Today it was raining in Rio de Janeiro in the morning. We walked through the malls of Leblon and ate a crushed Acai on ice. I drank two cocnuts and, after the sun rallied and hovered over the beach, I sat and stared at the beach like a lover saying goodbye to his love. It is the last day in Brazil - or - as the locals spell it- Brasil. We pack our bags and prepare for our 11 hour journey back. It is a feeling of pure joy and sadness at the same time. It is joy to think of seeing my sweet children again, and a bit of sadness as I recognize that it is the end of a wonderful vacation with Michael. Yearly we enjoy this time to reflect on and renew our relationship. Like a paint job on a car, after a few years it is faded and dull and we use this time to re-paint and re-gloss it. By the end of our trip- it is like a new car or a new relationship; it is sunny, bright and feels new. We taxi'd to the airport and, in only 35 minutes in the air, we arrive in San Paulo. I am now in the Admirals Club in San Paulo readying for my jouney to Dallas. Soon I will board my flight and spend the entire night on a plane. Goodnight. I hope you are home preparing for a comfortable night in your bed. -------------------------- Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Device
Monday started out with a bright sun. I thought about my 'journey' through life. I pondered the impact of PERSPECTIVE. At any place you find yourself: poor, wealthy, underworked, overworked, belabored, peaceful- it is really only a matter of perspective. There are always those in better AND worse conditions than yours. You need only to drive to the inner city and take a gander around to realize that you've been blessed. If you don't feel blessed, than take a video tour of Africa or Ethiopia. When you feel sad, think of a cancer ward and those fighting for their lives or the life of their child. Today, I am thinking about the power of perspective. I awoke in the night with a speech on my mind. I begin to scribe it on paper. It was a motivational talk for the women at Perot Systems. Funny really, since I haven't yet been asked to speak to them- but when I am, I have already been inspired with a message.
On the beach I drank coconut water- again. I googled the benefits of it and couldn't believe what I discovered. They use to use coconut water as plasma for blood transfusions in the war. It is a healthy, vitamin enriched, energy beverage with the exact electolyte balance of blood. Wow- this trip has been a learning adventure. We enjoyed some sushi from a Japanese fast food restaurant and begin thinking about our trip back home.
Sunday started out sunny and bright. We camped out in beach chairs watching all the activity. On Sundays, they close off one side of the street and everyone walks. The people of Brasil have been very kind. People go out of their way to explain menus, point out directions, and answer questions.
You need not ask here, if you look perplexed, someone will jump to your aid. We have been pleasantly surprised by the amazing people of Brasil. By 3PM, the sun had slipped behind a cloud and we picked up our chairs and decided to walk down the beach. Light spinkles fell from the sky.
We headed down to the middle of Impanema Beach to the 'Hippie Fair'. We spent several hours walking through an outdoor vendor fair. It was a sight to see. Wow, I am at this point in my vacation, miles away from any kind of reality (laugh). What bills? What kids? What job? (Ok- hopefully my boss isn't reading this). What deadlines? What quotas? I feel like a twenty year old, free spirited, un-weighed down girl. Let's see how long that feeling lasts (laugh) when I am back to my 24 hour a day responsibilities of mom, wife, employee, speaker, author, taxicab driver, maid, and cook. Til later.
So, after a bit of research I found information on the Acai fruit that we ate yesterday. It is considered a superfood by Dr Perricone (reference from the Oprah website). Studies have shown that this little berry is one of the most nutricious and powerful foods in the world. Acai (ah-sigh-ee) is the high energy berry of a special Amazon palm tree. Harvested in the rain forest of Brazil, acai tastes like a blend of berries and chocolate. Per the Oprah web site, hidden within its Royal purple pigment is the magic that makes it natures energy fruit. It is packed full of antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids. The pulp contains a remarkable concentration of anti-oxidants that help you combat aging. Wow- I'll have another. -------------------------- Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Device
The bright sun creeps through the curtains of our room. It is another bright and sunny day in Rio. Everyone walks on the beach here. We see young and old, disabled, thin and not thin, locals and tourists all walking, jogging or somehow veering their way down the crowded beach sidewalk. It is an amazing place to people watch. There are women and men in their fifties and sixties in bikinis excercising on the beach. It is amazing what great shape these ladies are in. I would think this would be a hot retirement spot for both women and men at retirement age. They would find the view amazing, and I don't just mean the water (laugh).
We scurry back to the hotel to have breakfast before the buffet closes. We enjoy another place of exotic fruit.
Outside the hotel is a stand for towels and beachchairs for the beach. We sign in and collect 2 beach chairs, towels, and an umbrella. I order a coconut and our relaxing day on the beach begins. I sit daydreaming about a dessert that I ate the day before. We ordered Acai Fruit. It is a high caloric fruit from the Amazon forest. They crush it and serve it with ice almost like a snow cone. It taste like a blueberry and blackberry flavor combination. It turns your mouth and teeth blue, but it is worth the amazing taste combination as it trickles down your throat with a satisfaction of an ice cream sundae. Wow, I've never had anything like that.
After I finished my book, we pack up and head over to CopaCabana Beach. It has a different feel that the beach of Leblon (pronounced Le-blonde without the d sound at the end). The beaches of Leblon are elite and higher end, resembling more of a La Jolla, California feel. The beaches of CopaCabana are much different, drawing a younger, less elite crowd. We order a coffee on the beach for R$2 a piece and settle in to grab the last few rays of sun for the day. Not far from us is a beach soccer tournament going on. Everyone is really into soccer here, as it seems that it is a core piece of their culture.
As the evening draws near, the vendors begin to setup a 'hippee fair'. We saunter through the vendor booths selecting little goodies to take back to Dallas.
Finally, to finish our evening, we sit on the deck of the 27th floor of the Marina Hotel and drink wine and swim on the rooftop. Ahhhh, another day with no complaints. Life is good.
The sun came out and we ran for the beach. It is a holiday weekend in Rio, so the beaches will be packed today. The sun was hot and the weather delectible. My beach reading continues, and I aim to advance my mind while I sit in the warmth of the sun and relax with no responsibilities. This is addictive.
I buy a coconut and enjoy the coconut water. The beach is not crowded today, although the weather is perfect.
We talked to the children last night and they are doing well. Work is beginning to pile up and I am trying not to think about it. I had to work for awhile today to schedule a few exec level meetings. Then it was back to the beach.
In the afternoon we hopped into a cab and took a ride to Suger Mountain. This tall mountain has a cable car running up to it and boasts the best view in all of Rio. We take not one, but two different cable cars to get to the top of what appears to be a giant rock jutting out of the ground. We arrive while it is still daylight, and as we wander around on the mountaintop, the sun sets and the city lights up around it.
We peer over the edge of the mountain. From across the way we can see the Cristo Redentor statue peering through the clouds. It is an amazing sight from any place in Rio. The Christ statue sits atop the city, watching over all of Rio de Janeiro.
We ride the 2 different cable cars down to the bottom and catch a cab back to our room to prepare for dinner. We decide that dinner should be in one of those Brazilian eateries where they slice the meat off of giant shishkabobs. It was R$28 a piece to eat there, but the food was incredible.
Finally, after dinner we decide to taxi into Rio de Janiero city to the Lapa neighborhood. This Bohemian neighborhood looks a bit like New Orleans. The buildings have large doorways open on the second and third floors with patrons hanging out the window watching passerbyers walk by on the cobblestone streets. Tables are set up on the street and patrons are imbibing alcoholic beverages. The place is hopping with people. It is a local crowd. We enter an establishment called the Scenarium. It looks like an antique store. It has antiques on every nook and cranny. It is a three story building with many different seating areas. Here, they dance the Samba. Live Samba music is flowing and the dancers move with a fluidity all their own. I'm not sure I have ever seen a dance with such rapid leg movements.
It looks impossible to learn. It is a beautiful dance, almost like a fast tango mixed with a waltz. We watch in amazement as the local talent dazzle us with their fast footwork and amazing grace that is reflected in the Samba dancers.
After an evening of watching Samba, we head home to call it a night.
Ahhhh, we wake to a beautiful sunny day. We head out to the beach where a cabana boy sets up a chair, an umbrella, and towels. Our chairs are facing the beach. The waves are crashing in with a ferocity not seen on the other days here. Surfers dot the waves as the 'catch the wave' and ride it into the beach. Visitors surround us. Today we see very few locals. It is easy to see the difference simply by the swimwear. The locals wear much less material.
The wind blows and our bodies bask in the sun. The sun is warm and relaxing. Here, I forget every worry that I ever had. I daydream about letting my job go, letting my house go to the bank, giving away my children, and living as a homeless woman on the beach. Laugh- OK, not really. But the relaxation is therapeudic. I think through the goals that I need to accomplish and evaluate where I am today. The sun puts me to sleep and I take a long nap in the warm Rio de Janeiro sun.
After a few hours of sun, we decide to go to the 27th floor of the hotel to layout by the pool. The view from the top of the hotel is amazing. We swim and order a club sandwich and 2 capuccinos. Hotel food is always the most expensive. Our lunch comes to R$41 (41 Brazilian Reals). The clouds soon cover us and it begins to sprinkle. We decide to walk in the rain to the end of Ipanema Beach.
At the end of the beach is an outdoor workout gym. It is very rudimentary, but has an appeal all its own. We walk several miles to the outdoor gym and workout while we watch the sun set. It is beautiful.
Some of you know that I have an addiction to Pinkberry (a frozen yogurt shop not far off of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills). Well, on our walk back, I find a Yogoberry. It appears to be a franchise of Pinkberry. I enjoy a frozen yogurt covered in fresh strawberries and mango. The mango here is the best I have ever tasted. They are the size of 3 baseballs. The mango is by far one of my favorite things about Rio.
Aha, the sunshine is back. We scurry on our morning walk of 3 miles up the beach. I am amazed by the number of people that get up and walk every morning. The Brazilian people are in amazing physical shape. If you need a mental vision, the men walk in speedos and women of all ages walk in shorts and a bikini top. Half naked bodies jaunt past us walking and jogging to and fro, busily excercising before the start of their day. It is quite motivating to see all the activity. Makes one feel a little lazy. Yes, I'm taking pictures, but I am not sure how many of them are PG enough to show any of you at the office (LOL).
We head direct to the beach to soak up some rays. I am through my novel and am starting Jim Champy's book called 'Outsmart, How to do what your Competitors Can't'. This brilliant business mind is one of the leaders at Perot. It is amazing to work with such talent.
The sky has a few clouds, yet the sun is intense. The warm rays heat our bodies and we drift off into another world, a world of comfort, relaxation, and no work and no kids. Ahhhhhhhh, isn't vacation grand. We stay at the beach for a couple hours soaking up the stillness and the quiet that only a beach provides.
By 2:30, we depart on a tour. We start with a trip to the giant soccer stadium in town. It was built to house 200,000 people. It is the biggest stadium I have ever seen. From there the tour bus takes us to the place where the carnival begins. Giant stands surround us and a small building of costumes sit in the forefront. We walk in to the building and try on these amazing carnival costumes. It is a bit amusing. I think I would break my neck if I tried to wear this costume all day. The headdress weighs about 9 pounds. I guess it is a good thing I am not a queen, laugh, I could never wear something that heavy on my head all the time. We pose for pictures and laugh our way back onto the bus.
Atop the tallest mountain in Rio sits a towering statue of Christ with his arms outstretched. He is overlooking all of Rio. Our next stop on the tour will be the Cristo Redemptor or the Christ the Redeemer as the locals call it. The bus slowly churns its engines to get up the steep hill. Set alongside the road are both beautiful mansions and Favellos (Rio term for the slums). The very nice houses and the Favellos are often side by side. Going up the hill as far as we can see are Favellos. They appear to be rudimentary dwellings built on the side of the hill.
Slowly the bus makes its way to the top of the hill. The view from the mountaintop is amazing. It is like looking out of an airline. From every angle, there is a beach or a port. Clouds drift in and out allowing the view to clear, then cloud over again. The sheer size of the statue of the Christ from atop the mountain is breathtaking. When the clouds roll in, the statue is partially covered by cloudcover, making it an even more amazing site.
We stand with our heads back, watching the statue and amazed at the view. It was truly an experience to behold.
I missed a day of blogging due to technical difficulties (laugh). Tuesday proved to be a rainy day. We woke early to the sound of the raindrops on the window that faces the beach. We peered out of our window to see an empty drenched beach.
We enjoy the breakfast buffet at the Marina Palace Hotel daily. Each day we enjoy an amazing assortment of fresh fruit, oatmeals and cereals, eggs, breads, and cheese. It is always a refreshing way to fill our hunger after our normal walk on the beach. Today, we skipped the walk and did the stairs. We hiked up quite a few stairs and then ran back down them to breakfast.
We hailed a taxi and headed into Rio de Janeiro city. It proved to be quite a distance from the beaches. It was approximately R$30 (30 Brazilian Real) to arrive downtown Rio de Janeiro city. By the time we arrive it is raining in buckets. We buy 2 umbrellas from a street vendor and venture into the Imperial Palace Museum. As it turns out, there is currently no exhibit here, so we cross the street to an amazing Catholic Church.
It's architecture and woodwork was some of the most amazing I have ever seen. The high vaulted ceilings were adorned with articulate wood designs and the glass - etched with colorful glass that created a most unique pictoral.
From the church, we sauntered over to their House of Democracy. It is where the House Representatives create and approve laws. We toured the rather impressive building and enjoyed walking around the place.
Lunch was had in a tiny cafe' inside the Imperial Palace Museum. The food has a bit of a French flair in that everywhere you go there are these amazing 'french like' pastries. I order a spinach quiche, and Michael has a salad. We have some strong Brazilian coffee to give us some energy for our exploration of downtown Rio in the pooring rain.
We have found the people to be so helpful and kind. They have gone out of their way to assist us, even if they don't speak our language. It has been a nice bonus to the trip.
We taxi'd back to the beaches and sat on the sun deck (the covered side) and watched the rain til late into the evening when we fell into bed. Still, admidst the rain, it was another day in paradise.
Both yesterday and today we have had rain in the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro. We spent the day touring and doing things that we wouldn't normally do if the weather was beautiful and bright. The beaches were completely empty, and the weather muggy with the sporadic raindrops.
We taxi'd over to H Stern, a diamond and gemstone workshop in Rio. They have a great tour of their operation, showing the various ways they mine the gemstones, cut them, polish them, and design their equisite jewelry. Once through the tour, they take you to a 'private' viewing location to try on jewelry. We probably disapointed them, as we purchased nothing but really enjoyed the tour. I have never been much of a jewelry buff. (smile) Maybe someday I will be (you know, years maybe after all 3 kids are through college).
Once we left H Stern, we walked around the area enjoying the scenery and drinking in the views of the beaches (beach areas are called Praia in Portugese). We are beginning to pick up a few words of Portugese. It has some similarities to Spanish. Some of the words are exactly alike, many vary. Most of the people here understand Spanish not English, so I find my self speaking mostly in Spanish when we are at restaurants and public stores. Thank goodness I know quite a bit of Spanish (smile).
We dined at a seafood restaurant called Guiseppe's Grill so that we could have some fish rather than our daily chicken and rice that we have had since arrival. We meet a guy named Roberto (RJ) that is traveling the world in search of the worlds most beautiful woman. He has a web site and is posting pictures. We, strangely enough, have run into him 3 times in 3 days. We saw him at the rooftop of the Marriott at the pool, we then ran into him at the CopaCabana Palace Hotel at the restaurant, then here. It is getting a little comical that we run into him everywhere.
He had started off on his trek to find the most beautiful woman in the world, and what he described as his misfortune, he fell in love with a beautiful Brazilian woman.
We enjoyed our rainy day in Brazil. I will blog about Tuesday tomorrow.