Day 2 in Rio - I had to travel past the downtown area and airport to Cidade do Samba to get my credentials and uniforms. Unfortunately, I didn't use Uber yet, so I took a two-hour scenic bus ride along the coast, and then a new tram called the VLT. When I arrived, the line was so long it wrapped around the building.
The line waiting to get my credentials and uniform
Almost everyone around me was from Brazil, and only spoke Portuguese. I finally met someone in line who spoke English. His name was Curry, and he was from China. After an hour wait, the volunteers got pulled out of the line and brought to the front. Evidently, there are employees and other contractors who were in line to get their credentials for the games. The process to was pretty organized. Volunteers get a great uniform packet. It included 3 shirts, 2 pants that zipped into shorts, 1 jacket, 3 socks, 1 pair tennis shoes, belt, canvas bag, and a water bottle. Another volunteer in line pointed out that my credentials didn't look right, so I had to go back to the help area to get it adjusted. Curry and I ended up going through the process together and connecting on "Whatapp" - an app that is similar to Facebook Messenger, but you just need the person's phone number. It turns out that most international travelers use that app to communicate.
I headed back to Barra after a quick stop in the downtown area to look for a currency exchange. That night I met my Claudia, my Facebook friend that I almost rented from. She picked me up and we went to a restaurant in trendy area in Barra. All of the restaurants in that area had indoor and outdoor seating. Claudia and I had a lot in common, and knew we would be great friends. She works at SporTV and ended up knowing many people at the restaurant. I met Roger who was a former Olympic soccer player and sports broadcaster, and Domitila who hosts a morning sports show. They said they were both kite surfers, which is something I saw on the beach the day before. They said they were going kite surfing the next day and invited me to join them, but I had to work - it was my first day.
Meet Claudia Hack - she quickly became my new best friend in Rio!
I found the Paralympic Family Hotel, my work location, the night before. It turned out to be right next door to my apartment! That night I met Nathan, one of the managers. He said I could come in at noon on the first day since they were slow. That was much better than 6 am! So I used the sunny morning before work to finally explore the beach across the street. Within a few steps I found a giant sand dollar. It was a good omen for the trip, and turned out to be the only shell I ever saw.
The one and only sand dollar I found - and it was giant!
Volleyball nets line the beach in Rio. Along with volleyball, people play "Foot Volley" which is a combination of soccer and volleyball. They also use the nets for a Paddleball game. That morning I found "VoleiBOM" - Escola de Voleibol. Beach Volleyball Lessons, 3 days a week. So I jumped on the court to be placed in a class and signed up!