(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Alone with a rush of adrenaline, I take a left at the sign to Corcovado. I follow the arrow to the Christ and shortly after I stop short at the gate finding it closed and locked. With a stab of disappointment I am faced with another set of options. I can still catch my friends if I run down the hill or I can look for another way. I believe that if a door is locked there is usually a window of opportunity open somewhere. I spot the tracks of the tram and know they must lead to the statue. With a pang of loneliness and the thrill of independence I set off up the steep mountain. I wish my friends were with me but the track pulls me forward.
The steep and winding tracks leading to the top of Corcovado
I hike along on the wooden slats of the tracks through the chattering jungle for over an hour, counting my steps, sweating, breathing deeply, racing the sunrise. Toward the top, the jungle gives way to a view of islands and open sea. An elegant black bird circles above. All is quiet except the soft noise of buzzing insects, a subtle wind and the far off hum of a helicopter. At the end of the tracks I hop onto the platform finding the station and ticket kiosk completely empty. Not a soul is in sight. I walk through the turnstile, paying the early morning fare of $0. My pace quickens and I can see the back of the Christ as I scale the stairs. I walk onto the platform made of smooth granite and stroll to the end, his face to my back.
The sleepy ticket booth - 6:45am
Time stops. The clouds float in utter stillness at the mountain peaks surrounding me. The sun appears out of the mist and slowly illuminates the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro. The endless expanse of ocean dissolves into a sweeping sky and my heart unfolds into eternity. I linger in the sensation for eons and finally turn around to see the great statue towering over me. My eyes roll up and my head drops back with reverence as I take in the size and the magnificence of the Christ. The expression of serenity on his face imbues me with a deep feeling of peace and I sing silent praises to all of creation. Orange and pink light travel up the mountain warming my face.
Something makes me turn around in time to see three white doves fly off into the ether.