Wednesday morning we all woke up at 5:00 a.m. for the fullest and most exciting day of our whole trip: a day in Rio de Janeiro. The plane ride from Campinas was only an hour long, but all of us were so sleepy that it felt like minutes. Our bubbly guide Fernando met us at the airport, and we split into groups to board buses headed to Christ the Redeemer. On the way we passed the beautiful beach of Copacabana. The road up the mountain was full of twists and turns, and Carol pointed out an old hotel where Pele had once stayed. The mountain itself was misty and crowded with tourists from all over the world–I heard everything spoken from Korean to French. The air was humid and warm at the base, but the higher we moved the cooler it became. The statue itself was bigger than I could have imagined, even though I had seen it in pictures. It towered over all of us, tangled in the clouds like a massive ghost. Thousands stood around it, taking pictures and leaning over the railings to look down at the city, spread out like a painting below. I bought postcards, and we headed down for lunch.
The restaurant we stopped at was a famous Brazilian steakhouse, and we all ate more food than we thought possible. There was salad, sushi, fish, steak, pork, and waiters brought it all to our table on a rotation. I drank two full pitchers of mango juice. Afterwards, we went out back and sat on rocks by the water until it was time for our next part of the tour—a trip up the sugarloaf. The Sugarloaf Mountain is another one of Rio’s most famous attractions, and to get to the top we had to take a cable car. We moved right up through the clouds and trees, and were greeted with another crazy view. While at the top we met the Minister of Defense for Zambia, who was surrounded by at least ten secret bodyguards and secret service agents. We took a cable car back down and boarded our bus, reaching the airport just in time for our flight. I was asleep before I reached my room.