Rio 2016: Olympics High

01_rio_0800816Aug 6, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Colombia forward Isabel Cristina Romero Benitez (left) gets a hand to her face by USA forward Nana Faavesi (center) as Faavesi runs the ball during a rugby sevens match between the USA and Colombia at Deodoro Stadium in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

As the beacon tower from the sleepy Afonsos Air Force Base across the way cuts through the hushed night with its rhythmic green and white winks, an inviting cool breeze from the mountains beyond brings an even more relaxed sensation to my apartment balcony. In truth, relaxed is the last adjective I expected to use a week ago as I prepared to travel to Brazil. On the first bus ride here, especially after witnessing the motorcycle fatality on the road, I completely expected to be on-edge and looking forward to returning home daily.

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Rio 2016: Times Like This

01_rio_080616 Aug 5, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Fireworks launch over the stadium during the opening ceremonies for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Maracanã.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve become keenly aware of something quite profound occurring here in Rio – I feel removed from myself, almost as if I’m dreaming. I should probably clarify that I still feel like myself, in essence. However, being immersed in such a foreign (both literally and figuratively) land has given me a feeling best described of having an outer-mind experience. Matters that I was concerned with at home just days ago seem trivial to me now. The experiences I’ve had here in just a few days since arriving have been quite thought-provoking and filled with some much-needed perspective.  My experience yesterday covering fireworks during the opening ceremony only compounded this feeling.

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Rio 2016: Emotional Ride


The Milky Way Galaxy and other stars visible in the sky from a LATAM Airlines flight from Miami to Rio in the air near Puerto Rico early Wednesday, August 3, 2016.

To suggest that the past three days of prepping for, traveling to, and arriving in Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics have been a roller coaster of emotions would be putting things lightly. In just a little over 40 hours on the ground, I’ve experienced the most heartwarming support from total strangers, the visual culture shock of the worst living conditions I’ve ever seen, and – I wish this last part was an exaggeration – the near panic-inducing horror of seeing death just feet from me.

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Landmark Anchors


Visitors walk beneath the Gateway Arch along the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis, Mo., Thursday, July 21, 2016.

Being born and raised just a stone’s throw from downtown Chicago, the iconic Sears Tower has always been a visual anchor of home on the horizon. If I may, before expounding any further, I will acknowledge that I just incorrectly referred to it as the Sears Tower. For, you see, there is only one person I’ll refer to as Willis, and his brother’s name was Arnold.

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Posted in Photography, Photojournalism, Travel on July 22nd, 2016. No Comments.