Sunday, November 18, 2007

Harbor of Rio de Janeiro

Harbor of Rio de Janeiro Guanabara Bay

Harbor of Rio de JaneiroHabour of Rio de Janeiro image courtsey: ucop.edu

There is some error in the name; Rio de Janeiro means River of January, but it is on the shores of Guanabara Bay. The Portuguese sailors who came early were in a naming spree; found a calm water body within 20 miles of the shore they took it for the mouth of a river and named it Rio de Janeiro -the River of January as they discovered it in the month of January. Now the bay is Guanabara Bay its original name called by the natives and the huge natural harbor functioning within the bay and the nearby city all are ‘Harbor of Rio de Janeiro’. It is the capital of the Brazilian state with the same name -Rio de Janeiro.


The Harbor of Rio de Janeiro


Harbor of Rio de JaneiroHarbour of Rio de Janeiro Map courtsey: murrayhudson.com

In the South-East coast of Brazil the Atlantic Ocean juts in to the land giving birth to the Guanabara Bay which is a narrow alluvial strip that connects two big mountains; the Sugar Loaf and the Corcovado Mountains. Within these boundaries lies the Guanabara Bay that is 143 km in circumference that can house as many ships as the authorities wish; because it is so vast! No one can count the number of ships and yachts that has parked and those on the move in the colorful and bustling bay, which was once this bay was dotted with numerous islands. It’s status as a world wonder is amply justified when the sheer size and the safety of the vessels offered by the two gigantic mountains that stand as sentinels for the protection for the entire bay; all made by god almighty!


A bay under threat


Harbor of Rio de JaneiroHarbour of Rio de Janeiro image courtsey: bfirsttravel.com

The rapid expansion of the port and development activities taken place in the near by City of Rio (which in the process of encircling the bay) put tremendous pressure for land (which is at extremely high premium) in the surrounding areas of the bay. Shallow banks of the bay are being filled for land use. The requirement of sand for the purpose was met by the islands which were siphoned off to the banks for meeting land filling; until all islands vanished from the bay. At present the bay is almost filled with ships, almost like a crowded parking lot and its pristine waters getting polluted from the effluents of the ever growing city and the vessels that float all around.


Sugar Loaf and the Corcovodo.


The mouth of the bay is protected by two tall mountains standing like sentinels, the Sugar Loaf and the Corcovodo Mountains. The Sugar Loaf is a naked mountain and the mould that grows on the rocks would have given the reason for getting it this strange name is provided with cable car to facilitate tourism. The Corcovado in Portuguese means hunch back and the profile of the mountain is in accordance. It is on the Corcovado Mountain the ‘Christ the Redeemer Statue’ is placed. During Carnival time the ‘Suvacado Christo’ Band parades in the Botanical Garden starts from beneath the stretched arm of the Redeemer Christ Statue (Suvacado Christo means Christ’s armpit)


Christ the Redeemer.





When the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro itself is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, The Statue of Christ the Redeemer, the 38 meter giant of a statue that stands upon the Corcovado Mountain - which it self is 710 meters high- also is one of the Seven Manmade Wonders of the World! The only difference being when the Guanabara Bay is a god-made wonder Christ the Redeemer is man-made. When god made a port; man made a god! A World Wonder itself is rare but one such overseeing another World Wonder is rarer still.


A pilgrim spot.


The Corcovodo hill is famous for not only its Christ statue but is a well known tourist spot also; visited by millions of people from all around the world as well as domestic people. There is a small chapel adjoining the statue and where the Holy Mass is held regularly. Standing at the top of the Corcovodo hill one can see the panoramic view of the City of Rio (Rio de Janeiro). It is a real sight indeed! In fact before joining the crowd of the maddening Rio catching a vision of it from the Corcovodo is a must, one can either climb the steps or take rail that will reach up to 90% of the hill.


City of Rio.


Rio is the largest port city in the Latin American Continent, and a magnet in attracting world tourists, merely looking at it from the Corcovodo itself is thrilling then what would be becoming one among the reveling crowd; forgetting all; losing oneself in the maddening crowd; in a city of real joy. Rio is the land of Carnivals, celebrations, Samba and bold women who dare to wear the most revolutionary attire! See Brazilians whose hardened muscles (black, white and all hues) flex while they dance to the tune of the violent samba, where people forget day today worries in the frenzy of sheer celebrations. Making money is not the issue, but celebrating it; is, if not convinced come to Rio the City of joy during the Carnivals and see how to celebrate life. You only live once but come to Rio and live it twice.


Carnivals.


Harbor of Rio de Janeiro Carnival in Rio

The Carnivals had its origin as parades in Samba Schools and grew in size and magnitude to become the greatest show on earth, Sambadroma stadium is one of the biggest of its kind in the world. February and March (prior to Easter) is the time of these celebrations and plane-loads of tourists arrive to witness the revelation. All the seats and rooms are booked very much in advance (a seat may cost $ 80 to 100 officially and double that procured from a tout. As huge and weird floats pass by carrying the aggressively dressed ‘Samba Queens’ people cheer, sing and dance as if in a trance, nothing is impossible as it is time to rejoice! Those who could not get or afford a ticket can join in the numerous ‘Street Parties’ held at hotels, where drunken balls and revelries are frequent (law and order generally look the other way). Carnival time is the season of touts, pick-pockets, whores and pimps, the gullible visitor in search of some ‘pleasure’ will have to foot the bill in tears, while the smart Alec make hay in the Carnival sun!


Beaches.


Brazilians love and adore their body far more than others; they keep it fit so that they can go to beach with pride. Beauty parlors and boutiques are abundant beside the beaches. Rio has the credit of having world famous beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema to which the tourists can enter free. Copacabana is a lively one with people playing beach volley ball, surfers gliding along (this beach is popular for surfers) and others relaxing in the sand while Samba playing in the background. Visitors are advised to apply sun-screen lotion lavishly to avoid possible sun-burn as the sun is quite hot. There are numerous peddlers hawking tourists’ requirements. The Ipanema beach is generally frequented by the rich young and fashionable people is a world apart.


Samba Music.


Samba is more than a music to the Brazilian, it is the essence of all the pleasures of his life that make him feel like heaven while living even a life of penury. It is believed that the Samba had its origin in Angola, Africa; but the Brazilian version of it has evolved in Rio de Janeiro from the influence of the immigrant population from Bahia a place in Brazil. Samba even outlived the onslaught of Rock, and the Jazz to prevail its numero uno position for the Brazilians and whole world as well.


Pele telephone.


It was in 1917 for the first time ‘Pele telephone’ a recorded version of Samba was published by Ponga and Mauro Almeida. It was a resounding success and it marked the beginning of Samba coming out of the black favelas (slums occupied by blacks) to gain acceptability in the society. The advent of radio literally made Samba a world phenomenon. Getulio Varges the Brazilian dictator even made Samba Brazil’s official music. While on the path of growth Samba got branched in to various versions like Common Samba, Pagode, Partido Alto, Samba Concao, Samba Enrido etc. Samba with drum orchestra is a main attraction of the Carnival.


Foot ball.


Harbor of Rio de JaneiroThe João Havelange Stadium.

Football is Brazil’s national weakness, during season all alleys turn to virtual football ground and elders watch and cheer the playing skill on their children with awe. Rio de Janeiro is home to mega football clubs like America, Bolafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense, Vasco etc. When Brazilian team wins a match it is national celebration to the whole Brazil and Rio in particular. The Maracana Stadium where major football matches are played is the biggest in the world while Pele (known as the black pearl) the football legend prevails as the greatest Brazilian ever born.


Too many to pull him up.


Football, Samba, Beaches, Carnivals and bold women what else to make life a pleasure filled dream run, Brazilians have all these. When football season recedes there arrive the carnivals and between these two there are the beautiful beaches where lovely dolls play beach volley ball and the Samba prevailing over his head, all these combined take the helpless Brazilian to cloud nine. There is only one string to pull him back to earth the ‘bold’ women, without whom an overwhelmed Brazilian would have risen up the skies like a hydrogen balloon, god bless!


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