Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Rio de Janeiro, Wednesday, December 9, 1986

The view from my hotel window
Arrived in Rio at about 8:15 am, l.ocal time. Got sent to customs by a system that reminds me of a game show - press a button and a red or green light flashes at random (or is it as random as all that?). I got the red light, so I went to get my baggage inspected. Turned out for the best - the inspectors told me how to get a taxi. I had some herbal medicine in my hand luggage that they obviously thought was marijuana, because they eagerly whisked it off for testing. Fortunately for me, it really was comfrey in those capsules.

I was very lucky. The first hotel I tried had a vacancy. My room is on the 11th floor, with a gorgeous view of Flamengo beach and Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) - of which I took several photos. Oh yes, it was raining when I arrived; but by the time I had taken a nap, it had eased off.

The air of fear is palpable - and catching. Distrust is everywhere. It was very difficult to exchange money. Ironically, the best hotel around did it without any trouble - and at a good rate! Apparently, the government is cracking down on the "parallel" market in dollars, but only on the Brazilians involved.

I'm fighting off a cough and sore throat that threaten to be the dreaded Taiwan (?) flu. What lousy timing! Well, I'm tired, anyway. Just as well that I have a place to stay for two nights before I hit the road again.

I was reminded today that draft beer is called chopp (pronounced show-py). I soon put this knowledge to good use. As the delicious, ice-cold drink poured down my throat, it came to me that I'm really in Brazil!

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