Today's delightfully enticing topics: My visit to the Cristo, and everything right up until my World Cup experience. Also, my tearful last day's in Rio (in hindsight I wish we would have stayed there a couple days longer).
FRIDAY JUNE 27TH, 2014
This is typically how the first night in a new city goes down - Dom and Jenny style - land, explore, explore some more, stay out all night, sleep 4 hours, and repeat. Today was not one of those days. Maybe we can hastily blame it on old age, and our previous excursions taking a toll on our bodies, but regardless we ended up waking up at 9am famished from the previous nights shenanigans. We knew we could make it just in time for the buffet breakfast at our hotel, so I threw on my Italia soccer shirt and left my Rolling Stones bright red tongue PJ's pants on. Jenny had a very similar lazy adolescent outfit on. We took the elevator downstairs to the dining area, stepped out of the elevator, saw all the people eating breakfast (who were fresh, put together, and ready for the day), and we immediately did a clockwise pivot and got back into the mini elevator. We were not expecting that at all. We eventually put ourselves together to decently present ourselves to the hotel public, and we were on to the next challenge: finding a store that had some sort of snacks with substance and water...because our stomachs were not in the best condition.
WONDERFUL. Day 2 and we were already sick. Jenny had already acquired some illness (that plagued us in Ibiza on Day 11)...but seriously, day 2? We must be getting OLD. Luckily I brought a plethora of drugs, antacids, vitamins, etc. You name it, we brought it, and we could have cured a small leper village while we were at it. Below is a sampling of Dr. Pellegri and Dr. Montenegro's prescriptions.
Anyways, after breakfast in our "trying to not look hungover" outfits, and a 3 hour nap, we decided we needed water and some sustainable snacks (in our case chips, cookies, and nuts). We walked...and walked...and walked. There was no grocery store in sight, not even on the busiest road through Rio. The city was very reminiscent of the coastal city of Lisbon (and not just because everyone spoke Portuguese), but also because of the inspiring architecture and cobbled street sidewalks. Thirty minutes later we found a small grocery store (that could have been missed if we blinked), we got our liters of water (and some coca cola light) and were on our way back to Hotel Itajuba. We needed to get out and try to make it to the Cristo Redentor because the next day would be filled with adventures from the World Cup game we would be attending!
Heads pounding, sweating bullets like we had been in a sauna for hours, we traveled to the bus stop only to be turned away and told that our only shot to see this sacred statue was the next day. We internally panicked, as the next day was our last day in Rio, as well as the World Cup match we would be attending. I started to dry heave. I NEEDED TO SEE THE CRISTO (and not because I am obsessed with the Leonardo DiCaprio version of "Romeo and Juliet". Bonus points if you know what I'm talking about). The woman at the bus stop told us to purchase the tickets online, so we headed back to our hotel to do just that…except when we went to pay it was all in Portuguese. We went downstairs to ask for help, and a boy named Felipe (yes, he was probably about 18) was designated to help us. We went in a little humid computer room, and we fired up their dial up computer. Wonderful. We had 17 minutes before the website timed out, and with a language barrier and Felipe pounding the keys on the keyboard like it would help that poor computer go faster, I could not help but giggle. I do not have a poker face, and he saw me and gave me a thumbs up. Felipe got us those tickets 17 minutes later, and thank goodness because we almost died of a heat stroke in that computer room.
After the mental breakdown we suffered from getting those tickets, we decided to get back on that metro, and go to Ipanema beach. Since it was already sundown, we picked up a few souvenirs, and headed to a restaurant near the water.
IPANEMA METRO STOP
We ate at Bar Astor, drank our caipirinhas, and ensured that we had eaten some sort of carbohydrate to try to balance what the rest of the night might hold in store for us...
Right before we left Ipanema, Jenny spotted the most gorgeous man in a speedo playing volleyball. And guess who was the lucky one to try and get some shots of him was?!?! OOOH PICK ME! ...said no one ever. But I am a good friend and I did it, creeper status, and got a semi-decent shot. Then I died of embarrassment as I had to cross the beach and pack a little bag of sand that would come back with me to the states with me (yes, I admit I am a clepto of international sand).
It was around 9pm, and we decided we needed to visit our friends at "Antonio's Bar" in Lapa. We were obvi locals now and I'm pretty positive they missed us, so we could not disappoint. We were supposed to meet one of Jenny's friends, but we ended up just getting our drinks and more empanadas (I literally threw up in my mouth). After a few cocktails (I could feel my teeth rotting from all the sugar), we decided that her friend wasn't going to meet up with us so we started to plan our next place of attack. I shifted my seat and heard someone say something to me. Let's be clear, Jenny and I are always on creeper watch. We watch each other, we watch our surroundings, and if we (meaning I because I'm obviously bigger and stronger) has to hurt someone we will.
We were greeted by two Americans (great). We usually try to avoid Americans at all cost, and not because we are unpatriotic, we just would rather meet and immerse ourself into different cultures. Anyways, it was not as bad as I am making it out to be. A little awkward at first, but we can usually carry our own.
As we chatted over probably the most repulsive empanada yet - some white substance with cream cheese consistency, topped with a large shrimp, things got a little heated. My friend Jenny, and one of the guys Tim (yes he gave me permission to use his real name), work at companies in opposition of whatever moral spectrum exists in their industry. Let's just say I would have rather have gone to the bar and taken shots of tequila with scorpions in them, followed by more of those shrimp empanadas, than sit through that conversation.
FOOTAGE FROM THE FIFA RIOT IN LAPA
DANCING ON THE STREETS IN RIO
SATURDAY JUNE 28TH, 2014
Today was the day!!!!! I had been waiting TWO LONG YEARS for this day in my life. That is how long I had been planning this trip....but we did not get to sleep in like we planned.
Never go see the Cristo hungover. NEVER. I knew that I would see it no matter what condition I would be in (because of my slight obsession), but it was utter and complete torture. It was about 30 minutes of nauseating fun...driving through sharp turns of the narrowest road surrounding the Corcovado Mountain, just to reach the 98ft. statue. We then decided to climb the stairs to the Cristo, and we saw this...
I died inside. My Catholic heart was so full at that very moment that I almost forgot about how much I wanted to throw up over the railing. He was just so beautiful, and more than everything I had imagined. We took in every beautiful site from the top of that mountain, got our selfies, and jumped back into that treacherous bus because we were World Cup bound in just a few short hours!
This entry already has a ton of information, so I will be posting the World Cup experience in the next one! :)
I'm taking a pause in my South American blog entries to talk about my volunteer experience that I had today. I know I can get quite emotional, but this was something that really touched me. I haven't really done any volunteer work in Seattle (whereas in Milwaukee I was involved with the Ronald McDonald House), and decided it was time so I reached out to a friend and we decided to feed the homeless today.
There are things, events, and people that greatly impact your life as a human being. Sometimes you are the "impact". I think that we have a responsibility to give back and pay it forward because we are more blessed than we think...and this is why:
1. It puts life into perspective.
We all have rough days. Sometimes work is difficult and it seems we are challenged or unacknowledged more than not. Sometimes the dating scene is tragic and it feels like we will never find the love of our life. Money issues, stress, anxiety, divorce, and every negative feeling in the world sometimes puts us in a bubble. Today I handed out soda to homeless people - some of which did not look even homeless at all. Some were middle aged men semi-dressed up like they had just left work and some looked like college students. All of them had one thing in common: grateful eyes and a genuine smile when I handed them their soda and asked them how they were. When you think you have it rough, think of everything you do have and realized that there are people who wished they did.
2. It puts positivity into the universe.
I believe in karma, and doing nice things for other people. Paying it forward puts that kindness into the universe. Positive, caring people attract positivity in their lives. Make a goal to do something nice for someone maybe twice a month. It doesn't have to be volunteering to feed the homeless or donating all your money to a church. Acknowledge that there is someone in your life that could possibly need help. Ian Maclaren said it best: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about".
3. You will never know when you need help.
Life is a crazy thing. No one is granted immunity from bad things happening in their life. People (as well as the universe) will not forget what you have done for others. Today after my friend and I volunteered, she told me that the girl that was helping her pass out fresh baked chocolate chip cookies was saying some really inappropriate things. We were passing out hot dogs as well, and many people in line got back in line for seconds and thirds. This girl said, "Wow they could enter a hot dog eating contest!" ARE YOU SERIOUS?! Who says that? These people (most of them) do not have a home or the resources to even make a hot dog. It was a completely ignorant and inexcusable.
4. You will feel better.
I'm not writing this blog to show that I volunteered and that you should all think so highly of me. I want to bring awareness that these opportunities to help people exist on a daily basis. It is a fact that you will feel better for helping someone. This is not selfish on anyone's part, because you actually did something good and good feelings were a result of that.
5. You will (hopefully) inspire others.
I'm inspired on a daily basis...it is that creative person that lies within. One of my best friends, Madonna, inspires me to help others. I know she is involved in a lot of volunteer activities in Hawaii, whether it is through her church or just by networking. Her genuine caring of people and the way that she leads a non-selfish life, are some of the reasons I am lucky to call her a best friend.
I know you're thinking: enough with the quotes! There is one more that I could not see more fitting. It is by the late Maya Angelou (someone who had really inspired me). She said:
"The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so that you can be a rainbow in someone else's cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God - if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That's what I think."
Food for thought. Go out and make this world a more bearable place for someone.
Bellisima = "Extremely Beautiful" in Italian, and how i would describe the world, and how I view it through travel.