Galeão airport and morning commuter train

2020-02-04 @Travel

I spent the night at the Rio Galeão airport, flight from Santiago having arrived after midnight, my lodgings inaccessible until the morning time frame. Such has been the story on so many prior occasions with the sorts of flights I book.

It would become another sluggish day following a routine sleepless night. Must merely avoid radical decision making and heavy analytics.

Seated in the departures area, I observed nothing in particular. The ambulating figures across the tiled floor, corpses lying down in strangely contorted positions to occupy the armrest inflexible seating, cleaning crew ambivalently sweeping occasional crumbs off the floor; mostly, I felt like an empty vessel floating the seas of lethargy.

Occasionally I stood to pace around. Then I wrote in my journal for a time and entertained an analog brainstorming session. Later on I listened to the Miles Davis fusion album Get up with it, what for me usually yields a psychedelic session of funk, rhythm, blues, ambience and transcendental meditation.

Mostly, however, I sat upright and stared into oblivion.

6AM having arrived, I ordered a small espresso, in hopes not to experience too drastic of cognitive lapses for at least the next couple of hours as I travel into the city.

I took the BRT (a glorified bus) to a metro station notably out of the way into Zona Norte where my transfer to the Metro would take place. Favelas spread all around, scenery moist, foggy, and nourishing after recent rainfall. Such a contrast to the dry, arid, dessert-like, sun-scotched Santiago.

Little did I realize, it was the peak 7AM time frame. About 20 stations (~45 minutes) separated me from the destination.

The wagon already arrived nearly filled to capacity. I barely squeezed my backpack and small carrying case between the bodies. And with each station, more corpses piled in, squishing everything in the act.

Human carnage it was, the kind Rio Carnaval will probably produce at it’s full savage capacity.

In the boarding station, I’d also eyed two Russian-speaking travelers with much larger, hipster sized backpacks, rummaging with the ticket machine, probably on course to board the next train, as oblivious to the implication of the journey as I, although definitely new to these parts. Adventuresome souls…

This aspect of the journey entertained me. Two factors actually enabled the eight hours to pass with facility: total indifference and an empty stomach, thanks to the degenerate flight meal avoidance.

But I felt empathetic towards those that conduct this journey daily, round-trip, and then probably seek some additional bus connection to cross the poorer Zona Norte (comprising the vast portion of Rio) to the city center or Zona Sul. That journey can easily span 2-4 physically tense hours daily with no opportunity for repose or book reading.

I’ve too been known to pass long commuting periods upwards of 3 hours per day, although never under such strained conditions. My position felt privileged.

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