Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Continued Story of our Flight to Brazil

I wanted to continue the story of our flight to Brazil. It was long and it was stressful and I thought it would never end.

How grateful I was that my dear husband was in the seat beside me during the 13-hour flight from Atlanta to Brazil. Try as I might, I could not sleep. The Brazilian teenagers were constantly on the move milling around in the plane and loudly talking, talking, talking—in Portuguese. We had been tutored in Portuguese for several months prior to our leaving, but our command of the language was seriously lacking. So, while listening to their conversations might have been somewhat entertaining under the circumstances, not understanding the language turned it into distressing noise. I realized that my feelings of isolation would have been total if I had not had my husband to consult and converse with.

They did quiet down and sleep for several hours when they turned the lights of the plane down. However, that did not help me—blessed, comforting sleep still eluded me, except for short snatches measured in minutes. It was some of the longest 13 hours I have ever had to endure. How grateful I was when we finally touched down.

When we left the plane, the Brazilian pilot said some very kindly words to us as we passed by him to move down the stairs to the tarmac. We realized we were going to board a shuttle to take us to the Guarulhos Airport building. I can’t remember how far away the building was, but I remember it taking several minutes to travel there.

When we entered, we could see a very long line of passengers, weaving back and forth in the controlling dividers; all waiting to go through customs. A family from the U.S. in front of us was very concerned because they only had about an hour before they were to board their connecting flight to continue on to Manaus, Brazil, where they were going to pick up their son who had completed his two-year mission. What a pleasure it was to actually be able to talk to someone in English.

We were at the end of the line and accepted the fact that it would take quite awhile to complete this process. I knew this was our “hold-the-breath” part of entering Brazil since we could be singled out to have our luggage searched. When a Brazilian Airport employee came up to us, asked to see our passports and then motioned us to follow him, my only thought was that the worst was about to happen—a luggage search. We dutifully and reluctantly followed him, and what gratitude filled my heart when we realized he was ushering us to.the.front.of.the.line. I only felt a little guilty about our “crowding in” and we subsequently sailed through customs. It seems that Brazilians have great respect for those who have lived on this planet for a quite a while—you know, those of us who are older. Never have I been quite so glad that I was “older” than at that wonderful moment when our passports were stamped and we walked on through to begin our sojourn on Brazil soil.


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