2023, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Brazil Day 15: Home Saturday September 9, 2023

Before we left, we went on a brief grocery run to try to find cacha├ža. The selection was not great and the only reasonably sized store near us, so we decided to try the airport.

The trip to the airport was fast. It was in a natural gas-powered car which is the first time I think I’ve ever been in a car very clearly powered by the stuff. The thing vibrated when it wasn’t moving.

SDU is quite small and there isn’t much on offer. So we just walked back and forth and eventually got sandwiches. I managed to find one without chicken.

We got on the plane and I sat directly in front of a man trying to teach his child English. The second song they played was one of my all time favourites, “Baby Shark.” Sometimes I wonder if parents understand how much us non-parents hate kids music. I thought I could avoid something like “Baby Shark” in a country where nobody speaks English. I was wrong.

It was a really brief flight and fortunately there wasn’t much more annoying English kids music. It took us forever to disembark but Jenn and I were not in any kind of rush. There were very few people picking up bags which makes sense for anyone who was just flying to SP and not going elsewhere. It’s such a short flight.

We were too early for the bag drop so we went to, um, TGI Fridays, for caipirinhas and nachos. The nachos were actually quite good. (Airports in Brazil, like in Colombia, often have better food options outside security than beyond security, something I have a hard time understanding.)

The bag drop opened and there was just a massive line. We sat and waited for the line to get smaller but it only got a bit smaller. Eventually we went over.

We were directed into the bag drop line, not the check-in line. But it became very clear, as we stood in line for well over an hour, that most of the people ahead of us had not checked in. I don’t understand why you would have a bag drop line and a check-in line if both lines fulfil the same purpose. I’m not sure what requirements Brazilians have to currently meet to come to Canada – there was no visa, as far as I know, a the time of our flight – but they clearly have to prove something about their trip. So we just stood there for ages in order to drop our bags off. (They reprinted our boarding passes too, I guess to give us some reason to have stood in line for 75 minutes.)

It was an earlier departure than on the way down so I ate and I watched a movie. Then just when Jenn and I decided to try to sleep, the kid next to us threw the tantrum of all tantrums – which involved hitting her mother, the seat, the plane, etc. Eventually, she ran out of steam and fell asleep. And then we tried to sleep. I think I got less sleep than on the way down.

We arrived early and we were worried customs wouldn’t be open yet. But they were and it was quick. So quick we had to wait a while for our bags. (Of course we did, it was Pearson.)

When we got home on Sunday morning I gave myself a covid test and, sure enough, I had covid. (I probably still do.) It was certainly one of the things we thought I might have. But, at least when I was at my sickest, it actually hadn’t been my first thought.

Brazil is a huge country. We saw so little of it. It remind of the US in a number of ways, but one of those ways is that you can visit multiple places and really see so little. They have all these great national parks and we made it to one, in part because, much like the US and Canada, those parks are not near anything else. It feels like a place we have to return to, both to see more of it and because I was in such rough shape for the second half of a trip. I can’t say I enjoyed myself even for that second week even though I was trying to.

I don’t really get the idea of Brazil as a food destination, though some of that is coloured by covid messing with my palette for a week. Maybe we didn’t seek out nice enough restaurants, but we only had a couple really great meals and when we ate local it wasn’t usually spectacular. However, both of us had nausea at times that prevented us from wanting to eat local, so that factors in.

I understand that Brazil has crime but the idea that it is too dangerous to travel to is preposterous. We had no issues and never once felt like we were in at any kind of risk. I have been to other countries where I have felt less safe.

There’s a lot I still want to say, chiefly Iguazu and the Amazon, which are conveniently nowhere near each other, but also some of the national parks that were just too far out of town. I hope to go back, to have better luck with my health and the food, to continue to explore this beautiful country. Highly recommended.

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