Ships continued to steam into Santos Bay until at the height of the dock strike and port congestion there were 26 ships waiting to be serviced. It was a week before the dispute was settled and the port authority authorized ships to dock and let passengers debark. The port authority took the ships in order of their arrival—virtually all ships were cargo vessels. A few, like ours, had passengers as well as cargo. Those were allowed to land first. So Chris and I and the passengers got to the dock and into Santos. The ship was going to be two days in port unloading and taking on supplies. Passengers were allowed to stay onboard but were encouraged to go into town, and, if they wished, take public transportation up the steep coastal mountain to Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo then, as now, was one of the most populous cities in the Western Hemisphere.
Before we left the U.S. Chris and I had contacted a member of the LDS Church who was a friend of a friend. Gary Neeleman had been a Salt Lake City broadcaster and reporter. He spoke fluent Portuguese because he had served a two-and-a-half-year mission for the LDS Church in Brazil. He returned to Brazil with his wife and two-year-old at Sao Paulo bureau chief of the United Press International. Chris and I had contact information for the Neelemans so we got in touch by phone. Gary was at work but, when apprised of our circumstances—that we had to be in Santos/Sao Paulo for two days, she invited us to come stay over night. The Neelemans took us out to dinner and gave us a very welcome bed for the night. The next morning we were awakened , early, by the Neeleman’s little boy who came into our room and said good morning. That boy, a toddler at the time, grew up to be the founder and owner of the international airline Jet Blue.
Meeting Gary and Rose Neeleman was to be a crucial and vital part of our time in Argentina.
Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor columnist. Download his book of goofy short stories, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia from Amazon.com.