May 7th, 2011 – A warmer, sunnier day dawned on my final morning in the Amazon. I caught one last coffee at my favorite coffee shop with the lovely young ladies who work there before catching my flight to Brasilia.
Arrived in the evening to Brasilia and caught a taxi to Pousado do Sol – don’t ever go there. I won’t bore you with the details, but in hindsight I can see why I was charged for the rooms up front – had I had a chance to experience the first night there, I wouldn’t have stayed the second.
I spent my one full day in Brasilia visiting the major architectural sites of interest. It is an impressive capitol city laid out on several miles of long greenbelt. From the air, the city looks like a large bird with outstretched wings. The layout of the streets and highways define the shape of the bird. It is a planned city, and was built in a relatively short time to replace the old capitol city which had no room for growth. Brasilia will be the location of the World Soccor Cup in 2012 and the Olympic Games in 2014.
On one end of the long greenbelt is a tall, Eiffel Tower-like TV Tower that has a viewing platform 75 meters up. From there, one can look down the entire greenbelt to the Brazil’s capitol buildings – the President’s Office, the Congressional Headquarters, and the Judicial Seat – the Supreme Court. I visited each of these buildings, took tours, pictures and pamphlets of them and many other equally impressive buildings.
Outside the Supreme Court I made the mistake of sitting down on the marble steps to look through some printed material I had picked up inside. Immediately a guard came briskly striding toward me, and demanded I remove myself from the steps. As I looked around, I noticed that there were no benches or seats anywhere near the Supreme Court, and guessed it was a safety issue – someone might leave an explosive package behind on a bench seat, or something of that nature. I left and went to the nearest bench several hundred feet away, into the center of the greenbelt.
Later in the afternoon I tried to locate the correct ticket office from the dozens of counters at the Rodoviario to purchase tomorrows bus ticket to John of God’s, about a one hour drive to the west of Brasilia in the town of Abadiania. I couldn’t find anyone who spoke English around the Rodoviario, so finally I tried talking with a police officer. He had me come sit in their police office at the Rodoviario, and called another officer on his cell phone.
That officer pulled up in his patrol car within about 10 minutes, and HE SPOKE ENGLISH! They ushered me into the patrol car and whisked me one block around to the other side of the Rodoviario where the proper ticket office was. The English speaking officer accompanied me to the ticket window and made sure I received the correct ticket, and paid the correct price, for tomorrows bus ride to Abadiania! I was quite well taken care of by them – what a bunch of sweeties!
In the afternoon I went to a large amusement park not far from the TV Tower, and enjoyed watching the wild rides the folks were receiving on some of the crazy apparatuses. It was a hot, dry day, so much different from the damp humidity of the Amazon, that I enjoyed trying out the water mister the park made available to the public. It felt fantastic! People were even misting their dogs!
After walking around all day, I took a shrimp salad dinner and a beer at an attractive outdoor restaurant not far from my Pousada. It was quite a surprise when it arrived – I’ve never seen such small shrimps! One thing I’ve noticed while in Brazil – if they say salami pizza, it’s made with one piece of salami – the rest is plain pizza, or a vegetable omelet means one piece of vegetable with the rest being nothing but eggs.
I emailed Mom “Happy Mother’s Day” wishes and let her know where I was, then headed back to the Pousada. What I underwent that night I wouldn’t wish on an enemy, if I had one. The only other guest in the dungeon (subterranean room) was directly across the hall from me, and he was spraying Raid furiously to rid himself of the mosquitoes. The Raid permeated my room to the point of making the air unbreathable.
When I complained to him, he brought over his fan, which I was grateful for and did help a little. But then he stayed up all night with his lights on, which shone into my room, and he played his music til 6:30 a.m., prepping for his first day on a new job. Sometime in the middle of the night a dog barked for 10 minutes straight and it was so loud he could have been right in my room! And a baby cried upstairs during the night for another 15 minutes at one point. I literally did not get any sleep the entire night! Gruesome, torturous, miserable night. Glad to leave in the morning.