For two adventurers not planning to use our one remaining flight quota any time soon, this week we spent an exorbitant amount of time at the international airport in Rio.
The reason was this: upon crossing the border from Bolivia to Brazil on that heady day one month ago, the immigration officer granted us just 30 days entry of a possible 90. “That’s ok,” thought we, “we can just renew it closer to the time, in Rio or somewhere. It’ll be easy.”
WRONG. The process was many things, but easy it was not.
We’ve used normal buses and airport shuttle buses and rapid transport express buses and taxis and a boat – thrice. We’ve travelled the length and bredth of Rio, visited more federal police offices than we care to recall and have waited, and waited, in queues. Mind you, we’re used to waiting by now.
Monday was the worst of it. We traipsed the two hours to the airport (walk – train – train – bus – walk), awaited our turn in the crowded people-pen only to be greeted by an obstinately odious officer who took an instant dislike to our simple request. Steve got cross with this bullishly belligerant man, Jo cried for a while, and neither reaction resolved anything. The more kindly co-workers advised us that we ought to travel to another location. Two hours later we arrived, to be sent to a shopping centre; to be sent to a different shopping centre; to be told that this office dealt with foreigners only on Wednesdays. *Rage.*
Tuesday continued in a similar vein, but on Wednesday at around 11am our souls soared with relief when this second office granted us our 30 days, no problems at all. It was a happy day.
And so on Thursday we returned to hitch-hiking, having almost forgotten how to do it after a week-long break. Our aim was simple: to make it to Belo Horizonte by Sunday – just 440km away and three days in which to get there. We made it, via a very special detour with 82-year-old Jorge and his wife Claudette at their holiday home in Correas.
Now we are spending a couple of days here awaiting the somewhat redundant England vs. Costa Rica match on Tuesday for which we have tickets. If you’re not too disaffected by English football to have stopped watching, look out for us! (We’re not particularly photogenic at the moment but someone near us might be.)
Finally, we had a lovely time with an old Ministry of Justice colleague of Jo’s, Chris, and his wife Tammy, who were passing through Rio at the same time as us. The boys talked football whilst the girls enjoyed not having to.
Total number of lifts: 115
Week Fourteen distance travelled: 454 km
Total distance travelled: 14497 km
Hours of football watched: Many many many.