Wednesday, July 10, 2024

My Jacket Goes to Jesus

Yesterday was our day to go see Corcovado, the mountain crowned with the statue of Christ the Redeemer looking out over the city. It's probably the most famous symbol of Rio and supposedly, Corcovado provides astonishing views.

You couldn't prove it by me, though, because when we went it was like pea soup up there. It was another rainy, cloudy day, and Jesus was positively socked in. As our guide, Roberta, gamely put it in warning us not to be too disappointed: "We've got to do the best we can."

Even standing directly beneath him, we could barely see him. And the view of the city? Forget it. As I told Dave, "It's like Heaven up here -- all bright white with Jesus looming overhead!"

We could get close enough to admire the very Art Deco design of the statue, which was started in 1926 and completed in 1931. Apparently its head and hands were fabricated in France but the rest of it was built here -- I had no idea.

We took some pictures and then went down to sit in the cafe below the statue, where we watched brazen monkeys pilfer food from people's trays. One girl screamed when a monkey leapt up on her table and stole her pastry. We were told not to feed them, but a Brazilian woman next to me fed one apple slices, and that monkey crammed that apple into its face so fast I thought it was going to choke. I guess it was trying to get it all down before its fellow simians showed up. (Never fear -- there's video of all this below.)

I wasn't too upset about the weather. As I told Dave, you take what you get and now it's all part of our story of Corcovado. But I was disappointed that I left my jacket up there -- I put it down to take a photo and then walked away without picking it up again. I didn't realize it until we were halfway down the mountain. Oh well. It's with God now.

Speaking of God, our next stop was Rio's Metropolitan Cathedral, which looks NOTHING like I expected. I thought it would be a traditional edifice that had been around for centuries, but no! It's a vast, modern space inspired by Meso-American  pyramids, with huge modernist panels of stained glass. Very cool, so unexpected and not at all on our radar.

On our descent from Corcovado to the cathedral, we drove through the neighborhood of Santa Teresa, a funky area with beautiful old colonial homes and buildings -- in various states of repair -- and lots of street art. The picture at the top is a detail of a mural in Santa Teresa.

At the cathedral, Dave and I left the tour because it was going on to the Selarón Steps, which we'd seen the day before. We decided instead to set out on our own ambitious journey to see Oscar Niemeyer's fantastic Museum of Contemporary Art in Niterói.

We crossed the bay bridge in an Uber driven by a guy named Victor who never took his eyes off his phone the whole time. Somehow we survived.

Oscar Niemeyer is the modernist architect behind Brasília, the "new capital" that Brazil built in the middle of the country back in 1960. Until that time, the capital had been Rio. He also worked on the United Nations headquarters in New York and several notable buildings in São Paulo and elsewhere. The Museum of Contemporary Art, which looks like a UFO or maybe a giant, space-age tulip sitting on the Niterói waterfront, was one of his later works, opening in 1996.

Fortunately it has a little bistro, so Dave and I got lunch here before browsing the art. It's not a big museum. We saw an exhibit of photography celebrating the Guaraní people (a Native American tribe in southern Brazil and Paraguay), an exhibit on Korean lanterns and a show of Brazilian painters known as "coloristas."

Here's one of my favorite "colorista" paintings, by Rafael Avancini. The Portuguese title translates to, "Of the Nights You Didn't Come to Visit Me." Of course the squirrel-like critter made me think immediately of Olga.

(Who is apparently doing fine, by the way. Warren, our friend who is dog-sitting with her, says she has some active days and some quiet ones, which as we told him sounds pretty typical.)

Here's a video featuring some of yesterday's sights (and sounds!).

We took an Uber back across the bay to our hotel and rested up a bit before going to dinner, once again, at the Copacabana Palace. We ate this time in their Cipriani restaurant, which was quite elegant and featured a cocktail pianist entertaining us with "The Girl From Ipanema," "Desafinado" and standards like "Witchcraft." He was a very capable pianist but Dave wanted to urge him to slow down. He seemed like he had a job to do and by golly, he was getting it done.

Today, we're off to Buzios, which fortunately is on the beach and should be quite warm, so hopefully I won't miss my lost jacket!


Andrew said...

What a crazy place, with so much beauty. The squirrel like creature looks nothing like Olga. You must be missing her.

Bob said...

Jesus in the fog looks quite ethereal, while the cathedral gave me Las Vegas vibes a bit.
That museum is a stunning piece of architecture though.
Great tour again, and glad Olga is doing well.

Pixie said...

That cathedral was amazing. The modern equivalent of a traditional cathedral, reaching grandly towards the heavens.

Thanks for sharing.

Boud said...

That's a wonderful cathedral, very culturally accurate. And the blue glass!
So your jacket had a come to Jesus meeting. I expect a monkey's wearing it now, pockets stuffed with pastries.

Ed said...

Over the years, I've seen dozens if not hundreds of pictures of that statue in full sunlight. Yours is the first one I have seen of it shrouded in fog and I like it a lot. Thanks for sharing it!

Ellen D. said...

I thought "Starship Enterprise" when I saw your museum photo.
How disappointing to have such a foggy day for your visit to the statue. Too bad you left your jacket but that did make a great title for your post!
The guy playing the piano in your fancy restaurant made me think of those scenes in White Lotus with the piano man.
Keep up the great work of documenting your trip here! Most enjoyable.

Ms. Moon said...

I agree with Ed- anyone can take a picture of Jesus in the sunlight but you got the good shot. That's exactly what a god should look like. Excellent!
I'd always heard that Rio was an a amazing place but honestly, I had no idea. I can only imagine that you have not been disappointed with your visit.
As to the cathedral- I look at it and I wonder- how many homeless and hungry are there in Rio? I just can't help but think that Jesus, ghostly or un- would not approve of the way that money's been spent. But what do I know?

Marcia LaRue said...

Thank you for these tours ... The Cathedral is stunning, as is the UFO museum with the squirrel painting! I think the statue of Jesus is awesome!
Check to see if there is a lost and found at the statue and you might luck out and get your jacket back!

Sharon said...

That museum building is fascinating. I love architecture like that. And, that cathedral is beautiful. I've never seen anything quite like it. Another great video too.

Susan said...

The ultra modern museum and cathedral are great architecture. Jesus in the fog somehow seems right. Nice photography Steve. I'm glad to know Olga is doing just fine.

Kelly said...

I love your photo of The Redeemer! Thanks for the link to the cathedral. It's interesting from the outside, but the interior is stunning! Call it fate, serendipity, or whatever... maybe the person who found your jacket needed it more than you. 😉 (still, I'd be irked at myself) Glad Olga is coping without y'all!

Colette said...

Bummer about the jacket and Christ the Redeemer.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

The Museum of Contemporary Art occupies a marvellous location and is itself a work of art. So sorry you lost your jacket to the muggers - in fact, they didn't have to mug you - you just left it for them! Could this be a sign of early onset dementia?

Margaret said...

I love that cathedral (stunning) and also find the foggy Jesus atmospheric and unique. A mysterious figure, standing alone.

Linda Sue said...

THAT is so spooky- great photo of gigantic Jesus , Jesus seeking big hug.
The museum of art is fabulous. LOVE the building- WOW ! The cathedral looks sci fi- sort of like where the Matrix kept its bodies plugged in. What a wonderful trip you are having, well planned! Making the most of it, you are! Thanks for taking photos and posting! fascinating.

Catalyst said...

Some amazing architecture there. Are you thinking of a move to Rio? Probably better brush up on your Portugese!

Debby said...

For a second, seeing the picture of the art museum, I thought you had boarded the starship Enterprise!

You know as soon as I read 'Ipanema' yesterday, that song popped into my head. I think that your trip would have been incomplete without hearing it at least once!

I really am enjoying your travels!

Red said...

Sometimes we get unlucky and don't get to see something special. I drove up the mountain in Maui to see the sunrise. There was heavy cloud.

roentare said...

The statue in the mist is so incredible!

River said...

Squirrel like creature? I can't see it. I can't se anything but smears of different colours covering the canvas, not something I'd put in my home. The museum itself is wonderful, I love the shape.
The little apple eating monkey is cute.

Moving with Mitchell said...

A shame about the “view” up there with Jesus. But actually very mystical and a day you won’t forget. Kind of you to give him your jacket. The cathedral is something else. Great photos and video.

Steve Reed said...

Andrew: Ha! Well it doesn't look LIKE her, but it looks like something she'd chase! We're getting regular updates from our dog-sitter.

Bob: It would make a cool house for your architecture posts! We gotta get someone to convert it to residential and then get Dwell to write about it. :)

Pixie: Isn't it amazing? So different from any building I've ever seen.

Boud: Ha! I hadn't thought about the possibility of a monkey stealing it. I imagine the park attendants have to pick up all kinds of stuff, purloined by monkeys, from the forest surrounding the statue.

Ed: Well, that's a good point. It DOES put a different spin on things!

Ellen D: Ha! We LOVED the White Lotus! I hadn't thought of our trip in those terms but I guess we are having a sort of White Lotus experience!

Ms Moon: We were not at all disappointed by Rio. I think I could have spent another week there. An amazing, beautiful city! I know what you mean about the expense of the church.

Marcia: It's so hard to get up to the top of that mountain that even if they had a Lost & Found I wouldn't go back for it.

Sharon: We definitely are seeing lots of unusual architecture here!

Susan: Thanks! And yes, I figured everyone might want an Olga update. We get one every few days.

Kelly: Well, I hope someone finds it and uses it!

Colette: Well, it's a minor bummer on both counts. I found the jacket in the school Lost & Found years ago, so I didn't even pay for it. And as I said, with sightseeing you just gotta roll with what you've got!

YP: Possibly! And yes, the location of the museum is definitely a huge part of the overall effect.

Margaret: He does look quite mystical, doesn't he?

Linda Sue: Leave it to you to draw a parallel between the Matrix and the Catholic Church! LOL

Catalyst: I wish I knew Portuguese! I love the sound of the language.

Debby: I'm sure in the more touristic parts of Rio, "The Girl from Ipanema" is on steady rotation!

Red: Well, as I said, we just have to be open to a different experience. It's harder with a cloudy sunrise, though. :)

Roentare: It was quite a presence!

River: Ha! There IS a squirrel there, I promise. Maybe it's like a "Magic Eye" painting and you have to stare at it for a while?

Mitchell: I think he NEEDED my jacket, but sadly, I don't think it will fit.

Jeanie said...

You ran the gamut of art and architecture in this day -- The cathedral is especially beautiful and not what I would have expected, either. But Jesus in the fog looks downright creepy, like some ghostly apparition. I'm glad you could get close to see it was "real!"