Cidade Maravilhosa!  My sentiments exactly when I arrived in Rio de Janeiro.  From the landscape, buildings and people, Rio is truly vibrant.  The sun was out and shining, beckoning us to soak it all in.

Rio Caipirinhas

Warm welcome in Rio with Caipirinhas, national cocktail of Brazil

Rooftop rio

View of Leme Beach from the hotel rooftop

During the week, our company visits introduced us to all aspects of business in Rio, especially in regards to sports and the 2016 Summer Olympics.  However, my favorite company visit was at the headquarters of Rock in Rio.  We were fortunate to have CEO Louis Justo present to us.  He shared the exciting story of this historic music festival and its success as an entertainment experience and marketing company.  In addition, the presentation connected the lessons I learned in entrepreneurship class about the business canvas model.

Rock in Rio logo

Madalasa and I with the Rock in Rio logo

Rock In Rio

Rock in Rio CEO with GBS

What I loved most about Rio is that it gave me a reboot to my year.  It all began at the top of Corcovado, where Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer Statue) watches over the city of Rio.  This was our first full day in Rio, and I was more excited than ever to ascend this global landmark.  I’ve been on mountain tops, but this view was incredible.  I was blessed with a clear day to witness the beauty of nature and how it merged with the city.  All the pictures I could take could not capture the calm and serenity of that view.  I felt so thankful I could travel and expand my horizons.  I realized that standing at the mountaintop was representative of this year.  It takes some time to ascend, but once you arrive at your destination, don’t forget to look out.  Acknowledge your surroundings.  Get the most out of where you are now.  I said a little prayer quietly giving thanks and promising I will live in the present.


On our way to the top of Corcovado

Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer)

Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer)

View from the top of Corcovado

View from the top of Corcovado

And with each destination, my appreciation was reinforced.  Our local guide was exceptional at giving recommendations and must-do’s in Rio.  The beaches of Leme and Copacabana were a great hangout with my classmates, and I ordered multiple fresh coconuts.  As a Floridian, I am picky about my beaches, but the mountainside contrasting the beach sand was a unique experience.  I cannot forget the fantastic sunset view at Ipanema!  When not at the beach, we enjoyed the hotel’s rooftop pool and exploring local eateries.

Rio dinner

Exploring Rio one restaurant at a time

A more humbling moment was learning about life in the favelas (slums).  It amazes me how you can drive past a resort or affluent neighborhood and then immediately be in a favela.  We were guided by a local NGO explaining the changes in the community and efforts to alleviate poverty. But despite socioeconomic differences, one wonderful characteristic of Brazilians was their hospitality. Home cooked food at a local favela home was one of our best meals…so much love and personal attention to the dishes.  And no matter where in Rio, favela or not, there’s a fantastic view.

Favela Vidigal

Favela Vidigal

Favela Vidigal Smile

“Stop here, appreciate life for a minute and smile”

Favela Vidigal views

Favela Vidigal views

The culmination of my trip was celebrating my birthday!  Our trip up the famous Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) was another opportunity for a fantastic view of Rio.  You better believe I was smiling on top of that mountain, too! We couldn’t believe our journey was over, and we did not want to leave.  At the end of this trip, all of us built strong bonds with each other and we will always remember our ten days in Brazil.  We had our farewell dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse, and Professor Rodgers instigated my classmates to sing “Happy Birthday” to me.  The next day I concluded my birthday on the beach enjoying the sunshine before I flew back to the United States.  Now I’m ready for my next adventure.

Sugarloaf Mountain

About to take the cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain

Top of Sugarloaf Mountain

Top of Sugarloaf Mountain

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