Brazil: my backyard for the next season of my life.
Note: As you will be accompanying me to Brazil, please know that I will occasionally include Portuguese words in my posts. If you would like to learn these words, please use something akin to Google Translate. If you want a more interactive translator, experiment with Lingro.com. Now, to business.
A Good Report
I am glad to report that, despite the Brazilian National Day of Struggle, I have arrived in Brazil without a scratch. Thankfully, when this was happening, I was at a church service with friends of mine an hour’s flight away from the excitement. Yikes.
Good thing that I bought the ticket I did. A one-day difference could have meant some serious inconvenience. Te agradeço, Senhor.
And speaking of thanking God, let’s go back to the beginning. Guess what I had for my last North American meal for a while? That’s right, T.G.I. Friday’s!
I am not sure if many of you, my dear readers—by the way, should I give you a special name, like “Brazilian Summerers” or something?—know my eating habits while traveling, but I am about to let you in on a little secret: whenever I am at an airport, the first restaurant I look for is Friday’s. Yep. They are a little pricy, but the food is reliably tasty, not to mention agreeable with the traveling stomach since sweet potato fries lets your stomach rest and steak keeps you full. Next time you frequent the local airport, I recommend T.G.I.’s. Plus, they have interesting things to look at bolted on their walls. But I digress.
The food at Friday’s was good this time, like most of the times I’ve been there. I enjoyed my flatiron steak and sweet potato fries. But something was missing. I needed a dessert, but I wanted something light. The menu only had different types of cakes or brownies, so I thought I’d ask the waitress if they had some fruit or something. Turns out, if you ask, you receive. Five minutes later I was enjoying my own fruit bowl from the kid’s menu.
It’s good to be young at heart, even if it takes some humility. 🙂
After about two hours at Fridays (I was taking advantage of a place where I could sit with my bags in comfort and relative privacy, I boarded my plan for Rio.
A Flash in the Night
About an hour into the flight, as we neared Hispaniola, I saw something flash outside the window of the plane. I thought it was a light flickering on the left wing. But then it flashed again. I looked around the cabin to see if anyone else had seen what I had. No one seemed concerned or interested in the left wing. I didn’t even see anyone looking outside the window. I alone had seen it.
Returning to the window, I was surprised to see two eyes staring at me. What the…!?
The person one row in front of me had turned on their reading light; I was looking at my reflection.
But then I saw what I had been looking for. A streak of white, a mountain of grey underneath a sky of star-speckled ebony. It was a lightning storm.
As my took more pains to watch than to take photos, this was the best I could manage with my iPod Touch:
I watched the lightning illuminate the skyscape for several minutes. I was so delighted that I couldn’t help but tell a couple people near my seat to look outside the window. I can only imagine what the cute Brazilian-American moça behind me thought when I, a 23-year-old, grabbed my in-flight blanket and draped it over my head and glued my face to the window. You gotta do what you gotta do. And I couldn’t get a good view of the light show without blocking out the light from the cabin. Soon after, the captain informed the passengers that we were making a slight change of course to avoid the storm. Research shows me that the lightning I saw on my flight was caused by Tropical Storm Chantal. Well, I for one found the storm enchanting. 🙂
Eight and a Half Hours x2
Upon reaching Rio after an otherwise uneventful eight-and-a-half-hour flight… I waited in the airport for another uneventful eight and a half hours. Let’s just say I’ve had more exciting moments in my traveling career.
Thankfully, the eight or so hours were not wasted. I was able to find a LAN house that charged reasonable rates. This is rare, in my experience, so I was pretty enthused. I quickly checked my unread messages, sent love to my parents, and contacted the family which had agreed to pick me up later at the airport in Curitiba. Better safe than sorry when the city you’re in has been having riots and protest for weeks.
After checking in five hours early, I proceeded to my gate. The gate changed three times and was delayed for an hour and a half. But hey, I got to meet a German couple touring Brazil. After exchanging guten tags we conversed in regard to the wildlife, nature, and otherwise cultured social topics, including culture itself. 😛 Although we really conversed that way, it was in English, and I am happy to say that my acquaintances were anything but snobby. In fact, they were downright pleasant. Mr. Wolf (“Volf”) and I shared our traveling experience in Brazil and then bid adieu as we boarded. The funniest thing about it is that I think the only reason why he asked me to help translate the Portuguese announcements going over the intercom was that I was wearing a plaid shirt and apparently looked like I spoke English. Burly lumberjack and all that.
Boarding the flight from Rio to Curitiba, I was glad to see that, though the sun had already set on the airport and my wait therein, I was still able to see a colorful view of the city from a higher altitude. For example:
And the color didn’t stop when I got back to Curitiba, a city known regionally for its sustainability.
I’ve been seeing this type of waste-management for years in Curitiba, and the colors never cease to make me smile. I only hope that, when I begin my teaching job, I can succeed with such vibrant, flying colors.
This episode of My Brazilian Summer was brought to you by LOTSA PRAYER and BRAZILIAN FAMILY ABROAD (with special thanks to the de Castro family). Tune in next time to learn how Kyle is getting along in his new home away from home!