A surreal encounter with Christ the Redeemer reminds me to always keep the faith.
In Fall 2015, the hubby and I ventured to a part of the world we had never been to.
We didn’t know it at the time, but our first visit to South America would be our last hurrah before parenthood.
Revisiting these photos, while processing T’s recent diagnosis, reminded me of a faith-affirming moment in Brazil.
After an 11-hour flight, we arrived at Lima, the capital of Peru and one of the largest cities in South America.
We had one full day of sightseeing and enjoyed the beautiful architecture and colourful buildings.
Vibrant flowers sprawled everywhere.
We saw olive trees for the first time. Look at those gnarly trunks and twisty dance-like branches.
The unexpected highlight was the Central Park in Miraflores. There were wild cats everywhere!
This girl picking up a cat for herself still makes me chuckle.
Cuzco is a city located in the Peruvian Andes and the former capital of the Inca Empire.
The majestic mountains and jaw dropping view still blow me away.
A friend and I were obsessed with the Llama, Llama children’s books at the time and imagine my surprise at seeing one in person!
Walking through the village in the mountains and through narrow stone pathways felt like stepping back in time.
Visiting a salt mine was a fun experience. We bought small pouches of Peruvian salt that we still use sparingly these days.
I guess this was an ancient concert hall?
We loved the beautiful Spanish architecture – and not a skyscraper in sight!
Ollantaytambo is a village in Peru’s Sacred Valley. We stayed for two days to acclimatize to the altitude before visiting Machu Picchu.
Ollantaytambo is known for the ruins of an ancient Inca fortress.
The hike through the hillside stone terraces was breathtaking.
These were guinea pigs in a local’s home. I will not share the photo of the hubby’s dinner!
Considered one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, words can’t describe how breathtaking Machu Picchu was in person.
This ancient 15th century Inca fortress is located almost 8,000 feet above sea level.
You could do a four-day hike to get there or do a daytrip and take a train from Ollantaytambo then ride a bus up a narrow terrifying mountain path.
Exploring the ancient ruins was an incredible experience and I marveled at the ingenuity and magnitude of their engineering.
Here’s one of the living quarters.
We stopped regularly to take in the views. Our heads were literally in the clouds.
After a short flight, we spent the next two days exploring Iguazu Falls.
Iguazu Falls consists of 275 falls and this stretch of double layer waterfalls captures its vast stunning beauty.
The falls are situated on a border shared by Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
About 80% of the falls are in Argentina. We we spent a day exploring them by hiking and by boat at Iguazu Falls National Park.
This was one of the walkways that took you to the edge of one of the falls.
This was me channeling Eva Peron. That kid looking at me probably thought I was an idiot for looking at Brazil while lipsynching “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.”
We explored the Falls on the Brazil side the following morning, which had spectacular views of the Argentinian falls.
There were many calmer stretches and this outdoor restaurant was one of them.
We didn’t eat there but we did enjoy a delicious lunch at one of the packed cafeterias.
Argentina is known for delicious steaks. We had ten minutes to eat because we were behind schedule and I inhaled every bite of this meal that I still dream about.
Rio De Janeiro
Our final stop was Rio De Janeiro in Brazil, a city I had dreamed of visiting.
Over four days, we took in many of the local sites, including Sugarloaf Mountain.
The views atop of the seaside city were awesome.
These beautiful stained glass are part of Rio De Janeiro Cathedral, which is dedicated to Saint Sebastian, Rio’s patron saint.
This is Copacabana Beach, the region that the New York nightclub in Barry Manilow’s song Copacabana was named after.
We toured the favelas, which were featured in a chase scene in the film Fast Five.
The guide regularly reminded us we were in a dangerous place. We did not dare doubt her.
We made it out safely and enjoyed a relaxing final afternoon on the beach.
Keeping the Faith
Less than six months after our trip, T came into our lives unexpectedly and life took us on a different journey over the last six years.
As I processed T’s recent FASD diagnosis, I looked back at old photos and stumbled across our South America trip.
I recalled a memory from Rio de Janeiro.
On a rainy afternoon, we visited Christ the Redeemer, situated atop Corcovado Mountain.
Riding the tram up, the fog grew thicker and the nearby tree branches looked dream like.
When we got to the visitor centre at the top, it was raining heavily and the mountain top was covered in thick fog.
Half of our group chose to stay inside, complaining they couldn’t see anything.
Indeed, looking out, I could not see the stairs that led up to the 100 feet tall statue.
The hubby and I ventured out, even though the guide warned us we may not see anything.
As we walked up the stairs, the rain slowed down and as I inched to the top, He emerged from the fog, hands opened wide, looking down at all who stayed committed.
It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life and reminded me to always keep the faith.
In the last six years, our international travel has slowed down – raising a child ain’t cheap! – although we hope to explore the world with T when he is older.
These days, we don’t need to travel 8,000 feet up a mountain to have our breath taken away.
Smaller things make my heart soar. Like T crushing his spelling test this week, earning an “Amazing!” from his teacher, and his proud smile when he sees it posted on the fridge.
Our amazing boy reminds me everyday to never fear the rainy days, to journey through uncertain fog, and to always have faith.