This is the second of the 2 Part Series about RTP Club Members, Duane and Ann Barlow’s, trip to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Duane was one of a handful of people selected from around the world by the Rio Olympic Committee to be a Walking Scorer for the return of golf at the Summer Olympics.
Duane was quick to point out that the media hype in the U.S. was overblown. He wanted to be clear that the Brazilian people did an excellent job putting on the games. The new highways and metro were open and working. Security was evident everywhere – both he and Ann felt safe at all times. Ann even rode the public bus system by herself – one route took 45 minutes and she had to switch bus lines. Ann was by herself much of the time while Duane handled his duties as a Walking Scorer. There was a fantastic shopping mall across from their rental condo with great shops and restaurants. Duane said in his 10 days on the golf course he didn’t see a single mosquito. Ann saw only one. Duane cracked a joke saying he had tons of mosquito repellent for sale at a discount – any takers?
The one thing that made the biggest impression on Duane was the sincerity and appreciation of the Brazilian people. Due to expected bad weather, they moved up the tee times for the final day of the Women’s golf competition. This meant that Duane had to walk in the pitch dark at 5:30 a.m. to the golf area and then another 1/2 mile to the volunteer headquarters. The route took him down a particularly, dark maintenance cart path. As he was walking (alone), a cart with 3 guys wearing hard hats and tool belts pulled up alongside him. They said something in Portuguese (which Duane doesn’t speak). Duane responded with a shake of his head and “English, please”. One of the three spoke in broken English asking if he wanted a ride. Duane hopped on the last spot open on the cart. During the drive, the Brazilian who spoke broken English, asked Duane where he was from and after hearing the U.S. said he had been to St. Louis once. He asked what Duane was doing at the Olympics. Duane explained he was a Walking Scorer. Then he was asked how much did he get paid. Duane explained he was not paid and was a volunteer. Then the worker said, well they must have paid your travel costs. Duane went on to say that no, he and his wife paid their own way to Brazil and paid for their own accommodations. The Brazilian excitedly spoke Portuguese to the others. When they arrived at Duane’s destination, all three Brazilian’s got out of the cart, did a half bow to Duane and extended their hands to shake Duane’s. The one who spoke broken English said “Thank you American for coming to help us with our Olympics”. The moment was unexpected, heart-warming and very emotional. Just talking to Duane about it, made me want to raise up and wave an American flag and sing “God bless America”. And, this level of thankfulness and appreciation by the Brazilian people wasn’t limited to this one incident. It happened again with the security personnel who manned the entrance points at the golfing venue. On Duane’s last day going through the security checkpoint, the guard’s bowed their heads to Duane, said “Thank You American” and topped it off with a round of applause!