The Carioca Way

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We have arrived in Rio! :-)

The 11,5 hour flight went smooth. We traveled with KLM via Amsterdam. The food, service and entertainment was good. And getting a few hours sleep after staying up for 24 hours was even better.

However, when we arrived in Brazil, things started to go a bit less smoothly. When we got out of the plane (with the on board wheelchair), two cariocas (Rio inhabitants) were waiting for us with two very old fashioned wheelchairs. I tried English and Spanish, but no response. Sign language however, gave me a hope that our chairs would be found at the luggage hall downstairs.

After a short while (having a disability can sometimes be an advantage) we got our passport stamped and arrived at the airport elevator (through a secret locked door). The airport in Rio has 2 elevators. The only functioning one is covered with something similar to a blue sleeping bag, and inside there is a lady sitting on a chair (that takes 1/3 of the elevator space). Very Twin Peakish, I must say…

After passing the secret polstered elevator, we got to the luggage hall, where we had a great reunion with our wheelchairs. The luggage on the other hand turned out to be quite a long term project. Our bags came after 1 hour. But it came.

After trying 5 times to withdraw some cash, we also got some reais to pay for the taxi. But where was he? We looked all over, but could not locate the pre–booked taxi from the Marina Palace Hotel. We inspected all the men with signs, but no sign saying Ingrid. Finally we got in touch with the hotel by phone:

  • Where is our driver?
  • Yes, but we cannot find him. He was supposed to hold a sign.
  • Where are you guys?
  • We are standing in front of exit 4 – and we are two girls in wheelchairs, we should be easy to spot.
  • Yes, but what kind of clothes are you wearing?
  • Ahum…I think perhaps two girls in a wheelchair will be pretty easy to spot…

Eventually, Mr. SLOWLY came over and introduced himself. It turned out that the promised big car had a very small trunk. Since we had travelled for 17 hours, and he did not have a sign, and not any good excuses, we did not want him to let him off the hook very easily. We made him dismantle both our chairs into peaces and stuff all our luggage (and ourselves) into the car. In Brazil, driving with two wheels loose on the dashboard does not qualify as a problem, so we headed off to Marina Palace Hotel at Leblon.

After a 40 minute drive, it turned out that the ramp into the reception was REALLY steep. But they DID have a ramp. And they DID give us a good deal to compensate for the missing wheelchair transportation (meaning 3×5 free breakfasts).

We had arrived in Rio! In one piece and WITH our luggage and wheelchairs. And our rooms were nice AND accessible with a wonderful view to Ipanema beach. With a slightly complicated introduction to the carioca way, we were still looking forward to the next chapter… :-)

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The Girl From Ipanema Went Wheeling

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