Vista Chinesa

What does one do when one’s legs hurt like the devil after a long hike the day before? Go on a new hike, duh!

I asked the hostel people where a single female hiker could go and still be safe in Rio. Vista Chinesa was the answer. So I immediately checked the internet to confirm and sure enough. Vista Chinesa was the safest and easiest option for single hikers. I referenced a blog called Rioforyou and figured out the exact hiking directions I would need. After my fiasco with the buses that morning, I needed things to be easy. The blog told me to take a cab to the park entrance, but anyone who knows me knows that is not my style. So one my second bus 112, I finally made it to my destination. Only the bus dropped me in front of a Favela. I was not about to pull out my phone to check the directions so I started walking like I knew what I was doing. I started to pass one really nice neighborhoods but no sign of a park. So I asked a doorman from one of the nice looking apartments where the park was and he pointed back in the direction of the Favela. I was a little concerned so I pointed to myself and held up one finger. Viajo sola. He seemed positive, so I took his word for it and headed back in the direction of the favela. Let me tell you, when I started walking up the narrow street side street, my heart started pounding. No one was looking at me funny, but my fists were clenched and I was as tight as a bow string. A super sweet man smiled at me and I tensed even more. Parque da Cidade? I asked tentatively. And he escorted me to the park entrance. To be honest, I was so freaked out about being alone in the Favela that I didn’t even look around at my surroundings to see what Favela life looked like.

I made it to the park in one piece feeling amazingly guilty for my mistrust of the Favela and its people and made my way to the information center. I had the information from the blog, but it didn’t hurt to confirm with the ranger. He spoke perfect English so I told him about my Favela experience. He explained that it was perfectly safe and I had nothing to worry about. This made me feel even more guilty. So I set off on my hike with a heavy heart and some much needed reflection time.

It was hot and humid as Hell. The first part of the path was easy and pleasant, but I was still feeling awful about having judged the Favela. Then a coati popped out of nowhere and brightened my day. I really love the lemurs in Brazil. They are so much cuter than squirrels. Then a blue butterfly fluttered around me and I knew that they had been a really good idea. There was a definite incline but no thinking major. I enjoyed being surrounded by the jungle sounds and at the same time being complete alone. It gave me time to think and feel honestly. I came to a fork in the road where the dirt road turned into a path. The blog had said this would happen so I decided to take it. It wasn’t the right one, but it didn’t matter. It took me deep into the jungle where I met an armadillo. He was super cute, but he wanted none of me.

I emerged out of the worlds only to realize that I had taken the wrong dirt path. I could have followed the dirt road a little longer, but it turned out in my favor. I found the correct dirt path and followed it. Up and Up and up and up. My legs were on fire by this point. The slight incline had felt good to my legs, but this steep incline was pure torture. On a normal day, it would have been a challenge but not terrible. After the hike from the day before, I was on the verge of sitting down a crying. That’s when I saw my first human. A man ran past me…uphill…just doing his regular exercise. Oh hell no! That was enough to get my butt in gear. I put my head down and put one foot in front of the other. I hate it when the rangers put signed that say destination: 1 km ahead. What they mean is you are about to experience the worst 45 minutes of your life. On both hikes, the last kilometer was the worst. I just had to hunker down and do it.

I finally reached the main road and the view. Totally worth it! This may be my favorite view of Rio so far. It wasn’t crowded and the view was to die for. You saw all of the major points of Rio while being surrounded by the shade of the Chinese structure. I’m not entirely sure why the structure is where it is, but it’s still pretty cool nevertheless. I sat in the shade of the structure for a while trying to cool off. The hike had been difficult and the humidity was off the charts. I had perspired through every piece of clothing I had on. And since it’s Brazil, there wasn’t much to sweat through. The people watching along with the incredible view was enough to keep me rooted on my bench for a good twenty minutes. By that point I was significantly cooler and ready to head down the main road.

While walking, I came across a group of monkeys! (Note to self: look up what a group of monkeys is called.) They were devious little boogers. At first they were super cute eating from the fruit on the tree, but then one saw my camera and made his way over to me. I was like “how cute! He’s posing for me!” Yeah, until he made a launch off the tree and came a little too close for comfort. Despite the myriad sign warning not to feed the monkeys, I think dumb-ass tourists think the signs are just suggestions. These little monkeys were definitely smart enough to beg. One even started following me down the read hoping I would turn around and change my mind. We had to have some words about desperation.

There was a waterfall where numerous swimmers enjoyed a cool off from the day. Butterflies, lizards, and lemurs peaked out every once in a while. The walk down was nice and easy, but it is a 30 minute walk completely downhill. My legs were stinging in new places now. I realized that I had not walked down anything, only up. When I reached the small neighborhood road, I was tired and hot and thirsty. So I did what my dad taught me to do…I found the hole-in-the-wall local beer joint. The place was called The Two Friends (Dos Amigos). I ordered the first thing with meat on the menu and a beer. True to Brazilian fashion, the beer was ice cold and beyond delicious. My whole body sighed with that first sip. And because of the Koozie, that sucker stayed ice cold the entire time. The food was pretty amazing as well – very flavorful and comforting. It was carne asada with rice, legumes, carrots, and the famous Brazilian black bean stew. My dad would have been in heaven right along with me. I sat at the restaurant for a good hour enjoying my life. Then I used the wifi and called an uber back to my hostel. It was time for a much needed nap.

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