Saturday, May 1, 2010

Beaga: The exit and the outtakes

On Tuesday evening, having decided to abort the Beagá mission, I decided to test my luck in the coastal city of Vitória. Soon after boarding the overnight bus, my hopes of a smooth transition to Plan B melted into a sleepless and white-knuckle journey. At 1:30 am, stopped at a rest area, I was already demanding a refund for the scheduled Saturday night return. No way was I tempting fate twice. (Refund status of bus ticket still pending, sigh.)

Arriving at said destination at 5:30 am on a holiday meant, as anticipated, the city was shuttered and would, in large part, remain so for the day. Contrary to anticipation, though, I was exhausted and irritable from the ride. I jumped in a taxi and tried to get to a reasonably priced hotel, in accordance with my reasoning that I would scrap this day: rest up, relax, and walk around--scouring the city for treasures the following (non holi)day.

The first hotel wanted to charge me a full extra day for an early check in (instead of the more customary half-day, or savvier marketing strategy of simply the normal day rate), which I refused on principal. The second hotel quoted the taxi driver, whose meter was whizzing ever-skyward, a price he figured we could easily beat.

On our way to the third hotel he mentioned, by way of giving me my bearings, that the airport was 2km that way. Tired, frustrated, and longing for my simple Porto Alegre studio, I blurted out, pleadingly, "Pode me levar ao aeroporto, por favor?"

When he responded "não" followed by a long explanation of Vitória's taxi bylaws, I just about lost it. At the third hotel, the edge was closer still. I looked at the desk clerk of this crappy, remote, overpriced hotel, then at the driver, and firmly said: "Olha. Favor, liga outra taxi pra mim. Quero ir ao aeroporto!" Then, as if there had been some confusion in his previous story, the driver interjected that he could take me to the airport. Utterly exasperated by the last 48 hours, ten minutes later I was pricing out one-way, last-minute, national-holiday airfares to POA.

To the people in this photo: Shame on you!

(Long story, but suffice it to say, not one of them had honorable conscience when it came to the "first come, first serve" part.)

Costly success. A mere eight hours later I boarded the first (of two) planes home. The nearly indistinguishable separation of sky and ocean counted for something.

On a lighter note...

Given my unique journey, I decided that this should be my commemorative bottle of real, Minas Gerais cachaça.

On the topic of spirits...

Warning: This avenue has a strong bias.

My feet aren't feeling so authentic these days. Yours?

I don't have a lot of faith in whatever agency is handling these repairs.

It was difficult to capture the expression of this boy-aquin, but I think he's trying to say, "What, me worry?"

Right on, Alfred!