Rio de Janeiro -- Day I
Rio de Janeiro Travel Blog› entry 1 of 12 › view all entries
As I slowly opened my eyes I could still hear the constant humming of the jet turbine on the side of the airplane and I knew it was not a dream. First checking my watch, then observing the still sleeping others I realized I did not sleep as much as I desired. The plastic covering which blocked the strong sun’s rays from illuminating the cabin and waking everyone else in first class up was glowing with light from the East. Slyly I slid the covering up to take my first ever glance at the land of Brazil. The pictures we all see of Brazil looked nothing like the area just North of Rio de Janeiro. The land was desolate and sparely populated with no agricultural value whatsoever. As we approached the international airport you could for the first time see the flavelas. As we passed through customs and out of the baggage claim we were bombarded by beautiful women, in individual taxi cubical yelling at us like a flock of prostates to take their brand of taxi to the Hotel Atlantico. The one concern on our mind was not the women but our money and where to cash our Traveler’s Cheques. Suddenly there was Roberto by our side, a middle aged man who has been driving taxi’s for over twenty years and a native of Rio hustled along us with his little own little bellhop. He told us, in broken English, that if we were to go with him he’d take us our hotel and then to cash our traveler’s cheques. In Brazil when a holiday arises on the calendar, especially a Christian holiday, all the business shut down for the day. McDonalds, a place we rarely see a closed sign, was locked solid and had the steel curtains pulled down. No one was getting a Big Mac or cashing a Traveler’s Cheques today. The American Express currency exchange, like Micky D’s, was too closed for the religious holiday. Roberto, knowing he would only get the Reais I had exchanged at the airport, a mere thirty-five American dollars then began to swindle us. He said he lived on the world famous Copacabana beach and knew of an apartment with twenty-four hour security and that it was no problem, we could just pay tomorrow, once we cashed our cheques. He showed us the beautiful apartment, nine stories up, overlooking the Copacabana beach, just like he told us as he swerved in and out of traffic, driving like the rest of the locals. With two queen beds and cable TV the minimum nights stay was seven night--we had only planned four. We let Roberto down slowly as we politely asked him to return us to the Hotel Atlantico where we has already had confirmed reservations. Not another word was spoken by Roberto, who, not five minutes ago was as vocal as a magpie. Paying him the eighty-one I had converted in to Reais and an American twenty dollar bill, we left Roberto in front of the Atlantico. The instant we crawled out of the maroon station wagon, Roberto called a taxi, we were met by four, uniformed bellhops, all with a little English under their belts. The bell captain, Gungergio, and older man who it appeared had been working the Atlantico for many years took the baggage from the car and had his assistants pack it into the hotel. After registering at the front desk, Pedro, a man who spoke fluent English informed us of some of the local tours we could take the following day. I lay on my bed as Sophia, the maybe hundred pound housekeeper, literally flexed her mussels, or lack there of and moved the other two single beds together. I closed my eyes, happy to be finally in Rio. As I opened them again I noticed something from out the window. As I sat up, I, for the first time, laid my eyes on Rio’s prized landmark, the Christ Redeemer.