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06 March 2012
Impersonal Jesus
a trip up Corcovado to see O Cristo Redentor

pick up the receiver, I'll make you a believer
pick up the receiver, I'll make you a believer

Need to expunge the sins and excesses of Carnaval? Climb the mount and visit O Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer). The Big J can be seen from nearly all areas of Rio, and is supposedly one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World." Whatever that means. As with most tourist attractions, it's popular for a reason, and was one of the first non-Carnaval items we decided to visit.

at the foot of The Big Jesus
at the foot of The Big Jesus

The enormous Jesus statue is perched atop Corcovado mountain, at an elevation of 2300 feet, amid the Tijuca Forest National Park. So the first big decision is how to get up there. We were hoping to catch the train, supposedly a marvel of engineering itself as it goes nearly straight up the mountain. But when we hopped off the bus, there was a 3+ hourlong wait for the next train due to the crush of tourists. So we grabbed a van, which was nearly the same price, and up we went.

journey up Corcovado mountain
journey up Corcovado mountain

oktapodi has a Come-to-Jesus moment
oktapodi has a Come-to-Jesus moment

In typical Brazilian fashion (something else to file away under "This Country Needs an Easy Button"), it was explained in broken English that we'd need to pick up another van partway up, but we'd purchased a roundtrip ticket and could come back at any time. What this actually meant was that the "hired car" shuttles only take you to a certain point -- which you could also drive up to yourself, theoretically -- and then you have to get out and buy a ticket for entrance into the park. From there the park shuttles bring you up to the summit. This involves a good bit of standing in perhaps-pointless lines and not being entirely sure what the heck is going on. But you will eventually get there. And so we did. Along with several hundred camera-clicking visitors.

hundreds seeking the perfect shot
hundreds seeking the perfect shot

just a leeeeetle bit creeeeepy
just a leeeeetle bit creeeeepy

I found The Big Jesus statue pretty creepy up close. Unless you go for a helicopter tour, it's not possible to enjoy the iconic view over the shoulder of Cristo beaming benevolently down on the city. So we ended up circling the base, looking up at the vacuous blank eyes, searching for the "perfect" photo op. Along with several hundred other tourists doing exactly the same thing.

for the record, I did NOT do this!
for the record, I did NOT do this!

your own Impersonal Jesus
your own Impersonal Jesus

There's not really much else to do atop the mountain with Our Lord and Savior, but we'd shelled out the bucks and waited in lines and crammed ourselves in with our fellow man, so we hung out for a while, trying to appreciate the overcast view. The breeze was delightful. And we were able to spot a few familiar landmarks. But after a while all the shoving and jostling for space got to be a bit much. Did I mention there were several hundred people up there at the same time? Whew. We stretched it out a bit by having an overpriced beer at the cafe, but it was eventually time to call it a day and queue up for the ear-popping ride back down.

Jesus in the cafe, serving beer
Jesus in the cafe, serving beer

Worth it? Definitely. Frustrating? A tad. Completely Brazilian? You bet. Stay tuned for our counterpoint experience at Pão de Açúcar.

Big Jesus seen from Botafogo beach
Big Jesus seen from Botafogo beach


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all photos from Corcovado

* browse all Brazil posts
* The sun sets on another epic trip
* Photo Friday: Sambódromo favorites
* Dois Gringos em Dois Irmãos


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