Jarosław Kania

Paris is proud of the Eiffel tower, San Francisco delights with the Golden Gate bridge, and Sydney charms with the Leaning Tower, Piza tempts with the leaning tower, and Sydney charms with futuristic opera. Famous buildings, visions of artists and engineers which at the beginning often raise resistance and controversies, after years, they become not only symbols of cities, but also a magnet attracting tourists from all parts of the world.
When we think: Barcelona - we see a fantastic architecture of Antonio Gaudie and SagradaFamilia. With the slogan Egypt, on the wobbly horizon there appear triangular silhouettes of pyramids. And what happens when somebody says Rio de Janeiro? Then in front of the eyes there appears a towering concrete Christ.

An unusual symbol

Thirty-meter high sculpture of Christ the Redeemer, whose 80th anniversary of existence has been recently, greets pilgrims with the open arms and the city situated at its feet. The panorama of the majestic figure in the background of green hills or photos made from the birds' eye view behind its back, has been inscribed into the classical views of pop-culture for ever - similarly as the skyscrapers of New York or canals and gondolas of Venice.
It is impossible to escape from the monumental Christ in Rio de Janeiro - he looks from folders, calls from leaflets, shouts from souvenir T-shirts and touristic gadgets - his arms are stretched out towards us from nearly every directions. So, there is no way; if he invites so openly, it is impossible to refuseto set off for a trip onto the steep mountain Corovado, in order to see one of the seven new world wonders in a big group of tourists, and then turn round and get amazed, because none of photos, no matter how beautiful they would be, are not able to reflect the excellent panorama stretching out from the top of the hill.

January's bay

Looking at the structure of the city with a bay and hills surrounding it, it is not difficult to imagine the delight of Portugal discoverers of this incredible place on 1 January 1502. That far-distanced event also gave the name to the city which has been translated into Polish as: 'A January's river'. As it finally turned out, the reservoir to which ships sailed, was not a river, but a bay, but the name has remained till today and is still, for us, the Europeans a synonym of the far-distanced, exotic, legendary city; the city in which half of inhabitants spend whole days on wide, golden-sandy beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. At that time, another half of them are running after a ball in yellow T-shirts. And when the game and sunbathing are finished, they are beating a crazy rhythm of samba. Whereas after an intensive night, at the end of the previous day and in the beginning of the next day, when they become exhausted, they delight with melancholy of bossa nova, while drinking a glass of cold capirinhi.

A Braziliandream

Many people arriving in Rio for a few days, dream about this way of spending time according to the Brazilian dream and are trying, with a better or a worse result, to implement this plan in practice. However, it is impossible to be in a constant illusion and one should realize the fact that everyday life in Rio is different. Life of wealthy people mixes here with ordinary days of poor people, who are crowded in large slums - favelas which are not good to visit on one's own.
And maybe, for this reason, Christ the Redeemer, sport, beaches and dance are the greatest attractions in Rio de Janeiro, and also the symbols of Brazil. Because, similarly as in the eyes of Christ we all are equal, in dance and in sport poor people can be participant like the rich. It does not matter who you are, but what you are like and what you can do. Many people consider Brazil as the state of the mind, a phenomenon which is difficult to understand by a person accustomed to European standards.

A real knowledge

In order to try to learn something, it is necessary to start with something. Maybe the trail beaten by many people is not so bad? In the beginning a visit to Corcovado and classical photos with stretched out arms under the sculpture of Christ, and the rest of the day can be spent on walks and swimming in the sea at the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. And when the sun and the heat become weaker, it is worth listening to the hot Brazilian rhythms and dancing samba till dawn.
And when after the first day spent together, we fall in love in Brazil, and who knows, maybe it will let us get to know the country better, but, not from the colourful postcard this time, but from the everyday, real, although not always smiling or sunny Brazil.


"Niedziela" 30/2013

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl