After clearing customs and immigration to leave Brazil we felt quite sad as this had been such an excellent country to recharge our sapped energy levels. We really enjoyed the people, food, music, and culture.
Fernando had picked us up from our hotel as promised, and both he and John assisted us through all the formalities of international red tape and paperwork for departing a country. I noticed that in each Brazilian station we had stopped at, people had empathy and were open to listen about organ donor awareness. It seemed like fate that we always met up with someone who was in need of a transplant, or had a friend or family member who had just had a transplant. We also encountered those who knew people that were not so lucky, and did not get a transplant in time or too sick to survive the long transplant operation. When we took just five minutes of people’s time to tell Chris’s survival story, it seemed like they really listened. And if telling a painful story with a positive end, with a healthy pilot standing in front of them, flying an amazing journey in a tiny Cessna can help people decide or even think about ticking the donor box on their driving license then this journey has been for a good reason, as well as fun trip of a lifetime. In Porto Alegre, for example John shared with us that his mother had been a liver organ coordinator for a hospital/clinic, and he had been educated and understood the importance of being donor, and “recycling ourselves to give others a second chance”.
On reaching our plane and completing a walk around inspection before takeoff, I discovered water dripping from underneath the tail (third storage compartment) which had all our leaflets for schools, giveaway pens, badges and also Chris’s extra medication. Unfortunately the previous flying in heavy rain had found a small gap in our window sill and the carpet and boxes were drenched. A huge unpack and repack on the ramp was required before we set off to Montevideo. Always a delay of some kind it seems before we leave an airport!! The flight was very easy, weather good, not much wind, pretty county side. On rounding the corner of the coastline into Uruguay, and flying over Punta Del Este, we spotted the Rio de la Plata, a huge chocolate coloured river which looks like a sea, divides Uruguay and Argentina.
Landing in Montevideo, Uruguay, I must say was a piece of cake, although it would be easy for any pilot as it had a huge long runway, equipped for 767 and A330’s, but I was still pleased that I kissed it down, gently settling on the international runway!!! Yeah!! I was a bit nervous as we disembarked our plane as this was the first airport without our friends from Lider to help us through customs and immigrations, and paperwork drama. Fortunately it appear to be very easy, and although we baffled the officials in the international arrivals halls with our “crew paperwork” and only two crew members, we were whisked through to land side pretty quickly. Once we found a cab we were on our way, the taxi took us along the coastline route to our hotel (although technically a river) of Punt Del Plata. It seemed really dark up close and I hoped it was not dirty, as I badly wanted to swim. The sun was still shining brightly at 6’ o’clock and the temperature being 25 degrees, I was really ready to cool down in the sea. On arrival to our hotel we found out it was only three months old, so everything was sparking clean and shiny. The staff were friendly and a bellboy called Juan Diego, who spoke English pretty well and recommended restaurants in the city and briefed us on the local area.
On unpacking, we decided a cold shower, a cold drink and a nice local place to eat was on the cards, a swim would be for tomorrow. Once outside our hotel and walking up a fairly steep hill we spotted several different types of eateries. One menu had various delicious sounding dishes which had all kinds of meat dishes, we found out that this was a traditional Uruguayan Parilla (grill resturant). The meal was scrumptious as we sampled the juicy, melt in your mouth local dishes, and when full, we rolled down the hill, back to our hotel contented from our first meal in Uruguay.