2 Days in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

One and a half days, really. We docked yesterday morning, spent the night in port, and left a bit after 1:00 this afternoon. And one and a half days was nowhere near enough time to do this vibrant city justice.

Yesterday we took a walking tour of the highlights of this city, home to “nearly seven million” people, according to our guide. Originally settled by the Portuguese, Rio was the second capital of Brazil, from 1763 until 1960, when the capital was moved inland to Brasilia. The city overlooks Guanabara Bay, which offers 45 miles of beaches. It’s not unusual to see modern skyscrapers adjacent to historical buildings.

The central square contains city hall, the Bibliotheca Nacional (national library), the fine arts museum, and the French-influenced Municipal Theatre.

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

city hall
city hall
Biblioteca Nacional
Biblioteca Nacional
Municipal Theatre
Municipal Theatre

The plaza displays geometric mosaic designs created from tiles originally brought as ballast in ships from Portugal.

tiled plaza
tiled plaza

Today we ascended Sugarloaf Mountain, a conic mountain that resembles the way sugar was stored in colonial times. The trip up the mountain requires two different cable cars.

The top offers beautiful views of Guanabara Bay as well as Copacabana Beach, three miles of sand along the Atlantic side of the peninsula.

Copacabana Beach
Copacabana Beach

A hungry iguana joined us at the top of Sugarloaf:

On our way back to the ship we drove by the beach but weren’t able to get any decent pictures. The beach was amazingly crowded, with umbrellas and chairs about 10 deep along the water. The temperature was about 97 F, so there were paths from the beach up to the sidewalk along the street sprayed with water so beachgoers wouldn’t burn their feet. The sidewalks along the beach feature mosaics similar to those in the central plaza.

We didn’t get to visit one of Rio’s most iconic sites, the statue Christ the Redeemer that overlooks Guanabara Bay from atop Corcovado Mountain. When we first arrived in Rio, we stood on our verandah and could just see the statue far in the distance.

We had hoped to get a better view on our second-day trip up Sugarloaf Mountain, but the top of Corcovado was shrouded with fog:

After we reached the bottom of Sugarloaf, the fog had lifted enough for us to catch another fleeting glimpse.

Now we have two sea days to rest up for our next adventure.

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Armação dos Búzios

Often referred to as just Búzios, this town started out as a smuggling, slave-trading, and whaling outpost. In the mid–19th century, with the decline of whaling and the slave trade, the town changed its focus to agriculture and fishing. Descendants of natives and slaves gradually turned the town, located not far from Rio de Janiero, into an ocean getaway.

The town gained international notoriety in 1964 when French actress Brigitte Bardot visited while trying to elude the paparazzi of Rio. Búzios is now known as a tranquil resort of 23 beaches without the crowds of more popular Rio.

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

beach at Búzios
beach at Búzios
beaches at Búzios
beaches at Búzios

Its colorful main street, known as Rua das Pedras, contains shops, galleries, and restaurants.

art in Búzios
art in Búzios
art in Búzios
art in Búzios

Among the artwork throughout is this statue Três Pescadores, Three Fishermen, by Christina Motta.

Três Pescadores
Três Pescadores

Before returning to the ship, we enjoyed a couple of the local drinks made with muddled limes, sugar, and a local rum-like liquor made from sugar cane.

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Salvador Da Bahia, Brazil

After several days at sea, today we made land at Salvador Da Bahia, Brazil. (Bahia is a state.) This city was founded in 1549 as the first capital of Brazil and remained the capital until 1763. The city was originally established on a high escarpment overlooking the Bay of All Saints, the largest bay in Brazil. The lower part of the city was built up later. The upper and lower parts of the city are connected by the levador Lacerda, first built as a cargo elevator in 1873.

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

elevator
elevator

At the top of the elevator we got a good view of the Bay of All Saints.

Bay of All Saints
Bay of All Saints

Our tour focused on the Upper Town, the colonial area that was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site 1985. The area continues to undergo restoration and preservation. Many of the buildings now sport pastel facades reminiscent of their colonial origin.

colorful buildings
colorful buildings

Salvador was the first slave port in the Americas, and it is estimated that over the years about five million Africans were brought over to work in the sugarcane fields and in the diamond and gold mines. As a result, Salvador has developed a religion and a culture that combines elements of native indigenous people, African slaves, and Portuguese traditions. The colorful local incorporates many African images.

African art
African art
colorful art
colorful art

Today the city contains more than 300 churches, but it also annually celebrates a religious festival in which many people, some dressed in African-inspired costumes, march four miles in procession to one of the churches. We visited on the day before the festival, so we got to see some of the costumes without having to experience the huge festival crowd.

traditional costume
traditional woman’s dress

The city still felt crowded to a lot of us. When someone asked our guide if the crowd was normal for Salvador, he said that the city was more crowded than usual for two reasons: (1) three cruise ships were in port that day, with a total of about 9,000 tourists; and (2) many people from outlying areas had traveled to the city for the annual festival.

The chief resources of Bahia are fruits, vegetables, cocoa, beef (there are more cows than people in Brazil), and oil.

Our guide emphasized that Salvador is a city that loves music. He told us that their Carnival lasts a full week—five official days plus two extra days. We saw a lot of evidence of the love of music in the number of bands and dancers we saw. One form of local dance is an amalgamation of dance and an African defensive form of what we would now call martial arts.

men's drum band
men’s drum band
martial arts
martial arts

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

St. George’s, Grenada

After a day at sea yesterday, this morning we arrived at St. George’s, capital of the island nation of Grenada. Early in its history Grenada was occupied for a while by the French but was later taken over by the British. The nation gained its independence from Britain in 1974.

Grenada comprises about 121 square miles and has a population of about 120,000. About 65% of the population is of African descent. The main sources of the nation’s revenue are, in this order, tourism, agriculture, and fishing.

Bus tours are nice because we don’t have to walk everywhere, but they lessen photo opportunities. I only got a few shots worth posting. (Click on a photo to see a larger version.)

In 2004 Hurricane Ivan hit Grenada hard. Here’s a church that was damaged beyond repair:

The island used to grow a lot of sugar cane, but because people no longer want to work in the sugar cane fields, that industry has died out. Now Grenada produces a lot of rum from imported molasses. Our tour groups were treated to a complimentary beverage, and the most popular choice was the rum punch. Let me tell you, they take their rum punch VERY seriously, with emphasis on the rum.

At the resort where we stopped for drinks, we also saw this traveler’s palm:

I’d never seen this kind of palm before.

Here’s a view of the port taken from our verandah just before the ship left Grenada:

Today’s interesting fact:

It’s illegal in Grenada to wear camouflage clothing or carry camo accessories. Local authorities have a zero-tolerance policy on this issue.

 

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

San Juan, Puerto Rico

We arrived in Miami and boarded our ship on Wednesday, January 3. The ship departed from Miami at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday. After spending Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at sea, today we docked at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Originally settled by the Spanish, the area is heavily Catholic. It was named San Juan in honor of St. John the Baptist. Today, January 6, in the Christian calendar is Epiphany, the day when the birth of Christ was revealed to the three kings. In San Juan, the day is a holiday known as Three Kings Day. Our guide said, “Here in Puerto Rico, we celebrate Christmas longer than just about anyone else in the world.” He said that their celebration would end in a couple of weeks. Sure enough, later we were in a store and heard “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” playing.

On our two-hour walking tour of Old San Juan we visited a fort that’s a San Juan National Historic Site maintained by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

(Click on any image to see a larger version.)

This historic site flies three flags: the Burgundy cross (symbol of the Spanish empire when San Juan was settled, the flag of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. flag.

Many of the streets in Old San Juan are paved with blue stones that served as ballast in the Spanish galleons that brought goods and settlers to the region.

We all had to grab our hats to keep from losing them in the strong wind. When someone commented on the wind, our guide said, “Yes, it’s windy. These are the trade winds that powered ships across the Atlantic.”

Not far from our ship lay a replica of the Santa Maria, the largest of Columbus’s three ships.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Christopher Columbus holds a place of honor in Old San Juan’s center:

The beautiful Viking Sun docked in Old San Juan (please ignore the Carnival logo in the background):

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Please Pardon My Absence

My husband and I will be traveling internationally until mid May 2019. During that time our internet access will be limited and SLOW. I’ll try to post periodically, but new posts will probably be few and far between.

However, I will try to catch up by publishing back-dated posts after we get home in late May. I hope you’ll check for new posts periodically but won’t give up if you don’t see anything new for a while.

Thanks for your understanding and patience.

Last Week’s Links

20 DEBUT WORKS OF FICTION BY WOMEN OVER 40

It’s not unusual to come across lists of young writers, particularly young women writers. While these lists showcase young people’s achievements, where are the opportunities for older people, particularly older women who may have had to postpone undertaking a writing career while focusing on the more traditional expectations for women: caring for a home and children?

But, according to Jenny Bhatt:

there are also many successful examples to serve as role models and provide ongoing inspiration for older writers—or aspiring writers of any age.

Below is a list of women writers who debuted works of fiction at or after the age of 40 and went on to achieve even more success. While not exhaustive, it shows clearly that women writers are not past their prime after a certain age. In fact, many are not even “late-bloomers”—they have simply deferred publishing due to family or career commitments. But the most striking aspect that unites all of these works is how each incorporates the collected, distilled wisdom, a lifetime of reading, and the sheer radicalism that could not have been possible for a younger writer.

Enjoy Bhatt’s list, which includes the following authors:

  • Penelope Fitzgerald, age 60
  • Mary Wesley, 71
  • Harriet Doerr, 74

How To Stay Together For 50 Years

This week on Refinery29, we’re filling your screens and consciousness with inspiring women over 50. Why? Because living in a culture obsessed with youth is exhausting for everyone. Ageing is a privilege, not something to dread.

In this article Amelia Abraham writes, “When I think about all the relationships I’ve had that fizzled out around the one-year mark, I wonder whether I could even go the distance of five years, let alone 50.” She meets with three couples to discover their secrets for staying together for 50 years. Meet these couples:

  • Jill and Michael, married for 57 years
  • Ron and Ellen, married for 63 years
  • Isabell and Ronnie, married for 57 years

Their secrets for achieving a long marriage include hard work, forgiveness, keeping romance alive, never walking away from an argument, and making a decision and sticking with it.

THE CHEERFUL SINNERS OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST’S WILDEST PORT CITY

In case you missed this tidbit about me, we retired to Tacoma, WA, from St. Louis about five years ago. We love the Pacific Northwest, and one of our favorite activities is exploring new areas. We’ve visited Port Townsend, WA, several times and knew that it has a salty nautical heritage, so this article caught my eye.

Enjoy reading about the colorful history of Port Townsend, including its part in creating the phrase “to get Shanghaied.”

How to Take Charge of Your Medical Care

My mother was of a generation that thought of doctors as gods. She trusted doctors completely and did whatever they told her to do. When I once asked her what medications she was taking and what they were for, she had no idea.

But most people today take a more active approach to their health care (I hope). This article provides good advice for doing just that.

The best time to start taking charge of your medical care is when you’re not facing an emergency, and the article begins with a section on what to do when you’re healthy. It continues with sections about seeing a medical professional, being admitted to a hospital, returning home after hospitalization, and advocating for others.

Why Doctors Hate Their Computers

Digitization promises to make medical care easier and more efficient; instead, doctors feel trapped behind their screens.

Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and public-health researcher, reports on a seeming contradiction:

Something’s gone terribly wrong. Doctors are among the most technology-avid people in society; computerization has simplified tasks in many industries. Yet somehow we’ve reached a point where people in the medical profession actively, viscerally, volubly hate their computers.

Gawande uses his own experience with learning a new computer software program for medical records as a springboard to address the issue of how computerization affects the way people interact with each other. He writes:

Medicine is a complex adaptive system: it is made up of many interconnected, multilayered parts, and it is meant to evolve with time and changing conditions. Software is not. It is complex, but it does not adapt. That is the heart of the problem for its users, us humans.

This is a long article, but it treats in depth the question of how humans interact with each other as well as with technology.

 

© 2018 by Mary Daniels Brown