|Caution: Change country to "USA" before using!|
As I wrote in a recent post, our Rio to Paris flight was canceled due to the French air traffic controller strike. We were flying TAM (yes, we got a great deal on the English-language page) and on the day the strike started the TAM Website advised passengers to call to find out what to do. So we did. But initially we used the Portuguese-language phone menu. We waited and waited. Finally a voice message came on and said, in Portuguese, "Here is news of your flight." Then there was nothing. Silence. We tried again. Nothing. Argghhhh. Mark switched to the English-language option. Well, surprise, surprise, we were attended immediately, and our flight was changed quickly, efficiently and to our satisfaction.
I can’t vouch personally for the following, but I can guarantee that the source is impeccable. I’m told that Brazilians must often show cold hard cash at immigration desks all over the world, enough cash to cover their expenses for the length of their trip. In my life I've never been asked to show cash when entering a country, nor would I carry two or three weeks’ worth of cash around. Who would? It’s ridiculously unsafe. I mean, what are credit cards for?
And finally, even though Brazil qualifies for the American Visa Waiver Program — and has apparently qualified for some time now — the United States stubbornly persists in requiring visas from Brazilian citizens, so in reciprocity Brazil requires visas from Americans. But on the application form for a Brazilian visa, Americans don’t get asked whether or not they have any communicable diseases. That question appears on the visa application that Brazilians must fill out for a tourist visa to the USA. I mean, really.