To catch some of you up I’ll start at the beginning. I’ll make it short and sweet.
- Fall 2014 I applied to be a volunteer for the Rio Olympics
- Dec 2015 I was notified I was one of 50,000 volunteers accepted
- May 2016 I found out that not only was I going to be working as a nurse to athletes, I was going to be assigned to the training hall where the olympic weightlifters would be holding practices. Boxing and fencing are in the same building too.
That brings us up to the present. Yesterday I jumped on a plane to Miami. After a long delay I finally made it to my hotel, thanks to my Uber driver, Yoslan. We had a nice conversation about how he became a US citizen 5 days ago after moving here from Cuba 9 years ago. “How do you like living here?” “It’s the best place in the world”, he says. I haven’t been all over the world but after listening to his story about coming here, learning the language and finding a way to support himself and his family I understand why he feels that way.
I check-in to The Greenview Hotel. For the next 12hrs or so I’ll call this home. But first, food and lucky for me, two doors down there is a small pizzeria. This place reminds me of a place in Boston around the corner from Berklee School of Music and Boston Conservatory. The first thing you notice is that it’s hotter inside than out due to a large oven that sits behind the long counter. There are no less than half a dozen pies under the glass and even at close to midnight there is a man hand making fresh pies. After picking two beautiful looking pieces and waiting for what feels like forever I finally have some warm pizza that tastes like home. Well home before RVA became my home.
A fast 8hrs later and it’s time to get a move on. Check out is at 11 and I want to put my toes in the sand. Water, but particularly the ocean, centers me. Looking out into the expanse of water reminds me where I am heading. Into an unknown situation with the potential to change my view of…..everything.
A quick stop into Walgreen’s for last minute provisions (I forgot the Zofran!!!!!) and back to the hotel to check out in time. I still have plenty of time before I want to get to the airport so I wandered into a Cuban restaurant. If you know me then you know I naturally move to the beat of whatever music is playing. Walking in I felt as though I was transported to Havana and my shoulders started to move with the beat. I was their first patron of the day and the two waiters were still dancing and singing when I walked in. I ordered and drank the most delicious café con leche while waiting for my food. I resisted the urge to drink it in one large gulp and savored ever sip. My meal of sweet fried plantains and a Cuban pulled pork sandwich was exactly what I had hoped for. When that was done one of the waiters suggested I have one of their “famous” Mojitos. Well sure, why not. This really was a perfect Mojito and guessing from the “Miami food tour” group that stopped in for one, it really was famous. If you’re ever in Miami check out Bella Cuba on Washington Street in South Beach. Great food, great atmosphere and friendly staff.
I only have a 30 minutes until I find myself flying south past the equator to what I hope is a wonderful adventure. I have come to the conclusion that seeing the world is something I am going to make happen. I wish I was sharing this experience with family and friends but being alone is allowing me to reflect in a way I wasn’t really prepared for. I probably won’t have the opportunity to post daily but I will try to post as often as possible.
Thank you to my wonderful friends who made this trip possible. You have no idea the amazing thing you have done.