Trek Adventures: Trip to Rio Proves Memorable for HBSers Traveling to South America

Mario Schlosser (NB) found a niche job during winter break. He served as a cross between a city tour guide, nightclub promoter and the ultimate host. Two HBS treks, each with approximately 15 students, headed to South America over the holidays.

Why the need for two treks? One trek originated in Uruguay while the other began in Rio de Janeiro. The treks also took place at different times catering to those students who preferred to travel during the start of the break to get a quick escape from final exams and to those who desired time with family first and travel later. Each trek included a visit to Rio. This is where Mario, our very own Deuce Bigalow “Night Club” Gigolo, came into play.

Mario spent his entire break in Rio. In fact, he, who is very well traveled thanks to his previous gig at McKinsey, regards Rio de Janeiro as one of the most beautiful places in the world. With a landscape that includes stunning beaches, picturesque round hills and tropical rain forests, one can argue that Rio is nestled in a piece of heaven with the Christ Statue on top of Cordova Mountain to prove it. The icing on the cake for this exotic travel destination is, of course, the nightlife.

Both student treks were given star treatment, literally, as they partied with Brazilian telenovela stars when they met up with Mario. A regular at the Paronneti Club in Ipanema, Mario guaranteed all HBS students entrance to the club, the best table in the house and a night to remember. It is clear from the photos that many of these HBSers partied hard thanks to their gracious host.

As the saying goes, when in Rome do as the Romans. For those planning to visit Rio de Janeiro in the future, do as Mario and be sure to check out some of his favorites, including Caipirinha, an alcoholic drink made from sugar cane plants, lime, and brown sugar. As far as dining, Mario recommends any dish containing meat. He describes the meat in Rio as lean, tender, fresh and perfectly seasoned. For about $35 you can indulge in all you can eat as you wonder at an assortment of meats freshly cut by your waiter at your table. If your fancy is to live the fabulous life, treat yourself to a night at the Copacabana Palace where rates average $600 nightly. For those of us recognizing the limitations of student budgets, don’t worry, there is affordable housing available in neighboring areas.

Finally, Mario advises travelers to remain conscious of the unfortunately high level of crime in the “shanty towns” or favelas. Police do a decent job of keeping tourists safe in the south zone, which is fairly free of crime. Remember, smart travelers aren’t alarmed but rather aware.

January 23, 2006
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