Wednesday, December 23, 2009

TAM from Orlando (Dec 21, 2009 a somewhere over Venezuela – think UP)


As I write, and prepare to close this magnificent new laptop down because we are hitting the turbulence that comes with careening South America… as we cross the coast of Venezuela (Maracaibo is below us). Milton is busy playing peek-a-boo with a set of toddler twins n the seats in front of us. So I best make this quick…

Traveling on TAM after two legs on United is like getting over a very bad stomach ache. It is continually harder to defend the status of customer service in the United States, which overall finds service a burden to the funcionário. We entered the Orlando United terminal and asked where the TAM flight was, the snotty United guy said it was in the other terminal, as if we knew where the other terminal was. He clings to the misconception that USAan airlines are superior, while failing to recognize that if anything they have become busses with wings. This being the east coast, I didn’t really expect anything less, and of course, it pained him dearly to answer us civilly.

But overall the Orlando Airport is a marvel, especially compared to LAX or SMF. It was a happy place, and we were both impressed by the plethora of fat people and children, and fat children and people all bedecked Disneyana. After a quick use of our superior ethnomathematical powers we deduced that in fact the TAM flight was indeed in the other terminal (we broke down and consulted our De Vinci encoded boarding passes, and found a gate number which coincided with our flight… ok… duh!). Taking a shuttle train, which wandered through gardens and over a lake (all the time thinking is this Magic Kingdom?) we disembarked at the other terminal and went thru security there, and found our gate.

Where once again, that peculiar jeitinho brasileiro with families, and grannies, and kids, and babies, rich and poor, people on cell phones reminding families that they are on the way (like a shower you must repeat this ritual, if possible calling folks at home at each stop to tell them where you are, never mind that they haven’t the faintest idea where these places are geographically), folks coming back from Disney ( a little boy walked by wearing one of those neck pillows singing a Mary Poppins song in a cute Brazilian accent), and the TAM people only too glad to assist you. I like how when you are in line and people start to talk to you, and it’s all confusing, but some odd reason the plane fills up faster, and happier than in the grumpy United zone boarding system.

Curiously enough the two gay professors from Florida that did a summer exchange program with UFOP last June are on this same flight. So it was nice to meet them again. And I think the partner is the only other gringo on board this full flight. They decided to switch seats near to us, and were thoroughly ensconced when the man sitting them began to cough. They made a total scene of it, the flight attendants offered to switch them (we think they were hoping to be moved to business class… grrr) and instead offered the gentlemen masks, and then they moved (in great ceremony with them on) them back to where they came from… bichas!

So as is the custom on TAM, the flight attendants, young, good looking and not grumpy brought around candy… signaling that indeed we finally were on board a Brazilian aircraft, and therefore you might just believe you are now in Brasil for all tense and purposes.

After takeoff and the double beep, the handsome flight attendant named Daniel gave us both a nice smile and warm toalhas… the map came on the mini-screen and I turned on my IPod and the 2nd song came on just as we crossed the coastline of Florida just south of Cape Canaveral was Gotshalk’s Marche Solennelle (which ends with a very rousing Hino Nacional do Brasil). Since I like to listen to the music música aleatória I take that AS a sign…

An excellent dinner and a FREE glass of red wine was enjoyed over Cuba, a short nap, and then the documents were handed out, which I particularly enjoy as I can fill in my CPF…

The last few days has been trying, getting up very early to be at SMF only to find general chaos and social meltdown, and then having to rebook. But you would think I would be able to accept defeat gracefully as does my husband. But yesterday, I realized that my work wasn’t done in Sacramento… I had a very, very nice afternoon with my Aunt and cousin’s family. My Uncle had passed away exactly one week before. It was good to reconnect with them, and we shared good stories. So it seemed that when I came home, everything began to fall into place… suddenly the house behaved itself (the Ponderosa has a tendency to act up when my mood is foul), things functioned, the printer worked to print out the boarding pass, the trip to the airport and thru check in went with one minor flaw on United’s part well, in fact the crabby check in lady made the extra point to come over to Milton in the new line she sent us to, and asked us to excuse her grumpiness as they were all traumatized by the past two days(understood) and made sure Milton’s bag was checked thru without a problem.

The magic begins, because now the time is right to be here

Ate logo e boas festas gente!

I know for a fact mine will be grand…because I will be with the kindest funniest people in the planet.

Sing it Loud:

(Hino Nacional do Brasil)

p.s. As I put this to sleep the map says we are near some place on the map called San Fernando de Apure, Venezuela… I think there is a house that landed near there).

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