Dawn at Santa Tereza again saw no visit from toco toucans which is a shame, Ricardo thinks they are possibly nesting somewhere and therefore busy building. Despite the 1am finish, I still couldn't sleep and was up at 5am to see the sun rise again and take a swim before breakfast at 6am.
Had a very tired, reflective and emotional truck journey home - 4 hours, in the front row this time, with my head phones on. Much as I love my life at home, and I detest the number of biting bugs and insects here, there's something truly magical about this part of the world. Like something out of the just-so stories and I hate to leave it.
We checked in to Cuiaba airport at noon then went off for lunch, said our goodbyes and got on the plane. All was going well until about 2 hours into the flight we landed in what appeared to be nothing more than a field. The teenager next to me tried her best to translate what the captain was saying; there was atraffic jam at Sao Paulo, and we were flying too long without enough fuel on board, so we had stopped at Ribeirao Preto instead of Sao Paulo to wait and refuel. We would be taking off again in an hour. Slight panic hit me. Cuiaba is an hour behind Sao Paulo so where I thought I had 3 hours, I actually only had 2 to transfer, now with this delay it was not looking like I would make my connection.
We eventually landed in Sao Paulo at 745pm (my connecting flight leaving at 8pm) - by the time I had got my luggage it was 8pm so I walked to a TAM desk and the guy said your flight has been delayed an hour - RUN!
so I ran, and I ran and I sweated, then I dripped. I had no time to recheck my bags onto the plane, so I was carrying/dragging everything I had. Queued through the immigration area and then my phone battery started bleeping meaning soon I would no longer have a boarding card (I was electronic since I had checked in online only!) thankfully I was able to take a photo of the boarding card with my second phone before the first one died - aaaaaargh!!
It was 830pm by the time I had made it airside and the screens showed "boarding" - so I ran some more, searching for gate 50 - I continued running, but the signs ran out, where the hell is gate 50!!????, a nice man from Air Italia took pity on the state of me and grabbed my biggest rucksack from me and started to run with me - he could not find gate 50 either. 20 minutes of frantically running round the airport, up and down escalators, no-one seemed to know where the gate was - by the time we found it, the flight was gone. The guy was very apologetic, he said he was embarrassed about their new terminal and the confusing signage (or lack thereof) and embarrassed that all the staff we had asked did not know either. So now I was airside without a ticket, without a boarding card and without a way back through immigration - the guy again took it upon himself to help me. He handed me over to another nice guy on one of the immigration booths who shut his booth down and took me back through the various channels to obtain a second landing card, which then had to be stamped again as I had legally already "left" Brazil. By the time I got landside in the main terminal the BA office was shut, the TAM office said they couldn't help me with a seat on one of their flights (even though it was their delay!!) but that they could give me a form for me to show BA tomorrow stating what the cause of the flight delay was - this letter will apparently force them to put me on the next available plane home. Who knows when that will be.
10pm - dripping, shattered and starving hungry I wandered outside the arrivals hall, met a hotel rep and negotiated a price and a transfer to the Hotel Domani - by the time the complimentary shuttle bus turned up a few minutes later I was fairly calm and alert again - night time, alone, in a big Brazilian city wasn't the way I really wanted to end my trip but I knew the risks. and hey, there's another day tomorrow un-touched.
“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins