Wednesday, July 31, 2013

6 Julio, 2013: San Francisco >> Miami >> Manaus

Just like every other trip for the past 5 years, the night before my trip to Brazil consisted of very last minute packing and frantic music downloads. It was the typical all nighter leading up to a race to SFO, followed by a kiss, a wave, a goodbye, and before I knew it, I was off on my new adventure.

Before started this trip, I honestly wasn't sure how to feel at all. I was too busy with work and other things to actually think about this trip. Frankly, if you had asked me the day before, I wasn't altogether that excited to go. I mean on one hand, I had about a week to myself in Brazil...which sounded fun since I hadn't traveled alone since 2010. On the other hand though, I had about 10 days with a Catholic Vietnamese Youth Group....and I hadn't traveled with them...ever. Who knew how that was gonna go?

But sitting at the airport, waiting for my flight, the only emotion running through me was stress. I was stressed about some screw up at work. I was stressed about the cigarette pack I forgot to carefully hide in my room. I was stressed about all the things I hadn't completed on my list of things to do. And I knew I had left something important back at home, something that I probably wouldn't find again when I came back.

Real talk: Sylvie feeling stressed can only last for so long. After that, I just felt hungry! The first leg of my trip was a 6 hour flight to I assumed they would feed you. I mean, 6 hours is a long time! Unfortunately, American Airlines didn't think so, so by the time I got to Miami, I was starving. Luckily I found what I thought was a very all-American option.

Yup, Pizza Hut & Samuel Adams! Well, that definitely took the edge off both the stress and the hunger, and with that, it was "Bye Bye 'Merica!" and....

Hellooooo Cuba! Haha, can you see it? That dark shadow beneath the clouds? That's Cuba! On my way to Brazil, I got to fly over it...which is probably the closest I'll ever come since I'm not Beyonce and JayZ :)

Besides the exciting view of Cuba, the plane ride from Miami gave me a chance to catch up on some good old guide book reading. Armed with my Nook (the best invention since paper back books, I swear), I started reading all about my destination to the heart of Amazonia. That got me a little bit more excited, but even better was my travel companion!  Sitting next to me on the plane was some cool old guy from the University of Texas...studying the behavior of river dolphins in the Amazon! It was his 8th time in Brazil, and he had a wealth of knowledge he wanted to share with me...both about the country and river dolphins. And yes, the nerd in me just died (of happiness).

Unfortunately, that happiness quickly diminished the minute I stepped off the plane. I arrived in Manaus...and I was scared shitless. I had landed in a foreign country where I couldn't speak the middle of the night! I had already arranged for an airport pickup though (in anticipation of this fearful arrival), so I figured all I had to do was look for someone holding a sign. But as I got into the nondescript black car with the random guy who had my name written on some piece of paper, my only thoughts were: "Please don't kidnap me, please don't kidnap me!"

And that was my first night in Brazil. Taken: Part 3.