Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000

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May 11-24, 2000: Manus, Recife VIII, TEXAS!

NOTE: OK...OK...so this journal is LONG overdue...so sue me. Some of it was written back in May...some of it here in September...so please excuse any changes of tenses either past or present in the writing. Now I am caught up for my previous trip to South America...at long last.

Current Date/Location: Sept. 26, 2000. Sucre, Bolivia

Current Itinerary: Sucre then Potosi and Uyuni...if there are no blockades. If so, then I will fly out of the country.

JOURNAL -

May 11, 2000 (Thur):

OK...I am trying to reconstruct this day in my mind...several months later. I remember that Manus is not much of a city to go see. It is dirty and I really don't like it much. It is where most people arrive for expeditions into the Amazon. Having had my boat adventure from Belem to Manus, I was ready to head back and see Luciana. I walked around for much of the day...bought a ticket to fly to Recife the next day. Found out there would be an opera at the famous Teatro Amazonas that night...I went and bought a ticket and was ready for the cultural extravaganza. The Teatro Amazonas is really a wonder...it is a lovely building with a huge dome on top with the colors of the Brazilian flag...inside it is as lovely as any theater you would find in Europe (It was built in the height of the boom years when Rubber Plantations were churning out materials and earning huge profits nearby in the late 1800s...generating lots of wealth quickly...some of which flowed into trying to make Manus more cultural...hence the Teatro Amazonas was built in 1896). 

It was a lovely night...the opera was nice...it was part of the "IV Festival Amazonas de Opera - Cenas de Ievgueni Onieguin (Concerto) Tchaikovski.

 Sleep. 

May 12, 2000 (Fri): 

Flew from Manus to Brasilia and on to Recife. Went to the Albergue and checked in. Luciana arrived after work...it was absolutely incredible to see her. ¨Absence makes the heart grow fonder.¨ 

We went to a birthday party at one of her friend's houses. It was interesting...good food and friends...but I didn't care...I was back with Luciana...all was right with the world. Smile. 

May 13, 2000 (Sat - Mother's Day in Brazil): 

We went to a restaurant owned by one of Luciana's Uncles to celebrate Mother's Day. It was nice...although, me being the foreigner and Luciana's new boyfriend tended to garner too much attention in my direction...some of Luciana's somewhat mischievous family members wanted to play some tricks on me...but Luciana saved me from her family...smile. 

That night, we went to a birthday party for Luciana's friend and coworker, Norma. There was much dancing and fun...I think I'll never tire of watching Brazilians dancing...wow. 

May 14, 2000 (Sun): 

Luciana worked...I went to Shopping Ibuapuerra...watched the movie The Whole Nine Yards...boring day...without Luciana. 

May 15, 2000 (Mon): 

I desperately needed to catch-up on e-mail so I went to Luciana's house in the morning. Had breakfast, kissed Luciana goodbye (as she went to work), and I napped for a couple of hours. Afterwards, I continued to read A Brief History of Time...and used the computer. 

Luciana came home for lunch. I can't explain the joy of seeing her entering the room I am in and coming over to give me a hug...mmmmmmm. Anyway, while I was going up the Amazon, she had learned another new skill...how to play the song "My Name is Luca", which she now played on the guitar for me and sang...it was sweet. Lunch. 

I continued to work on updating journals (almost a month behind right now...), and read Brief History of Time. Luciana came home after work, we had dinner, went and sat in the hammock and talked...ahhhhh...this is life. Then, we attended an internet meeting in her apartment building. A company was pitching them basically on the idea of cable-based internet access, rather than via telephone. The company would place a server in their building which was directly linked to the main server in the city via cables. This would cutout the need for using the phone to access the internet...it is an interesting pitch...but the tenants were not exactly sold on the plan...the provider could not guarantee radically faster speeds if everyone in the building was online...and had a few other flaws in the plan. It was good to see, nevertheless, and is what is happening all over Brazil, I am sure. 

We then went to Luciana's father's house. She had some work to do...then back to the Albergue. 


May 16, 2000 (Tue): 

Went to Luciana's house again today to catch-up on e-mails. Had breakfast with them. Napped for a little while. Woke and talked a little with Luciana's brother, Sergio. As you may recall, the first night I met Luciana, I saw her brother as the lead singer of a rock band playing at Fun House. Hmmmm...in a shifting paradigm that may become commonplace in the world, her brother is far from the long-haired metal-head stereotype (which I happen to like, being an ex-metal lover myself)...he is in fact a well mannered (and groomed), computer engineer who is quite different from his stage persona. He has recently accepted a position with a computer company in Portugal, and is moving there tomorrow. 

I think he exemplifies what is happening to this generation. He is highly motivated to succeed (working incredibly long hours from what I have seen)...mobile and is not necessarily tied down by country borders...maintains his contacts with his band and personal hobbies...and manages to maintain the interest of his lovely fiancée, Simone. Truly juggling lots of important activities...and doing a good job of it. This generation (in my opinion) is not willing to sacrifice personal goals for business goals...a well-rounded life seems to be the order of the day. When I return to the "Real World", I hope to be able to do the same...keep a balance that maintains these important aspects to a full, and complete life. Work Hard, Play Hard! 

Continued to read A Brief History of Time...now I have to tell you...this book is talking about the density of Black Holes and the like...but I am finding a higher density in this book. I am enjoying many of the concepts...but it is such a dense subject that I am only hoping to understand 10 percent of it...this is really heavy stuff. 

Luciana came home for lunch. Over lunch, she told me that she had spent the entire morning not seeing patients...but rather, trying to find drugs for her patients. It seems that right now, the hospital she is working at is short on a few particular drugs that her patients need. So she scoured the entire hospital looking for extras, and went to the director of the hospital to complain about the situation. She is frustrated at the incompetence that would allow them to run out of these basic things (she says that these drugs are far from being obscure...they are items in daily use). 

Luciana's shortage of basic supplies, and the apparent lack of oversight on the process of replenishing these items seems to be a widespread symptom in Brazil. As much as I love this country, I am not sure I can ever get used to this type of system. There is almost no oversight, future planning, or preventative measures...people seem to do what works in the short run...and when it fails, they say "Wow...it always used to work"...and continue to do the same thing...innovation, personal initiative, and ownership of the problem are in short supply in Brazil right now. In typical American fashion, I said that the director in charge needs to set guidelines for the pharmacy...when supplies run short, make one person in the pharmacy responsible for ordering new supplies...and if it is not possible to obtain, that person is responsible to report the situation to the director...then, if you have a shortage you have one of two things: 1. The director knows about the problem, is involved in the solution, and is aware of the consequences. ...or 2. If the director is not involved, the person in the pharmacy failed to do their job (replenishment of supplies or if not possible, notifying the director)...and can be dealt with accordingly (sounds hard...but running out of drugs in a hospital is NOT a joking matter, is it???). 

Kissed Luciana as she went back to work...I went back to my journals. I then went for a walk...found a store and tried to replenish their household supply of Coca-Cola (needless to say, I had been depleting it at a savage rate.). Also found a flower store...bought a rose for Luciana...it is always a good time to give your loved one a rose, eh?! 

I was right, upon returning to the apartment, she liked the rose. Sergio was there and all excited about his trip. He was packing and trying on his new suit, and then next thing I know he was walking around the house in his boxers with a wild (but typically Brazilian) hat on...it was funny...can't wait to have the photo of Sergio and Luciana in her "Beetles Jacket" developed and scan it for the world to see...smile...I guess being silly runs in the family. 

I talked Luciana into going walking in the park with me. We headed out to the neighborhood park (which has a 24 hour police station in it...needless to say, Luciana does not live in the poor part of town...those parts of town rarely have police drive through them...much less putting in a 24 hour station...people with money and power will always receive a disproportionate share of the benefits of a society, sad but true.). We started walking...but I was in a good mood and said that we should jog it. We jogged for 1 kilometer...walked 1/2 a kilometer...then jogged another 1/2 kilometer (more because it began to rain than actual motivation). It felt good to be active...and it was nice to have a partner (especially one as wonderful as I have already stated Luciana to be) to go walking/jogging with...smile...with the right person, everything is better, eh? 

Back to the house...had dinner...then back to the albergue. 

May 17, 2000 (Wed):

Woke...read some of my VIP magazine...Brazil's equivalent to Maxim magazine...but it is all in Portuguese...and has Feitiecera on the cover, rather than Cameron Diaz. 

Then headed out...went to Shopping Recife...was looking in the English book section of one of the stores, and was shocked to find a new John Grisham book, The Brethren!!! Being short on funds, and a fast reader...I took advantage of their tables and chairs within the bookstore...and read the entire book in about 4 hours. It is OK...not my favorite...but a decent story. A little far fetched...if it was a movie, I'd say wait for the rental...as it is a book, I will say that it is probably best to borrow it...rather than buy it. 

Met Luciana at the Albergue and we headed out to go bowling! We met one of her friends from work, Jefferson, at the bowling alley...and the pins started falling! We played a couple of games and had lots of fun. Luciana is not the best bowler in the world (and neither am I for that matter), but I was impressed with her. She doesn't just half throw the ball down the lane in a hap-hazard way. Like everything she does, she tries pretty hard to succeed. She had a respectable score and several spares and strikes...and more importantly, we had a great time. Although I've never been able to have anything but a great time when I am with her...go figure. 

Finished late and went back to the Albergue. 

May 18, 2000 (Thur):

Went to compare bus fares Recife to Sao Paulo vs. airfares...hmmmm...I found out that I could spend about 36 hours of cramped hell in a bus and only pay 136 Reals (About $70USD)...or I could spend a short time in an airplane and pay 252 Reals (About $130USD)...I am going to opt to splurge on the airfare...what the heck, eh? Time to get back to Texas for awhile... Anyway...since today is Thursday...Luciana got off work at noon...she met me at the Albergue and we went to her house. She was feeling pretty tired and her legs hurt her...so she napped and I used the computer for awhile. We took a walk around the park near her house...had dinner. 

May 19, 2000 (Fri):

Went to Luciana's house to use the internet while she was at work. Finished the book, Hard Aground by James W. Hall, it was a decent book...but only for passing time...no other worth...I guess I am only trying to read significant books (literature, science, historical or philosophical) these days...this book didn't qualify.

Walked to a travel agency near her apartment and bought my Recife-Sao Paulo ticket for Monday. Again, being a foreigner in Brazil is sometimes an amazing experience...I began by talking with one guy...and by the end of my conversations, the entire office was huddled around me trying to help, and the lady who owns the agency even came out to shake my hand and chat for a minute. Not because I am such an incredible guy...but simply because I am a foreigner and the Brazilians are such a friendly people...makes me smile sometimes. 

Lunch... 

Luciana came home...legs hurting her...she went to get x-rays and to have an examination by her favorite doctor...her father. I forgot to get my airline ticket $$#@$#@!!! She returned, happy she didn't have tuberculosis...showed me her chest x-rays...quite impressive if I do say so myself. Silly doctors. 

We had dinner...I went back to the Albergue. 

May 20, 2000 (Sat):

Woke...went to get my ticket...they had to take another imprint of my credit card and would deliver my ticket later...grumph! Luciana and I got a basketball and went to play. Visited her high school...no courts available...but it was a walk down memory lane for Luciana as she had attended this school for many years and had been on the basketball team. We went to the Yacht Club that Luciana's family has a membership at...and found an open basketball court. We shot free throws, played one on one...and had a great time. 

I won lunch at McDonalds...returned to house...napped for awhile. Later, Luciana's mother was in high gear to prepare for tonight's birthday party...Luca spent a lot of time preparing appetizer trays...smile... I used the internet and printed lyrics to songs about Texas...including The Yellow Rose of Texas...smile. Had to shower and change quickly before the party. It was a nice event...full of family and friends. A wonderful time. 

May 21, 2000 (Sun):

Luciana and I returned to the Yacht Club and shot some more baskets. We also played soccer with some kids on the hard surface. Unfortunately at one point Luciana stepped on the ball wrong, and resulted in great pain. Hmmmm...but the mighty doctor decided to continue playing for awhile longer...confirming the fact that even doctor's believe in the old mantra, "Just walk it off! Just Walk it off!" (Hmmm...we would later learn that she had broken the foot and she would be in a cast for the next month or two...Doctors make the worst patients!) 

We stopped playing and spent the rest of the day together. Her foot continued to hurt her...I told her to get it x-rayed...she said not to worry...Doctors! 


May 22, 2000 (Mon):

Woke at the Albergue...went to Shopping Ibipuerra very early. Found a good basketball and bought it for Luciana...she absolutely loves basketball and needs a basketball of her own. 

She had gone to the hospital and then came to pick me up at the hotel (despite me telling her to continue working) to take me to the airport. She had an x-ray of her foot done...and they decided that it may be broken (later they would decide that it WAS broken and put it in a cast.).

She liked her basketball...smile. We went to the airport...and had the normal, pathetic goodbye of two people who love each other who are going to be separated for quite some time. I finally went through security and waved goodbye to her...the last time I would see her until August. 

I flew to Sao Paulo. In Sao Paulo, I had a long layover until the flight to Dallas. During this time, I called many of the people who had been wonderful to me during my trip in Brazil and thanked them. I would also now like to extend the following THANK YOUs for going above and beyond to welcome me into their homes, hearts and towns: 

The Alencar Family in Fortaleza, Belem and San Francisco. 
The Giacomini Family in Limiera and Pouso Alegre. 
The Santos Family in Campinas. 
Ana Paula's Family in Cuiaba. 
Cesar in Sao Paulo. 
The Elgarrista Family in Mar de Plata. 
Marcela in Zarate. 
The Balabanians...wherever they are. 
The Caruso Family in Rio de Janiero. 
Jayne in Brasilia. 
Mickey and Ju in Belo Horizonte. 
The Miranda Family in Brasilia and Goiania. 
Others that I may have missed... 
....and of course to Luciana's family and friends in Recife. 

THANK YOU ALL. You are the reasons why South America is such a special place...the warmth of the people. 

I got onboard the plane and was again...bound for the USA...going home to TEXAS. 

May 23, 2000 (Tue): 

Arrived in DFW...connected to Austin...and was met by my mom at the airport. I am not too proud to say that it was great to give my mamma a hug after being away for 6 months...now I was home. 

Doug