I have a fairly small family. In Canada, anyway. My cousins through my mother’s side live in Argentina and New York. My mother’s sister, her husband, and two young girls left for Argentina from Italy in the 50’s. My aunt and uncle have been to Canada twice (once in 1973, and once in 1994). My parents, my mother’s brother and his wife went to Argentina to visit them in the early 80s. They also went to Brazil, where some of my father’s cousins live. Tony has vague memories of his cousins (he was a young child in Italy when they left), but I never met them. But I always wanted to!!
My mother got a call from her sister in spring and learned that one of my cousin’s sons was getting married. And she suddenly decided she wanted to go! My father didn’t want to go, so she approached my brother and I. We didn’t hesitate – of course we would go with her!
To get to Buenos Aires, we had to fly through Sao Paolo, Brazil. My father has cousins in Sao Paulo, and we attempted to arrange a stay for a few days. However, the cost was prohibitive. My mother had called ahead, to let them know we would be flying through. After consulting the airport, they called back and told us that we would be able to get out to the public area of the airport, and so they decided they would come to the airport to spend a few hours with us. Tony and I wondered how we were going to arrange that, since Visas are required to enter Brazil, but we didn’t think much of it.
We left on Tuesday, September 23rd (Tony’s Birthday) and arrived in Sao Paolo, Brazil at about 6:30 am. After speaking to airport officials, we were told we were not allowed to leave the restricted area. No ifs, ands, or buts (and we tried!). You can’t purchase a Visa at the airport. It was killing us, knowing they were sitting in the airport waiting for us to come out, but there was nothing we could do. We asked if they could come in, but that wasn’t allowed either.
Afterwards, we learned that they waited for us until about noon! Eek! We also learned that if we had Italian passports, we would not have needed a Visa. It turns out that all of our relatives in Argentina that were born in Italy still maintain their Italian citizenship. They travel on an Italian passport, and none of them have become citizens of Argentina. Tony and I guess that the Brazilian relatives are the same, and they probably assumed we had Italian passports. But my parents (like most immigrants to Canada that I know) became Canadian citizens as soon as they could. Hm. I wonder why that is.
Anyway, after we found out that we couldn’t get out to the public area of the airport, we inquired about leaving on an earlier flight. Our connecting flight left 8 hours later. We couldn’t stand the thought of sitting in the airport for 8 hours. And thank heavens, we were able to make an earlier flight. (Seems to me that flights from Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires leave every hour. Don’t know why our agent told us we had to wait 8 hours!)
Next instalment: Arrival