Trip to Brazil – Dispatches from The Road
Wow, what a lot has happened to the Lyfmotiv crew since we left for our trip to Brazil! We traveled by car to Chicago to fly out of O’Hare International Airport
which was uneventful. And generally uneventful is good but for the Lyfmotiv crew we endeavor to squeeze all of the juice out of life, and as such…uneventful stopped at Chicago. Actually, straight out of the starting blocks, we were delayed, there was a last-minute bike tour booking that Eric decided to guide, and Eugene joined, we agreed that this would be a great way to start an adventure!
We volunteered to bring provisions to a friend in Brazil who happens to be a woodworker. And because he is a woodworker he needed 91 Kilograms (200.6 Pounds) in tools and hardware. That was 91 kilos that we would have in checked bags, and would need to lug that 91 kilos between airlines in our travels to Brazil. Checking in and checking bags was interesting with all the extra weight but went well and we went to our gate and waited for our flight connecting through Panama.
55 Hours in the Air
We weren’t really aloft for 55 hours but we did not step outside an airport for 55 hours. On our first flight from
Chicago to Panama city we were served Churros, I (Eugene) opted not to eat much up till this point. I was hoping that, in Panama, there would be some awesome local cuisine (even at the airport). But we both had the churros and as bad as they look they actually tasted pretty good. As our plane banked into the final approach we could see lines of cargo ships waiting to take their turn to travel through the canal. Although we should have expected to see this, it was surprising to witness that number of vessels. Eric commented that the canal was more natural-appearing than he had expected. Miles of green space where we thought there would be concrete embankments. We observed some of the locks. These structures were obviously engineered, but most of the canal that we saw appeared to be relatively green.
Touching down in Panama City, as soon as we finished disembarking, we sought food! As we walked through the terminal to the food court we saw such staples as Nathan’s Hotdogs and Subway. We searched the airport for something authentic and new but were finally defeated by our hunger and resigned ourselves to 15-centimeter subs from subway. Eat Fresh…
We waited 7 hours for boarding time to arrive and we began the second leg of our journey which would take us to Manaus. Our flight left after 9:00 PM and we were surprised by the dinner service. I had a mediocre pasta and cheese dish while Eric had rice and beans with an unidentified protein. But we both were fortunate to have received a delectable pinwheel-style sweet treat; a pionono.
Arriving in Manaus at around 3AM local time (2Am back home) we dealt with the necessaries. This was the first time on our trip to Brazil that we were actually in Brazil! It was here where we would switch airlines. Which meant dragging the giant, heavy, checked bags back through the check-in process, then we’d deal with security all over again. As we were moving the checked baggage to the airline that would be taking us to Santarem we found the elevator confusing and comical What happened to floor 1? or floor -1?. There were four buttons, 2, 0, blank, and -2. We discovered we needed to go to floor 0.
When we got to the airline baggage drop we learned that we would need to wait a few hours to check the baggage. While waiting Eric decided to catnap on a conveyor belt.
Sunrise in Brazil
The sun had risen and yet we had still not stepped into its glorious rays. We now would catch a two-step flight to Santarem (anything to make this trip to Brazil longer!?!). After flying domestically hopping from Manaus to Belem and from Belem to Santarem (yes we know we passed over Santarem to get to Belem, it was a cheaper flight to two-step it) We were finally within view of finishing our air travel! We could see the Tapajos river below us and the clear division line as it joined the Amazon. The waters of these rivers do not mix for some distance although they become one (there will be a better explanation later). As our pilot lined up our aircraft and descended, landed, and then brought us to a stop, we filled with anticipation at the opening of the aircraft’s door.
On the Ground
We descended steps right to the tarmac and at that point we actually, finally, thankfully, Stood upon Brazil! We walked to the terminal building and the customs official motioned for us to come forward and stamped our passports, we had finally made it! This is only the beginning of the adventure but we made it! This will be an amazing trip to Brazil!