Brasil – Rio de Janeiro Aeroporto

Segunda-Feira 18 Março 2008

The ride from Buzios to Rio de Janeiro airport is just as easy due to Mario’s excellent driving.

After an hour on highway BR-101, we come upon the Rio harbor and can see the now-familiar landmarks of Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) and, Corcovado mountain on which Christ the Redeemer stands. Mario negotiates his SUV into the traffic of Rio with seeming ease. Five lanes choke down to three for no apparent reason as if we had just left a toll collection booth. He doesn’t break a sweat.

A ship’s horn blasts in the distance.

“Excuse me,” I say. “Must’ve been the feijoada.”
Mario and Mary laugh. Mario speaks only Portuguese. I guess fart jokes are universal.

Rio de Janeiro Aeroporto (GIG)

Getting our boarding passes at GIG proves to be a breeze. We sat at an airport café and ate one of the tastier–if not strange–burgers we’ve ever had. In addition to the all-beef patty, lettuce, pickles and tomato, there is cheese, bacon and egg. And beber (to drink)? Mary drank a guarana and I had an espresso com creme. We looked out at Sugar Loaf and just smiled.

Mary wanted to pick up a book at the airport. She’d read the book she brought with her (The Princess of Burundi), plus four she found where we stayed: Murder at the Margin: A Henry Spearman Mystery, The Investigation, Fashionably Late, and Citizen Girl. She found a Michael Connelly book in paperback at a small loja and tossed it on the counter. It rang up at 50 Reais (about $30). We got Veja (Portuguese for “See It”) instead.

We went through Rio Airport’s security with a slight hiccup. The screener mistook my thumbdrive for a penknife. Once on the other side of security we found ourselves in a cramped terminal. There seem to be about thirty chairs for three-hundred seats. We share our claustrophobic conditions with passengers waiting to board ah hour’s delayed Air France flight.

I know that we Americans take heat about our fashion sense abroad. But…what are some people thinking? She’s in line for the Air France flight.

The American Airlines plane flight is long (eight hours plus a thirty minute delay waiting for clearance), boring, food unremarkable, uneventful. It’s perfect. I slept off and on throughout. I’m surprised by how quickly my fellow passengers spring out of their seats to clog the aisles. I know how they feel, you just want to stand up and be moving. Many have connecting flights that they are now late for. My stiff legs and sluggish brain can’t compete.

Next to me, a criança (little girl) threw up into an airsickness bag. Mary and I pulled the bags from our seat pockets and hand them to the girl’s mother. The little one upchucked again before we could get them in the mom’s hands.

The plane emptied slower than, well, a plane full of logy passengers.

We girded ourselves for the real communications problemsUS customs and the officious and bureaucratically Anglo-centric Transportation Security Administration–after a red-eye flight to Miami.

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Brasil – Búzios Tchau

Segunda-Feira 17 Março 2008

We are ready to go. Packing took very little time. We decided that everything would need to be washed when we got home. Those items we had washed two days ago are still wet. Humidity is high here.

At around 11:30 AM, we were enjoying one last cup of cha on the porch overlooking the water, trying to burn the scene into our permanent memory. Rosa, one of the condo complex caretakers, walked up to the top of the hill to the condo where we are staying. She speaks no English. We speak halting Portuguese and recognize only ten percent of the words when someone speaks to us. I wish I could turn on the captions. If I could read what is said as well as hear it my comprehension rises slightly. Out of the cloud of sentences, we are able only to understand the words cinco minutos (five minutes).

Mario indeed arrived five minutes late just as Rosa explained.

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