And so the Adventures Begin - Lima and Rio
Trip Start Mar 21, 2012
24Trip End Mar 25, 2013
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Because we will be instructing and mountaineering in Peru starting May, we dropped off a bag en route to Brazil in Lima. It worked out extremely well and we got in a little sightseeing and jogging in while we were on our extended layover in Lima.
Looking down at the beach in Miraflores
Fancy shopping mall near the beach around Miraflores
Surfers of all abilities awaiting waves near Miraflores
Ben - always on belay
Getting in some good Arabic food in Miraflores after a night at the movies. We saw Hunger Games for less than $10USD for both of us! When was the last time you can say you had those prices at a regular cinema in the U.S.--1990?
To our friend Petra (Spice Manīs lady): this wall mural in the Arabic restaurant had your name all over it!
Life With Gianluca and Family in Niteroi
We stayed with our generous and gracious Couch surfing host buddy Gianluca (originally from Florence but living about half a decade in Rio) and his lovely Brazilian wife, Claudia, and beautiful daughter, Antonella. Gianluca has a long history with Couchsurfing, dating back to his time in Florence, when he was one of Florence's first Couchsurfing hosts and the moderator for Couchsurfing in this area of Italy. It was through Couchsurfing that he and Claudia met back in 2006! She came to stay with him, he traveled to Brasil months later for a visit, and a few months after that, he picked up and moved his life to Rio!
We arrived on the weekend and spent two wonderful days playing at the ocean facing beaches of Niteroi, eating various typical Brazilian dishes and learning way more about life in Rio and Brazil than we ever would have staying in the centro. We both liked that Niteroi is like an easier Rio with its own beaches and city. Niteroi is after all bigger than all but three of Canada's cities by itself!
Praia (beach) de Itacoatiara - check out those rocks!
Ben and Lindsey, the whitest people on the beach!
The rock juts straight into the water. After seeing a bunch of locals walking along the lower aprons to fish, we decided to scramble up a bit, only to find it much steeper than the talented locals let on!
Gianluca and Lindey enjoying some beach time
Gianluca explaining something to Ben. I can only imagine he is explaining that it is not safe for someone so white to go swimming in these kind of waves!
Poor little street doggie is about to get swept away and he doesnīt even know it!
Gianluca took us for some typical fish in Niteroi--yum!
Ben, Lindsey, and Gianluca enjoying lunch, and plenty of beer!
Forteleza (fortress) de Santa Cruz da Barra in Niteroi - one of the oldest fortresses in Rio (constructed in 1612). Pao de Acucar (Sugar Loaf) is the granite mound in the background on the left, and Corcovado is the faint, pointed peak on the right (this is the famous peak with the giant statue of Jesus on top). More to come on both of these peaks!
Lindsey with Gianluca, Claudia, and Antonella (the baby) at the Forteleza
Claudia, Gianluca, and Antonella in front of the Forteleza
Lindsey and Antonella goofing around
Crab (Caranguejo) in a small, local place on Niteroi called Cantinho da Saudade. They had amazing crab for only 4 R$ per crab (about $2.20 USD) and a great Tutu a Mineira dish (cooked, seasoned, and mashed beans with fried pork skins, boiled eggs, etc.). Moair, Gianlucaīs friend, pictured as well. He and his lovely wife joined us for lunch.
Antonella receiving candy from the owners of the restaurant
Gianluca explaining to Antonella that she has had too much candy
Beer, beer, and more beer. Antartica is good.
Climbing Pao de Acucar
On Monday we got up at 5am and made the arduous commute from Niteroi to Rio proper with the hordes. Even in China and India, we've never experienced such traffic and sheer volume of people. During the rush, there are six ferries simultaneously making the 12-minute crossing from Niteroi to Rio (across the bay of Guanabara), each containing 1200+ people. The 14km Rio-Niteroi bridge is 4 lanes each way of stop and go traffic, a good majority of which are jammed buses with no standing room left. Frankly it's efficient, modern and clean in most senses with little of the chaos that one finds in India, Bangkok, etc. but the sheer volume of people is frightening.
What we perhaps find most surprising is the amazing natural beauty of such a busy and relatively functional city. The bay of Guanabara is constantly central from all parts and the sheer cliffs and granite domes that protrude do prodigiously make the chops salivate (from the ever wanting eyes of climbers like us at least). And the white sand beaches are alright too!
Back to the story: We survived the commute and we raced the sun to the base of Pao de Acucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain), Rio's famous 1000 meter granite plug that drops directly into the ocean on three sides! We located the trail to the cliff face we wanted to climb (yes the shortest side but a handsomely steep route nonetheless) and noticed a sign that beautifully highlights the fauna around the junglely flora of Pao de Acucar: 8 species of snakes including a cobra and a corral snake. But really it's all pretty tame and alertness and a stomping, focused pace would likely mean you'd never see a snake.
Looking down on the route through clouds at the forest below. An Italian (Mateo) and Irish (Damien) starting up the Via Ferrata (iron cable route near our climb that goes to the top of Pao de Acucar)
Let the climbing begin! Ben on the first pitch of the Italians Route on Pao de Acucar. Note the P-bolt above him, which is common protection for the area.
Ben climbing with the city of Rio below him. The climb is pretty consistant for the grade (about 5.9) for all pitches of the Italian Route and about 5.7 to 5.8 for the upper link-up to the top. The climbing is mostly slab or friction with some face holds on quality, gritty rock. The route is not too run out!
In all, the climbing was fantastic and we summited a little after noon. When you finish the final pitch and climb over the fence of the enclosed summit platform, covered in sweat with harness, rope and gear still all tied on, there is a bit of a scene with all the tourists. It's not that climbing Pao de Acucar is particularly rare but the tourists were fully stoked on the ascent!
We made it! Ben gives this route the classic Brazilian thumbs up!
Lindsey, Mateo, and Damian, three very sweaty climbers, all enjoying the view from the top. Corcovado is just barely peaking out from the clouds on the left.
Big grins, mate!
Looking back at the route on Pao de Acucar from Urca mountain. The Italian Route goes more or less directly under the cable car lines. Note the tear in Ben's shirt. This shirt has been through 20 years and multiple owners. This hole has been sewn and re-sewn in multiple countries. Looks like this shirt gets to add another country to the list!
Black tufted ear Marmoset monkey (Mico Sagui) enjoying a glass of water on a hot day on our trail to and from Pao de Acucar
More climbing on Pao de Acucar the next day. A later start meant more sun and less climbing for us as we are slow to adjust to the heat and humidity!
A bit clearer day than the day before
Ben got a nice sunburn the day before from his torn shirt - that will make for an interesting tan line!
Corcovado in the background and single-pitch routes just below the cable car that connects Urca (shown here) and Pao de Acucar
Now we wait for better weather to climb and lay on the beach as it is still in a rainy season. This is okay by us because it is a little cooler and it will help us get over our colds we've held onto for a couple weeks once and for all! Ben also sustained a small foot injury that we cannot determine the cause of or cure for, so hopefully with a little rest, it will heal for more adventures soon! Stay tuned as we head North in a few days to the State of Bahia to visit some friends and enjoy beautiful beaches! We miss you all already!
My Reviews Of The Places I Stayed