December 10, 2011

Rio: Go to the Botanical Garden.

Since we only had four days in the city, I chose an afternoon in the botanical garden over a trip into the rainforest (Parque Nacional de Tijuca is the largest area of urban rainforest in the world, which literally borders the city - full of monkeys and crazy species of plants and insects, of course - but takes a bit more commitment than a girl lazily strolling in her Havaianas. Next time). The botanical garden in Rio de Janeiro is right next to the city's lagoon - a good place around which to stroll or bike. On my way to the garden, my cab driver started beating his hands on the wheel of the car and then abruptly pulled over. I don't speak Portuguese (although it is impressive how much more useful French was than English while we were in Rio), but it was pretty clear he was upset that his car had just broken down. No problem - there are cabs everywhere in Rio. One word of caution, well two, let's say: 1). Wear a seat belt. Wow! These guys terrorize the roads - tear down the streets as they go. 2). If you don't know Rio (which, if you've just arrived, you won't), they'll likely take you on the scenic route...meaning the most circuitous route to get to a very simple place just over the hill (runs the meter nicely). By the fourth day, I had a much better sense of where we were and finally, we had an untarnished driver who kindly drove us straight from downtown to Copacabana up and over a hill we had never taken and arrived 15 minutes faster than any of our nearly identical trips! All of that said, cabs aren't that expensive and they are often the safest option. Back to the fierce and delicate awes of the botanical garden (Brazilian flora and fauna - the most diverse in the world):

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