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Aug 31

Brazilian Birthday Party

My friend Claudia invited me to her colleague’s birthday party in Copacabana Wednesday night. The party was at a typical restaurant/bar here. They are usually outdoor restaurants along the sidewalk with a counter to order your food and tables set up under an awning. Everyone is very friendly. People who are originally from the city of Rio de Janeiro are called “Cariocas”.  I am greeted by Claudia’s friends with a kiss on each cheek. (It’s more of a cheek-to-cheek embrace with air kisses.) The group of people at the party were mostly from her office at SporTV. I also met Flavio Canto, who is another famous Olympic athlete. He won the gold in a previous Olympics for Judo. Now he coaches kids in a lower income neighborhood. He is also on TV and is an ambassador for the Paralympics.

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Claudia shows off Keating’s pirate picture more than I do!

 

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Big crowd at the birthday party at a typical bar/restaurant in Copacabana.

 

 

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Claudia, Nancy, Micheli Siqueira (very happy birthday boy, and Flavio Canto (famous Olympic Athlete for Judo, TV personality and Ambassador for the Paralympics)

 

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They had big bottles of beer on the tables with small glass beer mugs. A bit different from our large beer mugs.

Aug 31

Statue of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor)

On my day off, after my first volleyball lesson, I met up with my new friend Curry from China. Together we went to visit one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the Christ the Redeemer statue.

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Curry got to Rio a few days before I did, and is not scheduled to work until September 7th. He has been traveling all over Brazil in his time before work, and gained a lot of experience on the busses and metro (subway). He made traveling to the statue via public transportation much easier since I just had to follow him.

After the metro, we took a van to the top of the mountain Corcovado. The statue is incredible. The view is beautiful as well. Fortunately we got there right before the clouds (and rain) moved in and got a few pictures. We also met Kaitlyn from Canada on the van ride up who had been back-packing for 4 months in South America. Curry also had another friend meet us there, so the four of us took pictures of each other until we fled the rain.

There was also a very nice shop and exposition on the rain forest that we were in. It was very well done, and a good place to be in the rain!

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Fan Rui (Curry’s friend), Curry (Paralympic Volunteer) and Kaitlyn (Backpacker from Canada)


Here’s a bit about Cristo from Viator.com

Keeping a watchful eye over the people of Rio de Janeiro, the Statue of Christ the Redeemer (or Cristo Redentor) sits atop Corcovado 2,300 feet (700 meters) above the city. It was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

The largest art deco statue in the world, it is 130 ft (39 m) tall and the arms measure 98 ft (30 m) across. Made of reinforced concrete and sandstone the statue was unveiled in 1931.

On a clear day the views from the base of the statue are fantastic. At night the statue is lit up and seemingly hovers over the city as the mountain it stands on is dark. If it is cloudy the clouds light up and the effect can be quite spectacular and ethereal.

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View from the top that was quickly hidden by clouds.

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Aug 31

My first Beach Volleyball lesson!

Originally I was scheduled for the 6 am – 3 pm shift all month at the check-in area for the work force. At the end of the day Tuesday, I was given the good news that I could transfer to another department.  One of my new managers, Marina, took me across the street to the Lobby of the Windsor Oceanico to show me my new work location.  She asked me if I preferred the morning or afternoon shift.  I quickly jumped at the afternoon shift so that I could take the beach volleyball classes across the street. (A dream for me.)  She scheduled me to begin that job on September 1, so I had a free day today.  That means I could go to the Wednesday Volleyball class at 9 am.

I was super excited for my first class. It was FANTASTIC! Then company is called VoieiBom and owned by an amazing woman named Cynthia Bernstorff. She has won medals in Masters beach volleyball all over the world, and she is also taking lessons in the advanced class to keep her skills up.  Her next stop is a tournament in New Zealand and she invited me to join her.  Little does she know I take invitations quite seriously! 🙂

They call the instructor “Professor” and he gives the lesson in Portuguese. So now my lessons are not only for volleyball, but also Portuguese.  It’s a bit tough to follow directions when he calls out quickly in Portuguese, but as long as I am not the first one to do the drill, I can follow the others.  So far there has been at least one person who speaks English and helps me.  I am getting better at the numbers to 1-21, and terms like go, serve, block, pass, etc. Volleyball is truly international though, especially high fives for a good play and the camaraderie you feel on the court!

I was put in the intermediate class, and it is perfect for me. On the first day I even had a block! woo hoo!!

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My new volleyball classmates!

 

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Here is the class with the “Professor” holding the ball. His name is Sobel.

Aug 30

Monday and Tuesday at work – and not so much fun with the bus and shopping.

My early shift in the work force area began at 6 am. I was prepared to take a lunch break at 9 am to run over to the volleyball class across the street. Even though we were not busy at all, my suggestion at an early lunch for beach volleyball was not embraced.

At this job we distribute meal tickets and water. Volunteers who usually work 9 hours get one meal. Paid employees who work 11 hours get two meals. Because the games do not start until Sept 7, there are not a lot of workers yet, and not much to do. Both Monday and Tuesday I came in at 6 am but left around 2.

Monday night I explored the beach a bit and looked into renting a bike. Tuesday after work I went shopping in search of roller blades.

All volunteers receive a card to ride the public transportation for free. That includes the bus and a small subway line. Claudia told me to go the Centauro to buy the blades, but I ended up on the wrong bus and went to the wrong shopping center. I ended up at a huge mall called Barra Shopping. It’s on a street called Avenue of the Americas. When I tried to catch the bus going in the other direction, the street was too busy for me to cross, and the bus area wasn’t as populated as the one near the shopping. There were many cabs, so I took one to the correct store. By this time, I was exhausted. They only had one pair of roller blades on sale and fortunately they were my size so I bought them.

Next door to Centauro was a grocery store, so I went there to pick up some things. It is SO DIFFICULT to shop with everything in Portuguese. I couldn’t even find the black pepper, I couldn’t read the labels and I was pretty tired. Plus, I had to carry everything home. My dear friend Claudia, aka “hero”, met me at the grocery store and helped me replace a few items.

From the store she invited me over to her apartment. This was the place I almost stayed, so I was happy to go. I met her other son Daniel and her cross-eyed cat Zen. I was exhausted from the shopping struggles, so I caught a ride home with Uber and went to bed early.

Sand Castle near the Kite Beach on my way in search of bike rentals.

Sand Castle near the Kite Beach on my way in search of bike rentals.

 

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Claudi and her cross-eyed cat, “Zen”.

 

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Zen would make a great friend with Keating!

Aug 28

More beach fun with Claudia on Sunday, my day off.

Claudia picked me up and we drove about 20 minutes to Ipanema Beach. This is the famous beach from the song “Girl from Ipanema”. Her son and a bunch of her volleyball friends go to that beach, so we wanted to join them. Her volleyball friends weren’t exactly like our Thursday Night crew. One was an international coach, another a player for Italy. Crazy talent. When they took a break, we jumped on the court and played.

There are many new bars and restaurants that popped up from the Olympics/Paralympics. After our day on the beach, we met up with another friend, Helena, and had some sushi at a restaurant by ASICS brand. On our way back to the car, Helene invited us up to her home where we met her husband and son, and enjoyed coffee and an interesting fruit.

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Ipanemo Beach – Beautiful!

 

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Claudia’s volleyball friends!

 

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Evidently this is an internationally famous sidewalk – the sidewalk pattern of Ipanema Beach.

 

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Helena is a sculptor and this baby is one of her works. Amazing! Thanks Helena for your hospitality.

Aug 27

The Kite-Surf beach and more new friends!

After my first day of work I walked down to the Kite Surfing part of the beach because my new friends Roger and Domitila said they would be surfing. Although I don’t think I stand out here, I definitely do. (And that was before I put on my bright green shirt). Roger had just finished surfing and spotted me. I ended up hanging out with them and their friend Gabby for a while. It was a club for kite surfers with live music. Definitely my kind of place!

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These are all kites with surfers at the other end!

 

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Roger and his surf board

 

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Nancy, Gabby, Domitila, Friend & Roger. I ended up talking to Gabby for a while that night. She is very young (early 20’s), but has traveled the world backpacking and is one of the few female kite-surfers. She is a rock star!

 

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Aug 27

My first day on the job – “Work Force Ops” at the Paralympic Family Hotel.

Today was my first day at work and I was trained by Luciana. She was the first to get a pirate dog pin and she loved it! My job was checking in employees and volunteers at the Paralympic family hotel to distribute meal tickets, water and to help keep the staff motivated.

When I heard “Paralympic Family Hotel”, I thought this was where the moms, dads and siblings of the athletes stay. I found out that the “Paralympic Family” means all of the world delegations of the organizing committees.  It is comprised of the International Paralympic Committee “IPC” and the National Paralympic Committees “NPC” and the International Federations “IF” for each sport.  This is the “business/organizing” side of the Paralympics, and they all stay in the same hotel.  They have a variety of privileges depending on their credentials.  The paid employees and volunteers in my area are taking care of this group of organizers.

The check-in area is in the lower floor of the hotel.  I work primarily with local employees and volunteers, and they all primarily speak Portuguese.  One of the managers, Nathan, thought I would be better suited to a different area where my English would be more of a benefit to the clients.  Nathan was working with another group to see if they could use my help.  Although I enjoyed working with everyone, and really working on my Portuguese, I didn’t get to meet people from all over the world.  I was hoping for the change so I could get a better sense of this amazing event.

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This is where I worked for the first 3 days. It’s the check-in area in the basement of the hotel.

 

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I was trained by Luciana. She was the first to get a pirate dog pin and she loved it!

 

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Meet Nathan. He is the manager that tried, and succeeded in transferring me to a department he thought would be more interesting for me. He is also helping to get Mark assigned to a roster.

 

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This is Vanessa, another manager. She also loved the Keating pin!

 

Here’s a quick lesson taken out of the Paralympic Family Guide.

The History of the Paralympic Movement and the Paralympic Games
The Paralympic Games are the most prestigious international sports competition for athletes with an impairment. They help
break down stereotypes and promote change in the way that society views people with an impairment.

The History of the Paralympic Games
The origins of the Paralympic Movement are associated with the name of the distinguished neurosurgeon Ludwig Guttmann,
who actively used sports as a means of treatment for patients with motor system injuries. In 1948 he organized the first sports
competitions for people with impairment at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, United Kingdom. Participants in the
competitions included veterans who had been injured during the Second World War. These Games began to be known as the Stoke Mandeville Games, named after the village in which they were held. They gained international status as early as 1952, when Dutch military personnel took part in the competitions. The IX Annual International Stoke Mandeville Games were held
in Rome in 1960, a few weeks after the XVII Olympic Games. They are considered to be the first Paralympic Games.

The Term “Paralympic“
The name Paralympic Games originally referred to the term “paraplegia“, as the first regular competitions were among people
with spinal cord injuries. When athletes with different impairments began participating in the Games, the term “Paralympic Games“ took on the meaning of “alongside the Olympics“, from the Greek preposition para (“beside“ or “alongside“). The new interpretation was meant to declare the competition among people with an impairment to be equal to the Olympic Games.

The International Paralympic Committee The first General Assembly of International Sports Organizations for People with Disabilities was a pivotal event in the development of the Paralympic Movement. On 21 September 1989, in Düsseldorf, it founded the International Paralympic Committee, an international non-profit organization that promotes the Paralympic Movement around the world. The IPC’s goal is “to enable Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world“.

Aug 27

My first morning walk on the beach before reporting to work at noon.

Today I made my first steps onto the beach that is across the street. As soon as I met the water, I found the biggest sand dollar I have ever seen. Then I walked up to a volleyball net with green balloons with players in green tank tops. Turns out it was beach volleyball lessons. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I have always wanted to sneak in on a high school volleyball camp to improve my game. I joined the volleyball drills on the beach to see what class I would be in. I could have stayed there all day. SO COOL! The classes are Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 9 am. I hope I can make it to some if not all. I’ll have to take my lunch hour on the beach!!!! So excited!! All this was before 10 am. I had to start my first day of volunteer work at noon.

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VoleiBom is a company that offers beach volleyball lessons!

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You can also buy fresh coconut water on the beach. They have the coconuts in a cooler and cut a hole in them for you and give you a straw.

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Back to my apartment for breakfast before my first day on the job! Fresh mango and avocado with my eggs.

 

Aug 26

Meet my new best friend in Rio – Claudia!

As I was searching for a place to stay on Airbnb.com, I almost rented a room from a woman (Claudia) who had two sons.  But just before I confirmed the room, I found the apartment on the beach and chose that instead. In the process, Claudia and I became Facebook friends, and she seemed to have a lot in common with me. When I arrived in Brazil, I sent her a message and asked if she wanted to get together.  She immediately responded with lots of options and since I was pretty tired on my first day here, we decided to get together Friday night.

I had a terrific evening with Claudia on my second day in Rio. She picked me up around 9 and we went out to a great Arabian restaurant. Several of her friends from work joined us – including Roger, a previous Olympic soccer player (who also kite surfs) and Domitila, who is a reporter on SporTV. There were also a few famous actors and comedians that Claudia knew. Not a bad day 2 in Rio! And guess what… Claudia roller blades too!

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Cheers to my new friend Claudia. She lives in Rio and not too far from my apartment.

 

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Nancy, Roger and Claudia. Roger was a famous soccer player in Rio, and has won medals in past Olympics. He is not a sports broadcaster for a channel called SporTV.

 

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Nancy, Domitila and Claudia. Domitila also works with Claudia at SporTV and is a well-known personality.

 

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A typical bar/restaurant on the trendy street in town. I can walk here during the day, but not at night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 26

The Official Paralympic Uniform!

The second day I traveled to downtown Rio to get my credentials and uniform. I took the scenic route by bus and connected with a new train called the VLT. Very few people spoke English. Thank goodness for my phone and Google Translate. The line was super long, but they pulled out the volunteers and moved us along. The uniforms are very nice. They include a lot; 2 pants, 3 shirts, tennis Shoes, 3 socks a jacket, hat, bag and water bottle.

 

Web-lineOne of the volunteers in line with me pointed out that my credentials didn’t look right, so after I got my uniform, I had to wait at the help desk to check.  Indeed, he was correct and I had to get my credentials reprinted.

Also in the line I met Curry.  He is also a volunteer from China and speaks English. He is in Rio about a month, but only has a 4 day assignment.  Turns out that his apartment is close to mine, so we exchanged numbers.  Everyone here uses an app called “Whatspp”  It’s like Facebook messenger and free to communicate.  Using Whatapp, I do not need to get a Brazilian telephone number.

Curry is 25 and is staying with friends at Barra beach also.  He has many friends in Brazil and is doing a lot of traveling/exploring.  For only 25, he has already traveled the world and is a great travel buddy.  You’ll see more of Curry.

 

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This is my new friend Curry from China. He is excited to just get his credentials. He is also staying in Barra da Tijuca.

 

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Trying on my new uniform at the credentialing and uniform center!

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