Commentary from my time working at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
One of the things that stood out to me as I got off the plane in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiero was the lack of Olympic decorations. I was guessing there would be Olympic rings woven into the upholstery on the busses, but if you aren’t looking for it, you won’t find it. None of the decorations and signs for the Olympics are overbearing and if you were just passing through you may not know anything was going on. (Check back with me on Friday to see if that changes drastically).
As soon as I boarded for my long haul flight on TAM Air I realized two things: One, I wasn’t going to hear any locals speaking English, and Two I might struggle finding my choice cuisine (aka fresh food). After spending my first day at work, these have pretty much held up. Most of the day I just walked around in amazement and awe, asking more questions than our coordinators had answers for. The Olympic games is a monstrous overtaking, essentially building a city within a city. I think what is unique to Rio is that most of the event venues are in the same area along with the practice facilities and the Olympic village for the athletes. It. Is. A. Madhouse.
The final observation I had for most of the day was how parts of Rio are similar to my time in India. Walking home from the metro in the neighborhood was eerily similar to my walk home from the metro in Kolkata. Similar houses, similar cobblestone streets. Scary. Construction happens the same here as in India, and you’ll definitely see the overuse of power lines. Which leads me to say…the US is an eyesore. It really is, you won’t see any of what I saw today in the States. It’s not a bad thing, I just think we need to understand as a culture (as Americans) we are privileged and the ‘American dream’ is very much intact. I mean I’m always talking about stray dogs when I travel, but when’s the last time you’ve seen one walking around your neighborhood?
Yes I’m proud of my country, and yes I am cheering on the inside as the last of Team USA arrives tomorrow. I start bright and early on what will be a VERY long day tomorrow. I’m in it to win it.