iconic mountain coming right out of the bay. Great route with awe inspiring views. I made a video using video and stills of the climb and exploring around Rio. Including Corcovada and the Christ the Redeemer Statue, bouldering in Urca and the Botanic Gardens. Click on the X arrows to go into full-size.
The Christ statue was very inspiring as well, such a cool statue in such a cool location. When I first got up there, guys were making a capoira video which was fun to watch. After being there for an hour or so a storm came in and all the sudden everybody on the platform got zapped by a small electrical current. I felt it in my scalp and it ran down my neck. Women’s hair were standing up like six inches and there was lot’s of nervous laughter but nobody left the platform. Except me. I made a beeline for the stairs and came back out after the storm had passed. It was weird that everyone thought they were safe, but I guess Jesus was there watching out.
The Botanic Gardens: Very beautiful, but not as exciting as the most of the attractions in Rio.
The food: Rio is known for a couple things, most famously the Brazilian steakhouses with all you can eat. When I left the one I visited I could barely walk, but it was very delicious. Gustavo, my guide for the Sugerloaf climb recommended eating a local meal which I can’t remember the name of but included Farofa and some kind of thick stew. After the climb he took me to a no-name restaurant in a womens house down an alley in a favela where we got it, and it was amazing. Perfect refuel after a full days climb. That’s the food pic in the video.
I was told I needed to to go to a Samba club before I left, and I failed to do this but on Saturday night I met Gustavo and a couple of his friends in Lapa (the neighborhood with the best clubs) for a mountain film festival and then we hung out on a patio outside a bar while people were just playing music and dancing in the streets. Very fun.
Language: Going from Spanish to Portuguese was hard for me, and Brazilians do not appreciate being asked if they understand Spanish (though it seems like most do). In a bookstore I asked, in Portuguese, if the merchant spoke English, he replied no. I asked, in Portuguese, if he spoke Spanish and he replied by angrily shouting “Falo português!” (I speak Portuguese!) So I had to mime the act of climbing while saying guia (the Portuguese word for guidebook), and pointing towards Sugerloaf and Urca, which actually worked.
One funny thing was that the person I hung out with probably the most in Rio was an Argentinian girl named Rocio who spoke almost the exact amount of English as I spoke Spanish, which is little. When we went to the beach or for food we ended up using a crazy combo of the two languages, a tiny bit of Portuguese, hand signals, occasional translators and usually ended up understanding each other.
I’m back in the States now, I’ve taken a few in-country trips since I’ve been back and I’m considering doing a blog post about them. I’m in Denver now and headed to Hueco Tanks, Texas on Friday. One of the best bouldering areas in the world, so I’m super pumped about that. Then it’s on to Christmas, which I love and time to start applying for jobs. I’ve been getting my resume together and studying anat/ex-sci/phys to brush up on things. I started this blog as a way to keep friends and family updated on my travels this past year and enjoyed doing it for the most part. It’s doubtful I’ll continue it once I’m settled somewhere but I might start a different blog or focus this one on training (might have to change the name, maybe comprehensively meaningfull?). Before I do that though I plan on doing a entire trip wrap up with highlights, things to avoid and things not to miss. It took me almost a month after leaving Rio to write this post so I can’t promise anything timely but I’ll make an effort.
All the best,