A Day in The Way - Rio
The approach from the air into Rio is spectacular. This is probably why nearly every return from commercial during the 2016 Olympics featured a sweeping aerial descent through Rio’s hills into the arena or venue. For this reason, the secular and quite politically correct coverage of the games began every segment with a spectacular flattering view of giant Jesus. Of course, I’m referring to the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is famous as a party city. It has famous beaches of song: Ipanema and Copacabana, and incredible natural beauty including Sugarloaf and Corcovado, but it’s most famous site is one of the new seven wonders of the world, and a very non-secular giant statue of Jesus Christ. Rio has both a high crime rate and a high number of devoutly faithful Christians. Giant Jesus watches over them all. Amazingly, the statue seems to be visible from everywhere.
I came into Rio by boat. When approaching some cities by boat, you see nothing. Not so with Rio. The approach by sea is on par with the approach by air used repetitively by the Olympic coverage. A nice thing about being on a cruise ship full of partiers, is the quiet and lack of crowds in the early morning. I drank my coffee as the sun came up, and I enjoyed an unobstructed view as the ship slipped quietly past Sugarloaf. I had booked us on a shore excursion to the top of Corcovado where the Christ the Redeemer statue resides, but I could already see it from the deck of the ship. It was distant and small, and I wasn’t sure it was the statue at this point, but I would find throughout the day that it was indeed, and that it could be seen from just about anywhere in the area.
Sometimes there’s no reason to pay for a shore excursion because I can explore on my own. The amount of walking that will be necessary is usually the deciding factor. There’s no way that I could have gotten to the top of Corcovado on my own with less walking or for less money than by taking the shore excursion. We boarded a bus just steps from the gangplank of the ship. Our guide introduced herself. Her name was Mary. I felt obliged to point out to my daughter that it was Mary taking us to see Jesus, not Mina, or Maria, or Miriam as you might expect in a Portuguese speaking country, but Mary. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t catering to her English-speaking group. The proof was right there on her name tag; it said “Mary”.
A bus took us to the base of Corcovado. I don’t know if we took the shortest route, but we seemed to have gotten a great city tour of Rio’s highlights. From the base of the mountain we took a rickety 100-year-old train most of the way to the top. From later research, I learned that a train had been on this mountain since the 1880’s but that the current system had been modernized in the 1980’s. On this particular day, I didn’t have Wikipedia in my pocket, so it was a 100-year-old rickety train dragging us up the hill at break-neck speeds of up to what seemed like maybe 13 miles per hour. It wasn’t the speed really, it was wondering what breaking system was in place should the forward propulsion suddenly give out. I didn’t want to hurl back down the mountain at perhaps 213 miles per hour. Did I mention: it was steep. And Jesus was way up there. Well, I lived to tell the rest of the tale, but the journey to see Jesus didn’t end at the end of the tracks. The journey also involved an elevator ride for which I had similar reservations as I had had with the train, and several stairs which are an even less desirable way for me to elevate myself than rickety vehicles.
I have to say: giant Jesus, and anyone who makes the trek up the hill to see him, have an amazing view. Throughout the crowd of people at the top, cameras are pointed in both directions, and not just because of selfies. It’s hard to know if you’re walking through somebody’s shot. Are they taking a selfie with the statue, or are they taking a selfie with the view? I don’t believe anybody uses the forward-facing picture function anymore. It’s still tough to know what people are photographing, because the view is amazing in all directions.
The statue is made primarily of reinforced concrete. Up close, it looks a lot like the sidewalk does up close. The statue is not special. Its location is. And I don’t exactly mean on the top of Corcovado which can be reached by boat, then bus, then train, then elevator, and then stairs. There are a lot of faithful people in Rio who see that sign every day. I wonder if they are inspired at all to remain “on the path” with Jesus looking over their shoulder all day no matter where they go. Likewise, atheists and criminals in Rio also have Jesus looking over their shoulders all day and all night (the statue has lights). They can’t be happy about that.