After arriving on Friday morning and we checked into our hostel and then headed to the beach. And luckily for us, our hostel was about two blocks away from the beach. We first went to Ipanema; and you can bet that I was humming the song, "The Girl from Ipanema" almost the entire song. And if you have never heard it...
So after staying at Ipanema for a bit, we walked to the very famous Copacabana beach. Although the day was a little overcast, we were persistent and laid out on the beach until the sun came out; and we stayed there until I was a nice shade or red. :)
Copacabana with Sugar Loaf in the back :)
Then, after my request, we went to Starbucks, where I got a little taste of home! Really, that's the last time I go 7 months without a soy latte.
Feeding the addiction
And before we knew it, it was already nighttime! So we put on our heels and headed out for the evening to meet up with some friend's of Lakshmi's who live in Rio. It was such a fun evening that turned into a night of dancing; and by the end, we were exhausted.
Following a few hours of sleep, we woke up Saturday planning to go to Sugar Loaf; however, another overcast day presented itself upon us. Luckily, a beach about 45 minutes away from the city had clear, sunny skies. So Lakshmi and I went to the beach again with some of Lakshmi's friends. And after a full day at the beach, we headed back into Rio, we got ready for another night out. This time, just Lakshmi and I went to a lounge/bar/nightclub that was having a samba show. Now that was a fun night! There really is something about samba music that you can't help but dance. Even if you don't know how, you find yourself tapping your feet or moving your hips following the beats. The performer was Carlinhos de Jesus. He is one main choreographers for the "Desfile das escolas de Samba" that happens every year at Carnaval. At one point in the show he asked all those that were from different countries or parts of Brasil to come up and say where they were from. So, I scooted on up in front of the stage and told him that I'm from the US. He grabbed my hand, twirled me around, said I looked beautiful; then in English, said "Welcome to Brasil". And so, at about 2 a.m., after hours of samba-ing, we were called it a night.
The next day, Easter Sunday, we woke up bright and early to take a city tour. Initially, we were supposed to go to the Christ Redeemer, however, clouds were lurking around him in the morning. As a result, we first went to the various spots around the city. Our rather full morning included the Sambódromo (the place where the Desfile de Samba happens), Maracana (the soccer stadium), the cathedral of Rio de Janeiro, and finally driving around looking at various historic buildings of Rio, such as the Teatro Municipal.
And finally, the clouds passed and we were ready to go to the Christ Statue. When I first found out that I was going to Brasil I made a list of all the things that I was planning to do here; and seeing the Christ Redeemer was up there on my list. Little did I know that I would be seeing O Cristo, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, on Easter Sunday. The sun was shining, I was in one of the most beautiful cities in the world with great company and making memories that will last for the rest of my life. We stayed there for about an hour looking around and taking plenty of pictures. It was a pretty surreal Easter Sunday and I couldn't imagine spending it any other way.
The view of the whole city from the top of Corcovado
(Corcovado is the name of the mountain)
After the tour, we went back to the beach (surprise!) and rested after an early and full morning. Leaving after I turned another healthy shade of red, we passed a street fair in Ipanema that happens every Sunday. And after checking out some cool local crafts and loads of tourist booths, we went back to the hostel to get all the sand out of our hair and clean up for our last night in Rio. Lakshmi stayed in the hostel to work while I went to mass at a church about three blocks away from where we were staying. I am kicking myself for not taking pictures of the church because it was simple beautiful. And during the mass, I really couldn't have been happier. It was a moment where I was so incredibly intent, surrounded by so much happiness and love as people celebrated Christ's ressurrection; and reminding myself how greatly blessed I am. It's a feeling that I think that too often we forget as we get caught up in the rush of life. The only thing that would have made it better was if you were there with me! :)
After the mass, I went an met up with Lakshmi at a cafe right next to our hostel; and there we toasted our last night in Rio with pie and tea. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful weekend!
And at 4:30 on Monday, we were on our way back to Belo Horizonte. I got back home around 10 a.m., and after lunch I went right to bed and didn't wake up until later that night! You might say I was a little tired. :)
So what have these last two weeks included for me? Well, just living life and making the most of my time here. Last week I had my first test at university, and I passed! And for the record, it was in Portuguese, and an oral exam. Now, I won't be taking a test until my final on the 13th of June (just 7 days before I leave!!). Last night I went to a concert of a sertanejo (Brazilian country) band with my friend, Chiara. There we met up with some of her school friends.
As of yesterday, I have exactly two months left here in Brasil. It really is a strange feeling. I have started to prepare my final presentation that I'll show to my Rotary club and the club of my host mom, Virginia. And as I am making it, the emotions start flowing and maybe one or two tears are shed as I think of saying goodbye to these amazing people that I have met. And not knowing when I'll see them again makes it even harder. However, as extremely hard as it will be to say goodbye, saying hello to my family and friends back home will be nice.
But until that moments arrives, I am making the most of each moment I have here. Next weekend (April 28th-May 1st), I'll be in a town called Poço de Caldas for my district's conference. And then just four short days after I get back, I go to the Amazon!!!!!!!!!! :) But really, I'm only just a little excited. ;)
I hope all of you are having a wonderful weekend where ever you are in the world!
Don't forget to take those moments to remember how lucky you are!
Sending all my love from Brasil,