Subject: Brazil, part 9: The End
Sunday, September 12, Rio de Janeiro

Much to my surprise I ran into Roger and Sally again - at the hotel breakfast buffet. We said hello and expressed our surprise. They were getting ready to head to Argentina later in the day so we didn't have much time to talk.

I lounged around until about 10:00 and then took off for Ipanema, the next beach down from Copacabana. There was a big craft fare there, the Hippie Fare, that I wanted to see. I took one of the local buses and got off at the fair, but first walked two blocks over to the beach.

On Sunday they close off the beachfront road and it's full of joggers, power-walkers, bicyclers and skaters - you get the idea. It's wonderful to see the streets full of people instead of cars. I walked along enjoying the ocean breeze. It was considerably cooler today and there were heavy waves that kept everyone but the surfers out of the water. I walked a ways along the beach before heading back to the craft fare.

This turned out to be a great place to look for souvenirs. The goods ran from awful to excellent - I was interested in both. I picked up a few more things and then settled into some serious people watching. All along I had been surprised how few tourists, especially Americans, I had seen in Rio. I made up for it today.

The rest of the afternoon I took it easy. At about 5:00 I took the Executive bus back to the airport. Only two things stick in my mind about the airport: first, there is whopper US$36 exit tax. What a way to make money: You want to go home? Give us some money.

Second, there was no place in the international departure lounge to change money - and the duty-free shops won't take your Brazilian money either. They only want US dollars. I couldn't believe this and sarcastically ask the clerk, Am I still in Brazil? Anyway, I warn you to make sure you get rid of you Rials before you enter the departure lounge otherwise you will be taking them home as souvenirs like I did.

Monday, September 13, Heading home

I had to change planes in Atlanta in the morning. At the check-in counter they took my ticket and told me they would call me in a few minutes. I had a sinking feeling that this meant trouble. Well, they didn't call me in a few minutes. Instead they made an announcement that they were over booked and asked for volunteers to take a later flight - they needed 30! They started by offering a US$400 voucher and, when that didn't work, they upped it to US$600. If I hadn't been so tired I might have been tempted.

As boarding time neared it became clear I wasn't going to make it: they were giving boarding passes to first class, full fare and frequent flyers and to not cheap fare folks like me. I sat there watching people boarding, getting madder and madder. I figured there wasn't much I could do about it, but I was going to bitch - at least I would have that satisfaction.

After the plane was loaded they made another announced saying they were sorry and offer compensation of either US$400 cash or a US$1000 voucher. I was still pretty unhappy, but as I stood in line waiting for my compensation, I was already starting to think of where I could go on US$1000. By the time they gave me my voucher and replacement ticket I actually thanked them. Can you believe it? They bump me and I thank them! Anyway, I spent my unexpected three-hour delay looking at the Delta schedule and planning my next trip.

As much as I love to travel, I love coming home more. When I got back to Detroit a good friend was waiting for me, an unusual treat as I almost always take the airport bus. It had been a great trip and I was also very happy to be home. What could be better?


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