Transportation Adventure

Well, everyone should be happy to hear that my travel luck has moved from horrendous airport fiascos to endless bus rides.  Adam and I have been trying to get to Campo Grande for 2 days now.  We told our hostel 3 days ago that we wanted to book a bus right away. They ensured us that busses go several times a day, so to check back with them the morning we wanted to leave and they could book us a ticket.

So the next morning, our receptionist Clei calls up the station and books us on the 5 pm bus. We paid for our ticket, went out to see the bird sanctuary for the afternoon, grabbed our bus snacks (because god knows I’m not eating that bus food again) and make it back to the hostel a couple hours early. 
”Bad news” says Clei. The bus is full. Not just ours, but ALL the busses. No more leave until the following night! So, we book the next day’s bus, stay at the hostel for one more night, make it through the day at the giant Paraguayan/Brazil dam and head towards the bus station (finally).

Our bus is supposed to leave at 18:00.  We are fairly on time and leave at quarter after instead.  No big deal. The scenery in Brazil is surprisingly stunning! It reminds us a lot of driving through the Okanagan with rolling hills of green and fields of crops. Other than a little bit of construction on the highway, we are making good time. Which is really nice because we have to switch busses in a city a couple hours up the road in order to continue North. We have 2 hours on the first bus, 13 on the second. Makes for a long night. Unfortunately, just when everything seems so great, our bus gets stopped for a random drug check. Police come on board with drug dogs and search the isles. Our bags are all taken off the bus, opened up and searched through. A couple people are asked to step off the bus and be checked, but in the end, nothing is found and we all continue. We are now another 25 minutes late.  
I start to wonder if we are going to have issues catching our connecting bus. Thankfully, Adam is the voice of reason and ensures me that the bus system in Brazil is probably like airplanes, and they will let the other bus know we are running behind. This satisfies me enough to stop worrying; however, when we arrive at our random town in the middle of nowhere, our bus has already left. One of the employees at the bus station checks our tickets and writes 22:00 on it. “This your new time, 22:00”. Okay, we have an hour and 15 minutes to wait. Not to worry, we will play a couple games of crib and the time will pass. At 10 minutes to, we head out to where our bags are all stored. A few others join us, but there is no bus. So we wait. At 5 minutes after, we are all asked to move BACK into the terminal to wait. No one is allowed to stand in the loading area anymore. Then they close all the exits but one, set up some ropes and a podium at the only open door, and wait. As busses start showing up around 10:30, crowds of people start huddling around the podium trying to get out. We do the same, as we see someone moving our bags (which had to be left outside) towards a bus and loading them on.  No one is allowed outside. The attendants have a GIANT list of names printed off on some old school printer paper from the 90’s (the one where all the pages are in one long row and you have to rip the holed edges off in order to get a normal sized page). The attendant then starts at the top of the list and works his was down the pages (at least 4 long it looks like) reading one name at a time for passengers on 3 different busses that are parked outside. From the absolute zero Portuguese that I understand, I realize something is not working with the system.  Everything has to be done manually, one person at a time. 
Unlike if this happened in Canada, where people would be unhappy, but quietly brood away in their heads, Brazilians are much more verbal. Everyone is yelling at the attendants: “Dios a mio” (oh my God) is heard repeatedly.  The ruckus is making all the names harder and harder to hear! We push our way to the front, and get on our bus relatively early, which is perfect, because it’s 11:00 and I want to take a Gravol to sleep with on the bus. I was worried about taking it before, incase the bus never came and we were required to function. 
So, much later, after another manual seat check on the bus, we pull out of the depot and continue our journey.  At this point, we are 5 hours and 15 min into our trip.

Total kilometers traveled: 100.

Normally this would be a non-issue. Time is time, who cares, EXCEPT, this is the only place in our trip that we actually have a tour guide waiting for us on the other side. This poor man is going to be standing with a sign that says “Adam and Hilary” and we will not be getting off the bus! We are supposed to be starting our 3-day tour, right as we get off the bus, and head deep into the Pantanal. So, since our bus didn’t wait 20 minutes, I have a hard time believing a tour guide with a full tour of people will be waiting around for 3 and a half hours instead of continuing their 5 hour journey to the Amazon. Adam is still optimistic, which stops me from panicking too much. I don’t particularly want to stay 2 more days in what people keep referring to as “a shitty city” before being able to book another tour.

So this is where we are! I’m on the bus and it’s quarter after midnight. I have supposedly 12 more hours on this bus and the guy sitting in front of me smells like he hasn’t showered in a month. I could smell his body odor LONG before he reclined his chair into my lap, held his arms up above his head and had his hands touching my bent up knees. Luckily, we are right next to the bathrooms, so the sour body odor smell is occasionally masked with the smell of bus toilet. (If you’ve never experienced this scent, it’s a must!). I have no idea where we are, or when we’ll be getting off, but Adam hopes that when he wakes up, we’ll be lucky enough to “just be there”. At least one of us is optimistic! Here’s to hoping he’s right this time 🙂