“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”

It rained early this morning: just what we needed, more humidity. Already the weather has a stranglehold. I went out to get the papers and gasped. The weather woman claims this humidity will end today but Cape Cod will be the last place to feel the change. I guess I’ll just have to hang out in the AC.

Today is our last visit to South America.

When we were leaving Argentina for Uruguay, we decided to take a short hop plane ride across the Rio de la Plata to Montevideo. The plane was an old prop. When we got on board, the stewardess gave us each a small ticket and a hard candy. Come to find out the ticket was for a drawing. The winner, the man in the seat ahead of me, won a lady’s handbag. That was the first and has been the only time I was part of an in-flight drawing.

Montevideo was a lovely city with beautiful parks, statues and huge sculptures. It was small, especially in comparison to Buenos Aires. I was drawn, as I had been in so many other cities, to the old town. Many of the buildings there, dating from the colonial period, were a bit run-down, but it was still my favorite part of the city. You could see water from both sides of the main street. There were small places to eat, little holes in the walls where we stopped for lunch. The entrance to the old town was the last bit of the wall which had once surrounded the city. Later, we took a bus tour to orient ourselves. Part of the tour was a walk through the General Assembly building. It was empty. The military had taken over the country in 1973 in a coup and dissolved the branches of government. We saw the assembly room with its rows of empty seats.

We finally did some shopping just for the sake of shopping because with the trip nearing its end we didn’t mind hauling extra stuff. I bought some beautiful gold bracelets: one for my mother and one for me. My mother wore hers for the whole of the rest of her life.

We flew from Montevideo to Sao Paulo and had a bit of culture shock. The city was huge, and I felt like Country Mouse. There were skyscrapers, shopping centers and cars, lots of cars, and even back then millions of people. We wandered the streets and stopped in beautiful parks and a few museums, but we didn’t stray far from the center of the city, from the downtown. My Spanish had gotten pretty good throughout the rest of South America, but here I was pretty much at a loss with the Portuguese. I could figure out menus, but that was about it. Sao Paulo was my least favorite stop of the entire trip. We stayed only three days as we were eager to get to Rio.

We flew to Rio and took a bus into the city where we found a really nice hotel through happenstance. We walked by it and liked the looks. Our room was huge and even had a table and chairs.

I loved Rio. It had tons of things to see and great restaurants with wonderful food. We took trips around the city every day. One trip was to Copacabana and Ipanema. Even though it was winter in Brazil, we had to walk the beaches and across the sand. It seemed like a rite of passage. We did some shopping in the stores around the beaches, but they were a bit rich for me. I did buy a few small gifts to take home.

Another trip was to Sugarloaf Mountain. I had seen pictures of Sugarloaf jutting out of the water but never imagined I’d be there. We took the tram to the top. From the tram, as we traveled up to the mountain, we could see Rio spread below us, but it was the view of Rio from the top which was spectacular. Also from the top I saw a US submarine. It was the first time out of a movie I had seen an actual sub traveling on the water. It looked small from where I was standing, but the conning tower was prominent.

Of all the symbols of Rio, I think the most magnificent is the Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado Mountain. It stands over Rio as if to guard it or maybe bless it. A picture of that statue had been in one of my geography books. It was so beautiful I had kept the picture safe in my memory drawer, and I couldn’t believe that so many years later here I was standing on that very spot. We rode to the mountain then climbed the steps to the statue. It towered above us both awesome and breathtaking. Spread out below us was the city, the water and Sugarloaf. I felt on top of the world.

We were in Rio five days. The city was beautiful. We ate in a variety of restaurants, some hole in the wall spots, always favorites of mine, but on our last night we ate in an expensive restaurant as a sort of going away present for ourselves. We were celebrating what had been the trip of a lifetime. We had traveled from Caracas to Rio and been gone eight weeks. That last night we toasted our trip and each other. The next day we flew to New York then on to Boston. We arrived home filled with memories I have never forgotten.

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9 Comments on ““I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    I wish I had made such a journey when I was younger. My friends did but they went to Asia and especially China instead. So every time I hear someone young talk about maybe making a trip like that I encourage them to do so as much as I can 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • Christer,
      I was 28 when I took that trip, and it would be my last trip for about five or 6 years as I bought my house a year later. My roommate who traveled with me that summer decided to get married and was going to move off cape so she sold her house. That made me decide to buy my own.The mortgage was half my month’s salary so it took a while to save enough for another trip.

  2. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Montevideo is another one of those places that turns up in a lot of books and always sounds richly exotic. 🙂
    That was a grand adventure you had. Thank you for taking us along again.

    The weather is going to change today so hang on. It’s much less humid up here and not as warm. My windows are all open and the AC is off, thank heavens. There’s a slight breeze. It’s heading your way. 🙂
    Enjoy the day.

    • Hi Caryn,
      That was a great adventure and we traveled long and far.

      Montevideo was small compared to other capitals, but we enjoyed it because of that. It was more walkable.

      It is still ugly and humid here, but I’ll be patient knowing drier weather is coming!!

  3. Birgit Says:

    Thanks for sharing your memories !
    I learned more about South America in this week than ever in school. Entertaining education combined with virtual vacation.

    Zoey&Me is right, you should write a book.
    Or keep the coffee-blog coming 🙂

    • It was my pleasure, Birgit!

      I haven’t thought about that trip in a long while so it was fun remembering.

      It’ll keep coming except for my African hiatus!

  4. Bob Says:

    Hot again today 102, but with scattered thunderstorms, non of which dropped any rain on my house.

    Sao Paulo is the third largest city in the world, about 22 million people, in a space about thirty miles across. It is the city with the highest kidnap rate in the world and tourists are prime targets for fraud, pick pockets and other crimes. Wealthy Sao Paulo residents use helicopters to get around town to avoid driving and becoming a kidnap victim. I didn’t see very much of Sao Paulo because I was there on business. I saw the airport, the Marriott Airport Hotel and our training center. Some of our local employees took me to dinner a couple of nights in their cars. I would pass up Sao Paulo if I were a tourist there is really nothing of interest in the city except being a big city.

    Of course Rio is beautiful, but also parts of Rio are dangerous for tourists. They have tourist police who patrol the areas that you mentioned where visitors go to enjoy the sights. The tourist police all speak english and are there to protect the visitors from the riff raft. I don’t know how Rio is going to get their crime rate under control before the Olympics in 2016.

    They have neighborhoods where the gangs control everything. The police regularly raid these neighborhoods referred to as favelas with assault weapons to clean out the gangs and set up a police station. They don’t have enough police to hold the favelas and the bad guys eventually take over again.

    If you read the US State Department Travel Information for Brazil, you might want to pass it up completely.

    • Bob,
      I was in Rio so long ago that there was no need for travel warnings, and we walked all over pretty freely. Nothing happened anywhere in South America, and we were two women traveling alone. People were kind and hospitable. The world has changed so much since then that traveling there now would probably be safer with a tour.

      Sao Paulo was huge even back then and I didn’t really enjoy my time there. It had none of the charm of other cities with their old towns and colonial buildings. It was just filled with cars and people.

      That trip was an amazing adventure I’ll never forget.

  5. sprite Says:

    I’ve really enjoyed the armchair tour you’ve taken us on. Thank you for sharing your memories with us!

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