POPMART Leg 2: 1997, Europe


Sao Paulo holdover - Friday 13th flight nightmare.

Sao Paulo holdover - Friday 13th flight nightmare. With over 30 hours of plane and airport ahead, the first leg goes badly wrong. Nothing to do but wait and amuse yourselves.

So here we go, setting off on a journey that no humans in their right mind would undertake. Still, as that is a category to which we clearly do not belong, we bravely faced the 22 hours flying with 9 hours in airport layovers. "Have a nice day". And its Friday 13th to boot - now there's poetic justice for you.

Later that same day... Sao Paolo. Yes, Brazil. What the hell are we doing here? You may well ask.. Everything was going just fine from boarding our flight in Chile to the first stop over here in Sao Paulo. It was supposed to be a three hour layover, then on to Johannesburg. There are fifteen of us traveling in our group, so we found a secluded corner of a lounge with a TV showing the movie "Amadeus" dubbed into Portuguese, which was good for chuckles (they had trouble getting his manic laugh right). We had a few drinks and fooled around, killing time & attempting to get into a suitably Zen frame of mind to attempt two ten-hour flights in succession. Then comes the first announcement. Flight delayed due to a mechanical problem. Oh well, every minute we spend here is a minute less we spend at the six-hour Johannesburg layover, so no great drama. Further announcements followed, and the delay time continued to increase until they eventually announced that Varig Airlines was canceling the flight altogether. At this point things started to get really "interesting". Varig could put us on the same flight tomorrow, but the Johannesburg to Perth connection only flies on certain days of the week and tomorrow's not one of them. As I've already mentioned our road crew was flying a completely different routing due to scarcity of seats, so we knew there weren't going to be many options, if any at all. The slightest hint of panic began to set in. Tour manager Dennis Sheehan set about finding new possible routings, as the rest of us started drinking heavily as it was clear we were going to be treated to another night in Sao Paulo. Friday the 13th was living up to its reputation. By 2am we'd had enough and Varig were ready to ship us off to the delightfully seedy "Hotel Deville" nearby. Friday 13th at the Hotel Deville - it was starting to read like a promising screenplay. Crammed into a small van we set off to the hotel feeling tired, hungry, a little cranky, but largely heroic. We joked about the hotel laying on lavish hospitality for us and so forth, so imagine depth of our joy when we arrived to find the hotel restaurant still open. At a loss for words! Notes could not spell out the score! When you're tired enough, the slightest events can feel like major victories, and in the "Motel 666" ambience we feasted like kings on dubious Brazilian delicacies, well, pasta anyway. Went to bed at 3am with a rumoured departure time of 9am, though quite where we're going to fly to I'm not sure. Still, on a positive note, as Larry pointed out "I'm glad they found the technical problem before we got on the plane...". I wonder if I'll ever see my bags again?

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