Day One of Rio

What better time to resume posting something on my blog page. For some reason, just couldn’t keep up with it in the past. On August 4, my ex-wife, Ruth, my daughter Alicia, and I, journeyed to Calgary to be ready for the flight to Rio the following morning. Number two son, John Gordon was going to be in the Olympics as an integral part of the Canadian National Volleyball team. Although there were a few minor worries about the Brazilian preparedness for the event, security, etc. we were determined to make the best of this venture. The trip was pretty uneventful, and the night before, we made sure that all our Canadian fan paraphernalia was packed, including red and white maple leaf hats, shirts, and jackets. We all had to look the part of the Canadian support team.


After a minor delay at the computerized West Jet check-in counter, where I was told I would have to pay additional fees, I stood in line for a half hour waiting to see an agent. At that time, I was told there seemed to be a glitch in my TAM Airway ticket, from New York to Sao Paulo and that I may not be able to resume the flight with my family. I finally got passed the agent and deposited my baggage long after Ruth and Alicia had gotten through security. We got to our flight, and climbed on board, not sure whether or not I would be spending the next couple of weeks camped in the New York Airport. I was delighted to have gotten an exit row seat where I had lots of leg room for the flight.


We got to JFK with about an hour to spare for our flight and a very amiable agent spent 20 minutes getting things straightened out with my reservation. She checked all of our baggage check slips to make sure all of our bags would arrive safely together at our destination. I even got another exit row seat for the 10 hour flight to Sao Paulo. We were really on our way!


After 10 hours of movie watching, we arrived in Brazil, arguing where our bags were going to be picked up. Alicia and Ruth argued that they were going to have to be picked up in Sao Paulo, but I was certain that the agent in New York had told me they would be checked through to Rio. Alicia dragged out the check stubs which she had squirreled away when her parents had dropped them on the floor, and proved that they needed to be picked up in Sao Paulo and rechecked to Rio—good thing the senior citizens had brought a chaperon to care for them!


We stood at the circular baggage station for the better part of an hour, waiting for the nice red Canadian bags, with a nice white flag to drop onto the belt. Several times the belt stopped and the dozens of people who still had not gotten their baggage, flocked to the lost luggage booth. Twice, the handlers found another cart loaded with bags from the New York flight, and happy passengers got to go their way with bags in hand. Each time, there were no red bags with white maple leafs dropping onto the belt. The only good thing, after the hours of waiting, was that the line-up at the lost luggage booth had gotten much shorter. After much gnashing of teeth, and staring at computer screens, we were told that our bags may have accidently ended up in Lima, Peru. We were given a slip of paper with a computer print-out that was so faint that I had to hold it to the light to see that there was anything written there, and told that the bags would be returned to Sao Paulo in the morning and delivered to our residence in Rio by 11 the next morning.


We got on our next flight to Rio with the knowledge that the sweaty clothes we had on our backs would have to be what we had until the next morning. At least we would get our baggage before the next morning and be able to sport our Canadian colours for Gord’s first game.


We arrived at the Rio airport with the hope that the brother of the man who rented us his apartment on airbnb would actually show up to take us to the accommodation. It was a tremendous relief to see him there waiting for us. At least something had gone right on this rather frustrating day.


After having trouble locating his car in the newly built airport facility, we were off and into the city of Rio. I was noting the similarities between Rio and Mexico City as we weaved our way along in the heavy traffic. Our driver spent extra time taking us past the event centre and showing us around the area where the apartment was located. The apartment was certainly going to be an easy journey to the games, even though it was around 10 km from the location of Canada House where a lot of activities would be going on for the families of athletes.


We finally arrived at the gated condo facility that was going to be our home base for the next 16 days. We were able to navigate into the elevator to the first floor without worrying about all of our luggage (I had only a computer bag, Ruth a carry-on, and Alicia, a back pack). When we arrived at the door to the apartment, the owner’s brother attempted to open the door. After repeated attempts to get the key in the lock, he handed it to Alicia and suggested that she try it. He just couldn’t understand why his brother would have given him the wrong key for his apartment!


Tired and bleary-eyed we sat on the stairs for half an hour while he called a sister, a mother, and finally the brother who owned the apartment and had been asleep in his apartment in Spain where he is taking Spanish lessons. After several conversations, he left to get another key that was at his mother’s place. He had no sooner left, than he came running back up the stairs with a red face. His brother had called him back, and he had been trying to open the door to the wrong apartment.


Hurray! We were into our accommodation…it was smaller than it looked in the pictures displayed but it would be home for the next couple of weeks.


After a cold shower (we later found the gas to the water heater had been shut off), we called an Uber taxi and headed to Canada House which was out near the athlete’s village. What a facility they had set up for athletes family…an entire wall on the street painted red with Canada lettered on it, and a great layout with big screen tvs and all the latest CBC coverage. After a great meal and good company with fellow athlete families, we retired to our apartment and fell into bed with the prospect of our Canadian team meeting our arch rivals, the US, the following evening.