I just returned from Brazil yesterday. I was there for almost 2 weeks. I was invited by one of our facilities there to come and assist with tuning control systems to improve performance. Since I was there over the weekend, we were able to take Sunday off from work and see some of the local attractions. My hosts were great, and it was a very productive trip for me and them.
On the trip down, against my better judgment, I decided to fly on Delta through Atlanta. There were storms in Atlanta, and my flight from the Quad Cities was diverted to Chatanooga Tn, after being delayed 2 hours. Of course I missed my flight to Brazil, because they never delay departures, especially international ones. So I ended up having to spend the night in a very nasty hotel in Atlanta, and catching a daytime flight to Sao Paulo the next morning. I would have been better off to just stay in the airport because by the time I got to the hotel I only had time for about 4 hours of sleep anway. My final destination was Curitiba Brazil, which is in the state of Parana. From now on I plan to do all of my travel through O’Hare in Chicago which is only a 3 hour drive from home. If anything happens, then I can just drive home.
I got to Sao Paulo about 2300 the next night, and went to the TAM airlines counter hoping to catch a red-eye flight to Curitiba. No such luck. The next flight was at 0840 in the morning from the other airport in Sao Paulo, Congonhas. The girls working the counter for TAM were really helpful. They told me that a TAM bus would be there at about 0130, and I could take that to the other airport for free. So, I waited around and got on it. I ran into another American (from Minnesota) who was also going over there, so it was nice to have someone to talk to. When we got over there, everything was closed. I thought about getting a hotel, but I figured why bother since I would only get about 4 hours of sleep anyway, and decided just to hang out in the airport. I cought my flight to Curitiba the next morning with no problems.
Just to make things a little more interesting, my Blackberry didn’t work for the whole trip. I finally found out that they started offering Blackberry service in Brazil, but they used new software which my older Blackberry does not have. I need to update the firmware in mine so that it will work. So, I was stuck without a phone. Once I finally got to Curitiba, I found a place to buy a phone card. The only way to use a public phone in Brazil is with a phone card. I bought a phone card for about $7 which allowed for 50 calls.
Curitiba is a very nice town. I would have no problems living there, however, you would absolutely have to learn Portugese because most of the people do not speak English, like in Porto Alegre. I stayed at a hotel in a small suburb called Araucaria. It was really cool, none of the hotel staff spoke any English and we had fun trying to communicate. One night I went out to eat by myself, and went to a very small pizzeria down the street. Of course the owners didn’t speak any English at all, but they seemed to be very happy that they had an American customer. The pizza was great, and again we had a lot of fun trying to communicate. When I finished and paid my tab, all of the staff came out from the back to say tchao.
The picture of me on the beach is from Caibo Beach. I can’t find it on google maps, but I think it is in this town. We got to the beach by going through a mountain pass and stopped in this nice little town called morretes. It really reminded me of something out of an old western movie. Maybe the similarities are due to the Portugese/Spanish influences?
I ate a lot of good food in Curitiba. I could spend a lot of time talking about the food, but I think the best food I had was from a churascarria. Also, we ate some food at a restaurant in morretes that was very good. I had the best Caipirinha that I have ever had at the restaurant in morretes. It was outstanding.
We went to a cachacaria one night to eat and listen to some live music. The music was from a guy named Ed Jamaica. He played guitar and sang. My colleague told me the music was considered to be Brazillian classical music. It was very jazzy. We talked to Ed before we left, and he gave us a CD. I told Ed that I would encode the music and put it on my website for him. He seemed to be pretty happy about it. I will put a link up here when I get it finished. My colleague told me that there are many musicians like Ed in Brazil. They never make much money, and spend their lives travelling around South America playing. Being a halfass musician myself, I think that is prett cool.
I left on Thursday. I worked 10 hours, and then went to the aiport. It was not really what I wanted to do, but I had to check out of the hotel in the morning and I didn’t have any other choice. So, I went to Curitiba airport to catch my flight to Sao Paulo, and it was delayed due to storms in Sao Paulo. My flight was supposed to be at 2030, and I ended getting out of there at about 2200. My flight from Sao Paulo to Atlanta was at 0030, and I was really concerned about making it. I checked in with Delta, and got into the biggest line I have ever seen to get through immigration. Somehow, I made it on time. As soon as I got through the immigration and security line, my flight was boarding. I got on the plane and started falling asleep immediately. I was actually able to sleep a little on the flight home, that doesn’t happen to me very much.