When I booked our tickets to England with TAM airlines over the internet, I arranged an itinery which I thought gave plenty sufficient time to make the changeover in Sao Paolo. TAM airlines then contacted us to say that the gap wasn’t long enough and so we were being rescheduled. Which as Martin said is fairly poorly disguised code for “We’re even less competant than you think we are”. However, compared with our experience with TAM a year and a half ago, I am pleased to announce that they have made some serious strides to becoming a serious grown-up airline. The whole operation is now much cleaner (as are the planes), timing pretty nearly spot on, they got themselves organised to give us well-placed seats for travelling with a small child (they were practically the best seats in the house short of offering an upgrade in fact). I think the main thing they lack now would be some staff that speak Spanish. Given that this is their flagship route into a continent which only actually uses two major languages, it would seem reasonable to expect the cabin crew to speak both of them rather than putting all anouncements into English and Portuguese and relying on other passengers to translate for the Spanish speakers. That said, when we travelled KLM a couple of years back, they seemed to have a similar policy, and at least translating “she says she’d like some water please” “she says she’ll bring you some in a minute” relieves some of the boredom of crossing the Atlantic. And TAM didn’t lose any of our luggage which KLM, BA and Air France have all managed to achieve at least once each.
Joni nearly caused a minor international incident coming into land, watching out of the window as we came down through the clouds he announced “look, fire!” and then when he saw the houses and trees below us and I explained that we were up in the sky “plane fall down”.
So here we are in blighty, only for a couple of weeks this time. Last time when we left Cordoba for four months, someone suggested that we needed to have a going away party. So I organised it, bought everything, prepared everything, invited the people, Martin did the barbecuing, and I did every last bit of the clearing up afterwards and I vowed never to do that again. This time, someone else suggested that we needed to have a going away party (for a two week trip!) and twenty people came, they all brought food, they all helped with the preparation, one of the guys did the barbecuing, one of the young people had made a cake, willing hands set the table, and willing hands helped to clear it all away afterwards, and seven of the guys came to see us off from the bus station on Monday night. Two nights, two cities, two hours away, two worlds in the same country, and to me a summary of the experience of living in these very different contexts. If I never had cause to go to Cordoba again I promise I wouldn’t complain, but San Francisco, well that’s a place I find I might even look forward to going back to in a couple of weeks time.