Thursday, May 9, 2013

A DAY IN THE LIFE: New Jersey Travel Blog, Pt. II: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

A DAY IN THE LIFE: New Jersey Travel Blog, Pt. II: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

"I love Rio, but the traffic sucks!"

  7 MAY 2013:  After loading my bags into the taxi my wife, Leticia, had called for me, I left Copacabana (Rio de Janeiro, Brasil) for Galeao International Airport around 6pm.  Anybody whom spends anytime in Rio knows that the traffic is horrible.  Tonight was especially bad.  My cab driver had barely gotten us out of Copacabana when we found ourselves struck in a stop-and-go traffic nightmare.  It took two hours to reach my terminal.  Fortunately, the cab was equipped with a flip-screen DVD player in the dashboard.  The driver put on 'The Eagles Live in Concert' and I got to listen to "Hotel California" on the way to the airport.  It was a bit of a hectic ride, but actually turned out to be a pretty fun trip to the airport.  I wish all taxi drivers could be so cool!


  By the time I arrived at the airport, I had an hour and a half until my flight departed.  I checked in my luggage, no problem.  I went through the security checkpoint, no problem.  The Immigration checkpoint? BIG PROBLEM!  After speaking with the two immigration officers behind the counter, a Federal police officer came over and escorted me to his office.  I was having difficulty speaking with the officer, so he had a second officer come in to speak in English with me.

  Being that I am currently in the process of getting my permanent visa for Brasil, there are a couple of extra details that I am responsible for tending to.  First, I need to notify the federal police whenever I am travelling until I receive my permanent visa.  This involves going to the federal police office at Galeao International Airport and filling out a notification takes only a few minutes, and I took care of this earlier in the morning.  The second of my responsibilities is to have my protocol form with me when I travel so that I can get back into Brasil.  I did not know this and, as a result, did not bring with me.  Unfortunately, "I didn't know," is not an acceptable excuse, especially when dealing with police officials and immigration.  The federal police were not going to allow me to board my flight.  To say I was stressed at that moment, would be a major understatement!  Thankfully, I was able to get my wife on the phone.  She dug up the paper in question, gave them the information they needed, and the federal police cut me a break and let me go just in time to board my plane.  Pheew, that was a close call...and a seriously stupid gringo move on my part!

Rio- Atlanta- Newark

  7 MAY to 8 MAY 2013:  My 12-hour overnight Delta flight from Rio to Atlanta was fairly uneventful.  I had trouble sleeping during the flight and ended up spending half of the time watching movies...'Oz; The Great and Powerful,' 'Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,' and 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' were among the films on offer that I opted to watch during the night and early morning.  I do have to say, I was really impressed with the flight attendant crew on my flight.  They were all exceedingly courteous and helpful...definitely the coolest flight crew I've ever had the fortune of dealing with!

  My flight arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta early, giving me plenty of time to hunt down a half-way decent breakfast and something healthier than McDonald's (so gross).  I found a coffee shop and purchased a fresh diced fruit cup, a peanut butter Clif bar, and a large jasmine green tea with honey and cinnamon.  I headed to my gate to eat and await my boarding time.  Before long, I was on board the plane and on my way home to New Jersey!

"I'll get there when I get there."

  My flight into Newark-Liberty International Airport arrived on schedule, and I was in and out of baggage claim rather quickly.  I bought my train ticket, and took the air train to Newark Airport train station...where I found out that the train I was waiting for was going to be 20 minutes late. No big deal.  When my train arrived, I boarded and gave my ticket to the conductor.  "You're going to switch trains in Long Branch, but there's no connecting train.  You'll have to wait an hour."  I smiled, and thanked him for the information.

  Despite the hour-long wait in the rain at Long Branch station, the time went by relatively quickly.  The train ride from Long Branch to Spring Lake seemed somewhat surreal, looking out through the window at the noticeable damage left behind from Superstorm Sandy six months prior.  I've never seen so many downed trees before...some snapped like twigs, others completely uprooted.

"Aaahhh, I'm finally here!"

  By the time the train pulled into Spring Lake, the sun had come out and, as exhausted as I was from travelling, I felt energized by the excitement of being a short drive from home.  I loaded my luggage into a cab and off we went,  pulling into the driveway of my aunt and uncle's house about five minutes later.


  From door to door, Copacabana (Rio de Janeiro, Brasil) to Spring Lake Heights (New Jersey, USA)...

22 hours


  That's all for now.  Until the next time, I'm Steve "Action" Jackson.  I'll see you out in the water...YEEEWWW!!!

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