Brazil in one night: Pedra Bonita Part III

Lee Kaplan-Unsoeld
April 16, 2016

                That process repeated itself a number of times before we got to the top, but we still made it right around 5:30 a.m., and the sun was just rising as we emerged on the cliff’s edge. I felt great! We had made it! I hadn’t fallen asleep before the sunrise! We joined a group of maybe 50 other people spread out along the cliff’s edge, some in sporty clothes, and some with wine bottles laying beside them while they laid on top of their backpacks. Apparently some people combine the partying with the hiking, and still stay up all night. I was glad we hadn’t.

                We hung out on top of the mountain for a while, taking in the city, looking down on the contrast between golf courses and favelas, Rio de Janeiro and Barra da Tijuca, reveling at the course of our night. I was growing sleepy. Or rather, I was getting more and more sleepy. I had been tired for a long time already. Heading down the mountain, we passed lots of people coming up the trail, getting, to us at least, a late start.

                It was probably about 8 a.m., but no one else seemed to be in a hurry, and I was learning more Portuguese than I had in the previous week, so I decided to fight the exhaustion and stick with the group. The three of them wanted to check out an abandoned hotel that was located down the road from the hike, so we started wandering down. We stopped along the way so that Felipe could take pictures, and at one point we stopped in a plaza where there were Candomblé offerings, an Afro-Brazilian religion that leaves different types of foods in different places for different gods, or Orixás.

                When we made it to the abandoned hotel, the gates of which were wide open, we trudged up the road toward the structure, which stood about 16 stories tall, looking out over São Conrado. It was full of holes in the floor, incompleted staircases and graffiti, and the story went that a timeshare investment scheme had gone under because the owner ran off with the money, and the building was never finished. It was still a good sixteen floor balcony though, and I went straight up the first staircase, which happened to be the most incomplete.

                As I headed up on my own, Felipe, Daniel and Pedro said they would head up another staircase, but when I got to the top they were nowhere to be found. I yelled for them to see if they were close, but there was no response save the chirping of the birds. I decided to run down the sixteen flights of stairs to see if they were still down there, yelling the whole way, but there was no sign of them there either. A little scared, kind of frustrated, I yelled some more, then ran back up the whole building again, feeling my legs burn with each step. There they were, chilling at the top of the building taking photos. We laughed, and they said they had been yelling too, but our shouts, like the money of those poor investors, just got lost in the decaying skeleton of that unfinished hotel.

                By the time we had taken in the view and taken sufficient photos, we were all getting hungry, so we decided to get a cab back to the city and get some lunch for breakfast. It was almost 11 a.m. I was starving, but also sleep starved. We tried to call a taxi, but since it was so out of the way of most taxi routes, it took almost 20 minutes to get there. When we climbed in, I had to fight to stay awake, and I don’t think I succeeded.

                I woke up and there we were at a restaurant, which was just barely opening. We wanted a traditional meal to cap off a night of learning about Brazil, so we orderd two picanhas, or classic Brazilian steaks, and we all ate our fill, trying to make our tired legs feel better in the process.

                I had gone from my house in the Santa Teresa neighborhood all the way to Barra da Tijuca. I had celebrated the birthday of a new friend, and met a wonderful bunch of her friends. I had been asked by one of them to go climb a mountain and said yes. We had eaten burgers, drank juice, and watched a cop beat someone up, then saw a group of people challenge his right to do that. We went through a part of Barra full of high class shopping malls, and saw Luisa’s family’s house in a wealthy gated community. On the way back to Felipe’s, we saw a guy almost commit suicide, then we saw prostitutes working in the same area. We almost died because of a taxi driver that should have clocked out a long time ago, and we saw the sun rise from a beautiful mountain top. We explored an abandoned hotel that was empty because of a corrupt business owner, and we had finished it all off with a  steak.

                Felipe kept saying throughout the night that he thought  I had seen more of Brazil than 99% of people ever get to see. So many aspects of this night could turn into articles of their own, none of these sections of what I wrote felt like it was enough for everything that happened, but that is just how packed the night was. I’m thankful that Marina asked me to come to her birthday party, and I’m thankful that Felipe asked me to come climb a mountain. And I’m very thankful that I didn’t say no on account of wanting a full night’s sleep. The night turned out to be a dream anyways, and, Felipe swears, I got to see all of Brazil in just one night.

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Lee Kaplan-Unsoeld

<p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 20.0063px;">I am a sociology and cultural anthropology student from Olympia, Washington, who has been lucky enough to study abroad in Spain, Costa Rica, and Chile. I am now headed to Brazil for my final semester of my undergraduate studies, and could not be more excited to learn a third language and enjoy some of Brazil&#39;s natural and cultural beauties. In addition to traveling, studying people and learning languages, I like to read, write, rock climb, play violin and drums, hike, swim, do yoga, and enjoy quality conversations that run late into the night. Please join me on this blog in processing some of the crazy stuff going on in my life, and in Brazil.</span></p>

2016 Spring
Home University:
Saint Martin's University
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