How to go to the Olympics without actually going to the Olympics

Step 1. Buy tickets to Rio for the closing weekend. Find a nice spot to stay at, preferably Santa Theresa or something close to the center.

Step 2. Buy tickets to a game. Depending on the event, prices can be as low as 20 USD.

Step 3. Get into town on Thursday night and go partying all night with your amazing host. Samba in the rain and drink way too much beer, but make sure you also eat an entire plate of carne de sol at midnight to curb the urge to vomit.

Step 4. Wake up early the next day, because your internal clock is still off from traveling four days straight prior to getting to Rio. Spend the morning getting ready but still manage to leave the house at 12:45, never mind the fact that your games is about 2 hours away and started at 12.

Steps 5-10. Spend most of the days learning the exquisite transportation system of Rio because you are jet lagged, hungover and lost.

My plan when returning to Rio for the Olympics was grand. I would get commissioned to write about the infrastructure of the city, which many people thought would crumble under the sheer amount of people in town for the games. I would take pictures of bridges close to collapsing on tourists and general report on what so many though would be general fuckery. But like most things, that plan didn’t pan out. Instead I found myself sleeping peacefully on the train as I attempted to get into the Olympic park.

Rio is a huge fucking place. Like- this city has a population of over 6 million people already. So dumping a few million more would inconvenience and disrupt everything right? Not exactly. While traffic was insane, this is a city that hosts the month long celebration of Carnaval. If any place is capable of hosting the Olympics it’s certainly Rio.

The metro was clean and heavily air conditioned in preparation for the crowds of people in transit.  IMG_5185

views from the 4th line train

IMG_5184 (1)

the views to my right

I was surrounded by Latino bros, and fighting sleep when we started to approached Barra, one of the many Olympics parks.

 

 

Not sure if you can see it out of the window, but it was pretty. Kinda of like a Disney land of sports. However, you could only get into an Olympic Park if you had tickets to a game. And my game was at Deodoro. Which was about a hour away from Barra. Upon learning this I sat on the curb and garnered the energy to take another journey.

By this time, I had came too far to not get into a park. I was not about to waste my 20 dollars. So I got up and descended back into the train station

I will say, the majority of the people I saw going to the games were white. Nationalities varied, but most people I saw who were dark were working. From the athletes to the train workers, the Olympics is an event reliant on black labor, but than again, what isn’t?  There was also the HEAVY military police presence, which more than the threat of getting robbed, hindered me from taking photos with my professional camera.

IMG_5192 IMG_5189

A part of me felt conflicted for supporting an institution that paid the janitors less than two dollars an hour. But it was hard to hold that anger when all the people who worked for the Olympics transit were working class Brazilians and so. fucking. nice.

 

Except this one person who sat on the phone and ignored me until a white guy came up and asked for help, then she got off the phone…bitch. IMG_5181

Aside from that, it was like Disney in the sense that almost everyone who wore Olympic paraphernalia was on duty and eager to assist. They also all wore these shoes. IMG_5194 (1)

On my ride to what I thought was Deodoro I fell asleep next to the most pleasant woman who worked as a nurse for the Games and was on her way to see her first game after her shift ended.

 

 

Our ride was very smooth. More than anything I was really impressed with the trains. They were plentiful, clean and always running with many attendants in bright green vests waiting to assist. Unfortunately, all of that help didn’t save me from getting to my stop too late to enter the park from the station. I finally got to Deodoro, (by accident, I was actually trying to go home) and the entrance from the train closed. I would have had to take the train to the next stop, get off and take a bus through another neighborhood to get to the entrance. All of this was told to me by new friend Arturo. IMG_5195

But sadly Arturo’s clear directions couldn’t save me from the wave of sleep that hit me once I got on the train. I woke up at the last stop and easily found my way back to Santa Theresa. So in short, my coverage of the Rio Olympics are limited to the intricate and impressive transportation services they had. This isn’t to say that the Olympics didn’t displace people, and discriminate against the poor. All of that certainly happened.  It may even be the sign of successful Olympics. However, many people wondered if Brazil, a brown country, (despite it’s own delusions) a developing country, could pull off such a big event. And they did. Brazil proved that they’re are able to be a complicated country and present a shiny veneer for rich tourists just like Atlanta or London or any other “developed” country.

Also, Uber is here now. So, it’s lit.

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s