Day 1: Brazil (Rio) : 16 May 00
Probably nice that we arrived last night when it was dark.
Made Rio prettier.
Surrounding hills had lights twinkling up the sides (which
are really shanty towns (favillas) with no sewage and only
The huge Sugar Loaf hill right at the mouth of the bay was
lit on one side and most impressive at night.
Our hotel is nice, ~ 4 star, and has a beautiful roof top
balcony overlooking the entire arc of the Copacobana Beach
we are staying one. the Christ statue was lit and floating
in the distance just like an angel.
The Defense Attache heard gun shots in the distance but
didn't say anything until the next day. It had been a
battle between police trying to enter a favilla and the
Navy Attache gave us the security briefing that opened a
few eyes. Take nothing outside the hotel you can't spare losing.
-Told 2 tales of robbery:
-One from his neighborhood where a robber with a 9mm
pistol said, "Please give me your wallets." He took the
money our of the wallets and gave them back and
said, "Thank you" and left.
-Another stuck a knife thru the car window of a woman
stopped in traffic. Demanded her earrings. She was
fumbling trying to detach the backing, so he just cut off
her ear lobe and ran.
-The latter story left our introverts practically
unwilling to leave the hotel. But it also gave the single
Several of us just had dinner in the restaurant 20 steps
across the side street from our hotel and braved a few
Cops, with 2-3 weapons each, heavily patrol the Hotel side
at night, but not the beach side across the six-lane
Hugh and I found an ordinary bar and joined the 2 other
guests at the actual bar. (There were no tables...only a long bar.)
-The girl from Ipanema was the bartender and we, of course, admired her beauty.
-There were two German-speakers sitting next to us, so I
tried some of my Deutsche and we got to talking. Of
course, one switched to English and acted as translator to
the other and I helped Hugh understand some of the German
-Both just happened to meet on the street. One was a
Politzei from somewhere between Munich & Salzberg. The
other was a businessman from Regensberg. Neither currently
had wives and both just loved traveling.
-Both had been to the states (and seen more than most
Americans). One loved the West and the other loved
-Really fun, but after 2 triple Cointreaus, Hugh and I had
Ran along the beach this morning. Tons of people strolling
from first light. Safe in daylight to cross the boulevard
to the beach side. Twenty foot wide pedestrian walk and 6
foot wide bicycle area.
Cooled down by walking along the surf. Cold ~ about NC,
Nags Head temperature. Only saw one thong bikini but a
number of attractive 40-something women taking an early
beach stroll in their bikinis. Good hips and legs here,
nice little tummies but too tan = lot of wrinkles.
Embassy briefing was...well...weak. It was not a country
team; it was only the same two attaches telling us about
the AF, Army, and Navy and their involvement in
construction and infrastructure.
-Army builds roads in the interior.
-AF builds airports and runs all civil aviation functions.
-Navy did own the ports but now are privatizing them.
Other interesting notes:
-In the remote areas of the Amazon, an Army 2LT Platoon
Leader, fresh our of their academy, is the only government
official natives ever see.
-Customs is an entity unto itself. Brazilian Navy can't
even expedite spare part out of customs. Bribes work but
we (US) can't pay them.
-70% of military budgets go to salaries and pensions.
Strangling them. AF is working half days so they don't have to feed employees lunch.
Went to the Federation of Industries of Rio de Janeiro.
It's a promotional organization.
-13 million people of 170 million in Brazil live in Rio.
-But Rio is the 2d biggest area. Sao Palo, 150 km southwest, is the biggest.
-75% of people and 90% of economy in arc around Rio and Sao Palo.
Went to Naval Headquarters after a late lunch (fried fish
eggs!) and Cal, who has Parkinson's disease, admitted to
needing to go back to the Hotel...I escorted him. When he
is still, we should be worried. When he is jerking around,
his medicine is working.
He is really a trooper. Tries to do everything. But he
does tend to nap in briefings...no worse than Michael
(faculty), who falls asleep every time his butt hits a flat
surface. His only reason is his late nights out.
Students, of course, note it.
I took a nap back at the hotel and now have to figure out
how to join up with a group for dinner.
Day 2: Brazil : 17 May 00
Went to the "Christ the Redeemer" statue on "Cordovado"
mountain. Locals refer to it by the latter name. Great
Visited Navy Facility Engineers who basically do the same
thing as our Navy Engineers, except they have no
Seabees...everything is contracted.
Visited AF Engineers. Big difference is that they own all
the airfields in the country. Maintenance of those in the
Amazon is the only/primary means of outside commerce.
-e.g. One airfield in west Amazon basin would take 34 days
to reach by boat. No roads lead there.
-some places have neither boast or road access. They
depend solely on their airfield.
-The 3 star host fit the typical AF pilot mold. Good
looking, confirmed later by our female members.
The AF was the classiest of the Brazilian visits.
Impressions of Rio:
-Sad...wealth alongside abject poverty.
-Apparently a beautiful city 40 years ago. Now the poor
flock to the city and many barely find the means to live.
They end up in the favillas. Is this the downside of
capitalism?...Democracy? Giving power to the people, with
no resources to increase their lot?
Tired and ready to go home.
Pictures: View of the Copacobana Beach from the "Christ..." statue. Scenes from the last night party.
Return home: 18 May 00
In the air and nearly on time! 9 and 1/2 hours to go.
Nice little farewell party last night. Thanked our in-
country host, Army LTC, who is probably intelligence, but
retiring in a year with 32 years...so he's having fun in
It was a meat place "Porcao" which means "Fat Pig." They
serve you Brazilian style, which means they come around
with skewered hunks of meat they carve onto your plate.
Went very nice, though I had to play host with Hugh and
entertain our guests while the students had a great time.
(see photos above)
Everyone showed up to depart the hotel on time this morning
so we go a prompt start.
Perhaps this trip is done.
1145: Just crossed the Amazon! Thought we weren't going
to be able to see it due to the cloud cover, but the clouds
broke just before and around the river.
Big, brown, winding river surrounded by unbroken carpet of
green-dimpled jungle. Not a single road or human structure
1625: A most excellent adventure. We are about 2 hours out
from landing at Dover. Hopefully, customs will be fast and
the bus will be waiting. The crew has seen some mean
Customs guys as Dover in the past. One mistake and they
Nothing but ocean below us.
1900: Customs searched everyone but fined no one. Must
have been bored. Bus was waiting. Karen had pizza waiting
for us. Jay got a nice little ship from the seminar for
organizing the trip and we got safely back to Ft. McNair.
And then home again! Yeah!