Brazil – Caiparihna

With Arms Wide Open

Brazil is instantly recognizable thanks to the Christ the Redeemer (aka Cristo Redentor) statue that sits atop Corcovado Hill, in Rio de Janeiro. This modern wonder of the world is a highlight for any tourist, whether they’re a religious fanatic or a die-hard atheist… okay, it might not be for the atheists out there, but it’s still a cool site that must be seen. Let’s take some time to learn about the creation:

The mountain, Corcovado, means “hunchback” in Portuguese. It was once known as the ‘Mount of Temptation,’ in reference to the Bible, where Jesus was tempted by the devil. The statue and hill reside within the Tijuca Forest National Park. The top of Corcovado Hill can be reached via a number of different routes including climbing 220 steps or a system of escalators, built recently for the elderly and lazy alike. I think we all know which path the Sip Advisor would take! Pa Sip will be happy to know that there’s a railway, built all the way back in 1882, which is said to be the most unique way to traverse the mountain.

Jesus Wants a Hug

Because of its religious implications, the busiest times of the year for locals and tourists flocking to the site are Christmas and Easter. Visitors are advised to view the site in the evening so as to also enjoy the lights of Rio below.

The statue, which stands over 30 meters tall (the second highest religious bust in the world, behind Poland’s Christ the King), was built in France and shipped to Brazil piece by piece (the head alone is comprise of 50 separate parts). It was built using funds donated by the Catholic community of Brazil and was opened to the public in 1932 by Brazilian president Getulio Vargas. The effigy is estimated to have cost $250,000 US.

Built between 1922 and 1931, more than a thousand tons of concrete were used to mold the statue, which was constructed from head to toe. Original plans had Christ holding a cross and a globe, but the wide spread arms look was chosen instead. While most claim this is a symbol of peace, the Sip Advisor sees it as a boastful challenge and it is so on, Jesus. Now I just need to put together a bunch of carpenter jokes and book my trip to Brazil.

Come At Me Bro

Rumours persist that the builder of the statue’s head converted from Judaism to Christianity after working on the sculpture and wrote the names of his family members above the heart of Christ, on the inside and outside of the piece.

Over time, weather has eroded the statue’s fingers, lips and eyebrows with lightning strikes even taking their toll on the figure. It has been struck twice in recent years, leading to restoration projects to repair the damage. When the statue is updated due to erosion, a different colour of stone is needed due to the lack of quantity of the original material. Newer pieces can be identified by their darker tint.

In 2006, while Christ the Redeemer celebrated its 75th birthday, a small chapel was opened at the foot of the iconic statue, to be used for baptisms and weddings. I only wonder how much it costs to get hitched there and how long the waiting list must be.

God High Five

In 2010, the statue was vandalized with graffiti painted on the head and right arm. This act was called “a crime against the nation” by Mayor Eduardo Paes. A $10,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest and Military Police later apprehended 28-year-old wall painter Paulo Souza dos Santos for committing the offense. Was it really worth it, just to scrawl things like “When the cat’s away, the rats will play” on the sculpture? I guess he was really broken up about his missing kitty.

Christ the Redeemer has been featured in countless works, including movies, TV series, music, and video games. While it’s usually simply used to establish the setting as Brazil or more specifically, Rio de Janeiro, it has played a more integral role in some plots. In the disaster film, 2012, the statue even crumbles to bits as the result of an earthquake.

Leap of Faith

In games, famous plumber Luigi must track down one of the spotlights that illuminates the statue in the 1992 Super Nintendo game Mario is Missing. It was stolen by Koopa Troopers, but you have to wonder why the shit disturbers didn’t just steal the actual statue since the spotlight is said to be 35 meters tall, while the statue stands about 38 meters, including base. Personally, if I received the ransom note, I’d be like: “Eh, don’t worry about… we’ll just buy ourselves a new spotlight or close the attraction down at night.” Stupid Koopa Troopers!

Finally, there are copycat statues around the world, inspired by Christ the Redeemer, including versions in Guanajuato, Mexico; Arkansas, United States; Havana, Cuba; Ibiza, Spain; and Almada, Portugal. Before you know it, they’ll be everywhere!

Brazil: Caiparihna

Caipirinha Cocktail

  • Muddled Lime Wedges
  • 1.5 oz Cachaca
  • Pinch of Brown Sugar
  • Garnish with a Lime Wheel

I remember playing the Carmen Sandiego computer game way back when I was a little sipper and when you traveled to Brazil, the pixelated image that greeted you was the Christ the Redeemer statue. It’s funny what sticks with you (especially when you drink like the Sip Advisor does), but that was actually the inspiration for this post!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
The Caiparihna is a signature cocktail for the Cachaca spirit and therefore for the entire country of Brazil. There are other variations of the drink, but this is the traditional recipe. Despite the lack of mixing ingredients, I thought it was pretty good. The Brown Sugar is a nice touch and a must over White Sugar.

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