Hoje, eu andei de caiaque.
Any guesses? Take that “c” word and try to say it out loud.
I’ll give you a moment…
That’s right, kayak! I went kayaking today in the Guanabara Bay!!
Vinicius, a friend of my host, belongs to a water sports club in Rio and was able to reserve a beautiful, long green kayak for us to use for the morning. After lathering on the sun tan lotion (Vinicius is the first person I’ve met here as white as me!! Happy day, a friend!), and gearing up we walked to the edge of the water – which was pretty cold – and embarked.
We paddled out to the middle of the bay. The 360 degree view was breathtaking. Its a totally different perspective of Niteroi and Rio that most people never get to see.
A butterfly joined us, looking like it needed a place to rest. Brilliant orange and yellow with some dull white, it flitted by us for several minutes but never landed. It actually looked like it was leading us for a while and then left us for other interests.
We managed to circle most of the bay in about an hour and would have like to continue, but it will have to wait for another day.
Not wanting to leave Rio just yet, I asked Vinicius to drop me off at Pão de Açúcar, which was nearby the Praia da Urca, where we had embarked from. The last time I have been to Pão de Açúcar was eleven years ago – wow. When we arrived, the line was ridiculously long so Vinicius suggested that I walk the Pista Claudio Coutinho. A well-used, but not as touristy, and easy path, it encircles the base of Pão de Açúcar and allows for the chance to see some wildlife. Since Vinicius was not able to come along, I bravely set out on my own (seriously though, everything was tranquil and calm). Meandering along I saw more marmosets, lizards, and beautiful birds, besides some interesting people including rock climbers – new thing to add on to the bucket list!
I eventually made my way to the ticket office for the cable car to go up Pão de Açúcar and was surprised to find no line whatsoever. I encountered a group of people earlier who said they had to wait 40 minutes and I literally walked in. Guess taking the trail first was a good idea after all.
The two morros (hills) of the location actually have two different names: Morro da Urca, which is the shorter one, and Pão de Açúcar, the taller one. From the top of either of the morros are spectacular views of the city and Guanabara Bay. Luckily, I made a few friends along the way who took some pictures of me with the view.
In fact, the coolest part of going on Pão de Açúcar was meeting all the people. Of course, there are always tourists in a place like this but with the World Cup everything has grown exponentially. I made friends with Mo, a Canadian, Daniel and Philip, Belgians, had my hair tousled and was given a bear hug by a grizzly German, asked a Norwegian to take a photo for me, saw an Australian man being filmed for some sort of show, walked by several of the ever-present Asian tourists, and of course, flocks of Americans.
Together, we all enjoyed a fantastic sunset over the hills of Rio that seemed to light the bay on fire. Across the way one can see Cristo Redentor, arms spread wide as if embracing this magnificent city, being silhouetted by the fading light.
It was definitely worth the 11 year wait. I’ll just have to make sure it won’t be such a long gap until the next time.