Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Happy Birthday Mom from Rio....
I wish you could see all this up close...

My Mom was born April 1, which is NOT April Fool's Day here (December 28th is, and they call it Day Of The Innocents) Ah Rio ....beats the hell out of my cubicle!

Speak of the Dictator... It was 40 years ago today Brazil saw a military coup that would last 21 years. Newspaper ran a special section which I found fascinating. Will talk more about this era when I'm back. It's something Americans never got the whole picture of....

Lovely scenery all around as the cab took us back and forth across the 10 miles of sprawling coastline that IS Rio de Janeiro. For those unfamiliar, 10-20 blocks from the beach are huge hills that are sharp, steep, and covered with vegetation, an explosion of green and brown. So Rio is very long and very thin at some points. The bay surrounding Rio is peppered with these same hills, jutting right up out of the water.

The largest of these is called Paõ de Açucar, or Sugarloaf, after its shape, and offers a gorgeous view to those who brave two successive cable car rides. Sugarloaf also houses a mini-zoo and mini-botanic garden.

We ate at Porcão, literally, Fat Pig, a meat restaurant arranged so that waiters keep bringing you different cuts of meat until you can eat no more. You then turn your green signal to red, and beg for coffee. Porcão has an amazing view of Sugarloaf. Here's Porcão from the inside

Of course, I just admired Rio's sights from afar, busy as I was exploring the wonders of Brazilian telecommunications, petroleum, and mining. Here's the building of Petrobras, the state oil company, a wonderful funky modernist assortment of cubes:

Tomorrow I have a day trip to Porto Alegre, about 600 miles south of here, halfway to Argentina, to see a steel company. Like the Argentines, people here call themselves "gauchos" and eat a lot of meat. Many Germans settled here in the 1800s, and there are many, many blonde people....

Friday, before leaving, I have a day trip to Belo Horizonte, about 400 miles north of here, to visit another steel company. People from this state, Minas Gerais, are legendary for being cautious, laconic, and stubborn. Minas was the cradle of Brazil's independence.

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