Today Mark and I arrived in Sao Paulo at around 6:30 am local time, or about 2:30 am Utah time, after a nine-hour flight that wasn't comfortable enough to sleep on. We were picked up by Levi and Janine, a couple we had hired to pick us up, show us around the city, and then drop us off in Sao Jose dos Campos. In SJ we stayed at the house of Alessandra, the mother of Leonardo, one of the exchange students who had stayed with me and Brynn earlier this year.
Today was a travel day. Wake up at Alessandra's in Sao Jose dos Campos, breakfast, rush to the bus station, sleep on the bus on the way to the airport in Guarulhos, Sao Paulo, plane to Brasilia, layover for six hours, flight to Rio Branco, arriving at around 2:00 am. Hard seats everywhere. My behind is going to take a while to recover. I'm kind of delicate back there.
It's Friday the 25th. We arrived at almost 2 am local time at the airport in Rio Branco. A day or two before I had gotten in touch with Beth Castro, a member in Rio Branco, to ask her what a good hotel would be to stay at. She insisted we stay with her, and she and her husband Francisco picked us up from the airport and took us to their home where they had two beds made up for us in a room with AC and high-speed Internet. They did make us pay for it all by keeping us up talking until 4 am :)
Beth and Francisco both work, so they left us sleeping and we didn't wake up until 12:30 when their son Heder came home and asked if we wanted to go down the street to a restaurant for lunch. We got in his car, had a great lunch for about $2.50, and then went back home. Then Beth came home and walked us all over the bairro Tucuma to see various people I had known during the mission, as well as a few I hadn't known but was happy to meet.
The highlight was meeting Alvoro and his family. Alvoro and his wife Fatima (Fatinha) had just been married when I was here, and are both return-missionaries and were all gung-ho about everything. Alvoro has a very consistent positive attitude. I had always wanted to know how they were doing, and was glad to find them well. Alvoro has been bishop twice since I last saw him, and he's still alive.
Rio Branco. We were picked up by Liberalino, a local member, after breakfast and he took us on a tour downtown, then to a park/zoo a bit outside of town. After lunch at Francisco and Beth's and a little nap Alvoro picked us up with his kids Amon and Amanda and took us outside town to a sitio (small farm/resort) called Panorama Pesque Pague. It had a bunch of small ponds with different kinds of fish in them. We didn't do any fishing, but we did bring home some cupuacu the caretaker of the place gave us. Alvoro then took us to get some fish (tambaqui, or tilapia), some groceries, and a cake made by the former stake president Tarciso. We then went to Alvoro's house where he cooked up the fish, we met Alvoro and Fatima's youngest Albert, and we had a good evening talking, having some acai and cupuacu, cupuacu cake, and then finally came home really late, just in time to get to bed for church the next morning at 8:30.
Church at the Universitario Ward, which includes Tucuma and Universitario bairros. Visiting the house where I, Te Koi Smith, Mattern, Bonfim, Dean, Haynie, and Shutz lived in the Tucuma area. Templeton would have been there just before, as well, I think. Meeting up with Stefen and his sister and wife (those are two separate persons), then to Reginaldo's house, the son of Dona Laura. Many thanks to Alvoro for driving us all around.