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Left Rio for the Venice of Brazil: Recife

Written By: FOXY on September 13, 2009 11 Comments

Recife_Pernambuco_BrazilBefore leaving Rio I strongly considered going to Florianópolis but unfortunately the weather there now is too cold to be pleasant.  Right now it’s the winter in Brazil so I decided instead to head North East towards the equator for warmer climates. 

My top three choices (Salvador, Recife or Natal) ended with me flying to Recife today.  The flight was the worst experience I’ve ever had since childhood.  I’ve flown hundreds of times in my life.  As a really tall guy I almost always get an exit row seat for the leg room.  Today I didn’t initially get assigned one but there were two seats unoccupied after they sealed the doors shut.  So, I had a flight attendant re-seat me in the exit row.  Great I thought, now this flight will be enjoyable.  As we’re taxing to the runway she walks up to me and tells me I have to get out of my exit row seat and take this weird seat in the back of the plane.  I said, What?  Why?” but she said I had to do it now.  Highly unusual, but I complied.

After we hit 10,000 feet she comes over to me and says, “I’m sorry but you’re handicapped and can’t sit in the exit row.”  I reply, “I’m sorry what did you say?  Handicapped, who?  What are you talking about?”  She softly says, “May I see your hand.” So I show her my left hand. (I have three fingers on that hand) She says, “Yes I’m afraid you’re handicapped, sorry but you can not sit in the emergency exit seat.”  I snap back at her, “I’m not sorry and I’m not handicapped.”  Now she doesn’t know what to do or say so she pulls out the in-seat placard that explains the exit row rules.  She points to the portion that says, “Handicapped are not allowed.”  Now she’s really making me angry because I’ve already told her I’M NOT HANDICAPPED.  I’ve  gone from insulted to hurt and now to truly being furious at this imbicile.  I yell at her, “I’m not handicapped lady, what is your problem?”  She then starts to say something about you are handicapped again and now I’m way past the breaking point.  I scream at her, “Just leave me alone. Get out of here. VAMOS  (go).”  She looks coldly at me and continues to speak while I stare at the rest of the plane looking back at us.  I quickly unfasten my seat belt and head to the front of the plane.  This stupid lady follows me and keeps on trying to talk to me.  What do I have to do to have her leave me alone?  I tell her to, “MOVE and LEAVE ME ALONE.”  I head for my seat at that back of the plane and stay there.  I can’t believe what is going on.  This is more than insulting or infuriating it’s reached senseless.  Thankfully, she avoids me the whole rest of the flight until the food service and then tries to talk to me again.  Unbeliavable, but I’ve got my headphones on so I just ignore her.  The flight ends with me speaking to a manager in Recife and asking for a complete refund who in turn does nothing.  I now have a written compliant submitted to Gol Airlines and will update later.

So now on to to my trip to my hotel.  The taxi cab driver tried to pull a fast one on me by not turning on the meter which I corrected myself by turning it on for him!  Then the guy pretends to not know how to get to my hotel.  I pulled out my iphone and showed him exactly how to get there, down the main road from the airport and then a right.  He proceeds to make a wrong turn.  I tell him to turn right.  He goes straight.  I tell him to turn right again.  Things get worse when he turns left, we’re now going North when we should be going South.  I’m immediatly thinking, oh sh*t this dude is going to take me to a Favella (imagine an area worse than a ghetto) where thugs will be waiting to rob me, loot me, maybe even shoot me.  But what am I going to do?  Jump out the cab window and leave all my possesions in the trunk…  no way.  At that point I’m hoping the guys just a little slow on the uptake of directions…  

I immediately tell him to stop, to pull over RIGHT NOW.  He does.  I bring out my iphone again (with an interactive map in Portugese) and show him how to get to the hotel.  He puts on his “coke bottle thick” glasses and he still looks baffled as to where we’re going.  I realize this guy really is slow.  AWESOME, at least I’m not headed for my death at a Favella. 

The guy just had no clue on directions or sure was pretending to, to rack up the meter.  He flags another taxi, gets directions and then starts heading the proper way.

He turned a $7 Reals($4 USD)  cab ride into a $19 ($10 USD) trip.  Nice work.  But I don’t play that game.  He said sorry, you can give me $15 Reals.  I handed him a $10 and told him to keep the change.  He said, “thats it?” to which I responded, “yup, ciao, amigo.”

Ok back to the actual place, Recife.  Based on the flight and the cab you’d think I was in for a world of hurt but actually, the city is cool so far.  It’s much more “sleepy” than Rio and I like that for a change.  Oddly enough, It’s also the murder capital of Brazil, hence why I was so freaked out in the taxi.  I’ve heard the underbelly of this city in the many Favella areas is pure evil.  Luckily the parts of the city I’ll be visiting are all known as very safe areas.

More soon,


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11 Responses to “Left Rio for the Venice of Brazil: Recife”

  1. Frank says on: 13 September 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Holy crap man, what a shitty travel day!
    You practiced much restrain with the B*TCH stewardess on the plan! Probably a good thing as post 9/11 who knows what crap they would have tried to pull on you.
    Be careful in Recife!
    We enjoyed all the updates you posted today!
    Have fun & stay safe!

  2. Aunt Judy says on: 13 September 2009 at 10:02 pm

    I enjoyed reading all your updates tonight. I’m just so sorry about all the trouble you had on the plane and in the taxi ~ hopefully you’ve experienced the “worst”, and it will all improve now!!
    Continue to enjoy but keep safe.
    Love you, Aunt Judy

  3. Helen McHargue says on: 14 September 2009 at 11:41 am

    Hi Jason. What an experience! I hope the rest of your time in Recife is peaceful and pleasant.
    Stay safe.


  4. Ang says on: 14 September 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Well, there are many beautiful parts of S. America and wonderful people but I’ve been on flights there where a 12 year old was sitting on their parent’s lap and various animals have been on the plane. So, they are not exactly up to date on, well, lots of things. I am sorry you had to go through that, very disheartening. I hope you don’t let it bother you too much. I wouldn’t expect a refund as I am pretty sure things don’t work like that there. In other observations, I have to say Leo (my 4 year old) was extremely fond of your Plataforma photos. He kept asking me to go back and look at those ones again. The ladies forgot their underwear! Enjoy Recife but be CAREFUL!! Sorry you are not going to Florinapolis, it is amazing! Thank you for all of your posts and pictures, I love hearing about your travels, maybe hang gliding another day? XO Love Ang

  5. Jan Lemkow says on: 14 September 2009 at 1:20 pm

    WOW… what an adventure!! Can we all write to that airlines and tell them to fire that person? Or, at least slap her around a little? 😉

    I so enjoy reading your blog… you are a great writer!!


  6. Linda says on: 15 September 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Hey J, Next time you have a choice of 3 cities pick the one that ISN’T the murder capital of the country. lol

  7. gallens says on: 18 September 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Recife has nothing to do with the air trip/taxi. Both events could have occured going to Florianopolis, New York City or Tahiti. SP to Recife is about a 2 1/2 hour flight, not exactly a intercontinental trip…I am sure there was no first class on Gol. I am 6’2″ and can handle 2 1/2 trip in coach. Unless it is a pinga-pinga flight that stretchs to 4 hours, which is more annoyance than discomfort.

  8. Jason says on: 19 September 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Hey Gallens,

    You must have misunderstood something because the bulk of my post was about my experience not about the place, Recife. I didn’t “dog” Recife. I enjoyed my time there.

    It’s great that you at 6′ 2″ can handle flying but add five inches to your legs and you might understand how I might not enjoy a regular seat as much as you.

    Understand that the real problem with my experience on Gol Airlines was not the seat, it was the attitude of the flight attendant during the flight. Whether they are or not, no one needs to be told they are handicapped. I’m stronger than 3 out of 4 people with ten fingers, I type 10 words per minute / per finger (80 words per minute total) and I would never consider myself handicapped in any way.

    Is there anything unusual or different about you? Maybe a few extra pounds? A big nose? A scar or mark? Bad teeth? Whatever it is… Now imagine a flight attendant walks up to you and tells you repeatedly that you are handicapped due to your having something unusual or different. Would you not be offended for her crass and ignorant attitude?


  9. Maria says on: 3 October 2009 at 7:26 am

    Hi Jason,

    Little behind on my reading here! I am honestly shocked she noticed! Despite this unfortunate experience, I am really enjoying your travels, it amazes me!

    Love you,


  10. updatetoo says on: 14 January 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Very interesting post I enjoy your website keep up the amazing posts.

  11. James says on: 7 February 2012 at 10:34 am

    I love how arrogant people can get to the point of belittling other countries in an attempt at making everything about how backward they are when that person isn’t given special treatment. A few point about your experience on the plane.

    1- airline rules, for the most part, are based on US FAA guidelines. Exit rows are not intended for extra leg room (which apparently you are entitled to) but for emergency situations and quick exiting of the plane. This means the people sitting there need to be able to handle the duties of opening the door and helping others out. The flight attendant certainly doesn’t know how fast you type or how strong you are just by looking at you. She sees you are not 100% able bodied and sticks to the guidelines that say you are not allowed to sit there. If she just assumes you can deal with it and an emergency arrives where you can’t, people can die. But your extra leg room certainly outweighs that concern. You comfort first, other passengers safety second.

    My father in law was denied an exit row seat on a delta flight from Austin to Atlanta because he didn’t hear the flight attendant ask if he could handle the duties required of an exit row. It happened to be noisy on the plane, but she would not accept that, said he was hard of hearing and couldn’t sit there. Guess he’s in for AT LEAST a full refund, considering this was a domestic flight in the US and not some third world country.

    2- Most likely the flight attendant was having a hard time communicating with you, which is why she kept repeating “handicapped”, a word that you should understand. Perhaps your attitude was not helping. Perhaps her English wasn’t perfect, or perhaps you didn’t bother to learn the language of the country you are visiting, all of which make HER the B*TCH and you the poor victim, and in no way an annoying Ahole.

    Interesting how you go from being offended at the treatment you got for being labeled handicapped to immediately calling the cabbie a thief despite his obvious trouble in understanding you, and his HANDICAP, of which you immediately make fun. Perhaps he couldn’t see the map on your phone because he was waiting for your non-existant finger to point the way! (bet that’s no as funny as your coke bottle glasses remark)

    3- perhaps you are entitled to have the rules changed to accommodate you. Next time be sure to let the pilot know before hand. Don’t forget to mention your per digit secretarial skills and 75th percentile strength to avoid any misunderstanding.

    4- @ang – 12 year old lap children and animals on the plane? Perhaps in a hollywood movie highly offensive stereotype, but not on a commercial airline in S. America, certainly not in Brazil.

    5- had the flight attendant actually done her job correctly (not just half way by removing you from the exit row), you would’ve been arrested upon landing. It is against federal law in most countries to be insubordinate to flight attendants.

    You are the personification of why I am ashamed of being American when I’m abroad.

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