Saturday, January 26, 2019

South America 2019: Trip Notes # 1

South America 2019: Trip Notes # 1

With all that has been occurring in our lives during the last year, we have been looking forward to some (very) needed R&R.

The day started  with a high, then a low and finally,, ending with another high.

The pick-up service arrived on time. The driver had an interesting story. He is from India - an IT specialist - gave up a good paying, boring job and (now) multi-tasks by supporting Uber, Lyft and limo companies. He makes >$100,000/year.

Checking in was fast and easy. However, it went down hill when we went through security. There was an odd situation dealing with TSA. For the second time within a few months, Jerry was pulled over and subjected to multiple pat downs, his carry-ons taken apart and he had to deal with additional screenings. Something set off the litmus-type paper test device. Last time, they thought he was carrying explosives. What could it be?

45 Minutes Later - The TSA Agent, His Supervisor And The Crew Chief Would Not Pass A Very Annoyed Jerry

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The American Airlines lounge has gone through a make-over. Besides a facility upgrade, the lounge has gone overboard by offering an excellent upscale buffet.

International Entrees

          Lots Of Good Food!

Stations Through Out The Lounge--->

This was our first experience with the Boeing Dreamliner 787-9. Mood lighting, great flat beds, too many movies to see and the food was actually quite good for an American carrier.

Beginning To Relax: "The Children's Act and "Colette" Were Must See Movies

Let The Food Begin: Uniquely Presented Carrot Dish Prepared With A Smoky Flavor
We didn't realize how many islands, sea mounts, ridges and basins there are between Florida and South America.

After 12 hours, we are finally reaching our destination

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Another odd (security) situation occurred when we reached the Brazil customs.

The new Brazilian guidelines called for an e-Visa. We applied and was granted the visa. The visa was printed at home - we had it ready when it was our turn to be processed at the Sao Paulo airport. It appeared that the customs officer was a little sleepy. (It was 8:30 AM). He glanced at our expired (formally attached to our passport) visa, did not ask for the updated visa and preceded to stamp the expired page and off we went to retrieve our luggage.

The overall airport experience was very positive. No one was hounding passengers - offering "cheap rides" to the city. There was a relaxed feeling - people were friendly.

We were encouraged to use Uber when traveling throughout the city - 50% less cost than a taxi and more efficient. However, with luggage in hand and ready to leave the airport, there was lots of confusion - locals went out of their way to help - Uber driver never showed - we ended up taking a taxi to a neighborhood apartment in the city where we would be staying for six days.

Driving from the airport to the center of town - a first time for us in Sao Paulo,  presented new sites and situations to see. Lots of tropical vegetation, many worn and old buildings, graffiti  everywhere we looked and many homeless were sleeping on the streets. (The more modern, upscale office and apartment buildings are situation in a different part of town).

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Our apartment is clean, small - and quite functional.

The "Great Room"

The building comes with a workout room, sauna and a good-sized lap pool available to us on the roof top. Putting aside the price ($65/day for two bedrooms - one for us, one for our luggage and the fact that we do like the upscale hotels), still, we tend to like living in neighborhoods with the locals.

One issue - Jerry went out of his way to insure that we had enough power converters to support all of our devices. It turns out that some of the apartment's wall sockets have a different housing configuration. Jerry will figure things out.

Once we were settled, off we went to the local market - a large Carrefour about two blocks away - offering everything needed during our five-day stay. 

        Many Types Of Peppers   
  Ham Anyone?

Fresh Fish - Beautifully Presented

All Types of Fruit

It's always interesting to explore, try and decipher food descriptions, check out ingredients - all in a foreign language. When in Brazil? We decided to try a local cheese. Not good. We never tasted cheese so foul and that had no redeemable value. It smelled. And, besides the bitterness, there was an awful sour taste. Yuck!

Portuguese is not common to us. Spanish was not very helpful. A man (spoke very little English) was wearing a Colorado University-Boulder shirt. He was local - got it as a gift. Whereas, a man wearing a Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt (also local) was fluent in English. One never knows.

Local paper currency is interesting - many are worn out, soggy and good for a week or so before they disintegrate.

Our plans for the first day was to tour in the afternoon. By the time we explore the area, brought back groceries, we decided rest and build up our strength for the next day and also avoid a hot and humid torrential rain storm .

More coming up...

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