One of the most surreal sights yesterday morning must have been me and a group of Chinese men together pouring over a Brasilian embarkation form - in Portuguese. They didn't speak English, I don't speak Cantonese and my Portuguese is VERY limited. But guess what? Between us, and a lot of the most peculiar sign language, we worked it out. This was at the end of a VERY VERY long day for me - thanks to Air France.
On my original ticket I was to fly on the 6.30am to Paris and connect on the 10.30am to Rio. Simple. Except both the 6.30 and the 8.30 planes went 'tech'. This means they had a technical fault and I missed my connection. And the next flight to Rio wasn't until 11.30pm that night. So rather than hanging around Charles de Gaulle airport all day and all evening I went back home and returned to catch the 5.25pm (except it wasn't - it was the 6.10 because it was delayed - are you starting to see a pattern here yet?)
When we eventually took off - 12 hours after I was supposed to start my journey - the flight was fine, very quick and comfortable. France finally redeemed itself in my eyes in the form of the lovely CGD airport, it was actually a pleasure to spend a couple of hours waiting there for my connecting flight to Rio, which, amazingly, left on time. We took off at 11.30pm on the dot. Faced with almost 12 hours flying and absolutely shattered by now, I passed on the food, had a glass of wine, a sleeping tablet, and zonked out for 7 hours.
We landed at Rio bang on time again. In fact it had been one of the smoothest flights I've ever been on. Perfect take off and landing with hardly a jolt. I guess thats because almost everything is automated now. There is no need for more than 1 pilot - and a dog. The pilot is there to feed the dog and the dog is there to bite the pilot if he tries to touch anything....haha !!
It took about an hour to clear immigration and collect my bag and then creep through customs, averting my eyes as I had a suitcase full of contraband (marmite and mustard and Cadbury's chocolate and McFly cd's) and Im not sure how long a prison sentence the 'mule' gets in this part of the world!!
Matt, Ana and Luke were there to meet me and it was just wonderful to see them all again. The sun was shining, it was 28 degrees, and yet the Brasilians were all wearing jeans and jumpers because to them its cold !
Still being pretty tired, and we are flying to Brasilia today, I had an early night....and was woken at 5.30am by the sound of helicopter gunships circling and firing on a nearby favella.....
I don't think we are in Kansas any more Toto.......