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Tuesday, November 29, 2005: Alas! It was our last day in Rio, but our favela greeted us with a sunny smile.
Copacabana Beach did her best to make sure we'd miss her too.
In the light of day, you can't see what's going on in the apartments across from our hotel, but at night, a series of vignettes played out in each of the windows. Christmas trees were decorated, guests were invited over for drinks, television was watched, and two kids played cops and robbers just before bedtime.
Since we were busy hang gliding the morning that our Ambassadair Corcovado tour was rescheduled, we booked our own tour through the hotel on our last free day.
We started out with a city tour.
Here's one of the main boulevards in Rio.
We had a very quick stop at the Estadio Mario Filho (Maracanã) which is a soccer stadium.
Here is our distinctively decorated Italbus parked outside the stadium.
Next, we visited a samba school with a small gift shop and display area.
Here, we purchased a small feather Carnaval headdress, which required further examination when Tom's luggage was selected for extra security at the airport later on.
Here is the Sambadrome where the samba schools perform during Carnaval.
Rio has many tunnels that cut through the mountains that separate one area of the city from the next. This is a very artsy shot of one of the tunnels as seen from the front seat of the tour bus without a flash. You many have to use your imagination on this one.
Near the base of Corcovado, we passed this festive holiday display.
Here is the narrow road that leads up to Corcovado.
There are two ways to get to the top of Corcovado. One is to take a tram (which is what our Ambassadair traveling companions did on their tour) and the other is to transfer from a tour bus into a small van (which is what we did). Once there, you can choose to walk the 200 steps to the top or you can take the elevator. So, I guess that really makes four ways, doesn't it? We opted for the stairs. At the top, we were rewarded with this stunning view.
Here is the quintessential sight -- the statue of Christ the Redeemer at the top of Corcovado. It is an impressive sight, but a little smaller than we were expecting. The people in this photo help give perspective.
The views from all sides are spectacular, but this one is probably the most recognizable with Sugar Loaf in the distance.
So, naturally, we need to be photographed in front of it.
This is the view of Copacabana ...
... but if you don't believe us, check the handy visual aid.
Turn your head and you're looking at the lagoon and Ipanema.
Turn again and you're facing in the direction of our beloved Pepino Beach, which is just beyond the peaks in this photo.
Here's the photo we've really been waiting for. Orchy did his best imitation of the famous statue.
Although we saw very few bugs in Rio, the ones we did see were impressive. This spectacular bug sparkled over every inch of his body and we were tempted to smuggle him home, but he was very intent on slowly crawling along the stone wall so we left him to his task. The good folks at What's That Bug helped identify him as Entimus Nobilis.
Before leaving, we had to take one last shot of the impressive statue.
Here's a shot looking down the stairs. The yellow umbrellas belong to a kiosk about halfway down the stairs. At the base of the stairs is another kiosk where we indulged in some refreshing Diet Antarctica Guaraná.
Back at our hotel, we took advantage of the late checkout Martha Ellen had arranged for us, then had a leisurely lunch at Lucas Restaurant again. This time, we both had filets and finished up with two different passion fruit desserts. Then, we adjourned to the hotel's rooftop bar ...
... where we took one last shot of the beach looking toward Sugar Loaf ...
... and our first shot in the other direction, that we couldn't see from our room. Note the tile patterns in the middle and on the side of Av. Atlantica.
From the rooftop, we were finally able to get a good shot of these intriguing birds, which had proven to be quite elusive anytime our camera was out in the days prior. These are called magnificent frigatebirds (fregata magnificens) and they have huge wings and cool forked tails.

One of our traveling companions, Mark, joined us for our last drinks in Brazil before leaving for the airport at 5:00.

** THE END **

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