March 29, 2007
I know Salvador and Rio look far apart on the map, but when I heard that the bus for that leg of my journey would take twenty-six hours, the lifeforce got sucked right out of me. When I inquired and found out that a $100 price tag would accompany said bus ride, things got even worse. I bit the bullet and asked about flying. $85, that the? How could it be cheaper to fly than to take the bus? You gotta love Brazil.
Not all of the buses from Praia do Forte pass through the airport on their way to Salvador, but I got lucky and found one that did. The bus was quicker than expected, so I got to the airport with a full two hours to spare. Everything was going great for me.
Nobody was waiting to check in, so I instantly went to the counter. Perfect. Then, a punch to the gut: "Sorry sir, your flight has been delayed."
"You mean by like ten minutes?"
"Ha, ha, more like two hours."
Suddenly I wished I had slept in.
I killed some time walking through the shops selling overpriced fake authentic Afro-Brazilian handicrafts and by watching the planes take off and land.
I looked at the flight boards again and noticed that A: My flight was delayed by another hour, and B: its destination had been changed from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo. How could the delay get delayed? I found an airline employee who changed my flight to one that was leaving earlier and hoped my luggage would make the transfer as well. Only two-and-a-half hours till boarding time.
I walked past the shops some more, but one can only handle so much airport window shopping in one day. I noticed at least a dozen people working on laptops and wished mine were still working. Mine got cracked a few months ago, then the screen began working less and less until it quit altogether a few weeks ago. This had made blogging and photo editing painfully time-consuming and expensive. I don't understand why none of the people I talk to on the Internet think it's acceptable for a backpacker to carry a laptop. Really, $150 for a 3.5 pound computer that lets me blog and view photos whenever I want to doesn't sound so unreasonable to me, especially when you consider the Brazilian Internet cafes charge $1.50 per hour. If I use my computer for 150 hours, it's already paid for. That's one hour per day for a little more than three months, folks. Now I'm sitting in an airport wasting my time (and yours) writing this by hand instead of getting some real work done on a computer.
My flight was delayed another half hour. That's right, my delayed delayed flight got delayed. I made it to Rio three hours later than expected at dusk.
I was relieved to see my backpack at the luggage pickup. I thought for sure the airline would screw it up due to getting my flight switched. A guy even compared the tag on my backpack to my luggage ticket to make sure I wasn't stealing. And I thought there was never any security for luggage pickup.
I had two options for getting into town: a taxi or a bus. I saw a sign for an official airport taxi to Leblon (the neighborhood I was going to) for nearly $40. No thanks! A lot of rogue drivers also tried to get me to go with them to the point where I practically had to beat them off with a stick. One guy even offered to carry my backpack for me. That would make a good story for home: "How did your backpack get stolen?" "I gave it to a nice man who wanted to carry it for me." I avoided all that pandemonium and took the bus for $3. The bus went along the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches but it was too dark and I was too busy looking at my map trying to get oriented to notice.
I found Francisco's (from couchsurfing) apartment with ease. He has a degree in computer engineering and loves Linux, so we had something in common right off the bat. We went to a salsa club later and met Astrid, a couchsurfing girl last year I met in Buenos Aires. It's crazy all the people you run into when you travel.
The photo album for this entry is here.