Friday, April 15, 2011

Ola amigos! My trip around the world is almost over.....

Hello friends,
I wanted to enjoy Rio and the rest of the city before I return to the mainland tomorrow.  I can't believe that my journey is almost over.
I woke up early this morning so I could catch a bus to Corcovado.  This is where the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Rendentor) is located.

This is the second largest Art Deco statue in the entire world and is probably the most photographed image of Rio!  it is made of concrete, soapstone and stands at an amazing 130 feet tall. It is located on top of Corcovado Mountain in Tijuca Forest National Park.

Chist the Redeemer
It was great to finally get to the top.  The humidity was so overwhelming.  I am smiling but my shirt is dripping in sweat!  

Brazil's National cocktail made of cachaca  (distilled alcoholic beverage), sugar and lime

Tram that took me up to Christ the Redeemer

View from Corcovado

After seeing the statue, I went into the City Center and visited the areas of Santa Teresa and Lapa.
Santa Teresa is a district filled with artists, writers and creative minds.  It's an 18th century hillside town filled with lots of historical architecture.  Lapa is known for it's aqueduct arches and it is the mecca of Rio's nightlife since the 1950's.  The areas were filled with lots of culture but the streets were often crowded with homeless people and people sleeping in the streets in the middle of the day.   It was quite a different atmosphere from the touristy beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana.

Arcos da Lapa

Catedral Sao Sebastiaod

Pedro's mom!

When I got home, my host Pedro took me for one last motorcycle ride around the town.  I'm still not used to the speed of his bike and his weaving in between cars but I trusted that he would get me back safe.  The rush of being on his bike was exhilarating and exploring Rio with him will always be remembered.  

What a way to end my 6 month trip around the world.  During this time, I have been to Dominican Republic, South Korea, India, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Hawaii and now I am heading to Miami to visit my brother before heading back to Chicago.  It was 13 countries and I have no idea how many flights and miles, trains, cars, automobiles, motorcycles and rickshaws that I have used.

I can't say how my trip has changed me but it has.  I can definitely say that I am a lot more crazy, more courageous and appreciative of how short life is and how I want to always live it to the fullest.  All I can say is time definitely flies by when you are busy having fun and exploring the world.  I have met some of the most fascinating, intelligent, well traveled, enlightened individuals on this journey and they have ALL made my experience around the world something that I will never ever forget.  

My experience of CouchSurfing and the people who have hosted me in 9 different countries have given me a new meaning of what it means to be selfless and to give unconditional generosity of their time, home and lives to a complete stranger.  I have met an amazing friend on my journey and I will continue to travel the entire west coast on the road with her when I get back to Chicago.   I have decided to extend my journey for another month when I get back.  It's funny where life takes you.  

To be continued......

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