Nowhere With You

Cristo Redentor

Monday January 12, 2015


First off, some technical business: the platform I'm using for this blog has a weird bug relating to the dates. So things may show up as future dates or whatever… it's confusing and bad. So hopefully they fix it soon and you will be less weirded out about how I'm writing from the future.

So we woke up this morning and got ready to leave for our Christ the Redeemer visit. At the front desk of the hostel, Sandra reminded me that we needed a bit more toilet paper. I passed this on (in English) to the woman at reception. She had no idea what I was on about. I entered Charades mode. Since the toilet paper in our hostel comes out as single sheets, I started to mime the action of taking out multiple sheets of toilet paper. It ended up looking like I was "making it rain". She was not following. Next up: bring out the big guns. I turn my bottom in her general direction and commence mime-wiping it with my bare hand. She bursts into laughter, but immediately understands what we're looking for. Who needs Google Translate when you have no shame?

We took a cab to get to the tram that carries passengers up the enormous hill atop which the Christ the Redeemer statue is situated. It cost us 14 reais. This is important to remember.

The wait to catch the tram and the ride up were fairly uneventful. I was mildly amused when the tram stopped only a few minutes after the began the ascent. Quietly at first, then louder and louder grew the voice of a man walking up and down beside the tram selling beers through the windows. Just walking around on a hill waiting for the tram to stop by. Strange.

Christ the Redeemer was pretty solid. Flatter than I expected: from front to back, that is. Interesting facts:

  • The statue is Art Deco. It makes sense in retrospect. It has that clean, curvy look.
  • The statue is placed atop Corcovado hill. The name Corcovado originates from the word for hunchback. I take this to mean that Jesus is therefore the Hunchback of Rio de Janeiro.
  • It's made of concrete. That's probably obvious to many of you. I didn't really think about it, but it takes a bit of the dazzle away in my opinion. Concrete just seems too easy.
  • Multiple artists were involved in its design. One person made the head, another did the hands (and modelled them after her own).
  • Tons of people lay down on the ground and try to get shots upward toward the statue. It's funny seeing everybody laying down trying to do this. It's like the Brazilian equivalent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa shot. It's such a problem that they had a guy walking around with a megaphone telling people not to do it. But why would that stop anybody?!

We caught a cab to get back home. After a few minutes driving, I realized we weren't headed through the tunnel we took to get to the statue in the first place. I get the translation of "tunnel". Tunel. Great. I get the cabbie's attention and say "Tunel?". He then says a whole lot of things I don't understand. I check my map and see that he's going a weird, circuitous way to get back to our hostel. He realizes what's up and stops the cab, offering for us to get out. But now he's driven us 10 reais in the wrong direction, so we'd have to pay for it going back the other way anyway. We decide to let him continue. I start looking up translations for words like "short", "long", "your route", "my route", "fourteen (remember earlier?)", "why now twenty?". By the end of the ride, he seems apologetic as if he realizes he could have taken a better route. He asks again how much we paid to go there and I say fourteen. He gives me the change as if the total were 16 reais, instead of the 20 showing on the meter. He gives me back two twos from my twenty. He insists on placing them on my lap while I say "don't worry about it" and pass them back. In the end, we split the two twos. It felt like a good end to a slightly awkward situation.

After returning home we went out to grab some groceries. On the way, we stopped by the Joao Batista cemetery. You can actually see it in the 8th picture I'm posting today. It's massive. In the picture, it's immediately to the left of the flatter green hill in the centre-left of the picture. The cemetery fills that entire space between the aforementioned hill and the one to the left of that. Yep, it's really big. So we wandered around there and took pictures of graves like the supercreeps we are. Then we bought groceries like nothing ever happened.

We went out for dinner at the Cobao Humaita. It's a neat little collection of restaurants. We actually ate there the other night also, but at a different place. We took the recommendation of our favourite hostel receptionist (Cesar), and ate at Joaquina's. After I translated some vegetarian options for Sandra, she went with the Vegetarian Stroganoff. She liked mine better, so we swapped. I guess I'm not surprised she went with that option, though, because the other one she was thinking about directly translated to "Vegetarian Spit". Should have gone with the spit, Sandra.

I had the courage to bust out my big-boy camera today. Hope you enjoy the results!


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