By Treva P
My husband David, my daughter Stephanie and I disembark from our first-class Pan Am flight shuffling into a stark gray building where we present our passports and then wait to be picked up by the driver of my husband’s new boss. New boss, new job, new city and new experiences to come in this my first trip and move to Sao Paulo, Brazil, circa 1976. The city and the sky are gray, not attractive. It is August and this is their winter. We are quickly whisked away to a downtown hotel in the middle of the city where we will stay until we find and rent a house.
Our first obstacle to overcome is what to do with our dog. We had snuck Liza, our small, adorable black Lhasa Apso dog, on board the plane in a black carry-on bag. It was astonishing how well she did on that long trip traversing thousands of miles from Pasadena. Once we settle in for the flight, she peeks out from the bag munching on treats and slurping up water. But now our need is to figure out how we are going to keep her in our room when dogs aren’t allowed in the hotel. This is going to be challenging, especially taking those necessary twice a day walks. David is assigned that duty.
Stephanie is a real trooper behaving perfectly and adjusting to her new surroundings. She turns one year old this first week we are in the hotel. A cupcake and a celebration will be in order.
Upon recalling our arrival in Sao Paulo all those years ago, I cringe to think about how naïve we were. Taking a dog on the airplane? Moving with a one year old? At the time, living and working overseas seemed adventurous and seemed the right thing to do for David’s career. It eventually was good for his career but that first year in Sao Paulo was a tough one in many many ways. For a couple of months after we moved into a rented home outside the city, I was isolated because we didn’t have a car or a driver. And, once we were given a car, we discovered that finding our way around was annoyingly difficult – we were always losing our way. That first year there was an emergency room visit late into the night, a second pregnancy and an appointment with an obstetrician who didn’t understand the term ‘natural childbirth’, a large rat in the back yard, our maid was as lonely as I was since she had no one nearby with whom to talk, and then there was my less than adequate Portuguese language skills. The difficulties continued. David wasn’t given the position for which he was hired so he became very despondent and miserable with his job and his boss. You can only guess what it is like to live with a man who is so torn, disappointed and discouraged. For a year I tried to console and emotionally support him. After those excruciating months, David was hired by a competitor bank for the very position for which we had moved in the first place. It was then time to move to Rio de Janeiro.