Saturday, 21 March 2015

Diarr-Rio! When it all went wrong...

Well, not drastically wrong. I'm now back in the UK after a relaxing flight home, but the bit before was a little trying to say the least and very disappointing as I'd rather hoped that Thursday (my last full day in Rio) would be spent sightseeing as opposed to one site (a building site across the road – see view from my hotel room shot in earlier post). You see, all was well with the world. I went down for dinner around 8pm on Wednesday night having completed a little bit of work in my hotel room. There was a live band playing in the Atlantico restaurant as I took my seat, ordered a glass of Malbec, asparagus soup and sea bass followed by a fresh fruit salad. The view of Copacabana Bay at night was spread before me and I was glad that all the hard work was over and a day of being a tourist lay ahead of me.
The 'Sofatel' – much needed sofa for weary old me

The food seemed fine enough and by 9pm I was back in my room and ready for bed. But around midnight things changed. I awoke with a stomach ache and lo and behold I had the shits! Just what the doctor ordered. That toilet observation window (see pic in previous post) would have been most unwelcomed had my wife been sharing the room with me – why was it there, I often wondered, who wants a window on people taking a dump? Fortunately I was alone so in many ways the TV was on but nobody was watching. In short a broken night led to chronic weariness the following day. I lolled about and slept until around 11.30am when I got my act together enough to extend my check-out by a couple of hours and then went back to my room to pack: tiresome at the best of times, much worse when under the weather.

After checking out and ordering a cab to the airport for later – I was flying out of Rio at 1055pm – there was nothing left to do other than to find somewhere to crash and this meant one of the sunloungers by the pool, the business centre and then some easy chairs adjacent to the first floor Atlantico restaurant, which might have been the cause of the problem (there was no way of really knowing). While I never drank tap water I did clean my teeth with it and I used the water from the mains to wash and shower, it could have been that although I was hardly going to wash simply by tipping loads of small bottles of mineral water over my head; or it could have the fresh fruit, which I'm guessing was rinsed in water. Who knows? The long and the short of it was that I was weary I couldn't really risk finding myself at the top of Corcovado in need of a toilet, so first I sat in the business centre reading Ayn Rand, then I moved to the poolside where I lay for a couple of hours until around 5pm when I found the wonderful sofa covered in cushions (see pic above). I set the alarm on my iphone for 7pm, and then having fallen asleep, I awoke and just lie there for 10 minutes or so until the time was right to find my car to the airport. I was feeling alright, but I was weak and tired and things weren't going to get any better.

In the cab, I gazed out of the window onto the busy streets of Rio. It was busy, there was a lot of traffic but eventually I reached the airport, bade farewell to my driver and set about the boring and tedious process of going through security. I don't know about you, but whenever I hear the name Richard Reeve I feel like reaching for my revolver. Once through I discovered that Rio airport was a pretty sparse place: a couple of awful food outlets and and duty free shop and that was it and the last thing I wanted to do was risk another bout of stomach problems so, having not eaten all day, I continued to fast and eventually it was time to board the plane. Unlike the journey out when I was sitting in seat 37b (the exit door row so plenty of leg room) I was now in seat C30, an aisle seat, so I had plenty of room (for just one of my legs, the right one). Fortunately seat 29 C in front of me was unoccupied and offered plenty of leg room as there was no seat 28C (just 28A and 28B). I asked the steward if I could change seats and he said I could. Result!

This stark shot of Rio airport sums up how I felt...
For the next nine hours I slept – or rather dozed – and didn't give a damn about the odd bit of turbulence, which the pilot later apologised for, stating that it might have helped passengers who were trying to sleep. He was right in a way, the 'gentle rocking' as he described it over the intercom prior to landing, did help and with only 1hr, 59 minutes left of the flight I found myself awake. I listened to Brian Eno and Karl Hyde's album High Life but was bored by the start of track two and switched to Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Edward Elgar's Land of Hope and Glory (highly appropriate as we approached the UK) before deciding to watch Top Gear, a kind of 'best of' entitled something like Ambitious but Rubbish, it was brilliant, and soon we landed at Terminal Five Heathrow where a car was waiting to take me home. When I got there, nobody was in and I had to wait around 10 minutes before I could get in and now, here I am.

No cycling today, I didn't think it wise, but I'll be back on the bike tomorrow morning without fail especially if the weather is as good as it was this morning, although it's clouded over now and is bloody cold...compared with the weather in Rio! Remember, it was 33 degrees, not the pathetic 8 degrees it is here in London.

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