Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

There wasn’t much English being tossed around on my flight from Canada to Brazil. Throughout the nearly-eleven-hour trip, I heard Portuguese, Spanish, French, German – but very few words I understood. I grew more nervous as we prepared for our arrival into Rio de Janeiro, practicing “Eu não falo Português” (I don’t speak Portuguese) over and over to myself, as well as the other phrases I had learned. I didn’t want to be lost from the start.

Traversing the airport, I was taken aback at how clean and sparse it was compared to the scenes of chaos portrayed in U.S. media. Representatives for the Rio Olympics lingered in areas throughout the building, in head-to-toe bright yellow and green, inquiring with anyone who looked lost. When the doors to baggage claim flew open, it was not the crazy, intimidating hysteria I had read about leading up to my trip. Just the usual congregation of friends and families waiting to meet loved ones.

Brazil surprised me from the beginning.

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Published on Daily Blender, July 2016

*Images: Jennifer Matthewson / Daily Blender