Ah, Rio. One of my favorite cities on earth, and certainly one of the most beautiful.
Sugar Loaf Mountain… the golden beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema…the panoramic views from Corcovado (site of Christ the Redeemer statue)…Carnival…samba…churrascaria retaurants (all the meat you can eat!)….caipirinhas (Brazil’s delicious national cocktail, made of cachaca, sugar and lime)…the Cariocas (Rio natives) themselves, some of the world’s most sensuous people.
These are all images that will become familiar during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, which run August 5 to 21.
Perhaps less publicized will be the images of Rio’s sprawling slums (favelas), of toxic polluted waterways (including some Olympic venues), of shoddy workmanship in the Olympic Village (the accommodations for the Australian team have already caught fire due to faulty… Continue reading
Everyone has heard of the Amazon, but how many are familiar with another great Brazilian natural wonder, the Pantanal wetlands? Or the spectacular Bolivian salt flats known as Salar de Uyuni or Chile’s Atacama desert? South America is filled with natural wonders that don’t always get the press they deserve. Here are seven of our favorites, including both the famous and not-so-famous — but all remarkable.
Lying more than 600 miles in the Pacific off mainland Ecuador, the remote Galapagos Islands possess perhaps the best preserved ecosystem in the world. This is where Charles Darwin got his inspiration for his Theory of Evolution, after observing the unique birdlife here during his 19th-century voyage aboard the Beagle. The islands are a true natural laboratory, each with distinct species of birds, reptiles and other creatures.… Continue reading
The last two times I visited Brazil, I loved lazing on the beaches of Rio, cruising down the Amazon, hiking through the rainforests and touring the remarkable opera house in Manaus.
But jumping through the bureaucratic hoops to get there in the first place almost convinced me I’d never make it down. Brazil seems to do everything it can to discourage American visitors by making visas expensive and annoying to get.
The regulations keep changing. One time I had to wait in a long line at the Brazilian consulate in New York City, then go next door to a particular bank to deposit $100 cash and get a receipt for same, then return to stand in another long line to hand that in along with my completed visa application, only to be told I would have… Continue reading