I know in my last post I promised to write about how this trip affected my life, and the lives of my coworkers, but it’s going to have to wait. I have to document the beauty of this trip before it escapes me and sleep sets in.

It’s 2:12AM in Rio, and we just got home from a street party at the birthplace of Samba, Pedro do Sal. Tonight we truly got to experience the Brazilian culture. Many of my fears of getting pic-pocketed, mugged, or kidnapped slowly faded away while dancing with locals tonight. While we were hyper aware of what could happen, and I must admit I did mother hen a few of our mates, it was truly a unique and wonderful experience. One thing that stands out is the caipirinha artist. I call her an artist because there was an enormously long line for her stand, and she was smiling and so happy the entire time. And, caipirinhas are not a quick drink to make. Order those from a bartender in America and you’ll get a dirty look and a weak drink.

“I never want to go back to the Netherlands and work my miserable 9–5 job with people who are unhappy. I have the greatest job in the world here. I get to be surrounded by the happiest people every night. I never want to leave this place.” -the caipirinha artist

When I finally felt comfortable enough to pull out my iPhone and take some photos, many locals wanted selfies and photos with our group.

Earlier today I had another first. I experience my first Wonder of the World, Christ the Redeemer. It was a surreal experience. Magnificent. Breathtaking. There is no doubt that is the selfie capital of the world. While I did take a few selfies with Jesus, I was amazed at the detail of the piece. You can see His heart, the marks in His hands, and the compassionate look in His face. I stood all amazed. Inside, there is a small chapel and I took the opportunity to bow my head, listen to the latin hymns, and thank the Lord for this opportunity.

Before we visited the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world, we had a traditional Brazilian buffet for lunch. Food is buffet style and charged by the kilo. I consumed over $20USD of delicious cuisine. (For those of you who know how light of an eater I can be, you would be amazed at the amount of food I ate in one sitting.) The peixe (pronounced pay-shee) is amazing in Rio!

I am humbled, grateful, and overwhelmed. Watching my sister dance the night away, laugh freely, and truly enjoy herself was one of the highlights of today. I have probably told her almost 48 times since Thursday that I am so happy she is here with me.

I didn’t have the opportunity to write about my first day here with Under30Experiences. We visited the Escandaria Selaron in Lapa. This beautiful piece of art is a main walkway in between Santa Teresa and Lapa. A Chilean artist who lived on the passageway decided to start tiling it, and then made it his life’s work and his “tribute to the Brazilian people.” Bright, colorful, and diverse, the tiles range from Spanish proverbs to Michelin tire and Coca Cola branded images. One could spend literally hours upon hours reading each tile and taking it all in. If you love a mysterious twist, you should look up the death of the artist. He committed “suicide” on the steps…or did he?

We stopped by the ruins in Santa Teresa and took in the 360º views of Rio de Janiero.

If you are considering traveling to Brazil, I highly recommend having a Mastercard debit card. Many of the ATMs here do not take Visa (surprisingly). I’ve spent the past few days bumming money off of my travel companions and anxiously awaiting the moment I see a Visa-friendly ATM. Fingers crossed that moment comes tomorrow.

Até amanhã…