February 16, 2015
Sailing out of Rio
“The Chrysler Building Gets Religion.” At least that what the statue of Christ the Redeemer on the top of Corcovado reminds me of, although I think this art deco “wonder of the modern world” predates the Chrysler Building.
On Monday morning we wanted to sleep in after our evening at the Sambodormo. Holland America had other ideas. Some track star in scheduling decided that our balcony needed power hosing at 9 AM. Then at 10:30 they held a man overboard drill with the same bells and whistles that alerted us to the fire on board earlier in the cruise. With a shot of adrenaline we figured we better make the most of our last day in Rio. But what to do? Last night was such a high. We decided to take it easy and I found a taxi and asked him to take us to two modern religious icons of Rio, the Metropolitan Cathedral and Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado.
The Cathedral is an ugly concrete cone with magnificent stained glass windows that stand almost 200 feet tall. The windows are the reason to visit. When we got there we found that the Catholic Church has given up competing with carnival and a sign told us that the cathedral was completely closed on carnival Monday and Tuesday but open for business again on Ash Wednesday. We were disappointed but just then the doors opened. Some workmen were inside. We, and several others, got a brief glimpse of one of the windows before the workmen said something gruff and slammed the door in our faces. This is not the first time a church has slammed the door in my face but it never before happened so literally.
So next it was up to Corcovado. Carnival Monday the place was crowded and there was no way we could get on the funicular but there is a road to the top and our driver, while he could not go up, negotiated us a ride on one of the shuttle buses. At the top, at the foot of Christ the Redeemer, several people performed kind of a weird reverse prostration. Instead of lying on their stomachs, face to the ground, they were laying on their backs, looking up at the Christ. They were not performing some weird pre-Lenten ritual but were trying to get it all, head, body and outstretched arms in one picture. I preferred using a wide angle lens. Looking at this landmark I decided that it should be named Christ the Dipole. I don’t think it will catch on. On the base of the statue is an art deco chapel, unfortunately pictures are not allowed, but it reminds me of the elevator lobby of the Chrysler building.
On the way back we had to take several detours because of Bandas and Blocos. As we approached the ship the police told our driver, and the drivers of a lot of other taxis and tour busses, that the road was closed and while we could see the ships we needed to take a 15 minute detour. As we drove through backstreets I saw the reason, a Bloco in a square made up of some newly renovated and some utterly destroyed buildings in the port section of Rio. I noted the location and when we got to the terminal figured we were only two blocks from the Bloco. We walked a little and soon heard the samba beat. The Sambamantes, which has a good brass section, were playing while parents, kids, teenagers (in costume) and the stray tourist danced and (the adults) drank Antarctic Beer, with penguins on the can. The kids had ice cream. We stayed until the band quit and the beer vendors began packing up their ice chests. Suzi and I sambaed back to the ship.
Sail away featured samba on the deck with some Brazilian dancers from our “Location Team” the group of entertainers, lecturers and folklorists who took over from the Antarctic Expedition Team. There was a conga line as we sailed past Sugarloaf and by Copacabana Beach, which was full of carnival revelers in the late afternoon. We had sailed past these same landmarks just yesterday at sunrise. One fellow traveler sighed and said “It’s a long way to Tipperary.”