Editor’s note: Carlo Prandini and wife Theresa of Clovis, along with daughter Chrissy and son Mark, are providing updates on their Rio experience as they prepared to watch daughter Jenna compete for the United States in the 200-meter semifinals Tuesday. Here are Carlo’s observations leading up to the big moment:
We had some time this morning before we brave the subway crowds this evening to watch Jenna compete in the semifinals.
Some random thoughts and observations:
Mosquitos – The locals advised us to rub on a little insect repellent as a precaution but don’t seem too concerned unless as they say “ you travel to the forest.” Regardless, we are taking their advice and dabbing some on daily. My ever-cautious daughter Chrissy transforms herself into a walking citronella hot spot as she suits up with insect repellant wrist and ankle bracelets!!
Empty seats – Organizers and local residents have been criticized for not filling up all the venues all the time. I have a couple theories why: One, the price of tickets is prohibitive to the casual fan. Two lower-deck tickets for Tuesday night will cost us over $800! Plus they have over 10 channels covering a multitude of events live, so why battle the crowds and spend the money. I noticed that this past weekend, many more folks traveled here from around Brazil and seats were full. There are also empty seats at events that are sold out or where tickets can no longer be purchased. Mystifying. There is plenty of interest by the locals as evidenced by the crowds gathered around the TV in every public space and the roar heard up and down the street when the Brazilian pole vaulter won the gold last night.
Vendors – They are a source of entertainment for us. There are people from all over the world selling flags, whistles, hats, pins and sunglasses. They are building amazing sand castles and asking for tips to take pictures. Theresa bought pins and I have a new pair of sunglasses (couldn’t resist). They are entrepreneurs and entertainers for sure!
Poverty and protest – The well-publicized economic disparity is evident from the housing and unrest described by the media. It seems that security near the beach area was amplified Tuesday and we saw an angry young man drawing a crowd with cameras expressing his displeasure about the government as he pointed to troops standing nearby. Everything appeared to be under control.
Media presence – Cameras and portable studios fill the area and helicopters were hovering to cover the marathon swimming. Chrissy and Mark went to the “Today Show” this morning with a “Go Jenna Go” sign and caught the eye of one of the Today Show reporters, Jenna Bush Hager. She knew Jenna was running the 200 and wished her well! She also posed with them as they held the “Go Jenna Go” sign.
Time to relax and focus. I am guessing that is what Jenna is doing now. It will be an exciting night.