August 4, 2012
Accessibility Key (rating accessibility/accommodations in and around Rio de Janeiro, June-August 2012):
= mau (bad)
= mais ou menos (so-so, ok)
= bom, ta legal (good, great)
**(Highlighted writings below refer specifically to accessibility issues)
On my last day in Rio de Janeiro, My Rio Personal Care Assistant (PCA), Cristiane, and I took a passeio–field trip–to Pão de Açùcar (Sugarloaf Mountain). When I visited Rio in 2001, I did not get to this site, so I was very glad to make it in 2012–just in the nick of time before I headed back to New Mexico the next day!
So, what’s Sugarloaf Mountain? It’s definitely THE best place to see this beautiful city–even more incredible views than from Corcovado, in my humble opinion. And Corcovado is gorgeous. I plan to write an article highlighting both these sites’ accessibility, as well as their awesome vistas. Both places are must-sees for anyone visiting this most beautiful city in the world! “The name “Sugar Loaf” was coined in the 16th century by the Portuguese during the heyday of sugar cane trade in Brazil. According to historian Vieira Fazenda, blocks of sugar were placed in conical molds made of clay to be transported on ships. The shape given by these molds was similar to the peak, hence the name. …To reach the summit, passengers take two cable cars. The first ascends to the shorter Morro da Urca, 220 meters high. The second car ascends to Pão de Açúcar. The Italian-made bubble-shaped cars offer passengers 360-degree views of the surrounding city. The climb takes three minutes from start to finish.”[Wikipedia]
The accessibility at Pão de Açùcar was very good–far better than Corcovado. Although I appreciate the innovation to make Corcovado accessible for wheelchair users, Pão de Açùcar seems more up to standard and much better prepared for PwD (people with disabilities) tourists and participants that will visit during the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics/Paralympics. The photos below show accessible elevators and ramps, allowing the PwD tourist to see and enjoy Pão de Açùcar’s beauty of the jungle, museum, and views from the bottom, all the way to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. This tourist site is an excellent model for the rest of Cidade Maravilhosa in preparing accessibility for the upcoming big events of 2014 and 2016.
While at the top of this beautiful morro (hill), Cristiane and I not only took in the incredible views, we also observed rock climbers scaling the steep sides of Sugarloaf. Impressive but not for me before or after my CVA. There are plenty of PwDs into adventure sports, but I am definitely not one of them!
Cristiane had a wonderful friend, a taxi driver, who drove us to and from Pão for free! Obrigado, Senhor!! When Cristiane and I got back to my apartment, we had lunch and a caipirinha to celebrate a wonderful last day together, at the corner bar.
After our meal, I went home and watched Orfeu Negro–Black Orpheus–on the internet, the 1959 Film that first inspired me to want to visit Rio de Janeiro twenty-five years ago.
Yes, I did shed a few tears, sad to leave this wonderful place. But, admittedly, I felt ready to get home to my two ‘kids,’ Moxie and Muffin.
NEXT: A SUMMARY OF THE RIO PROGRAM AND OVERALL ACCESSIBILITY IN CIDADE MARAVILHOSA