The next morning came all too soon. We started to gather our things from around the apartment and decide what to pack, what to toss in the trash, and what to leave for the next resident. I exchanged a few emails with Tarley, our landlord, who had come in that morning from Rio de Janiero. He arranged a taxi to pick us up at 5PM for our 9PM flight. The airport is only 35 minutes away, without traffic, but 5PM borders on the infamous Sáo Paulo rush hour. Tarley also invited us to join him for lunch. He met us at 1PM and we grabbed a taxi to go to his favorite restaurant. "They have the BEST caipirinhas!" he told us. Sadly, they were closed, but a few minutes more driving brought us to another place that specialized in the cuisine of his home state, Minas Gerais, to the north. The food was bountiful and excellent, as were the caiprinhas. We leaned that Tarley lived and worked in the fashion industry in Sáo Paulo, but had recently married and moved to Rio. He is now working there 3 weeks per month and 1 week in Sáo Paulo. He found Rio to be quite a bit hotter and more uncomfortable, but was determined to eventually live there full time. He kindly picked up the tab and bade us farewell to go to the dentist.
We returned to the apartment to finish packing. I decided to trash a pair of shoes and a shirt that had disappointed me (details in a later post), and we left some dulce de leche for Tarley to finish. The taxi arrived early, at 4:40pm, and we sadly left our keys with the front desk and walked out of the place for the last time. The driver encountered traffic jams right away, but employed some creative routing and got us to the airport in less than an hour. Excellent work! At the airport there was a huge line to check in, and no automated kiosks for United. A helpful group of United employees told us we could use the electronic boarding passes on our iPhones and go straight through passport control and into the gate area. We need only to verify our documents with any United employee inside. We elected to do this rather than stand in the long line, and soon found comfortable seating. A United security guy asked us the routine questions and put stickers on the outside of our passports. I spent the next two hours buying water and trying to figure out how to dial a US number from a Brazilian cell phone. The wifi coverage was too poor to use the VOIP phone. I eventually figured it out, and two quick calls (one to my parents and one to our neighbor, Bob, who was picking us up) used up most of my prepaid credits. We passed through the boarding line and agent checks to board the plane, only to find another set of independent security people inside the jetway, armed with electronic snoopers and asking the same security questions again. They had a huge problem with our electronic boarding passes, so we stood for 10 minutes while someone ran out to print us paper ones. Too bad, as I really did not want to leave!
Our flight departed on time, and we had a pretty uncomfortable ride in the very last row of the 767, which did not smooth out until we had crossed Venezuela and were over the Caribbean. 10 hours later, with very little sleep, we arrive in Houston on time at 5:15AM. A couple of expensive airport burritos later, along with coffee for K and iced tea for me, we were good to go. The Salt Lake flight left on time at 9:45, and we were soon back in Utah and 40 degree (5C) weather. Surprisingly, it felt good, after being so warm for the last 6 weeks. Bob greeted us and took us home to crash, with a quick stop along the way for minimal groceries. The house had been set to 50 degrees (10C) and it was cold, so we unpacked and checked on things while the place warmed up. An hour later we were ready to collapse into bed, only to learn that the sheets, insulated by the bedspread, were still 50 degrees! Despite the cold, we were asleep within seconds.
We arose around 6PM for more unpacking and a meal, then back to bed by 9PM for more blissful sleep. It is nice to be back in our own house and our own bed, but we miss South America a lot.
Future posts will cover travel gear - what worked, what failed, and what was useful or not. Stay tuned!