May, 1998, Sau Paulo and Rio De Janiero,
(Day one, Sau Paulo)
Once at the hotel, I was able to check
in quickly and almost painlessly. One thing I found unsettling was the
Government Identification numbers that were asked for both on the airport
forms and when registering at the hotel. As a tourist, I was to use my
passport number instead, but government ID numbers and Polizia Federale
(?sp) inspections at the airport are the sort of thing that makes a US
citizen's skin crawl. The view out my hotel room window. showed tall office
buildings with some sort of street fair going on on the lower level. No
time to explore, though.
Not long after we got on the highway,
Andrea's cellphone rang, some quick Portugese went by, and a few minutes
later we pulled off the side of the road behind a somwhat bigger Ford.
Andre and Andrea jumped out of their cars, swapped places, and my ride
into Sau Paulo continued.
Enroute to the Exhibition to deploy
our equipment, I saw that Sau Paulo seemed to live up to its reputation
as a dreary, dirty kind of place, at least to American eyes. Graffitti
covered just about every building and vertical surface, but on the other
hand, you didn't see empty buildings with boarded-up windows, or abandoned
cars, so it may just be a matter of what you're used to.
Upon arriving at the convention center,
I managed to explain to the woman behind the counter, who had almost no
English, that I needed a badge. Between pointing and other hand gestures,
we eventually we managed to communicate well enough for us to get the job