Sandy's Ramblings

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Breaking the Silence

Apologies for being so silent so long, but I've been both busy and lazy. Bits and bobs here are coming to a head - my police clearance finally arrived from SA and so I can start applying to become a Brazilian. For those who have never acquired a South African police clearance before - beware that it takes about 2 months to get and simply states 'Blah blah no record of anything blah.' Could someone let me know why this is such a complex process for them? Surely a quick pop of my ID number into their database have brought that information up instantly? Anyways, it's here and let's hope it's not expired.

Becoming a Brazilian is a fairly simple process but sadly requires me to provide a complete copy of my passport. A complete copy, I'm told, means a photocopy of EVERY SINGLE page there is in there, blank or otherwise. That's about 34 pages. I have 2 passports, so that's 64 pages or so. I think I'll take a book to the copy shop. One upshot of this process is that once it begins, I cannot leave the country until it's complete which is about 6 months. So I'll be a political hostage in a sense. I don't think anyone'd strongarm me at the airport but it'd probably just cause the process to abort which would mean having to get a new police clearance. So no.

Otherwise mostly just killing time here in Brasilia. The weather's generally hot (35ish) and super dry, although the rain is starting up now and serious rains last Friday coupled with hard, dry ground was a perfect recipe for floods, which we had in abundance.

We went off to Cordoba, Argentina's second city, for the last 4 or 5 days and I ate way too much meat. There's not much to see and do in the city proper so we (Gabi, Gabi's mom and I) rented a car and did some 600 kilometres of missions around the place. It's on the outskirts of the Argentinian great lakes and the opportunities there for camping and trekking are fantastic.

Our flights to and from Cordoba were a nightmare - to see my tormentor. We left Brasilia at about 8pm on Friday and flew to Porto Alegre (near the Argentina border in the south-east of Brazil) and got there just after 11pm - over an hour late due to delays and so we were scheduled to miss our connecting flight. But no worries - our connecting flight was also the connecting flight for several other flights that we scheduled to have arrived by 11pm as well, but one of them decided to break ranks and only arrive at about 2am. So instead of leaving Porto Alegre at 11.30pm or so, we ended up leaving at 2.50am and arriving in Cordoba at 5am instead of the planned 1.30am or so. Since we got to the airport in Cordoba so late, after baggage collection and immigration etc it was after 6am and we were knackered and unfortunately so was the taxi driver - he fell asleep several times on the drive to the hotel, and at one point began accelerating towards the rear of a car stopped in front of us. Lots of screaming and shouting from us woke him up, for a few minutes, and we managed to get to the hotel in one piece, albeit a little adrenalin-charged.

The flight back, although rather uneventful, was horrific - we had to be at the airport in Cordoba by 3am to catch our flight at 4am which went to Porto Alegre again where we waited an hour or so (most of which was spent queuing to check in again) and then had a stopover at Curitiba on the way back to Brasilia, finally getting in at about 12.30. I am going to write a strongly worded letter to Gol airlines here and let them have it - hoping to get a free flight...

Here are some photos of Cordoba and surrounds...

Go figure - it reads 'Do not forget them - they are not negotiable', talking about the Falklands

Big cathedral in the centre of town

Main plaza

One of the many lakes nearby

Another one

Che Guevara's house - lived here for a bit to improve his asthma


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