My exchange university is a Catholic university so I had several extra days off around Easter. I took advantage of the extra time to do some traveling and some of the tourist activities that I still haven’t done in Rio.
I choose what I appears to be the busiest day of the year, Good Friday, to visit the famous “Cristo Redentor” (Christ the Redeemer) stature that overlooks Rio de Janeiro. Instead of taking a van or train, I hiked to the top from Parque Lage. It is about a 2-hour hike that passes a couple of small waterfalls and from there is about straight up the rest of the way. My friend and I really enjoyed the hike and it was such a gratifying feeling to reach the top and see the statue. Along the way, we saw monkeys, butterflies, birds, and an anteater. The view from the top is incredible! I saw all of Rio de Janeiro or a Cidade Maravilhosa. The Christ Statute itself is impressive. I have seen it for months from below where it appears miniature, but I was finally able to great a real sense of how big it is! It was difficult to move around because it was so crowded, but we managed and it didn’t take away from the amazing experience.
I celebrated Easter with my Brazilian friend’s family. It was really nice to see the Brazilian Easter traditions and be with a welcoming family while I could not be at home. Everyone here is crazy about the famous chocolate Easter eggs. You could find them hanging from the ceiling and on shelves in just about any store, especially Lojas Americanas. They are extremely expensive compared to what I would pay to buy something similar in the U.S.; nonetheless, everyone, including me, indulged during the holiday season.
Angra dos Reis and Ilha Grande
After Easter, I travelled with my friend to a nearby place called Angra dos Reis, which is one of the port cities near Ilha Grande. Ilha Grande is a big island known for its natural beauty that includes a lush rainforest, beautiful and clear water, and many endangered species. I spent most of my time out on the water. The highlight of the trip was by far our encounter with wild dolphins. There must have been at least 70 dolphins in the pack and we were able to ride in the boat alongside them! It was truly amazing and one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen. Looking down from the front of the boat, I could see them swimming underwater. At one point, several of them were even jumping out of the water and putting on a show for us. I took tons of video footage and shot as many pictures as I could, but I still do not think any of it captures the feeling of being among such graceful animals.
If you’re interested in seeing more pictures, you can view my Flickr account here.
Now that the holiday is over, back to school!