byrdmanva's Travel Journals


What is the most interesting thing you learned in another culture?

Not sure yet, still learning

  • 56 years old
  • From North Carolina, United States
  • Currently in Virginia, United States

Rio 2007 Pan American Games

My trip to Rio in July 2007 for the first week of the Pan American Games.

In the midst of joy, sadness

Brazil Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  |  Jul 18, 2007
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 In other words, money was more important than people's lives. 

I got to play real reporter today. Unfortunately when I get to do that kind of thing, it usually involves stuff blowing up, burning, collapsing or crumbling and people are usually dead.

That was the case today, in the aftermath of Brazil's worst air disaster in Sao Paolo in which as many as 195 to 200 people died. The plane slammed into a gas station and a building after sliding off a rain-slicked runway in Sao Paolo. The runway, which some pilots had called "the aircraft carrier" because of its short length, had been resurfaced, but the grooves had not been carved into it to drain the water.

The accident was all over the news and Brazilian TV even read the names of the passengers on the list. They showed the grieving and shell-shocked relatives at the airport, which had been closed to jets like the A-320 that crashed because it was considered unsafe.

Unfortunately, an appeals court had overturned the original injunction because it was thought the economic impact on Brazil would be too high. In other words, money was more important than people's lives.

So those people paid the price for the desire for economic prosperity.

Brazil's president declared three days of mourning and Brazilian athletes are wearing black armbands to show solidarity with the families of those killed. They are also observing a minute of silence before each event.

Maybe building a better airport would be a better way to honor the memory of those killed. I don't know. But I do know that grief looks the same in any language. Even though I could not understand what was being said on Brazilian TV, I knew what was meant - this is a horrible tragedy. Unfortunately since the runway – which drops off at the end like an aircraft carrier – cannot be lengthened because there are houses – HOUSES – at both ends of it.

The crash is the worst air disaster in Brazil’s history. Last September 154 people where killed when a Gol airlines 737 collided with a private jet and crashed in the Amazon area. Brazil has notorious battles with its air traffic controllers – including an antiquated system where controllers have to use paper strips to keep track of airplanes.

One person outside Sao Paolo’s main morgue said that it was not surprising. β€œThis is Brazil,” he said. β€œThere’s blame to go all around, but no one is going to take responsibility in the end.”

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