“Wherever a man or a woman turns he can find someone who needs him. Even if it is a little thing—do something for which there is no pay—but the privilege of just doing it.” Albert Schweitzer
Hey, what about going with me to Brazil as part of a group? You would find it exciting but I’d better explain that invitation. I guess an old codger such as me needs to let bygones be bygones and forget about such trips. But we can do it on this blog. It won’t cost a cent or leave you tired out from that 12 hour plane ride. Well then, hold on tight for we are on the way–and hoping that no matter what we do it will help someone.
Flying at 32,000 feet we’ll pass over a horizon banked with fluffy, white cumulous clouds. At the same time the sun constructs deep ominous shadows behind some of those dark towering centrepieces. We are surprised at a transformation as we drop below the mist and see Sao Paulo spread over hill after hill with roads winding among them. Hills—we might not expect them for the city is built on a high plateau above the mountains that lead to the beaches of the Atlantic. The city has tunnelled through some of those hills to build their multi-lane highways
After clearing customs we are free to go. But where? Apprehension grips us for all we see is a passageway leading somewhere –we hope to part of the terminal that opens outside. Ah, a few more steps and a group of Brazilians greets us with smiles and outstretched arms. They hug every one of us; you will not forget those hugs for you have never been hugged so thoroughly before by such a welcoming group. They treat us as if we were long-lost relatives. I recall that years ago when we were first in Brazil that those hugs took us off guard. Soon you’ll enjoy those hugs for they are much nicer than a handshake.
But we’ll never get far in Brazil without some of their money, the “Real,” so we exchange some of the U.S. currency we’ve been carrying at one the of cambios. We carry U.S. money, some in cash for it gets a better rate. But no money changes hands till you show your passport—I am not sure why but you need to have identity documents with you all the time. We don’t change a lot for rates will be better in the center of the city.
Before leaving the terminal we stop at a coffee bar to we try their cafezinhos. It is served piping hot in a demi-tasse cup with lots of sugar. You may do some coughing as you try to drink it–unless you are used to strong coffee. Brazilians visiting us explain our reaction by saying they have to drink a gallon of water in Canada to get a cup of coffee. However the coffee for breakfast is mostly hot milk with a dash of sweet coffee. That goes down easily.
I have warned you about the traffic in this city of over 22 million. You may wish to close your eyes as cars speed by while cutting in and out of the traffic. Added to that are the many motorcycles that are used to deliver small parcels and mail. One day I saw three motos—as they call them—smashed in accidents. To solve part of the traffic problem, cars with odd numbered plates are allowed to drive one day, the even numbers the next. That may cut some traffic but for people who must have transportation buy a second car with a different numbered plate. Problem not solved.
Part of the purpose for you going on this tour is to help some of the poor in our churches. So you’ve raised $500.00 or more and filled your suitcases with used clothing. The next day with the help of a pastor, the basement of his local church is piled high with food and clothing. Our job is to package the food that will provide the basics for a small family. The clothes go into similar plastic bags though in this case we don’t try to sort them since the recipients will trade what they don’t need to get what is necessary.
(Drop by next week to enjoy more of this trip)