After spending an amazing time in Sao Paulo we were able to go to RIO FOR THE OLYMPICS!!!!!! And first I have to say, the media made Brazil sound like this wasteland where you were going to be mugged, diseased by mosquitos, and staying in the slums. As per usual they were a bit exaggerated. I think the best way to describe both Rio and Sao Paulo was like a big city. I felt like I was in New York or Chicago [both big cities I’ve been too]. There are crazy people, ghettos, nice places, some infrastructure problems, etc. but what big city doesn’t have those? Plus we stayed away from the Rocinha/favela which is where the drug lords reign and the police are corrupt. They actually built all of the Olympic venues outside and around the Rocinha and we were very safe in Rio.
We rented a little apartment on Copacabana. It was stinking cheap! And a great deal. The only bummer was having to pay for parking every day but I guess that’s part of a big city! It was so fun to look out the window and see the beach, the Olympic/NBC tv building, and the beach volleyball court.
We spent a lot of time walking up and down the beach being tourists. It was fun being in Rio because we went full tourist. There were hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the world. We saw athletes, coaches, and just tourists/family coming down to watch the Olympics! Every night they set up a little market where the locals would sell all of their touristy shirts, blankets, magnets, sunglasses and everything else you can imagine.
We got there about 2 days before the opening ceremonies and were able to go to the Brazil/China women’s soccer game. We had to leave back to the states before track started so it was pretty cool to at least watch a game happening in the arena where track would be. Plus it was fun to cheer for Brazil and see all of the Brazilians going crazy for their soccer team, especially when they won!
On the night of the opening ceremonies we were ALMOST able to see the torch go by! But unfortunately because of the Brazilian president’s impeachment, there were some protestors at Copacabana and they had to move the torch somewhere else. Other than that though, most of the Brazilian’s were really nice to all of the tourists.
We loved the beach! One of the things the media didn’t talk about but wished they had more was that the water wasn’t the greatest. This picture was about as wet as I got in the water, ha. There were QUITE A FEW tourists that swam but we didn’t want to risk getting sick. It was still pretty though!
We could see the Christ the Redeemer Statue from the beach. We didn’t go up to it because it was crazy busy and cost about $50 just to get there! So we enjoyed our free view from the beach, ha ha.
This was another one of the beaches nearby. One thing I loved about Brazil was the weather! I’m a pretty big fan of mild climates and it was about 75 degrees every day! It was a bit humid but I didn’t mind.
We watched the opening ceremonies from our apartment and it was fun. The only thing we really felt sad about was not being able to hear good old Bobby Costas, ha ha. It’s amazing how he just makes things feel more Olympic-y. But regardless, it was fun. I actually had to skype in for a final of my class so the following picture is me cheering for America in the opening ceremonies whilst doing my homework, ha ha.
The last two days we spent in Brazil were PRETTY crazy! We had tickets to 3 events, but due to the time it took to travel from one venue to another we only ended up going to 2 of them. The first we went to was men’s gymnastics!
My GOODNESS it was so cool! Those men gymnasts were incredibly strong and we were PUMPED about being able to deck out in all our America stuff. We also saw a lot of other Americans so that was fun to be able to talk to them and hear how everything was going and their back stories. Oh, and for some reason that day it was literally 80 billion degrees, we had to wait in a REALLY long line to get into the gymnastics arena, and the hotel we stayed in our last day messed up and we hadn’t eaten and so we caved and bought Olympic food which was a coke & hot dog for almost $20 while we were waiting.
Now for the saddest and most graphic picture of this post. Many of you may have heard about the French gymnast that snapped his leg in half. Let me tell you, it was HORRIBLE!!!! We were sitting right by the vault and this amazing gymnast heads down and lands and you hear this DISGUSTING and LOUD SNAP. The whole entire audience gasps and as we watched him role over you see his leg just dangling there.
This may sound a bit crazy but I started to tear up and cry, especially as I watched him just cover his face with his hands. Being an athlete maybe gave me some extra sympathy but I just thought about all the work that he had put in over the years and how now after that one moment, at least for this Olympics and maybe forever, it was over and done. His teammates were very shaken up, didn’t finish vaulting, and one was even crying. It was HEARTBREAKING!!
After what seemed like an eternity [30 seconds I learned is the rule], the paramedics finally came to help him. First they brought out a wheel chair and I almost laughed because I was like, um, no way is that guy and his leg going to sit comfortably in a wheelchair. Eventually someone thought correctly and they took him out on a stretcher. As he was leaving the entire arena stood up and clapped. It may sound weird but that may have been one of my favorite moments– the world, literally just coming together for someone that was hurt. It was pretty cool.
Ok, now I’m going to warn you, I’m going to post the pictures that we took so scroll quickly if you don’t want to see a broken leg.
So. After that we walked around more of the Olympic venues and just enjoyed being there and then we headed to our volleyball game between Argentina and Russia. Really my favorite part of that was the coxinha I ate, ha ha. Could be partly because I was starving again, but maybe partly because I just really like them, but it was the MOST DELICIOUS THING I’VE EVER EATEN!! It was seriously amazing. So we cheered for Argentina [because they were the underdog], ate coxinhas, and had a really good time. Those athletes are incredible!!
We headed home after that and got a little lost. Thankfully some nice Brazilian’s helped us find our way. We had changed hotels for the last night to be a little closer to the airport and it was a WEIRD hotel, ha ha. We didn’t sleep great but we were glad to be close to the airport. Sunday morning we went to a really nice ward where it was fast and testimony meeting. It was fun to meet the members that we didn’t know and we even ran into an American missionary from Utah. He was hilarious because when I talked to him in English he said, “I feel like I’m breaking the rules!” It was cute and funny, ha ha. After that we headed up tot he airport and eventually caught our plane home.
Overall we had an AMAZING time in Brazil!! It was a once in a lifetime experience and from meeting all the amazing people in Brandon’s mission to being able to see the world’s greatest athletes, we had a great time. Really my favorite part was just being able to hang out with Brandon all day every day and being able to experience it with him.