Wow! That was a trip and a half. Who knew that my flight from Dubai to Rio would be 14.5 hours long? I really should know my geography better. So I left Nairobi at 11:30pm on Monday night and got to Dubai at 5:30am. It was a quick flight - around 4.5 hours. I left Dubai at 7:30am and knew I was getting to Rio at 2:30pm local time. I kind of forgot to look at the time difference:-) I got on the plane and I thought I heard them say 4.5 hours and I thought, "hmmmm, that's quick." Until I actually looked at the screen and saw 14.5 hours.
My flight from Nairobi to Dubai was nice and quite uneventul. I decided to watch the Stephen King horror movie whose main character my Government name came from "Carrie." Heee. Heeee. Just kidding. I am named Carrie after my grandmother who was given the name by some missionaries back in the day. My stopover in Dubai was quite short. I remember getting to the gate for the Rio flight and thinking "Oh snap. Everyone here is speaking Portuguese. Maybe I really need to know some for Brazil." The only non-Portuguese language I heard at the lounge was either Punjabi or Gujirati. Not like I understood a word, but I took comfort in the fact that it was a familiar language. There was even a guy in Nigerian attire speaking in Portuguese. I later on confirmed that he was infact Nigerian when we were checking in and I saw his green passport.
There were also a lot of Chinese people on the flight. Perhaps they were going on to Buenos Aires via Rio (our flight's final destination was Buenos Aires.) I asked my hosts about the large number of Chinese travelers on the plane, and they said there isn't a significant number of Chinese people in Rio......hence my conclusion they were going on to Argentina.
That 14.5 hour flight was the most fascinating flight ever. We left Dubai at 7:30am and for the next 14.5 hours every time I looked out of the window, the sun was still extremely bright. I am sure the directions the pilot has to Rio are "keep flying into the sun until you see the Jesus statue, then dip down and land......" It was so sunny at some point that we were all asked to pull down the blinds for at least 7 hours of the flight. Every time I peeked out of the blinds, I could imagine how vampires feel. "Oh no, the bright lights! Aaaaaaaaaaaargghhhhh, I'm melting........!"
The other strange thing about that flight was that we were only fed a real meal towards the last one hour of the flight. From the beginning we were served a light breakfast, then a light snack (veggie pizza), then some cookies.....At some point the African in me was about to cause some drama. "Just because time is standing still given our longitudinal motion, is no reason to stiff me out of a proper hot meal." Finally 12.5 hours into the flight we were served lunch. Amen.
Getting through customs in Rio was easy. The tricky part was all the stuff I needed to do at the airport after that - change money, buy a sim card, get a taxi to take me to my friend's place. Everyone spoke to me in Portuguese and I tried to do my best with hand signals. Due to language barriers, I didn't even realize there was a USD 15 commission for any currency exchange in the airport.
I got out of the airport, saw a friendly looking cab guy and went to him with my notebook to point out my address. We negotiated a price (again with hand symbols) and off we went. On my way to Gavea, we passed the Christ the Redeemer statue. I was so excited. I got out of the taxi and took a mega-zoomed in pic:-)
The cab had one of those little DVD screens and we watched what I thought was a Brazilian soap with a Queen Latifah look alike. I kept thinking, "Wow. Queen Latifah has a Brazilian twin." Later on I realized that it was an American film once I saw Diane Keaton and Katie Holmes. I wonder if Queen Latifah knows she speaks perfect Portuguese.....
On getting to my friend's place I was warmly welcomed by his landlady and landlord with hugs, kisses and watermelon slices. Love it! Half an hour after my arrival, they asked if I wanted to go to the beach. That's a no-brainer for me. Jetlag can wait. We went to the beach then met up with my friend for dinner and drinks. It was a lovely night.
I slept by 11:30pm and woke up today at 9:30am ready to discover Rio! I am off to the Jesus statue today then will head to the beach! Excitement!!