Our first full day in Brazil

At the Poder Judiciario
Our first day in Brazil and already in trouble.

So yesterday was quite the ordeal. Our plane from St. Louis to Atlanta was two hours late. When we got to Atlanta we had to run from our gate to the train to the gate for our connecting flight; thought Robin was going to die. We just made it, and our plane got us to Rio on time at 9:50 the next morning. However, we then had to get our checked bags, go through passport control and customs, and then figure out how to get to the connecting flight. The Galeao airport is not good about signage, etc., and it took some time to do that — and we had to re-check our checked bags. We slogged through crowds of Catholic Youth (big world conference going on) and all the way across the airport.

When we got to the counter they told us our plane had closed its doors. We then went to the GOL airline counter to see about a different flight; after a long conversation (thank God Robin speaks Portuguese), he said he couldn’t do anything, and sent us to the Delta counter. On the other end of the airport. And when we got there, we found out it didn’t open till 7 PM. Finally someone at the information booth told Robin do go to the Poder Judiciario counter. We did, and the officer there got us a flight out of the other airport (Santos Dumont), and free cab vouchers to get us there. So we got into two cabs and trucked over to Santos Dumont and managed to get on that flight, which finally got us to Belo Horizonte about 4 PM. Even with the time difference, that’s 26 hours of travel, and I had about 4 hours sleep on the flight to Rio.

This morning I slept till 8 o’clock, a rarity for me, but we were so exhausted last night that it’s no surprise. Our hotel in Belo Horizonte puts on a nice breakfast, so we managed to get down to the coffee shop before they close at 9 and do that. Then we went to the front desk and I asked the guy for a map. I used the word “planta” from my Portuguese dictionary, figuring it would parallel Spanish “plano”, which you use for city maps rather than “mapa” for larger scale ones. But he didn’t know what I meant, and Robin suggested “mapa”, which is the same in both languages. That worked, and he started explaining where we were and where we might like to check out — in Spanish, I guess because my fumbling around in Portuguese sounded like a Spanish accent. Which worked, but then he figured out we spoke English, and basically we had a trilingual conversation for a bit.

Naturally, I wanted to see birds, so we went first to the big Parque Municipal, very close to our hotel, only to find it’s closed on Mondays. So we went the other way, to the Praca da Liberdade, which is a nice, though much smaller, park. Nevertheless, a green spot like that in the midst of the city concentrates the birds, and we quickly saw a tropical kingbird, which I promptly misidentified as a cattle tyrant, a bunch of ruddy ground-doves, lots of blue-and-white swallows, and a social flycatcher. Then we heard a big commotion across the street at the Palacio da Liberdade that was clearly parrots. So we crossed the road (with some delay, because before we got to the crossing we saw a masked water-tyrant and two gray monjitas) and approached a big tree with lots of parrot noise coming from it. A few parrots flew out and zoomed away too quickly to see anything. Still lots of noise in the tree. Several more swept out directly toward the sun and couldn’t be identified. Still some noise. Finally about a dozen burst out of the tree, again silhouetted in the sky, and disappeared into the city. Didn’t have a good look at any of them. Maybe next time. Still, that was four lifers for me (the monjita, the water-tyrant, a swallow-tailed hummingbird, and some chopi blackbirds), so I can hardly complain. I think we’ll try to hit the Parque Municipal tomorrow, which promises some better birding. And Hamner may get us in on a trip his conference is sponsoring on Wednesday to the Botanical Gardens.

Série com a Maria-branca (Xolmis cinerea) - Series with the Grey or Gray Monjita - 01-05-2011 - IMG_1311
Gray Monjita

Leave a Reply