Saturday, September 21, 2019

XXXV - The First Ride

XXXV - The First Ride

After praying to the icons, I decided to pass up prostrating myself before their wall - I did have some pride left, even in the fear of my pending doom. We made our way in the line to the waiting glass carriage of death. As we boarded the car, I paid close attention to the warning "Carefully Step Over the Gap". Close attention? It was hard not to notice the gap between the boarding area and the car, since if one looks down all one sees is a drop of several hundred feet.

Once on the car, I made sure I was close to one the standing poles (simliar to those you find on a subway) for something to hold on to for dear life. I am lucky that I only have acrophobia and not claustrophobia. Because 65 people on one of these cars is a lot.

(They have this replica on the terrace of Morro da Urca. This is exactly like the ones that make the journey every 20 minutes or so.)

As soon as the car was loaded and the door closed, the operator pulled a lever. The car began to leave the 'port'. In just a moment we were thrust into the bright light, hanging by a cable moving up to the first stop (Morro da Urca aka Mt. Urca). There were oohs and ahs from most of the travelers. Me not so much. I just kept my gaze straight ahead, not looking down.

The views were very impressive, scary - but beautiful, never the less. Watching another car coming down from Mt. Urca just reinforced  reality that I was hanging by a cable in a glass car. But, that was just me.  It was then I remembered a fight James Bond had on one of these cars in Moonraker.  Best not think of that now, given I'm pretty sure that cable car crashed.

Soon we were pulling into the station on Mt Urca.

We left the car, walked through the 'port' and onto the terraces of Mt. Urca. The views were splendid. 

Friday, September 20, 2019

XXXIV- Saying a Prayer and Up the Mountain

XXXIV - God Save my Soul

Sugarloaf mountain (Pão de Açúcar) is really a rock outcropping on a peninsula that rises about 1300 feet above the Rio at the mouth of the Guanabara Bay as it flows into the South Atlantic Ocean. Also on the peninsula is a lower peak, Morro da Urca, It is known for 2 things: its incredible views of Rio and its cable car system that carries people in to the top. Actually, it is 2 parts. The first part takes one from downtown Rio to the Morro da Urca. One exits the car. There are observation decks, a bar, gift shops, and food vendors. From the lower mountain there is a 2nd cable system that whisks travelers to the top oPão de Açúcar.

All this is exciting and, some may say thrilling. For me, who is deathly afraid of heights, it is frightening. To make it worse the cars are glass sided. The idea of getting in a "car' made of glass with 64 other strangers and traveling up a mountain on a cable hanging in the air is not my idea of fun. But I digress.

The cars run every 20 minutes. That gave me time to confess my sins, pray to God, and reconsider all the decisions I have made in my life. In designing the initial station, the powers to be took this into consideration.

One wall that runs the length of the station is made of lovely hewn wood. Enclosed in the wall are small windows that upon closer examination, I saw were shadow boxes. Inside each box was a traditional religious icon. They were different sizes and styles.

Here are a few examples of the various icons.

Each is remarkable in its own way. I just regretted not bringing candles to rest at their feet as I prayed for my safety. Hopefully they could protect me. But then, what did I have to fear. After all they said almost 2500 people a day made the trip. I did note that the sign on the wall touting that figure did not mention how many of those poor souls have fallen to their death on the rocks below.