A few weeks ago I returned from an amazing honeymoon to South America with my wife, Kayla. But before we could get to the “amazing” part of our trip, we first had to overcome a pretty bumpy start. As we arrived to the airport we were very excited for the adventures that lie ahead. We didn’t realize that our very first adventure would occur inside the airport itself. You see we were informed that a visa was required to enter Brazil and that it would take at least 1 week to get one. I’ve had the good fortune to travel quite a bit so I was shocked on 2 fronts
1. That I needed a visa to enter a Brazil at all. I’ve traveled to places that require a visa, but they’re typically more exotic locations like China, India, Vietnam.
2. However I was more surprised with myself. Being the first time we were traveling to Brazil, how could I not think to at least check into this?
So the next several hours were very stressful as we furiously worked the phones in between our connecting domestic flight to find a resolution. I spoke with 3 different Brazilian consulates, 4 professional visa agencies, friends, family, and a host of airport personnel in multiple cities. Through the whole process I learned a few things:
1. I have very supportive friends and family. Actually I didn’t learn that from this experience – I was just reminded of it.
2. The Brazilian consulate doesn’t consider a honeymoon an “emergency”, and thus we didn’t qualify for their 24-hour expedited service.
3. You can actually plan an overseas vacation on VERY short notice. Or in our case you can RE-plan an overseas vacation on very short notice.
You learn things about yourself when you’re backed up against a wall. And you learn things about other people too during the most stressful of life’s situations. I’ve never questioned what an all-star of a partner I have in Kayla – but going through this experience with her reaffirmed what a great companion she will be for life. The only time she shed a tear during all of this was because she felt bad I wasn’t going to get to see the Amazon which she knew I was really excited about. We stuck together, took care of each other, and didn’t blame each other for the oversight (even though it was mostly my fault). We were a TEAM. That’s who I get to spend the rest of my life with. Its the same kind of person I like to do business with, and I try to exhibit the same qualities when servicing my EatGreenTea customers.
To top off a really bad day – the airline lost my luggage. At that point, I actually had to laugh out loud. We both did. The day had been comically bad – something they’d write into a movie script. So we had a nice dinner, and a drink as we laughed at ourselves and remarked that “The good news is, it can only get better from here.” But disgusted at the prospect of several days in the same pair of underwear I found a nearby Winn Dixie to buy some fresh undergarments. Unfortunately they didn’t have traditional underwear so I went with the next best thing: adult Depends. I didn’t really need them, but I thought it would provide us a good laugh in an otherwise gloomy day. And laugh we did!
I know what everybody is wondering so I’ll address it now… I really did have every intention of putting the Depends to the test. But somehow I never got around to it. By the time I was in a position to trade in for my regulars, I was kind of over the experience of wearing disposable underwear. Oh well, I’m sure as I get older I’ll have a real need for them. At which point it’ll probably stop being so funny to me.
In the end I found my luggage – notice I didn’t say the AIRLINE found my luggage. I spent hours scanning around the different baggage claim locations and found it buried in a pile of other bags they didn’t know what to do with. The tag had come off, so they didn’t know whose it was. The lesson learned here: At the risk of appearing anal retentive – put a couple name tags at different ends of your bag.
So in the course of less than 24 hours we rebooked about 9 or 10 days of our planned 2 week vacation. Brazil was out, and in came Santiago, Chile and Iguazu Falls, Argentina. And we were still on course to go to Buenos Aires and Mendoza, Argentina as originally scheduled. If you’re one of those people who believe that things happen for a reason then there were 2 reasons we were denied entry to Brazil. I’ll discuss the first one in this post, and cover the second one in a subsequent post.
Being denied entry to Brazil opened up the door for us to witness the most amazing example of Mother Nature I’ve ever experienced in my 38 years of living (and travels to 3 dozen countries)… Iguazu Falls.
I’d never heard of it before, so don’t feel bad if it hasn’t hit your radar yet. Its the most spectacular thing in the world that nobody is talking about. That may sound like an over dramatized statement – but if anything my words cannot pay it the level of respect it deserves. Trust me when I say: Put it on your bucket list. The video below captures only one tiny slice of what there is to see. Notice how surprised I am when the falls finally come into sight.
What do you think? Do you want to see more videos?
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In case you prefer to listen to this blog post instead of read it:[audio:http://www.eatgreentea.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/VBlog-Post-1-AUDIO-file.lite_1.mp3|titles=Mother Nature Blew Me Away Audio]