For the first few days in Rio, we stayed pretty close to our apartment. This was the same one that Gavin had been living in for the three months that he had been here by himself. It was in an attractive complex and overlooked an inner courtyard area with a pool. Needless to say, the kids loved the pool and were content never venture past the front door. However, the spacious-for-one environment soon got the better of me, so on about day four, (when Gav had been back at work for a few days), I dragged the kids off on an excursion to Pao de Acucar. (Sugar Loaf). This is a mountain, (within easy walking and map-reading distance), that sits on the edge of the mainland, yet half its base lies in the sea. It is quite iconic and has a cable car that travels up to a station on top. This is very popular and you need to make a booking, so we weren’t able to do that on this occasion.
We spent some time on the little beach, which was not busy and then walked along a path that took us around the base of the mountain and had great views. The mountain, like so many others, is covered in semi-jungle and Gav, who had been there previously, had promised monkeys. We walked ‘for miles’ (maybe nearly a kilometre) and still didn’t see any monkeys. So, mindful of some blisters that were threatening, and the fact that it was a humid 34 degrees, I brought out the sugar fix (fruit tingles) and we turned back.
Within five or ten metres, there was a rustle in a tree and the first monkey appeared.
Mitchell and I went closer, but Charlotte held back. I encouraged her forward – after all, the monkey was only about thirty centimetres high, (double that to include the tail) and it’s little, wise face barely bigger than a walnut.
“They’re on Deadly 60. Steve Backshall says they’re dangerous,” Charlotte said warily. Damn BBC kids documentaries!!
“But it’s so small and cute,” I replied encouragingly, momentarily forgetting all the stories I have told the kids about getting rabies if they’re bitten by anything with fur.
“That’s exactly what Steve said,” she countered and held her fingers up in quotation marks. “Don’t be fooled by how cute and cuddly they look.”
I went a bit closer to the monkey, which I have to admit was looking intently at Charlotte, and took a photo.
“They can jump,” she warned me.
“It’s fine.” I think some eye rolling may have occurred. “Come and have a look at it.”
She took a step forward and the monkey twitched. She took a larger step back. They looked at each other shrewdly.
“It wants my Fruit Tingles,” she said.
She was right.
“Ah…maybe you should run,” I suggested.
As more people gathered round to coo over the little creature clinging to the tree, we beat a rapid retreat and Charlotte wisely hid the Fruit Tingles in her pocket. On the way back we saw three more monkeys scampering around in higher branches and various types of lizards and butterflies. (Yes – Brazilian butterflies! Oh my aching sides……).