Nearly a week in Rio.  With my travel agent hat on, I could have had a really exciting time getting to know the ins and outs of this busy, bustling city.  But unfortunately, it is not with my travel agent hat on that I am here, so that didn’t happen.  Only in an advisory capacity for the other people on mine and other boats.

The first full day I was here I went out with a guide that “Sunvil Holidays” had provided.  Sam, a fellow crew member for leg one, and his only leg, offered to come with me.  That was really kind of him – it always helps when you have someone to help make food type decisions.   It seems that some research had been done in advance, and we first went to a little, but extremely busy, shop that sold nothing but dried foods.  We bought nuts and fruit and vegetables – Wendy was very happy.  She was quite insistent that we needed to keep the weight down for the next leg.    We then went out to near the International Airport to a Chinese Wholesaler that I had been recommended to.  There is a huge one in North London, that sells virtually everything you could possibly need in dried format. This one didn’t.  If you wanted remote control cars or other tut that was made in China this would have been the place to come.  But if you wanted food, no!

We googled other places, and came up with a Japanese store.  Quite close to China I suppose.  We drove there, and managed to get quite a few noodle type single meals that would do for the emergency food.  Wendy says that the five days of emergency food that we have to pack for are not going to be used in the future – so we need to put something light only in them, and leave them for race after race.  Suits me – the quicker we get to dry land the better!  We also managed to pick up several packs of camping type food – bags that you tip boiling water into to make a “nutritious meal”.  Hope I never get to test them out.

The driver, Albastino, was really good.  He helped in the shops with the Portuguese language – it really is difficult here if you don’t speak the lingo.  Most people do not speak English.  He helped with phoning places in advance to see if they had what we needed, and he also managed to fit in a quick city type tour for Sam who was flying home the following night.  He drove us back to the boat, so we gave him a little tour.  It didn’t take long!  I think he was quite shocked.  He had his photo taken on the boat.
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It was Kat’s 40th birthday, and also the prizegiving ceremony, Andy Ashman memorial service and crew party.  Quite a lot to fit in one day!  The winners were LMAX, Qingdao were  second and Great Britain were third.  No podium visit for us in eleventh place! There were scantily clad Brazilian dancers and very loud music.  Just up my street then!  There looked to be some really good food, but we were all going to a restaurant that Jo’s Mum & Dad had booked for 35 of us.  All the crew and all the friends and family that were with them.  At the appointed hour we got into taxis to go to the restaurant.  So far so good.  Except when we got there the road to the restaurant was blocked, and it was shut with security guards outside.  They had eaten there only a couple of nights ago, when they had booked it for tonight.  We subsequently found out that it had gone into liquidation that day.  We went back to the crew party, only to find that we had probably passed everyone else in taxis as they had all already left.  After several texts back and forth, we joined the rest of them in a pavement cafe on Copacabana Beach – right opposite the Copacabana Palace Hotel.  My pad last time I was in Rio.  Oh, how things change!
One of the shops I had been to today only accepted cash, so had basically wiped me out of Brazilian money.  This wouldn’t have been a problem had we been in a proper restaurant that I could have used my credit card in.  Quick thinking needed – I would limit myself to a plate of chips and a bottle of water, both of which came to 25 reais, and I would have enough for the taxi fare home (I would not be partaking in the inevitable late night drinking session even if I had enough money!).  What I didn’t bargain on was splitting the bill, and ending up paying 90 reais per person.  That was not a smart move then!  I had lent David 150 reais when we first arrived as he didn’t have any local, and he very kindly paid me back so I could settle up for the most expensive plate of chips ever.

The next day was another shopping day – the official Clipper shopping day.  Everyone knows how much I love shopping!  Sam very kindly offered to come and help again, as did Valerie.  We got on the minibus with three people from each of three other boats and went to Sam’s Cash & Carry and Walmart.  That was an experience.  Taking the list that I had from Leg One with a few adjustments, it seems that Brazilians do not eat the same sort of food as we do in the UK.  Trying to find, for example, a tin of ham was impossible.  We had baked potatoes and baked beans on the menu this time (not my choice, I hasten to add) but there was not a baked bean in sight.  That had to quickly come off again, and something else added in its place.  Some Japanese noodles and Japanese sauce got the vote.  There was quite a lot of improvisation going on.  I think this next leg is going to be a little lacking in perfect planning.

Valerie went a little mad with “treats” and biscuits and sweets – the budget was blown once again!  The truck that Clipper sent to transport the food back was filled to the brim.  This leg is expected to be between fifteen and eighteen days, so basically half of what I had to buy for last time.  And we had some things left over.  I had asked for six people to be at the boat for when we returned to get it packed straight away.  The other three teams had their helpers waiting with tarpaulins on the dock ready to load the food onto.  Our boat was a bit like the Marie Celeste.  We three Billy No Mates trudged backwards and forwards and loaded all our food onto the boat as it came out of the truck.  I think the problem was the England vs Australia rugby match that was in progress!  I was a little peeved to have missed it, but when I found out the score I didn’t feel so bad.  Just meant that the food was still all to pack. Sam then had to get to the airport to get his flight home – the only two days he had in Rio he spent shopping for food.  I was so grateful, but sad that he didn’t get to do anything “normal”.  I think he may be back!

Our boat was being used the following day for a refresher sail day for all the new people joining the various boats on this leg, so the packing couldn’t be done.  The one day that I could have enjoyed the sights and sounds of Rio – but it was raining a monsoon.  So I sat and redid all the menus with the improvised ingredients as far as I could remember them.  Did a little reading – even the balcony was getting a soaking so had to move indoors.  Shame.

The next day we had to move the boat for refuelling, so we were going to do the packing whilst that was going on.  It should have been quite a short trip – we left the marina at 10am.  And didn’t get back until 4.30pm.  Spent most of the day bobbing around in the bay waiting in a queue for the petrol station.  Must have had a special offer on!!  Saying that, I didn’t come up for air at all during that time.  Putting various food items that we think we know what they are into various bags with numbered days on.  And still it wasn’t all done by the time we got back.  Most of it was, so left the rest to do the following day.  There is only so much food packing you can do before you get so bored you don’t care what goes in where.  Dangerous!

The final day in Rio was spent food shopping once again.  This is beginning to get a habit!  Michael and Alex (a new person for this leg) came with me to get all the fresh fruit and veg, and some other things that seemed to have disappeared.  As with the wraps and carrots, I am sure they will make an appearance at some point!
We ended up with about twenty bags, so decided to get a taxi back to the marina.  Somewhat glad I didn’t go and get that lot on my own.  And had to have the obligatory ice cream whilst waiting in the taxi queue, which promptly dripped all down my t-shirt and trousers.  Good job it’s the last day.  All my laundry was done with the hotel laundry service, so no time to get extras done.  Will have to wait until Capetown, where I think I may even have a washing machine.  Think I might prefer leaving it in a bag and getting it back on a hanger.  Might have to rethink future accommodations!

We had a crew briefing for all boats at 1.30pm where we learned all about the route to Capetown – 60 feet waves and heavy oceans. Great.  I preferred ignorance.
It’s only just over two weeks (hopefully!) so how bad can it be?  We then had our boat briefing, and headed back to the hotel for the last time.  A quick campari with Michael and David, plus a snack, was very welcome.  Followed by a very early change into my pyjamas also for the last time for a couple of weeks.  Only to get a message from Tom and the other David to say they were in the hotel bar having just got back from a tour that I had recommended with Eat Rio.
Quick change out of my pyjamas for another campari.  Two in one night!  They both loved the tour (thankfully!).  I knew they would.  Glad I could be of assistance to both them and others that I had been recommending tours and places to go.  Just a shame I didn’t get to do any myself – but for me there will always be another day!

Tomorrow we set off for another continent – and the next adventure awaits.