Barry Pollack’s “Going Places”Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
After driving from seashore to a lush forestedmountaintop, I trekked a little further uphill to where aclearing led to a cliff. Apprehensively, I looked out overit at grand vistas of a great city below with miles uponmiles of white sand beaches, a turquoise sea, and rows ofbeachfront high-rise apartments. My instructor strapped meinto a body harness and hooked me up to his hang glider. Hewatched the wind rustle in the trees. My heart pounded withadrenalin. When the wind was just right, he counted, “one,two, three.” And then, together, we ran, and in just a fewsteps the earth below our feet was gone. We hung togetherunder what seemed a flimsy nylon wing. But it flew and Iwas still alive. Alive and breathlessly gazing out at thesights below. And so began my adventure in and over thecity of
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Brazil is a nation of about 180 million. It is largerthan the continental United States and its size andpopulation dwarf the rest of the nations in South America.It is the only nation in the Americas to speak Portuguese.Brasilia is its capital. The Amazon is its heart. Sao Paulois its largest city and business center. And Rio deJaneiro, a city of 10 million inhabitants known as
,is the soul of the country, representing its
joie de vivre.
But while Rio can seem like paradise, it is also paradiselost. The city is visually seductive, set in one of themost beautiful locales in the world, between dramatic peaksand forests and expansive beaches along the Atlantic Ocean.But there is great disparity between the wealthy, who livein grand beachfront high-rises, and the poor, who live in a