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lundi 1 juin 2015



I have had a long standing love affair with Miami and it is that city in the USA I try to travel to when the winds take me in that direction.
I just did a roundabout trip, something that gives me a chance to observe in rapid succession extremely different cultures in succession.
There is actually a direct flight from Brussels to Miami, twice a week, geared for the tourists from that country. It is run by a company TuFly which markets itself to the leisure travelers who are interested in getting to their destination, as quickly and cheaply as possible.
For me, the journey itself is as important as the destination.
So the nine hour direct flight was substituted by an itinerary the kind that is closer to my heart.
This capacity to be in the present fully, rather than longing for or looking forward to, is very soothing to the soul.
Brussels to London a short 45 minute flight wait at the British Airways Lounge in London.

Airbus 380 from London to Johannesburg, flying through the night, arriving early in the morning at JNB.  Stayed at a hotel near the airport with good connection to Gautrain the fast train to Sandton in the city.  Dinner with a lovely family in Sandhurst.
Arrival at JNB airport, the line at the Immigration was short, you get the feeling that no one was paying any attention to their work, but much laughter among themselves. Everyone here has to speak more than one language, the guard spoke northern Sotho, and the driver spoke Venda. South Africa with its complex history needs a generation or two before it heals well.

(Shadrak, the venda speaking pleasant driver from Aviator Hotel near JNB)
The next day, a South African airways, service with no smile, but comfortable flight with very good meals to Abu Dhabi.

(South African Airlines is bankrupt, popped up by the Government, much like the Malaysian Airlines)
Face to face with gulf insipidity at the Immigration but quickly warmed up by the Malayalee smiles of workers from Malabar. A very good hotel with reasonable price.
The next flight was the crown jewel of this trip, a 777-200 L of Etihad to Sao Paolo in Brazil, a fifteen hour flight with good food, good wine and extremely good attention. 
 (this was even before getting on the flight at the gorgeous, huge Lounge of the Etihad airways. Most of the people attending you were from the Philippines and I cant commend enough how friendly and warm they were. I met a Filipino with a feminine sounding name of Denise!)
 ( I thought of that distant afternoon, under the torpid skies of Miami, sharing the same bottle with my good friends M and G, who is from South Africa!)
(you could order what you want to eat, when you want to eat, repeat it whenever you want, and it was served with a smile. During the fifteen hour flight, I had: Arabic Mezze (twice), Pan fried Nile Perch with capers, tomato ragout, Brazilian white rice and roasted vegetables. Later I tried Pumpkin vegetable pie with tomatoes, portabello mushrooms, creamy spinach and a light rocket sauce)
Made friends with three FAs. A Portuguese with a Mozambican mother, a Brazilian from Manaus and a lovely Korean lady! A memorable flight indeed!
Arriving in Brasil was a bit of disappointment. Globalization has left the ordinary person grumpy. Globalization has made the exotic, rather ordinary. Garuilhos the suburb where the airport is located is so ordinary a picture of a poor country, is this the gateway to prosperity?
Think of the BRIC countries, everyone was touting at their economic potential and power
BR is not doing well
I half the people living in poverty, with no access to health care, meaningful education or basic services
C  I am not sure
BRIC  Brazil  India  China
I was very saddened to hear that 13 out of the most 25 polluted cities in the world are in INDIA, not to mention the lack of infrastructure in Indian cities. Is this what they call progress? And the few Indians who travel abroad, bloat about their country, not its glorious history but the achievements of the rich few, and how their economy will take over that of Italy. A country of 1300 million people can overtake a country of 100 million people, nothing to say about the equality, liberty and fraternity in India!
Ask yourself, whether you are in India or Malaysia, does the average person has good access to Health care, reasonably priced? Does a child can learn to read and write and aspire to go to University? These are things taken for granted in enlightened countries of the world. How can you have clean drinking water, when the rate of public defecation is highest? In the world…
I respect the vision of Comandante Jefe Fidel Castro when he spoke out against the Globalization trend decades ago.

The last part of the journey was on a new plane belonging to American Airlines, where I met a very nice young FA, who has been flying only for six months. The rest of the crew were from another time. The USA based airlines claim bias and discrimination and state support that makes the Gulf based airlines scoop out their profits. They are wrong, I am loyal to American Airlines and I would fly only them in the USA but their service cannot hold a candle to the service provided by Etihad or Qatar Airways. Being a Flight Attendant is a strenuous job and you cant expect 30 year old veterans of the skies to show any interest in the flying public, they just want their jobs done and retire to do Sudoku or read the magazines.
I am grateful to American Airlines for the courtesies they afford me in the USA and abroad, and I will be loyal to them. But any chance to fly Etihad or Qatar airways, I would welcome it with open arms..

It felt so good to arrive in Miami, this love affair that has been going on for years. Thank you UBER I was at the home of my sister within a matter of minutes after clearing the immigration in 30 seconds at Global Entry and customs in one minute.
Bienvenidos a Miami..
Somehow or other, I was thinking of Leticia in Colombia.. how can I get there?