Rio is an assault on one’s preconceptions.
Some people speak English, but most don’t. The roads are on the “wrong-side”, and the plugs are different, and an order of cappuccino may land you with an ultra-sweet hot chocolate.
The venues that will be invaded by the world imminently are still under urgent construction, and the city is still sleeping.
That’s the view you can take if you’re used to things working, and times being met, and people bending to your will.
Rio will bend you if you come with guns blazing. But, we’ve come with open minds and a yearning to embrace whatever comes our way.
In return, we’ve been lost several times, walked over 50 000 steps in three days, and been in the heart of a metamorphosis from chaos to captivating centre of the world for the next three days.
A routine shopping trip for our Airbnb accommodation ended up being a two-hour musing, with many quizzical looks at this odd couple of mixed race, debating the merits of more vegetables over yet more picanha steak.
While my partner in crime was hunting for his sacred vegetables, I was in the fruit section, intrigued by shapes and sizes I had never seen in my life.
Next to me, an old man craftily opened a punnet of grapes, and gobbled one. That’s standard procedure around the world, I nodded. Then the old man, without a word, offered me a grape. I obliged, and was rewarded with the sweetest nectar.
He wasn’t done yet, because he proceeded to demolish the entire helping – I played a cameo role – and then smiled at me, and walked off.
Somehow, conversations are happening with little more than a nod or a smile. There is a rhythm to this place, a beat on the beach that threatens to engulf us if we dare forget our duties.
The Rio Olympics will be no London. They will be no Beijing, either. But, they will be unforgettable in many other ways. Vistas that you simply cannot imagine.
If you catch The Redeemer in the right light, before Rio rises beneath him, you can’t help but feel the spiritual tug.
That’s the thing with this place. Even as it lets you down, confuses you or annoy you, it tugs routinely at your sense of human spirit.
The crazy thing is the actual party hasn’t even started yet. Tug on Rio, tug on…
– The Star