Subject: Brazil
I my just back from a short (11 days) trip to Brazil. I was a little late returning having been bumped in Atlanta. For their heinous act Delta compensated me with a $1000 voucher! I spent my unexpected 3-hour layover looking at their schedule and planning my next trip - courtesy of them. Ha!

Brazil was wonderful: there was music everywhere, the beer was always ice cold, the sun bright and warm, the women tanned and lithe, and Rio beautiful from just about every angle. Having been warned endless about crime in Rio, I was surprised how safe it was. I took the local buses everywhere, walked Copacabana beach promenade at night and never felt at risk. I used the standard big city caution, of course.

The big shock for me on arrival was to discover I had left my credit card home. I had some cash with me but no cushion. So I called back to my office and had a friend go to my house to get my card and then FedEx it to me but it was a fruitless gesture, as I didn't arrive until a whole week later. By then I had adjusted my lifestyle to my reduced budget. Brazil, by the way, I found quite inexpensive. Despite my reduced budget I did spend the first two nights in a room overlooking the beach and can tell you that Copacabana beach never rest - or is every quiet.

I took several two-day trips out of Rio. The first was southwest to a little port town called Paraty, where they were having a festival of some kind. I had trouble finding a room but finally located a guy who carried a bed into a huge empty room and that's where I stayed for two-days. The room was in the center of all the action and I could hear several different bands playing at the same time as lay on that bed trying to get to sleep each night. I hung out with an English couple who invited me to their room for gin and tonic: they had bought two bottles with them! I took them for serious drinkers and in fact the last time I saw them they were sitting blurred-eyed in some small bar.

I also headed northwest into the mountains to Sao Joao Del Rei, a colonial town of great beauty and no English speakers. I finally found a young couple from Germany to hang out with - they spoke something that might pass for English. We spent our days touring the area and our evenings swapping travel tales. They taught a few things thing too, most important of which is that I can't match Germans beer-for-beer, but it was fun trying, except for the next morning.

My last trip was east to a trendy beach resort, Buzios, where I stumbled on a bar playing my favorite, George Jones, the Elvis of country music. The town itself was a little to hip for me with its fancy restaurants and designer shops. It was not my style and I just took the morning bus back to Rio. As much as I like George Jones, I hadn't traveled 6000 miles to listen to American music and hang out with the hip set - I don't fit in there anyway.

I found the Brazilians to always be friendly and they were ever so patient with me. I totally lack Portuguese but did at least learn how to say thank you: obrigado. The whole trip was very relaxing and, after all my recent pre-planned trips, quite spontaneous - just what I wanted. On the flight back I was making a list in my journal of the best and worse of Brazil and I simply couldn't think of any bad things worth noting.

Anyway, after I get the lawn mowed, the house cleaned, back to work and all the other stuff started or done, I start a fuller accounting. As much as I love to go, I love to come home more: it's great to be back in Ann Arbor. Doug