I am in Rio de Janeiro, but if I did not remind myself that I was there to supervise the Olympic drug testing, I would feel as if I am in other places I have been like Khatmandu, Nepal or Columbo, Sri Lanka. Maybe it is the heat or poverty or age, but there is a sameness, low crumbling brick and plaster buildings, dogs sleeping on the street corners, recklessly indifferent taxi drivers speeding while talking on a cell phone, and equally suicidal motorcyclists weaving in and out of traffic. The air smells of diesel exhaust and that odor of decay you get when a mouse dies inside your walls. Yet suddenly you come upon an Olympic stadium, right next to a crumbling building with a heavily armed policeman kicking at the debris in its courtyard.
I am staying in an apartment about a 20 minute walk from the Olympic Village. The location is the envy of my colleagues as I can avoid the risks of crime and delay in the mass transit. Walking to work for a 5:00 a.m. shift, only a block away from the Olympic Village I follow a sewage filled canal with huge palm leaves growing over it. A rooster crows as I pass a low and squalid cantina. Suddenly, I look in the canal and there is a bright white crane majestically picking it’s way through the fetid water. Nature finds a way to have beauty everywhere.
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