Our flight from Miami, while crowded to the max with World Youth Day pilgrims all sardined together in a vintage Boeing 767 -- for real, the plane was probably last updated when they used it in the airplane scenes of Home Alone-- was thankfully uneventful. It was a strange overnight flight, though, in that most flights of nine+ hours usually involve a timezone change of six or seven hours. Brazil, or Rio at least, is only one hour ahead of EDST. So whatever sleep you got--or didn't get--was all that you'd be getting that day.
Chris Dube of Dube Travel met us after Customs and got us on our airconditioned bus, something we were all VERY thankful for, as Brazil, though a Southern Hemisphere nation in the dead of winter, is BLAZING HOT. I'm talking ninety degrees hot. This priest didn't plan for that.
We went straight away to the part of town where the famous "Christ the Redeemer" statue dramatically overlooks the whole of the city. Having a few hours to kill before our tour time, we marched to the local parish church and inquired about celebrating Mass. I assume it was so easy to accomplish because Rio is in full pilgrimage mode, but it could just be that this fine city has a soft spot for sweat-soaked priests and pilgrim groups.
As we prepare everything for Mass, a frantic sacristan barged into the vesting room begging us to give way to an Australian bishop who wanted to celebrate Mass before his tour up to the statue.
How do you say no to a bishop, a successor of the Apostles? You don't.
So we had Mass with the Bishop of Broken Bay in Sydney.
Then we got in the little train, and rode our way up the spectacular funicular to the Christ the Redeemer statue.
It's hard to do the statue justice. It's tremendous, in every meaning of the word. The views from up there are truly heavenly, even as you gaze down upon the bustling city of Rio de Janeiro from above the clouds. There's even a chapel in the pedestal upon which our Lord is standing.
Gotta run. Dinner time. Will finish later.