I arrive at the airport feeling cautiously optimistic that today’s inclement weather will not adversely affect my impending trip to Brazil. Despite the persistent presence of flurries, there does not appear to be a significant accumulation of snow on the runways. Another hopeful sign is that nearly every flight departing Boston today has done so on time. With any luck, my flight will follow suit and I’ll have no trouble catching my connecting flight in New York. Alas, it appears that luck is not on my side as it has just been announced that my flight has been postponed till seven o’clock this evening. The reason given for this delay is that this afternoon’s high winds are far too dangerous to fly in. As annoying as flight delays are, it’s reassuring to know that airport authorities lean on the side of caution when it comes to flight safety. Despite this setback, I am quite confident that I’ll have plenty of time to catch my connecting flight to Rio de Janeiro. This confidence takes a crushing blow when I hear over the loudspeaker that my flight has been delayed again for another three hours. As I arrive in New York around midnight, I immediately begin searching for hotel rooms next to the airport. After placing a few phone calls, however, it becomes clear that all nearby hotels are already booked up. I reluctantly take a seventy dollar cab ride across the river and book a room on the east side of Manhattan. Despite the nearly three hundred dollars I shell out for a one night stay, it’s a far superior experience than trying to sleep in an abandoned airport. Although it is always disappointing to arrive at one’s destination later than planned, I take solace in the fact that I’ll still have six full days to explore Rio. This should give me plenty of time to find out why it is so beloved by just about everyone who visits.
Feeling rejuvenated after a restful night in the Big Apple, I place a phone call to my friend in Brazil to let them know I will not be arriving till the following day. With this done, I grab breakfast from a convenience store down the street and feel surprisingly well nourished after consuming a cliff bar and a bottle of chocolate milk. Not wanting to pay another two hundred and seventy dollars to hang out in my hotel room, I pack my bags and head back downstairs to checkout. Not being able to hang out at my hotel room past Noon means that I arrive at the airport nine hours before my plane is to depart. Not knowing what to do with myself for such an extended period of time, I search the terminal for any kind of distraction to keep my mind occupied. It is while in this frame of mind that I spot several black and white photographs posted all along the terminal walls. It appears at first glance that they are the pictures of American soldiers who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. Yet as I read the descriptions next to each photo, it soon becomes clear that these men not only survived but were also recipients of awards for bravery. The selflessness and perseverance that these men displayed over forty years ago is truly inspiring and helps put my current situation in its proper perspective. If these guys could not only survive but thrive in a brutal jungle war, then I really need to stop complaining about my minor travel headaches.
As I finally board my flight for Brazil, the feelings of anticipation and excitement finally takes over my imagination. Before any big trip, I find that these emotions are often restrained and pushed back into my unconsciousness. It is only when I am actually flying to my destination that I really start to get excited. This is most likely due to the preparation it takes to go on a trip of this nature. Tasks such as getting a tourist visa processed, renewing my passport, and getting a ton of extra work done at the office often prevents me from looking too far into the future. With these first world challenges now behind me, I am finally able to let loose and start looking forward to my imminent tropical adventure. One aspect of this trip that I actually have been thinking about for the past few months is hanging out with my good friend who lives in Rio. Of all the countries I’ve visited over the past decade, it is the ones where I have a friend who lives nearby that I’ve enjoyed myself the most. There is nothing more satisfying for me than visiting tourist sites during the day and then catching up with an old friend at a restaurant or bar in the evening. Even when years have gone by since I last saw them in person, it quite often only feels like a few weeks have passed.