Accessibility Key (rating accessibility/accommodations in and around Rio de Janeiro, June-August 2012):

>:P phbbbbt = mau (bad)

:| straight face = mais ou menos (so-so, ok)

:) happy = bom, ta legal (good, great)

 **(Highlighted writings below refer specifically to accessibility issues)

Gorgeous View of Rio de Janeiro. Photo Courtesy of Jordan Sparrow

     :) happy Overnight flights are great!  I learned from my previous flight to Brazil last September, to make sure I had a seat that allows me leg room in front of me and easy access to the rest room.  Some of the rest rooms accommodated me better than others, but overall, the plane trip was quick and comfortable.  I was able to sleep comfortably for a few hours, and before I knew it, we landed in Rio.  The following email correspondence reports my first week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil– a lot of overwhelm, culture shock and adjustment, but YAY!  I got here:

Hello family and friends,
I am here!!!!   I finally made it.  I’m a total space cadette but adjusting OK.
Dr. Perrone met me at the airport –Muito obrigada sir!

The drive to my apartment was beautiful–wow, I’m really here in Rio de Janeiro –wow

A view of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Another view of Rio de Janeiro from the top of the Christ the Redeemer Statue

View of Rio de Janeiro from Sugarloaf Mountain. Photo taken by Jordan Sparrow.

I have spent the afternoon unpacking, buying groceries, and getting oriented — IBEU is so close, I should be walking to school with my walker by the end of this week.

Cristyna, my landlady, and Cristiane, my PCA, greeted me, and Cristiane and I just drank a cafezinho (my first in RIO! ) together. Cristiane is going to work out great, I know!

School starts at 830 a.m. tomorrow. I need to read up on the schedule and get some rest — more to come…

Beijos e Abracos

:) happy…my PCA (personal care assistant) is great and will be my ‘host family ‘ substitute. She speaks only Portuguese! We had an excellent first day together.  May it continue…

Guida with Rio PCA (Personal Care Assistant)Cristine Olivera


Congratulations, Guida! I’m glad you made it there safely and that you had a great first day in Brazil!

Your Portuguese is going to progress so fast! How did you find your PCA? I imagine you’ll probably cover that in a future blog post, so it’s okay if you don’t email back.  (She was referred by CVI-RIO, the city´s Independent Living Center.)

I created a summary page for your blog (, and eventually I can add your videos. In the meantime, if you want to send me a few photos of Brazil and of you in Brazil, I can include them on this page.

 Good luck getting settled in, and I look forward to your future posts!

Wow, Ashley, I’m crying!! I am so overwhelmed by today — culture shock and just plain old exhaustion, I guess — your email has certainly given me the huge boost I so need right now!! What a gift MIUSA is in my life. Thanks so much for making my day–no, making my WEEK! 😀

Cristiane is a real God send. It turns out, I’ll need her much more than I initially planned.  :) happyMy motorized wheelchair works great.  I fit in it just fine.  It´s very lightweight and tips backwards too easily when I go up any ramp.  :| straight faceThe concept of cut curbs in Rio needs work–way too steep, as are ramps entering buildings. 

>:P phbbbbt The sidewalks are cracked and old, with lots of holes and very bumpy.  Rio sidewalks are famous for their mosaic beauty, but not very practical, I must say! 

…According to a recent United Nations report, between February-April 2012, Brazilians gave ratings online between 0-10 to city sidewalks, in order to identify problems and to encourage safety and accessibility (ie, cut curbs) in urban areas.  The purpose of this campaign is to construct level sidewalks for children, youth, the elderly, and for PwDs.  Rio´s sidewalks came in ninth place out of 10.  Second to last worst…yup, I agree!!  Concordo!(

…My plate is full. I have much catching up to do this weekend. Now I wish I had brought a laptop. Getting access to a computer is not easy for me here in Brazil, but once again, Dar um Jeito!!  More to come…

…I sent you today’s exciting news from MIUSA! I’m in terrified mode at the moment, due to the trickling in funding situation, as tomorrow I’ll be taking out a huge amount of cash.  But it’ll work out fine in the end…the MIUSA news is an affirmation from the universe now!

I miscalculated the PCA funds, but I’ll still come out ahead in the end. The conversion rate is driving me batty!

I’m exhausted tonight. Culture shock hit hard all day today. I felt like a slug, fat, ugly, and inarticulate. So tonight to bed early. I’ll catch up on school stuff this weekend. Right now I need to catch up on rest…

…I am so glad to be here!!!! We go to Corcovado on Thursday–my first outing.  I look forward to checking out the accessibility.  I read recently that an elevator has been installed for PwDs. I’m going to give myself a few days to settle in but I want to get out there! The kids already have seen a lot, it seems. Ahhh, youth!  More to come…

Cristo Redemptor, Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro

…As an exchange student/foreigner, I´m learning a crazy way to take care of business.  To pay my rent, I have to take money out of the ATM machine in increments over several days, since the Banks don´t allow withdrawals over a certain amount each day.  “That´s US Banks, NOT Brazilian ones,“ a Brazilian Program Staffperson tells me.  Probably she´s right.  Tomorrow I pay off my rent–finally!
…Exhausted and overwhelmed!  I cannot write but had a wonderful day…
…I’m still having tech problems and the phone continues to baffle me. I dropped the cell phone this morning and now it is acting worse. I don’t know when we’ll talk, so thank God for email.

I want to get going on my blog this weekend, but my iPad doesn’t support the blog page–nor a bunch of other pages either, it seems. But I’ll write up in my notes and transfer to my blog page next time I get to a computer. Dar um jeito!

I hope to get to the beach tomorrow. Matthew, the young man in my FB photo, is a very sweet kid. He has been so helpful and kind. He emailed me and said he would accompany me to the beach.

Matthew and Guida, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June-August 2012

Today is a very lazy tired day. I just do not have much stamina, although I sure have a ton of work that needs more stamina!  There’s much I want to see here. I’ll make a list. I need to keep things simple but will try to accomplish what I can while here.

I miss you lots. I love hearing from you and look forward to your emails. When there are gaps like today, I really can’t do anything except wait for someone to give me a hand when they come around. The doorman (porteiro) will help me, if needed. For example, I couldn’t find the TV remote today, and the guy came and found it for me. I am still quite tired, so today is a good catch up and rest day.

…Technology sucks big time here in Rio! But I hope to get some blogs posted in the next few days. I’m writing just not posting…yet. Soon…

Rio is beautiful and the program very interesting. I’m going through culture shock and overwhelm daily but am very glad I’m here. Sometimes I have moments of wondering if I’ll get through this but then something very awesome happens and I think, yes, I will make it!  I´m very happy I have made this journey…

…Thanks so much for checking in with the animal care and checking my phone messages, too.  I miss Moxie and Muffin (my dog and cat) so much–my babies!–I wish their cuddle butts were here with me at night.  I have great cable/satellite TV here.  A lot of dubbed-into-Portuguese American series and films to watch.  And of course the Brazilian soap operas, which I was watching anyhow, so I feel right at home!

…Today, I am feeling that overwhelmed feeling of the first week. I woke up at 430 am to do some catch up work. It goes very slow for me as I get used to using a loaned-out laptop computer someone is letting me borrow for six weeks–great huh?!  I have the rest of today and tomorrow off from class to further catch up on study and assignments, as well as head out to the beach with Cristiane. Then it’s the weekend! We’ll visit a coffee plantation on Saturday, and Sunday, a couple of these very nice students Will and Matthew, and I will go to Ipanema where I lived in 2001. I look forward to that!

Tomorrow, my class will visit the Botanical Garden. I’ll go another time with Cristiane in her car, since a special taxi to accommodate my chair would cost a fortune. IBEU folks don’t have the budget to accommodate me and neither do I. >:P phbbbbtSo it goes…one really has to have a lot of extra funds for special accommodations in a foreign land!

Last night, I watched CSI Miami since this particular episode took place in Rio! Beautiful scenes throughout the show. As I was watching, I kept thinking, “wow! All this gorgeous beautiful city is right outside my window. I’d rather see it for REAL since I’m right here, instead of watching Rio de Janeiro on TV.”

Maybe this explains some of my melancholy, besides being tired. My lack of mobility–being able to just roll around as I like–does bum me out (I do miss my spontaneous “come-and-go-as-I-please” days, so I’m glad there are trips coming up with others.) Cristiane and I will go to the Rio Independent Living Center (CVI-RIO)at some point. I also want to see the accessible parts of the Tijuca National Forest, the famous Copacabana hotel that is currently being renovated for PwD accessibility, Pau d’ Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain), which is supposedly accessible, Rio’s Centro–the center of the city, the Aqueduct/Santa Teresa (which may NOT be accessible), and one more trip to Corcovado.

:) happyI forgot to tell you that the accessibility at Corcovado was quite innovative!

Train to top of Corcovado

Loading Guida onto Corcovado Train

They did have an elevator almost to the top, but then the last leg was only an escalator. A very strong young Carioca (Rio citizen) held my chair firmly in place as I leaned back to enjoy an interesting ride on the escalator to the top of the mountain where the Christ Redeemer statue is situated. I have pictures. You’ll be amazed when you see the creativity!

On my way up the escalator, Carioca Accessibility-wise, to Corcovado

Whew! At the top of Corcovado

I made it!!! Guida and Cristiane at Christ the Redeemer, Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Argh!! I really need a nap now. I’ll write more later, I promise…



4 responses »

  1. Am really enjoying your writing and adventures. I can just “feel” your trials and your tiredness. Enjoy what you can and the rest will follow. Keep up the good attitude. Nancy Stone

  2. I’m loving your posts. Hope the tech frustrations are quickly resolved and you are able to get enough rest. Don’t get too exhausted and get sick!!

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