So here, I am, just after midnight (early Tuesday morning). In a way I’m grateful – we were warned we may not get home before 3am. To back track a little… you know why everyone comes to Rio – well, yes, Carnivale, but the other reason – Corcovado! You know, the mountain with the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer. We knew it would be extremely popular this week, so in order to ensure our chance to see it up close, we booked ahead. Then, after arriving in Rio last night, we were informed that we had been allotted a spot – at 10:40pm! Well, better a vision of the city by night than nothing at all we figured. And so after a full day we trotted off to Corcovado earlier this evening, via bus, and arrived almost exactly an hour ahead of time, thanks to our ever dependable translator and guide and general Brazilian guru, Marina. All in to the souvenir shop. Sorry Mr John’s, no snow domes, but I have not given up yet.
Waiting…. Waiting… there is a little train that you catch up to the mountain. The train comes and goes, comes and goes. We are not on it. Waiting… waiting… Half of us sit down and plough through three chapters of Matthews Gospel, before moving to evade the next crowd disembarking the train. Eventually it turns out that, despite our arrangements having been confirmed, no is coming to meet us with our tickets. The Adelaide pilgrims, who just got off the last train, offer us the consolation that their trip was pretty miserable – it is rainy up there tonight; they didn’t really see much at all, and have come back wet and cold. So home we came.
Strangely enough, I didn’t mind all that much. This morning I wrote out a little list of people I intended to pray for on the mountain. I can still pray for them, and I will. And our whole group just took the whole debacle in their stride. We have got into the groove of this pilgrimage thing, and are learning to see that we meet him as often in the small still breezes as in the earthquake or the thunderstorm (cheers Elijah). For whatever reason, today was not to be our Corcovado day. Perhaps we will get another chance this week, perhaps not. Whatever happens, we are certain that we will meet Christ the Redeemer.
Today has had its pleasures as well as its disappointments. This morning we had a lovely Mass (feast of Mary Magdalene) with Bishop Eugene at the baroque chapel of the Mosteiro de Sao Bento (Monastery of St Benedict, founded 1565) which is not far from our living quarters. Lunch at a nice little restaurant where you pay for your meals by weight (a fairly common practice here). In the afternoon, the girls headed for some local markets. The guys decided that, although time was short, we were keen for a bit of exploring. By accident we found ourselves at a ferry terminal, and decided to take a trip across the bay. I wish I could tell you where to, but I have no idea and haven’t been able to work it out on the maps we have. In any case, it was a good bit of fun. Oh, and may I say, there is some great street art over here. Even the tagging is impressive – we saw one high-rise covered in tags, all apparently by the same guy or girl, or maybe them and a few mates. Australian graffitists could learn a few things from Brazil. I was hoping for a view of Christ the Redeemer from the ferry (we haven’t laid eyes on him at all yet) but it was too cloudy. We arrived back on this side of the bay to discover markets which weren’t there an hour before, and streets filled with people because the Pope had just passed by. Some of the girls saw his car, but not the man. After that we headed out to dinner and the ill-fated Corcovado expedition.
So beyond the practicals, what can I say? I love Brazil. It’s big, with lots of people and lots of energy. Of course there is so much I have not seen, but so far it is not so different from Australia as I expected. Bigger, crazier, perhaps poorer, perhaps more outgoing, but not so different. I feel at home here. Which brings home to me the truth of the saying that we are all one family, all God’s children. These people are my family too. And they are beautiful. One interesting aspect of life here compared to Australia is that the whole multicultural enterprise is much more firmly established here. Of course there are the local aboriginal peoples (I am not sure the correct name), then Portuguese, African, Italian and Japanese to name just some of the main cultures that combine in the melting pot of Brazil. The diversity of the cultures is celebrated and the resulting mix is a vibrant and confident nation.
Since I’ve got the blog to myself today, shout out to my MGL Bros and St Martin’s and St John’s and DOJ Darwin and my family in Qld and the folks at Sao Judas (especially my host family – Heloisa, Giovanna, Valeria and Grazielli – I never told them about this blog so if you see them please tell them). Praying for you all.
Some of us commented today that our hearts are still in Sao Paulo. We had such a wonderful week there, and I’m not the only one missing my host family. But tomorrow the World Youth Day (JMJ) events will begin, and I am sure we are in for a great week here.
And so we are for home.
Chris Kerwick mgl