We arose at 4:45 AM and were on the street in front of our AirBnB at 5. Our guide, Patricia, hired a driver since the Easter holiday would draw crowds to the attractions we were visiting. In the darkness, we drove through the streets of Rio, winding uphill through the Santa Teresa neighborhood. As we made a turn, I noticed the full moon, brightly shining, seemingly spotlighting the Christ Redeemer statue on Mount Corovado’s summit. Before light this early Easter morning, the vision was quite comforting and downright breathtaking.
We arrived at a deserted parking lot. The driver stopped and let us out – only the truck’s headlights illuminated our path. Semi-apprehensively, we followed Patricia toward a staircase, leading upward through a lush, dark jungle. We climbed the stairs, trying not to think about all the warnings we’d heard, don’t go to a favela, don’t go to secluded areas, don’t go out after dark. I tried to ignore those voices and to listen to my gut – all would be OK, it was Easter.
At the top of the staircase, we walked onto a stone landing. The lights of Rio shined below us. The only sounds were our breathing and the subtle humming of the surrounding jungle’s insects – we were alone – us at the top of Rio de Janeiro, waiting for the sun to rise.
Almost immediately, the pinks and oranges of the morning sky arrived on the horizon.
As the 6:03 AM sun ascended,
the sky opened and the light shined through the clouds onto Rio –
as if saying,
“He’s Risen Indeed!”