Editor’s note: Carlo Prandini and wife Theresa of Clovis are providing updates on their experience as they await daughter Jenna’s Olympics debut Monday in the 200-meter heats. Here is Carlo’s account of taking a break for some sightseeing – a literal day at the beach.
RIO DE JANEIRO – With six straight days of track and field starting for us Monday, Theresa and I decided to explore the Copacabana Beach area. Tough duty! Not easy to explain this crazy festive scene. It certainly has a New York/international big-city vibe. High-rise apartments and hotels are stacked on top of each other, but line a beautiful beach nestled up against forested world famous Sugarloaf. All the while, the party seems to never end.
It could be described as a combination of Venice Beach, The Big Fresno Fair and the Friday Night Farmers Market in Clovis on overdrive.
An eclectic blend of music performed live or tape is ever present. Mostly Brazilian and on occasion “classics” such as Rod Stewart’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy.” With vendors everywhere, on foot, on the sidewalk or in tents, it could be described as a combination of Venice Beach, The Big Fresno Fair and the Friday Night Farmers Market in Clovis on overdrive. Very fun, happy people from all over the world. Last night we stopped by the NBC studios on the beach while groups of Brits, Argentinians and Americans took turns serenading Al Michaels until he broke into a Samba!
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Love the way the Brazilians converse – they almost seem to sing. Very animated and this morning at a cafe when we stopped for coffee, while we didn’t know what they were saying you could tell they were passionate about something! You can imagine how the crowd reacted when Brazil and Argentina basketball went into overtime.
Growing up in the Central Valley, my exposure to Portuguese, Spanish and Italian has come in handy – that is until I ventured into what I thought was a public restroom! Ended up being a shower and locker facility, and I knew enough from the matron that guarded the “facility” that she was asking me to leave … not for my Visa card!
Security is foremost on everyone’s mind and we noticed most buildings are fenced or gated, with doormen or guards. There are plenty of local police and traffic control (they need it as traffic lights seem only to be suggestions), with the occasional citing of Brazilian military strolling in pairs carrying machine guns! Feel safe? I think they’re doing their best.
We walked to the beach volleyball venue, hoping to walk up and get a ticket. The lines rivaled Space Mountain at Disneyland, so we were out of luck. We were told the crowds are swarming over the weekend. We could tell a party was going on inside. It seemed like a concert interrupted by a volleyball match.
Sitting on the beach you can buy watermelon, beverages of all variety, fresh coconut in a shell with a straw, linguisa, fake Olympic medals, sunglasses, barbecued shrimp … you get the idea. Theresa noted that there seemed to more thongs and Speedos than in California. I guess so – I hadn’t noticed!
Enough for now. Going to try out the public transportation Sunday to practice for Monday and check out more of the Olympic venues. Jenna is busy prepping to compete; we’re hoping to see her before she runs but that would be a bonus. She is very focused you know!