A week in Rio de Janeiro

DECEMBER 5, 2023  ·  679 WORDS

For the engineering offsite, the entire team went down to Rio de Janeiro for a week. It was great to meet everyone and put an actual face to the Slack profiles and the Zoom windows I'm used to interacting with on a daily basis. Besides work, a few days were reserved for events around the city. It was my very first time in Brazil and I got to learn a bit about the country and experience a small slice with great people who call it their home.

Brazil was likely one of the very first countries I'd heard of as a toddler all thanks to the Venga Boys' single 'To Brasil' which was a huge hit in India[1]. Earliest impressions of Brazil for me were the beaches, the Amazon rainforest, and the carnival. Growing up, I'd learn to note a lot of similarities and differences between India and Brazil. Both countries are developing economies with a growing technology sector and amazing advances like Pix and UPI while dealing with their own unique set of problems[2]. I'd always wanted to visit and the offsite was an amazing opportunity.

The way Rio de Janeiro got its name is an interesting story. According to Briannica:

The name was given to the city’s original site by Portuguese navigators who arrived on January 1, 1502, and mistook the entrance of the bay for the mouth of a river (rio is the Portuguese word for “river” and janeiro the word for “January”).

It was common for the Portuguese explorers to name new places based on georgraphical features and when they landed. The bay/river mistake however is a myth according to the tour guide who showed us around Sugarloaf mountain. The Portuguese were excellent navigators and were unlikely to make a mistake like that. The etymology of the word "Rio" isn't necessarily a river, but a large body of water. Based on what I learnt in Portugal, I'm inclined to agree with the guide.

The Sugarloaf mountain also has plenty of interesting stories. Apparently, it serves as a backdrop in the 1979 James Bond movie Moonraker. The cable car ride up the mountain can get crowded but it is absolutely worth the view.

Obviously, no trip to Rio de Janerio is complete without visiting Christ the Redeemer. It is regarded as one of the 7 wonders of the world and it can be seen from a lot of places in the city. Lisbon also has a doppelgänger statue but the one in Rio is far more impressive. While Chirst the Redeemer is not a church, it does have a small chapel at the base used for religious ceremonies. What is fascinating to me is that recently Taylor Swift fans were able to campaign a welcome message to be projected on the statue for the artist's South American tour by making a donation to charity.

The statue is definitely a bucket list item, but even in my limited time exploring the city, it wasn't my most amazing experience. It was extremely hot and crowded with essentially no cover from the sun. I constantly ran into people with extended arms and their designated photographers lying flat on the ground trying to capture a forced perspective image.

I particularly enjoyed the food and especially the wonderful meal at Assador. Other things that I really liked was the Tapioca crepe, açaí bowls, and their famous lemonade. Overall, it was an amazing experience and I'm grateful for the opportunity.

P.S. Tremendous is hiring!