Monday, March 24, 2008

Back Under the Christ's Armpit 2...

I arrived around 11 p.m., exhausted after the usual TAM equipment change in São Paulo, and happy to be back in Brazil, but immediately got a reality check when:

1. There was no one at Immigration and Passport Control, even though this is a daily flight;
2. The young and dapper TAM employee that showed up after a few minutes didn't know what was going on;
3. When he finally showed up, the official responsible kept telling us (and the TAM employee) that we should have gone through Immigration and Customs in São Paulo, even though no one ever does, since this flight terminates in Rio and our luggage is always checked through;
4. The nonchalant young lady who checked my passport was more interested in carrying on what seemed an amusing conversation with her friend(s) or colleague(s) than in paying attention to a rather frazzled, perplexed, and obviously dead tired middle-aged passenger;
5. The airport in Rio is a total mess and getting worse every time I go through it;
6. I won't speak a word about anything else I observed that night...

Meanwhile, the weekly news magazine Veja tells me that the Minister of Tourism refused to have her hand luggage x-rayed at the security point on boarding a plane to Paris (but the captain wouldn't take off because of that, so she was forced to do it after all).

Wouldn't you agree that it's impossible to take this place very seriously, if you are to keep your blood pressure under control?

The photograph today is to let you know that we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Portuguese royal family in Brazil, on the run from Napoleon and his troops. Whatever evils D. João and his court brought along that survive in Brazilian society and politics today, he was also the founder of one of my favorite places on Earth, Rio's Botanical Garden...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Sad News Here...Great News There!!

Remember the lady who owns (rather, owned) the newstand across the street? She has decided that enough is enough and closed her business a few days ago. I stopped by to say goodbye and chat a bit. She's tired, she said, and it's not a healthy way of life: she's been there from dawn to dusk, seven days a week, for years on end. She doesn't eat well, doesn't exercise, and tends to drink Coke and smoke, because of job stress. I never thought of her line of work as stressful, but I could see that she didn't have much of a life. She says she'll open another business at some point, but she doesn't want to work 12 hours a day, everyday, including holidays. We exchanged mobile numbers and e-mail addresses and hugged. I told her I'd miss her enormously. She was one of the first people I met here and certainly one of the nicest.

I took her photo as a souvenir. I'm flying back to the U.S. tomorrow and I feel a bit melancholy. Perhaps opening up my Store.Barack Obama package (one t-shirt size small) will cheer me up? Considering the sad state of politics in Brazil and the alternatives at home, Mr. Obama's candidacy is the best thing that has happened to me (on the public sphere!) in the past few months...Hey, everyone! Let's go to the polls in droves. He could be the best thing that has happened to our country in a very, very long time!!!!