Saturday, April 9, 2011

International Arrivals

Two spritzes of deodorant from Backpacker Girl in the booth behind me summon the waiter over. “Você me chamou?” (you called me?), he enquires. She responds with a bemused expression, unable to formulate a response to her unwitting call for service.

Caffey cowm lechey” says a sun-scorched American, hesitantly, to another waiter and the bill.” He makes the obligatory writing-on-air gesture with one hand, as if to underline his linguistic ineptitude.

For once I find myself navigating the International Arrivals board. My turn to stare at the frosted glass that periodically parts to spew forth groggy-looking long-haulers. I am waiting anxiously for the arrival of my family and the beginning of a long-awaited two week visit. First Rio, back down to São Paulo, then a long and lazy drive up the coastal road (green jungle/white sand/blue sea), island and beach-hopping along the way. My relief when the heavy wooden door of the rescue house closed behind me is matched only by my excitement at their imminent arrival.

Rio International Airport remains frighteningly stuck in the fifties. Or is it the faux-Americana diner I find myself in? It is sometimes hard to tell where make-believe ends and reality begins here. Reality will surely become apparent in a few years from now when this and my ‘home’ city São Paulo’s international airports struggle - unreformed due to Brazil’s unrepentant unions - to receive the world’s footballing elite and, later, their Olympic counterparts.

Oh, Brazil. How I long for you to better yourself.

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