Both Chris and I have been to Rio a hand full of times with British Airways over the years, but we have been a little spoon fed and pampered regarding having  hotels and transport organized for us. On a working trip the hotel staff recommends the best places to eat, book it and arrange hotel transport. Out on our own it was all so different!! We got to choose where we wanted to stay, and select places to eat, by just wandering around local areas which looked nice. We ate where the locals ate not the tourist, and with no proficiency in Portuguese, a bit of miming, and hand signals we managed to sample some delicious local cuisine such as Moqueca, and Arroz con Coco (seafood stew with coconut rice). I also had cashew ice cream which was bizarre but surprisingly pleasant.

We were helped in Rio at Lider by the lovely Wellington and Paula, who was kind enough to arrange a taxi to take us to our hotel and pick us up in 3 days. Exhausted as usual as we arrived at our hotel, we were greeted by a slightly Fawlty Towers type staff (British 1980’s sitcom for my Non-UK friends). The staff were friendly but clueless and every one of them was a “Manuel!”  After a frustrating check -in we found that we were sleeping next door to a group of “party lads”. Both being tired and emotional we already knew what to do in this situation already as the music, TV, and shouting all together boomed through our walls. I knocked very hard on the door and in a pathetic mime/ broken Portuguese explained that my husband and I were VERY EXHAUSTED, please turn the volume down!!!! The young twenty something guy looked puzzled and amused, he smiled at me with sympathy nodded and closed the door. Within a few seconds we heard “senhora negra” and laughing as the guys turned the music down, oh how I felt old!

The next morning we were ready to hit the town, after savouring a colourful and unusual breakfast buffet in the hotel. It was above the normal continental, and had treats such as fresh sliced mango, passion fruit, pineapple and papaya. The choices of juice was also different, with fresh watermelon, guava, tangerine and acai. The pastries and local breads were totally out of the ordinary with fish, herbs and chocolate mixed into the “pan de queso” was exceptional, these little puff pastry balls with melted cheese in the centre was my favourite., But everything appear to glamourous and interesting, we walked in the bright South America sun and almost pinched ourselves as we walked from our hotel, and two streets away we are on Copacabana beach.

On entering the beach, we met the local vendors, they talk to me in frantic Portuguese selling their local wares, such as grilled shrimps, bikinis, sarongs, jewelry you name it! They keep asking me questions, I say in my limited language “no I am not from here I am English” but they continued to chat and try to banter with me. It is only after we hire seats and umbrellas, I notice that many” locals” look like me. The beach is glorious, with many people enjoying the sea, sun and just relaxing. We both can’t believe our little plane got us to one of our favourite destinations, in which we would normally be arriving in a 747. As I watched Chris splash about in the water surrounded by smiling Brazilian people enjoying their day out at the beach, I realized how really lucky we both are. This a trip of a life time in which we can never repeat, we have spoken to many people about Chris’s story, and will continue to do so. But I am so very aware at this moment that none of this trip would have ever been possible, and Chris would not have had this second chance, if some selfless, giving person had not ticked the box on their driving license and become an organ donor.

2/23/2012 10:20:42 am

I am so enveious of you the trip sounds amazing but with your little hicups along the way...nothing you cannot handle.
I love you both my amazing friends such great work you are doing to promote the awareness of Transplant's and becoming Donor's im sure Joe..has spread his wings and flying right beside you.
Godbless continued safe journey xxx Eileen & Family xxx


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