Houston & Rio
Dec 28, 1999
I arrive in Houston with the realization that I need a visa to enter Brazil. I beg, I plead, but there is no way to get a visa on Friday night, Xmas eve and there is no way to enter Brazil without a visa - they will send you home on the next flight! It is impossible to get a visa until the Brazilian consulate in Houston opens Monday morning. I am assured by the airline that the consulate issues emergency, same day visas for people in my situation.
It is hard to remain optimistic when you are trapped in Texas instead of enjoying the beaches of Rio. However, Houston isn't as bad as I expected. There are many beautiful women and a surprising deficit of really big hair. The city is very multicultural. And, the king-sized bed in my hotel room is bigger than many of the rooms I have stayed in in Central America.
Ah... Texas. I was using the bathroom in a fancy French cafe. The bathroom was tastefully decorated with a sporadic tile displaying a french word with the english equivalent - Le Vin (the wine). I was very impressed with the tile that translated "Vous tous" as "Y'all"
Things look bleak when I arrive at the consulate Monday morning and am told that there are no special exceptions. They process all visas in the order that the applications are received. They guarantee that they will be ready within 3 days. Again, I beg and plead to no avail. The best I can get is "try again tomorrow morning, perhaps it will be ready. I am on the verge of losing faith in my "things always work out fine" attitude towards life. I return to the consulate at 3pm the same day, hoping for a miracle, trying to make that evening's flight. The visa is ready. 9 hours on a plane, 5 more hours on a bus and I am in Rio!
The 1st hotel I look at has a very affordable room available for New Years, unfortunately the bed is a foot shorter than I am. The third hotel I try has no rooms available, but they know of a 1 bedroom apartment for rent next door. The problem is that I have to rent the appt. for a minimum of 10 days. The weather is perfect, the appt. is 1/2 block from the beach - I don't think that I mind spending 10 days here. Optimism is returning - maybe things do always work out well in the end.