Tuesday, April 06, 2010

I Spent a Year in Brazil One Day!

We left our home for the airport at 4 am. Our flight from Asuncion to Sao Paolo was scheduled to leave at 6 am. All went well. Our bags were checked, we went through what passes for security in these parts, and made ourselves comfortable as we waited for the call to board the plane.

And we waited.

And waited.

Finally, we were told our flight to Sao Paolo had been postponed.

And we waited some more.

Around 10:00am  we realized we would not arrive in Sao Paolo in time to make our connection for Miami. A group of us were in this same position and the airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED informed us we would be staying in Sao Paolo for the day and waiting for the midnight flight to Miami which would arrive in Miami at 9 am the following morning.

People began to complain about the delay and we were told not to worry that  the airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED would take us all to a nearby hotel to spend the day as we awaited the later flight.

OH! But not us. We, as Americans, were told we could not leave the airport as we had no Visa for Brazil.
My husband began to explain that with my chronic back condition, we must be given some where to rest, at the very least, permission to wait in the VIP lounge of the airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED!

Alas, this request was denied and so he began to beg for a business class seat on the 9 hour flight to Miami but the airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED realizes that when leaving the country of Paraguay, one has very few options and they can treat you as they wish.

We finally arrived in Sao Paolo around noon. We all went to the counter for connecting flights as we had been told to do, only to find out that they were not prepared for us. After a four hour delay in Asuncion, no one had begun to work on our plight at all. By now we had decided to present our Paraguayan ID's rather than American passports and see if we might be included in the hotel offer after all.

One hour passes ~ by now the 10 of us in transit know each others names.

Two hours pass ~ We now know one anothers marital status, occupations, and final destinations in the USA. We are sharing food and drink as there is no where to purchase such sundries in this section of the airport unless you pay 8$ for a Coke and 15$ for a dry empanada. One would assume  that the cost of food and drink would be covered by the airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED, but one would assume incorrectly.

Three hours pass ~ Now we have shared the names of our pets and know one anothers favorite colors! Still no word on the supposed hotel nor transport to and from it. The airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED seems to be annoyed that we continue to bother them with our presence at their counter.

I must say, Paraguayans are much more patient than Americans or Venezuelans. If this had been a group of Venezuelans we would have organized a general strike and march by now and teargas would be involved! At the very least we would have made enough noise to have brought the attention of the National Guard and someone would have been slapped around!

 A group of Americans would have already filed several law suits on the internet via their I phones!

Four hours pass ~ Now we are sharing life stories and deep secrets and feel a bond of kinship with one another.  We begin to say mean things about the airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED in the Guarani language which they will never understand. We are now family and in this thing together for the long haul. I discover that the passive, patient Paraguayans have not bee so idle after all! They had texted home and someone was able to get the personal phone number of the President of the airport in Asuncion. They were now bombarding the President with text messages describing our treatment by the airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED.

FINALLY, we can go claim our bags and then push and pull them ourselves the farthest possible distance one can while still remaining on airport premises. As we went through immigration, the representative of our group was asked, "Are you all the group  in  transit from Paraguay?" To which he answered, truthfully, "Yes" and so, without a glance at passports or papers of any kind, our group of 10 was escorted out of the airport . Our bus awaited us but we had to walk the quarter mile to it, still pushing and pulling all of our bags.

Once on the bus, the driver informed us that we would have to wait another 20 minutes for the bus to leave on its scheduled time. All ten of us glared at him and silently, bared our canines! He decided he should make an exception for us. The representative of the airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED left us at this point. We did not miss him.

By the time we arrived at the now seemingly mythical hotel, we only had three hours  to shower and eat before we needed to return to the airport to check our luggage for the next flight.

We caught the bus,  we dragged our bags, we checked in as a group on our Letter of Transit. We made it to security. All the Paraguayans went through and awaited us on the other side. BUT now we, the Americans, were informed that we should not have left the airport without  a Visa for Brazil. It did not matter that the airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED escorted us through Immigration knowing that we were American citizens. It did not matter that  the immigration official did not even check ours, or any of the others, documentation, no, we were illegal immigrants!

At this point my husband asked to be deported from Brazil. Deported to Miami on the soon to leave flight for which we already possessed boarding passes and on which our luggage was loaded.

We looked at our Paraguayan friends and told them to please continue to the gate and not miss their flight! But they refused to leave us! They all remained and clamored with the officials, vouching that although the airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED had NOT included our names on the Letter of Transit, we had indeed been with them the entire time.

One of the Paraguayans ran back to the counter of the airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED and brought an official from the airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED with a revised Letter of Transit which did include our names. The security officials decided to allow us to pass through and catch our flight. I think they were concerned about detaining  angry Americans backed up by a group of not so passive Paraguayans.Perhaps they were recalling their own history of the War of the Triple Alliance and knew how persistent Paraguayans can be when they felt the need.

Now we are all running to the gate of the airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED and find out that this flight has also been delayed!

Of course it has! This is the norm for the airline WHICH SHALL NEVER BE NAMED!

And that is how I spent a year in Brazil one day!


Hannah said...

This was written so well I wanted to laugh and cry all at the same time!

Eddie Buford said...

Good story which does give people a little taste of what missionaries go through. I pray you and Clint will continue to be used of God in His Work. God Bless:)

Rhonda in Chile said...

We've had days-years like that in Bolivia.
I will name the airline.

Never again, nevah!

Jungle Mom said...

Eddie, I even left out the TWO encounters with rats at the airport!

Jungle Mom said...

Rhonda, We flew that same airline several years ago and also spent a year in Bolivia one day! Bolivia has red carpet as I recall. NEVER AGAIN,nevah.

redneck preacher said...

I think you may possibly be making an error. If this airline is has planes in the USA I do not want to fly on it either. Naming this airline will cause the airline to lose customers and they may change their practices. See the youtube video "United Breaks Guitars". United is playing nice nice now with people. You, of course, know the circumstance and can better judge which course of action is best.

Prayed for your ministry Sunday from the pulpit.

Betty said...

Oh, I will NEVER let my hubby read this. Or else he´ll never travel with me again! :)
I think the Airline should be shunned! Which ever it was!

Z said...

Oh, my GOSH, what an experience!
We had a nonstop flight from Paris to LA that ended up taking 24 hours, door to door...I know from A YEAR IN ONE DAY!

Blessings to you, JM..xx

Davey said...

Hey Jungle Mom. Sounds like an adventure with a capital B. Great post. Glad tear gas didn't factor in.

Jungle Mom said...

Redneck preacher, It was TAM Transporte Aereo Mercosur. We are very limited in our choices here in Paraguay.

Jungle Mom said...

Betty, Don't tell your hubby then!!!

Jungle Mom said...

Z, the rats were in Asuncion. By far the worst part of the trip!

Jungle Mom said...

Davey, are you the Davey I think you are???

marion said...

What a nightmare !! - you needed a break after all that and hope the return flights were better ?? I knew it was TAM - who else could it have been? - and we dont want them going bankrupt or pushed out -they are all we got. I think thats why folk dont complain much here - where else can they go?

Jungle Mom said...

Marion, I wanted to answer your note about sauces on Facebook but can not find you or your hubby! Did you delete your Face Book account?

Brenda said...

I thought for sure you were going to break down and name the airline by the end of the post. . . although those of us who have traveled in Paraguay already know which it is. . .

Fuerza. .

Andrew said...

So sorry your time here in Brazil was a bureaucratic nightmare. Sorry, but not surprised. For all their complaints about it, citizens of my adopted country LOVE red tape. They thrive on it. The sooner outsiders recognize this, accept it, and move on, the better for everybody concerned.

The War of the Triple Alliance is not too high on the national consciousness. I would guess what was REALLY in the back of the minds of the TAM officials was that, if they made too many Paraguayans mad, it might have an adverse effect on their ability to cross the border to buy cheap electronics.

Next time you visit Brazil, come see us in the nordeste. Once you get outside the airport we will make sure you get better treatment!

marion said...

Ahh you are sweet thinkng of us and Js sauce crisis - yes we did pull the plug on facebook. I sent out an email explaining but maybe you didn't get it... it may be in your spam folder. Anyway I'll ee you tomorrow. I am enjoying reading blogs (inc.yours) again and other wholesome stuff and all that had stopped cos I was spending WAY too much time and energy on facebook. I am not saying FB is bad but it just wasnt right for us. more soon happy and blessed blogging to you !=)

Kathy said...

WOW! When you said you had a story I didn't realize you had a STORY!!! Are you going to get together with you new friends once in awhile?! I think you should! We've been so lucky--so far! (I shouldn't say that until after our next trip!!) We had a great experience in Bolivia--except for Ramon getting deathly sick after eating salad! (That was in our hotel and not the airline or airport's fault!!) We had good luck with TAM in Buenos Aires and Santiago, so maybe it was just Sao Paulo!!! (Except for the rats! Don't know if I want to hear that story!!!) How was your trip back home??? Have a nice day!

MightyMom said...

hummmm, well..."could be worse...could be raining..."

you know that movie?

mylifesnhshands said...

What an experience!!! Test of patience hhuh... Being a missionary is the greatest adventure!!!

Urraca said...

I can easily guess that three-letter airline name.... I know very well that airport and know how stubborn PY'ans are. But you are right, Venezuelans could get really mad. I am going to PY in December, I will get in touch with you in Fall again, hope to have a chance to talk to you. Best, S

Brooke said...

Good lawrd, you could've walked/swam to the states in all of that time.

Heather Wheelock said...

Must just be Brazil. My parents have a story like that about the time they went to Brazil to visit my brother, the missionary! Suprisingly they made a return visit. My folks are hard core :-)

Gringo said...


Like Rhonda, I had an experience with LAB, which involved getting bumped off in Tarija on my Yacuiba-Sucre flight. I waited three days in Tarija for another flight to Sucre.

Jungle Mom, I find it interesting that you used the phrase you did. A fellow passenger, also bumped off in Tarija and waiting three days, told me that "Lloyd no tiene nombre." Lloyd has no name. That was the first time I had heard that rather succinct phrase. Much more elegant than calling someone a bastard.

That wasn't the only experience I had with LAB. LAB lost some of my luggage on a Santa Cruz to Caracas flight. While I immediately reported the loss, it took two and a half years to get compensated for it. Which is why I called it Lloyd Macana Boliviana. (Granted my oil field mobility had something to do with that, but even so, two and a half years is a bit long.I wrote a letter of complaint to the Salta paper, which got published.Got my first name wrong, but so what.)

As we know, long delays are also a part of air travel in the US these days. Half of the trips I have taken in the last three years have involved a delay of 6-12 hours. Which is one reason I will be driving instead of flying next month.

groovyoldlady said...

You're an illegal immigrant? GASP!!! I'm glad you finally got "deported"!

Jungle Mom said...

Brenda, yes, I am sure you know.

Jungle Mom said...

Andrew, I'm sure you are correct about the cheap electronics.

Jungle Mom said...

Kathy, the trip back was MUCH better.

Jungle Mom said...

MM,, ???

Jungle Mom said...

Mylife, Oh yes,we are always having an adventure!

Jungle Mom said...

Urraca, I would love to meet you!

Jeanne said...

I too, agree with the cheap electronics. I witnessed the smuggling of such on a bus between Foz do Iguazu and Ciudad del Este myself. :)

By the way, for what it's worth, I've been an illegal "immigrant" in Brazil a number of times, having crossed over to Foz without ever once showing a passport (on which there was no visa anyway). Let's just say that border control is (or was in 1993) practically non-existant on the Puente de la Amistad.

I enjoyed this story. It must have been frustrating at the time, but it brings back memories for me. I had no trouble myself with airlines, but I totally understand what you mean about the Paraguayan passivity.