So my first flight was delayed by almost two hours, which, after actually landing and taxing in at my connection airport, gave me exactly 18 minutes to get off of one plane and onto another for its scheduled takeoff time. This required one of those embarrassing runs across the terminal that are not nearly as graceful as they seem in the movies because you're carrying awkward baggage and trying not to do something stupid like drop your laptop.
When I got to the other gate, there was no one else sitting there. I was looking around frantically. A flight attendant called to me, "are you the one from San Diego?" I nodded because I was out of breath.
"Well get on, sweetie!" She cried, motioning to me to the gate door.
I was sitting in a strange seat that Alexandre and I chose back when I bought the ticket because the seating chart had this big black mass in front of those seats and we wanted to know what it was. It ended up being a wall to divide the cabins, and the row behind the wall turns out to be a really ideal seat. You have more leg room, which means you can get out to go to the bathroom with only a mild disturbance to the other people in the row; it also meant I could kick my feet up against the wall in one of my many attempts at getting comfortable in the impossibly uncomfortable airplane seat. We still got individual TVs and tray tables, because they were built differently and came out of the side of the arm rests. Neat!
I was sitting in between an old Catholic Brazilian woman from Bahia who prayed during all of takeoff and a yuppie American girl close to my age with perfectly styled dark brown air and the big awkward teeth that some yuppie American girls have. I tried to make small talk with her, but she wasn't interested. She also didn't speak a lick of Portuguese-- the guy next to her tried to talk to her, and she was like "Huuuuh?? Whaaaat? Sorry...." all slow and fake-ditzy. When the flight attendant came around to offer food, he asked her if she wanted chicken or steak, to which she replied, "do you have anything vegan?" He said, "umm... did you request a special meal beforehand?" but you could tell he wanted to say, "don't you know this is United?" and I wanted to say, "Honey.... you aren't going to survive 5 minutes in Brazil."
I talked quite a bit more to the older woman... and by "I talked" I mean "she talked" because she's 71 and Latina. She was very pleasant and interesting and, after encountering English for the first time at 71, she had already picked up a significant amount! I was impressed. Turns out she was a Portuguese teacher her whole life and proves that I'm not some kind of savant just because I learned Portuguese relatively quickly. If you spend your days fixing cars and teaching other people how to fix cars, it will be relatively easy for you to learn how to fix a boat. Or something. Michelle can probably come up with a better analogy. She was going back to Brazil one last time to sell her farm and all of her possessions, and had happy plans to return to the US to live with her daughter and die in luxury. The whole thing was really quite fascinating.
The minute I got out of the airport, the first thing that hit me was the humidity. I'm smack in the middle of Brazilian tropical summer, which means humid days that always smell like rain and sudden downpours every couple of hours that only last a few minutes. I prefer it to the cold!
But Alexandre's parents found me without any trouble and took me to a churrascaria, and I'm happy to be back to healthy food again. I fell asleep on the way back to their house and then slept all afternoon and now it's 2:00am yay jetlag.
I spent a lot of my travel time reflecting upon how different this trip to Brazil was to my last one, and how much more comfortable I was and things like that. I felt like I didn't come such a long way this time, perhaps because I've already come so far over this last year.
It's good to be back.