As the new day began, we were reminded that our time here in Brazil is limited. Our final destination, Rio de Janeiro is our home for the next three days. This morning a few of us woke up bright and early to attend a traditional Catholic mass. The little church was elegantly decorated with stain glass windows lining the walls and carved pillars throughout ceremonial space. The mass was entirely in Portuguese, and those who went received a glimpse into a part of the Brazilian culture.
Later on, everyone enjoyed a cup of freshly squeezed juice, cheese bread, a wide variety of fruits, and of course coffee. After breakfast, the ICAL team made their way down to Copacabana Beach to enjoy the morning sun and a couple of waves. We did not try our hand in surfing, but we let the waves push us around. Who would have thought, the ocean was salty. Overall, the morning was absolutely a blast, and we experience the people of Rio playing volleyball, lounging on the beach, and competing in soccer games.
As 12:30 rolled around, we showered and got ready for the day. Our first stop was the “Hippie Fair.” A collection of artisans set up small booths to peddle their handmade jewelry, leather, and canvas paintings. As we walked around, we experienced the smells of traditional desserts. Furthermore, we gained an appreciation for the craftsmanship of the pieces that were being sold.
Upon leaving the hippie fair we trekked across Rio to find a lunch location. When our first choice had too long of a wait and our second choice couldn’t accommodate our large group, we settled for a restaurant across from the beach where we each devoured foods ranging from hamburgers to pasta. From our late lunch we went straight for what would be one of the most breathtaking experiences Brazil has to offer– Sugar Loaf Mountain.
While the cable cars up to the top of the peak were slightly nerve racking, the view we saw at the top trumped any fear of heights those of us in the group might have had. Imagine this: the sun setting, Copacabana Beach to your left, Christ the Redeemer statue straight ahead and the lights and skyscrapers of Rio to the right. It was the most incredible view any of us could imagine and pictures can only begin to do the beauty of what we witnessed justice.
After Sugar Loaf, we made a quick detour at the hotel to change for dinner where we enjoyed appetizer-type food at a restaurant across from the beach while watching futbol on TV. It is hard to believe that in just a few days this journey will be over, but we are all having the time of our lives and are so grateful for this incredible experience.
Mollie Lastovica (Texas A&M) and Samuel Tauchen (University of Wisconsin – River Falls)