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Sailing in Rio
By Harold Emert

Rio de Janeiro - A long-time resident of a metropolis once known as Cidade Maravilhosa/Marvelous City--  before drug trafficking,violence and favelas overtook its supposed wonders and charms--received a wonderful and unexpected gift the other day:to sail for four hours around the beautiful picture- postcard  waterway called Guanabara Bay ,  once painted by the French artist  Debret.

      Of course due to what I call savage capitalism and so-called progress, many things have changed since Debret painted Rio de Janeiro as no one has since portrayed it.But a "circle line" trip around  the waters surrounding one of the world's most beautiful cities still reveal many traces of the colonial Rio which Debret captured in  an age before TV,internet,movies and even the steamship were invented.

 

  How many times on the Aterro/Highway of Flamengo have I passed Guanabara Bay and seen yachts and sailboats leisurely circling the  on the waterways  and looked out of my speeding buses window with envy and jealously of those fortunate enough to sail the seas of Rio de Janeiro?

                 Now it was my turn.

 

                 My gracious hostess was Monica Pellerano of www.riosailing.com ,a small sailboat enterprise which is beginning to have some competition  in a business venture which surprisingly is only beginning in still one of the most beautiful cities of the world.

                I come from New York City but have never been on the city's famous Circle Line which gives a tourist a picture postcard view of the supposed greatest city in the world. Why this omission?As the Brazilians say "Home Saints Don't Make Miracles."

                But I've been on Amsterdam's lovely boat ride around the city of canals and Amstel and Heineken beer,taken a schooner in Fortaleza,northern Brazil,been to waters of Venice and crossed the brown waters of the Amazon until they became black  and locally am a frequent visitor to and from Niteroi ,but only travelling by boat (rather  than bus).

 

          

   As five of us board the sailboat Sangha (picture above) , and as  the virtuoso captain  Marcelo prepares the sails to begin what will be an unforgettable afternoon,our guide Monica Pellerano points out to us that "the typical tourist visiting Rio de Janeiro will visit Christ on the Mountain,Sugar Loaf Mountain,Maracana (soccer/football) stadium but somehow a sailboat ride around Rio has been forgotten."

 

               This  omission for a visitor to Rio de Janeiro  is unbelievable I think as my sailboat takes us around the Bay passing Flamengo and Copacabana from another angle and then returning to again another view of the city's Santos Dumont airport heading towards Niteroi. What a panoramic view of a city I thought I knew so well!

 

              Surprisingly in contrast to all the shocking international press reports during the Rio Olympics last year ,I do not sight litter,rubbish,trash or whatever one wishes to call it either at the beautiful Marina of Gloria,where our sailboat is anchored,or during the four hour voyage. And neither  do I smell the supposedly putrid waters that some Olympic sailors reported in 2016.

 

             I swear by the statue of Christ on Corcovado ---which we often sight during our sailboat trip--that this is true.But my guide and the captain warn me that it is a good day and no trash on the waters has surfaced.Or has the Olympic committee--despite all the corruption reported---done a good job in cleaning up Guanabara Bay?


             At last I am in one of those small boats I always spot from the my ferry boat riding from Praca XV in downtown Rio to Niteroi. So this is how it feels ,wonderful,as the gaivotas/seagulls circle around us overhead!

 

           I could go on and on and speak about the fisherman's colony near Jurujuba  in Niteroi , or of the international jets overhead and ships from foreign ports  passing nearby or about the wonderful steak and trimmings dinner which after our ship harboured,greeted our famished party at the gostoso (!)   Argentine steakhouse Corrientes 348  near where our sailboat was harboured in front of the Marina da Gloria. Gloria.

 

          But I can hope that someone reading this brief memoir of a unforgettable day in a city which is often violent ,too noisy in some places  and just the opposite of its original "marvelous,"  follows me on four-hour journey .

 

          On a lovely day , the sailboat voyage is the best therapy in the world against depression, ,sadness or  despair ,which many of us in Marvelous City have been suffering during a economic crisis which seems --slowly but surely --to be sailing away into the horizon. 

 

 


 

 

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