I think it’s fair to say we’ve had a lot of red tape in Brazil. It really started to feel like the entire country was against us/me (I even seemed incapable of beating Liam in a game of cards) which becomes really exhausting in a country thousands of miles from home where you don’t speak the language. During a slightly melodramatic meltdown the other day I seriously started looking at flights home.
This isn’t to say it’s not an amazing country, I’ve camped in the rainforest, loved Salvador, seen a new world wonder, and that’s before we start on Rio. We’ve also met some awesome people. Luckily all these things and more have made the drama bearable and worth it.
But, I was ready to leave Brazil. I feel like we’ve been bleeding money, whether it’s another banking drama or a must see sight, just get me to Uruguay already. It was going to be two overnight buses in a row, I was ok with that. I’d prefer it direct, but let’s go.
So we did. We rushed to the bus station in Foz de Iguaçu (via an unnecessary transfer) to be told we had to wait two and a half hours til the later, more expensive bus. This was irritating (there was a bus in 20 minutes) but due to the language barrier we accepted it. We boarded that bus and it was good, I slept the whole way. Bueno.
Arriving in Porte Alegra near the coast we knew there wasn’t much to do to fill the gap before the night bus to Uruguay. Luckily on investigation (and vital information from online blogs) we found that a company called Planalto did buses to Chui, the Brazilian border town, and one left in under three hours. Bonus. My St Christopher was working today.
We got on that and it was comfortable, it had in-flight movies and wifi. We were set. My mood improved the closer we got to the border.
Then people started getting off in droves, the bus started heading north not south, and eventually we were the only ones left.
Then the driver got on and stared at us with an overwhelming look of “ahhh s***”.
Turned out everyone going to Chui had transferred around half an hour ago, along with our luggage, and we were now in Rio Grande, gateway to many beautiful beaches. Not gateway to Uruguay. After lengthy phone calls and debates around us, all in Portugese, we were ushered into a waiting taxi.
This reminded me of the time a friend and I got on a wrong train from London to Liverpool, changed to a bus replacement, and found ourselves at Birmingham New Street late on a Saturday night with no more trains. That time I drunkenly argued until National Rail paid for a cab back to Liverpool, quite possibly just to get me to leave them alone.
I haven’t feared for my life since the night I awoke to three men outside my hammock in Annai. But, wow. I was clinging to my seat as we raced south wards thinking, “I’m not ready to die, and I don’t want a Brazilian car crash to be the way it happens!” But we did eventually pulled up, alive and unscathed, to the spot where we’d transferred the other people. Here a woman, who kept speaking to me in Portuguese, bribed us onto another bus company heading to be border town. Alas this bus stopped as much as a Paraguayan one and we still had 150 miles to go at around 8pm.
This bus had a double act driver and conductor, as a lot of South American buses do. As we neared the border, and people started disembarking in groups, I checked we hadn’t missed anything. I tried to explain our bags were in Chui. Cue them having some sort of ongoing domestic all the way to the border. Debating who they should call, what I’d said and everything in between.
They had clearly worked together since the year dot, it was like watching the chuckle brothers or a married couple. This was me and Liam in forty years time if neither of us commit homicide. They were so funny to watch, and the driver’s delight when he discovered both Liam and he spoke German was amazing.
Eventually they stamped us out of Brazil (we breathed a sigh of relief) and we crossed the border road and entered Chuy in Uruguay at around midnight to try find a bed for the night. At a mere sixteen degrees Liam got out his fleece.
The next morning felt positive. It was like a weight had been lifted from out shoulders. We went to the bus stop and found we could complete our journey for under £2 each, and it left in 25 minutes. Perfecto.
Final destination: Punta del Diablo for a few days of beach 🙂