Back from Brazil

I'm back from Brazil and I still haven't had the time to write my impressions. I'll just write a summary here and then leave the impressions for maybe the weekend when I hope to start going through the pictures and remembering the things I've done and seen.

The trip was great. With moments of happiness, learning, surprise, stress, sadness... Quite a complete trip! São Paulo continues crazy with traffic and violence nervousness. Salvador was sometimes annoyingly touristic, with everything built to foster tourism even when it is to the cost of losing uniqueness. It was great, nevertheless. Morro de São Paulo was relaxing.

There were only two very negative memories from the trip. One of them I'm not really going to discuss here. It was related to discussions I had with my family. The other was the joke about my visa. I almost had to postpone my trip back because the American Consulate doesn't really seem to care about people's needs to have a visa. The summary is that they say that it takes 6-10 days for you to receive your visa back. The consulate is very close to my parent's place, so I asked if I could expedite the process and pick it up myself instead of shipping it using Sedex. The answer was "no". So there I was waiting... I went to the consulate on a Friday. The next week nothing happened. The other week I was in Bahia, so I kept somebody verifying if the visa arrived... Nothing.

I was starting to get worried, so my father asked his secretary to call the consulate and check what was going on. She called on Thursday and they told her that the visawas issued but it hadn't been shipped yet. Shipping, because it was local, was supposed to take only 1-2 days, so I wasn't worried. Came Friday - nothing. On Sunday we arrived back to São Paulo. Our flight left on Tuesday back to the States, so on Monday morning I called the consulate just to confirm that it had been shipped and what they told me is that it hadn't been released yet! And that's all they could tell me!

I went back and forth on discussing with people with more experience on getting a visa and they told me to send an email and fax to a certain place. I did and received a prompt response that my visa was still on "processing" and that's all they could tell me!

More back and forth of discussions concluded that I had to show up personally with confirmation of my flight to beg them to give me my visa. Note that this pretty much was killing my last full day in Brazil. So, that's what I did... I got to the information booth (after getting there at 2:15 PM and finding out that it's only open from 3-4 PM) and the woman told me that the problem was a software glitch with their image recognition system that was unable to recognize my face! I asked her what to do and she went inside to ask some people and after 5 minutes she came back saying: "Oh, it was just released! Just go to the back and pick it up!"

This "just go to the back and pick it up" took another 30 minutes, but I did get it. This was on the 10th. Reading the visa what does it say? That it was issued on the 7th! Why do they do that to people?

Anyway, that was the really exciting part of the trip for me. Amy might be able to tell her excitement trying to be vegetarian in Brazil... Recipe to starve or to only eat very healthy things like french fries or fried yucca balls (especially in the northeast). And what a waste, as the fish and seafood in general was so good...

Well, now that I'm back, what do I have to talk about? Well, I'm trying to get back to being productive. I'm still ramping up back at work, feeling a little by the sidelines of what is going on. So I should be getting productive at home. Reading technical magazines, planning on projects that I'll be hopefully able to start now that my wrist feels fully recovered. Lots of things to do... So little time...