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.
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!