Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Busted flat in São Paulo, waiting for a plane...

Cerrado: picture unrelated

Over the course of 48 hours, I'm meant to :

1) Take a flight from Uberlândia to São Paulo.
2) Spend a night in Guarulhos International Airport
3) Catch a flight the next morning to Lima, Peru.
4) Disembark, clear immigration, get my bag, clear customs, check my bag in to my connecting flight on another airline, clear security, and then board said flight in the span of 90 minutes.
5) Hang out on the tarmac in Cuzco.
6) Continue on to Puerto Maldonado, meeting my collaborator's husband at the airport.
7) Spend the night in Puerto Maldonado.
8) Catch a boat up the river for 5 hours.

So far, my dear digital companions, I have already managed to very nearly bollocks up the whole thing by boarding the wrong plane out of Uberlândia. Apparently the modus operendi at UDI is to go an entire afternoon with no flights, have three planes land at once, and then vaguely wave the collected mass of people out four sets of doors (these stand all of ten feet apart) onto the unlabeled tarmac to walk a hundred yards or so to the waiting aircraft. 

My plane, it turns out, was behind door number 1. Naturally, I chose door number 2. 

Door Number 2, you see, was a nice big Airbus 320, and was reassuringly painted in the colors of the airline with which I had purchased my ticket. Door Number 1 was one of those tiny puddle jumpers in an unfamiliar paint job. I did have a lingering feeling that I had pulled a Me (had door number 3 been revealed to contain a goat I would have immediately jumped plane), so I showed my ticket stub to the hostess and asked in my halting Portuguese if I was on the right flight. She looked at it carefully, assured me that I was, and helpfully pointed me to one of the few remaining empty seats on the flight, into which I quickly settled. 

Well, thank goodness Random Airport Guy With Epaulettes stormed onto that Airbus just before they were about to close the door, pointing at me with worried eyes. He said something like, "Emerson?" to which a sagely shook my head. "Sanders," I assured him. Frantic Airport Guy would not be dissuaded, however, and demanded my ticket stub. Whoops. Wrong plane. 

Fortunately, and perhaps unusually, Door Number 1 was still on the ground. Grabbing my inexplicably heavy shoulder bag and camera case with as much grace as I could muster (read: no grace), I stumbled down the stairs and gave my best sheepish smile to the string of flight attendants between the two planes. 

Once I got to GRU, I snapped my bag off the carousel (it was one of the first, apparently happy to see me), and immediately stormed over to try and snatch an earlier flight to Lima. From this point I think I've managed to make something of a better showing of myself,  managing to fail at getting an earlier flight, succeed in getting a locker for my giant bag of labware, and, eventually, succeed at getting wireless internet, all in three separate interactions with people who spoke no English. Two of them didn't even try to speak English to me! 

Well, that's all for now, folks. Not because I have something better to do -- I don't. Not for another 11 hours. 11 freaking hours.

But because I feel that I have wrung as much rambling and wordy humor as is humanly possible from the last six relatively boring hours, and want to leave some reserves for what I hope to be an even more boring next 41.

Tchau para agora. 


Geoff said...

Hey, with all those hours maybe you could catch a copa mundial game! It must be insane being in brazil during the cup! Although chile is probably less happy about it right now.

Happy wandering from one traveler to another!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this useful article.