A Tour of Rainy Rio

December 31, 2009 - 3:13 am No Comments

Still no bags when we woke up this morning. We had a tour or Rio to catch, so we didn’t have time to make any calls.

The bus was late. When we finally got on, we jammed into seats too small for normal human beings. Lucielmo (I think that was his name) was our guide. He spoke in bits and pieces of Portuguese, Italian, and English, never using a complete sentence in any of them, sometimes using the microphone and sometimes not. Instead of practical information, Lucielmo filled the time with double-talk, a stupid grin, and goofy comments, including one borderline offensive one about a Lebanese tourist who married a Mexican woman and how their relationship, wedding, and babies were probably “explosive.”

Our “city tour” of Rio, one of the included items in the package, consisted of us zooming through the city and listening to Lucielmo trying to figure out what he saw ten seconds after we passed it. I would have liked to stop at the beautiful building that I think was the Theatro Municipal. We did stop at the strange-looking Rio de Janeiro Cathedral.

Rio de Janeiro Cathedral

Next, we went to Sugarloaf Mountain, a place that offers scenic viewpoints of Rio. By this time, it had started raining, and by the time we took two cable cars to the top, it was fogging over.

Rio from Sugarloaf Mountain

After walking around a bit, we headed back down and then started looking for everyone else. Lucielmo hadn’t given us any times or places to meet up, so we hung out in the parking lot for a while and waited. By the mid-morning, pretty much everyone was fed up with him.

The lunch included with the tour was much like the other meals we’ve had here, a meat and sides buffet. With the quantity of red meat consumed in this country, I wonder two things:

a) Where and how big are the farms for all these animals?

b) What’s the rate of cardiac disease in this country?

After lunch and without notice, Lucielmo was replaced by a woman who wasn’t much better. Like Lucielmo, Regina talked a lot but didn’t really tell us anything. What she was good at was abandoning on the bus for almost thirty minutes on Corcovado while she went to go scream at some other Portuguese bus drivers.

Corcovado is the site of Christ the Redeemer, a giant statue of Jesus with outstretched arms at the top of the mountain and one of the highlights of any trip to Rio. When we arrived, it was raining and foggy. Regina finally got her shit together and found a driver to take us up the windy roads to viewpoints and the statue, but visibility was near zero. After taking an escalator and some stairs to get up to the viewing platform, you could not see the city below nd could barely see the enormous statue right in front of us.

Southwest View from Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer

All in all, everyone associated with running the tour acted like they had never done it before. We arrived back at our apartment two hours later than scheduled, tired and soaked and annoyed.

Still no bags. By this point, the web site was useless. We had spoken on the phone with five airline reps of questionable commitment and intelligence. And in a move of stupefying incoordination, the latest was that American Airlines had sent our bags out for delivery to different addresses at different times by two different delivery companies, but they could not give us any more details. Fed up, Gog got the number of one of the local deliver companies and called. The guy who answered said that he actually had both bags, tracked them down, and told us that they were out for delivery, confirming with a driver on the other line that he had the address correct.

A little more confident that Gog would have fresh underwear in a few hours, we went out for dinner at Garota de Ipanema, the restaurant where “The Girl from Ipanema” was written. We took a break from red meat and had some scrumptious pizza and a side of potato salad with tuna. We washed it all down with caipirissimas, caipirinhas that replace cachaça with rum and taste a whole lot like mojitos.

Garota de Ipanema

Doug & Me in Garota de Ipanema

When we got back to the apartment, the doorman smiled and told us that OUR BAGS HAD ARRIVED. Gog was like Tiger Woods winning the Masters, dropping down to one knee and pumping his fist into the air so violently that a normal person would have dislocated his shoulder. We rushed to our room and dug out some fresh clothes. Gog’s four-day-old underwear belongs in a museum.

We tracked down Tati and met up with her at a bar in Ipanema. She brought along Marinha, an old friend of hers. Together, we drank and played games, including 3-5-7 (ask me and I’ll show you sometime), a connect-the-dots-to-make-squares game I used to play with my Dad when I was younger, and a fun test where we each took turns drawing the other’s home country on a napkin. Tati’s USA was priceless. Looked like a rectangle with a penis.

Country Drawings

Tomorrow, we wake up with clean clothes and will do our best to enjoy the last day of the decade.

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