Rio de Janiero: "Swept Away"
What can I say?
I was completely floored flying into Rio. It's almost impossible to explain how captivating this city is a first glance. How many cities do you know that house mountains, beaches and a bustling city life? Okay. So Cali is close, but still comes no where near the magnitude of Rio's striking features. That's why it's appropriate to deem Rio the gentleman that swept me off my feet.
If you're flying into Rio's domestic airport (SDU), before you even land you're caught in a whimsy by the beautiful skyline of Guanabara Bay with aerial views of Ilha do Governador (Governor's Island) on the way. The day I landed, the clouds capped the hills surrounding the bay, masking their peaks. Otherwise, I would have had a full range view of where the land touched the sky.
After deplaning, I made my way to the open, terrace-like taxi and ground transportation hub where I was greeted by the summer sunshine and breeze. My first thoughts? "I'm so blessed."
During the drive to my hotel I could not stop smiling. The beauty of the city is overwhelming and you can't help but feel grateful for it welcoming you into its city limits. Smitten by Rio's handsome façade and mesmerized by every street and storefront, with brights eyes and not a single care in the world, I couldn't wait to wander around.
Even if you're a well-seasoned traveler, plan to be a tourist for at least one day. Visit the heavy hitters (Cristo Redentor, Corcovado and Sugar Loaf Mtn.) and the contenders (Tijuca Forest, Santa Teresa colonial town or Pedra do Arpoador at sunset). Of course there's gliding and climbing for those who want more adventure.
Easy there now. You have to be careful about not overlooking its downfalls. As much as I would love to think of Idris Elba as flawless, I'm a realist as mush as I am a daydreamer.
Rio has its drawbacks that might not be as apparent at first glance. A little scratch on the surface can reveal more about the issues that Rio and its housing country share.
"Where they at though?"
Although it's by far the most beautiful city I visited, it's lack Afro-Brazilian heritage in the forefront was apparent as I walked into most places. I was usually given the typical hesitant glance by sales associates and receptionists alike--the one that African-Americans in the states know all too well-- until they realized I was American and not Afro-Brazilian. Then all that mattered was my tourist dollars. Sweet capitalism!
Don't get me wrong, travelling while black has a common trend no matter where you go so you can't let that disturb your adventures. You just have to recognize that some societies are more advanced than other in the department of race relations, but we all still have a long way to go.