On the last day in the UK, when all I had to do was stuff online, charge my electricals and sort some stuff out while I had access to my computer… power cut! For all my organisation, planning and calmness, a simple thing missing like electricity heightens the stress levels when the clock is ticking on your time at home! But, we found a way around it, and at least I got a few hours’ sleep the night before the big day!
The date I had picked to travel was arbitrary at the time of booking, but as my dad pointed out, it’s midsummer’s day and therefore actually a notable date in the calendar. From this point on, the nights at home will slowly get shorter and shorter, then longer and longer again to count down to my return! 🙂 We had to drive past Stonehenge to get to Heathrow, and people were already starting to gather there ready to see in the dawn…
At the airport, I had second-breakfast of tea and porridge, after the friendly security guy told me I was greedy when I asked whether there were any more cafes than the one we could see! I bid a tearful farewell to my lovely mum and dad, and headed through security with a deep breath!
I got on the little transfer train from the terminal to the gate, still pretty unable to comprehend that it’ll be a year before I’m back! Then at the gate when I was queueing to board, a girl arrived right behind me talking to no-one in particular about how it was good timing that she’d just got there and didn’t have to wait before boarding, so I asked if she was travelling alone and explained why I was too… brilliant! When you’re travelling, just talk; to yourself, to no-one, to someone, and you’ll find a friend!
I wasn’t so lucky as last time to have a new friend (Sandra!) sit right next to me on the plane, nor could I get a window seat like I wanted, but I did have the next best thing… a spare seat!!! Amazing, best thing ever on a 13hour flight! No interruptions, no cramped feeling, somewhere else to put stuff. I sat there feeling very very lucky indeed, for many reasons! The tension that had been building up in my shoulders for a while melted away.
Vicki was only going to be in Rio for 4 days, for a wedding, before flying home. She waited for me off the plane, we got a taxi together as her hostel was a bit further on from mine away from the airport. She spoke a little Portuguese which was helpful when the taxi driver slightly misunderstood the address I had given him, and it was really nice to be with someone friendly to get me to my hostel. Lucky lucky!
The protests in Rio were going with a vengeance, from the hostel balcony I could see and hear police helicopters, crowds of people, and hear shots, shouting, loud bangs… pretty memorable! People were saying this will be a day that will be remembered in history. All the demonstrations are organised, and in the days in between them, it’ll be normal and peaceful. I made my bed and went to sleep feeling pretty shattered!
This morning I went downstairs to the terrace for breakfast and made myself start talking to people, a nice bunch of guys in Rio for an academic conference, a lovely relaxed morning in the warm sunshine with a morning haze over the city. I’d already decided not to really try to do anything today, just relax in the sun and warmth, maybe catch up on a few things, chat to people and plan where to go sightseeing tomorrow. And let it all sink in! Short walk down the road to get a sandwich in a shop where no-one spoke English but I managed to work out that Queijo is ‘cheese’, and everyone spoke smile-and-point!
First mission accomplished!