Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A September to Remember

A great blessing that senior missionaries have is that they can receive visits from friends and family members. We were blessed to have Cordell, Laura and Grayson come down to Brazil for a visit in September. We received permission from our Area President, President Costa, and our Mission President, President Campos, to do a three day trip to Rio de Janeiro to show Cordell and Laura around, and to see again where we lived from 1976 to 1979.  The night before we flew to Rio, we drove to Porto Alegre and attended a temple session at the Porto Alegre Temple, then spent the night in the temple housing.

We flew out early Saturday morning and arrived in Rio in time to meet Cordell and Laura as they came through customs after a very long flight.

What a joy it was to see Grayson and see how much he had grown since we last saw him at Canyon's funeral in February.  We rented a small car and were able to fit in all this luggage, and our own luggage as well, to drive to our hotel in Copacabana, the Windsor Palace.  

Cordell and Laura had a room on the 17th floor with a beautiful view out over Copacabana beach. The 18th floor had a pool and observation deck where we took these pictures.

After checking in we drove around to see some of the places we used to know. We lived on the eight floor of the building in the center below in Jardim Botanico (the Botanical Gardens neighborhood).

The church we attended back then is still there, 
Many things have changed over the years, and it was so fun to see the sights again.  Below is Sugar Loaf mountain and Corcovado mountain with the Christ statue.

We saw the lake, which was just beside the apartment building we lived in.
After driving around for a while, we went back to Copacabana and found a nice buffet for dinner close to our hotel.  Sunday morning we went to church in our old Jardim Botanico Ward, but did not find any members that were there when we last lived there in 1979.  After church we decided to go visit the Christ statue on Corcovado mountain.  We stopped to take some pictures at a lookout about half way up the mountain. Here are some pictures at that location.

When we arrived at the highest place you can drive a car, we found a long line for the bus ride to the top.  We decided to get in line and hoped it would not take too long to get up to the top.  Boy were we wrong.  The line first wound around to the place where we purchased the tickets.  That took almost an hour.  We then got in a line that zigzaged around inside an old building for another hour.  We then got to move out to a line that zigzaged around for another hour.  Part of the way through this long ordeal we were entertained by a monkey in the trees.
 Grayson was a real trooper and stayed cheerful most of the time through this trying three hour wait.

 When we finally reached the top we were rewarded by these magnificent views of Rio.

 We lived in the first tall apartment building at the base of this race track, with the Botanical Gardens to the right and the lake to the left.

 The crouds were unbelieveable because it was the Brazilian Independence Day holiday weekend.  We hated the three hour wait, but you just can't go to Rio and not go to the Christ statue.  It is an amazing sight.

From the top of Corcovado we could see Sugar Loaf mountain below, where we would be going on Monday.
Because of Copacabana beach, Copa is a pretty famous name in Rio, and we saw it often.
After our experience in the lines on Sunday, we were a little aprenhensive about what it would be like going up to Sugar Loaf on Monday.  We started early and were pleased to find the lines much shorter
...just a few minutes.  The weather was cloudy and rainy, so we think that helped with the lines.  

There are two cable car rides needed to get to the top.  Below is a view of the second cable car from the top of the first ride.
There is a beautiful jungle walk on the top of the first mountain as seen below.
Grayson was again a real joy to have along.  Brazilians love babies, and Grayson was always getting lots of attention.

The mist, clouds and a little rain did not make for the best view day, but we still had a great time.

There were some people scaling this mountain below , which made us think that's how Canyon would have preferred going up.

 The beach below is called Red Beach (Praia Vermelha)
 The bay below is called Botafogo Bay.

 The view below is of Corcovado and the Christ statue from Sugar Loaf.
 You can see that the weather wasn't the greatest, but the views were still spectacular.

 Below is a view of Copacabana beaach.
At the souvenier store on top they had quite a selection of birds made out of stone.

Before we went back down the weather did improve a little, so it wasn't quite as windy.

Three generations of Copas.

On the way back down, at the half way mountain before the second cable car where the jungle walk is, we saw a few little monkeys on the railing looking for a handout.

 Everyone loved looking at Grayson.  Lots of people would stop and talk to him as the man below is doing.

After Sugar Loaf we drove through town and down to Barra de Tijuca, where the new Rio de Janeiro temple will be built.  It was a beautiful drive and we could see how much things have changed since we lived there.

When we lived in Rio this area below was just open land.  Now there are hundreds of apartment buildings.

The favelas (slums) on the side of the mountains are still there as seen below.

Driving back to Copacabana we drove along Ipanema beach as seen below.

When we arrived at the hote,l we changed into swimsuits and walked out to Copacabana Beach.  We passed a few sand sculptures that were interesting to see.

We took a few pictures at the beach.
 No, we did not go in the water.

 But someother crazy souls you know ventured into the cold water for a swim.

 We stayed on the beach until it started getting dark.
 Tuesday morning we had to be up early to head for the airport to catch our flight to Porto Alegre.  We passed this new bridge that wasn't open yet.

After turning in our rental car we were driven back to the terminal in this van.

After a two hour flight, we picked up our car at the Porto Alegre airport parking lot and drove another two hours to Gramado. There we took a picture of the "Welcome to Gramado" entrance to the city.

Then we went to one of our famous tourist spots, Lago Negro, for a few pictures.

After driving around we stopped for dinner at a crepe restaurant we had not tried before.  It was delicious and repeatable.

On Wednesday we went for lunch at one of our favorite fondu restaurants, Carlitos.  The first course is melted cheese where we dip bread and vegetables in the cheese.  For the second course they bring out a hot stone with flames under it, and raw meat we cook ourselves.  The meat is then dipped into a large variety of sauces shown below.

The third course is melted chocolate in a pot, and a variety of fruits and waffers to dip.  Then we went to visit the Caracol waterfalls.

 There is a stair case that we waked down to get a closer view of the bottom of the falls.  There are 730 steps down and then those same steps to walk back up, equivalent to a 44 story building.
Here is the picture at the bottom of the stairs.
Above the falls the river has some beautiful rapids and smaller falls. 

 The azelias were still blooming at the park.

 Below is our famous Pinhao Araucaria, which we used to call the Parana Pine when I was on my mission.  It is now a protected tree and cannot be cut.
We took a cute little train ride in the park, and then walked through a fun little village.

After Caracol we went into Canela to see the Stone Cathedral below.

 Just a couple of blocks from the cathedral is the Mormon chapel in Canela as seen below.
 Thursday we went to Mini Mundo, a park where there are miniture versions of famous building around the world.

We took Cordell and Laura back to Lago Negro so they could do the paddle boats.

 For lunch we went to Zelao, a typical Brazilian Churrascuria (bargbeque) where they bring around many different types of meat, and you eat until you are stuffed.  We then went to the Mina (Mine), which is an artifical mine some man built to display all his beautiful rock collections.

Friday we visited the World of Chocolate museum in downtown Gramado.  All of the figures below are made from solid chocolate.  They have signs telling you how much chocolate it took and how many hours to make each figure.

In the afternoon we visited the Gramado Zoo and Gaucho Park.  The Gramado Zoo only has animals found in Brazil, so no African animals.

 That night we were invited to dinner at Claudio and Manu's house.  They speak good English, and it was a chance for Cordell and Laura to see how a Brazilian church member family lives.
 Saturday morning we had to leave to take Cordell, Laura and Grayson to the airport for thier flight to the Falls of Iguassu.  We got one last picture with Grayson and the Copa Car Van before they left.

So we hope you all see the fun things you can do if you come to visit us here in Brazil.  It is a beautiful place and we would love to host you.  

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