WHERE THE HECK DID FEBRUARY GO? I cannot believe I’ve almost been on the ship for two months now. They say that time flies in the ship vortex but I didn’t really understand that until now. Sea days (non-port days) go by a lot faster now. It’s a magical feeling—feeling lost in your own adventure. Now that I’m fully established on the Maasdam, everything comes so naturally.
Anyways, BRAZIL! Goodness this place is amazing. The first few ports were smaller and less tourist-oriented so I didn’t see much of them, but so far I’ve seen the good bits of Recife, Vitoria, Ihlabela and Rio. Recife was more developed than the first couple ports (Maceio and Belem) so we found a mall, ate some homemade sushi, got wifi, and got a ride back from a local restaurant owner to the port since barely anyone knows English in Brazil. Even more impressive was the next port, Vitoria. Vitoria was filled with historic beauty, beaches, and local restaurants and markets. I felt so moved by the exotic history of the island. We visited 2 ancient chapels, a palace, a school of theatre and dance, an old musical hall theatre, and a local beach.
Just when I thought no port could beat Vitoria, we showed up in Ihlabela, which in Portuguese means “beautiful island.” And let me tell you, a beautiful island it was. Ihlabela is the vacation land of the Brazilians or in other words the ‘santorini’ or the ‘hamptons’ of the country. Wealthy Brazilians drive hours on end to vacation there. The sights were breathtaking. On the coast were touristy shops, restaurants, clubs, pools, and trendy pool lounges. I meditated on the beautiful sand, took a dip in the water with Marisa, ate fresh vegetables, a homemade truffle, and a cappuccino. Then I explored the shops and cobblestone streets on my own and took amazing photos of the exotic town of Ihlabela one last time before I got back on the ship. AMAZING! Then began our beloved journey to Rio. The first morning of sail in at 5 am, the entire crew and a few passengers woke up to the powerful rock mountains, city skyline, and dominant view that was Rio de Janeiro. The morning was crisp and cloudy, with a pleasant smog hanging over the huge rock formations. Above it all I could spot the “Christ the Redeemer” statue lit up over the entire city. I was in awe. Little did I know what the next 3 days would bring me.
Rio, Rio, Rio where do I begin? These last 3 days of overnights and exploring have been some of the best days of my life. Rio is one of the biggest, most iconic cities in the world. Its shape it probably one of the best things about it. The city is circular, defined by its sharp and pointy mountains, impressive skyline, tall buildings, beaches, and architecture. Everywhere you look there is something to see. Whether it’s the Christ statue towering over the entire city, Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, all sorts of mountains and rock structures piled together to form the sugarloaf mountain, the busy and somewhat nasty streets, the huge stadiums (soon to host the world cup and the Olympics) the slums surrounding the edge of the harbor, Rio has no end to its culture and surprises. I have so much to say about Rio it’s probably best to condense into a list… especially since lists are my favorite. So here’s a look at my Rio experience from day 1 to day 3 and my best memories:
- Sunrise sail in with the crew to see the entire city from the water
- Watching fireworks with champagne at night on the top deck with John
- Crew tour to see Christ the Redeemer statue
- Seeing rio from the highest point of the city
- Train and cable car rides thousands of feet up with wonderful people
- Fresh Acai and granola (one of their specialties)
- Sugarloaf mountain sunset and Antartica (local beer)
- Going out in the smelly and scary streets of Lapa during Carnavale
- Dancing at MOFO nightclub until 4 am with the best group of people
- Wearing masks and bathing suits and ridiculous clothing
- 3 am pizza in Lapa with the Maasdam crew
- Making new brazilian friends: Antionio, Sergio, and Daniella
- Drinking coconut water on Ipanema beach and walking copacabana
- Laughing until we cried in the local cab
- Caipirinhia’s –THE BEST DRINK IN ALL OF RIO
- Brazilian BBQ at Porcao – all you can eat buffet, 15 pieces of meat, endless sushi, Brazilian coffee and cookies, and an ongoing food coma
- Sleeping from 7pm to 8 am the following day and thinking to myself was this all a dream?
Well folks, Brazil is a must see. We have about 10 or 15 more ports in South America and then we return to the Caribbean and back to Ft. Lauderdale. I hope you enjoy my crazy ranting, my photos, and I hope one day you get to travel and see God’s incredible work.
Goodbye for now,