Everyone failed while traveling. Some once, some more, but it’s inevitable that sooner or later you can use #travelfail to hashtag one of your experiences. What happened to me was just taking a bus in Brazil, not the one I wanted, but I realized too late.
When I decided to go to South America backpacking, I landed with the girl who traveled with me in Maceiò, north of Brazil. We arrived late in the evening, and we just found a sort of taxi driver bred with Ayrton Senna who drove us to the hostel we were supposed to stay for the night. After seeing our accommodation, we decided to leave the day after, for another city.
It was mid-December, the weather was sublime, and after a rapid shot to the beach, we headed to an internet point to book our next stay for the following 3/4 days: Salvador de Bahia. We were dreaming about beaches, nature, history, a vibrant and historic city, and with that mindset, we took a local bus to the bus station. Soon we realized we were in the favelas, wrong bus, no station in sight.
You have to consider that none of us spoke Brazilian nor Portuguese, and the only thing that I could pronounce was cartão de crédito (credit card) because I liked the sound of it. Something really unuseful when you want someone to help you going on the right way.
Anyway, a local lady helped us taking the right bus to the station, and when we reached our destination, we started to fear about our resilience for the following months. We didn’t discourage, though, Salvador de Bahia was waiting for us, it would be impolite to let it wait!
There were several ticket offices at the bus station, everyone displaying fares and routes in a very flashy way. Since we didn’t know how to communicate, we wandered around looking at signs and avoid asking info until we found the one selling tickets to Salvador de Bahia. At that point, we were obliged to speak, in a way or another, but in the end, the transaction was successful! We were happy, the seller was happy, everybody was happy! Taking a bus in Brazil was a piece of cake in the end!
We finally relaxed a bit, discovering the small station and attempting to get accustomed to the new place. Also, jetlag was trying to bother us, but in the end, we could have rested on the bus.
After a meager lunch because of our difficulties in the understanding the ingredients of local food, the bus finally arrived! When we departed it was half full, so finding two seats was not difficult. Stuck to the bus window, I started looking at the panorama that went by along the road, realizing how different it is from Europe.
Green, a lot of lush green. An Amazonian green, indeed. And then the contrast with the red soil. In the north of Brazil, the iron concentration in the ground is probably very high so every time the road cut trough a hill, it seemed like the sides were tennis courts at Roland Garros. An exciting show, if you also consider the blue of the sky.
Time was passing by, while I was distracted by the panorama. We stopped I-have-no-idea-where, and we soon left again, towards our destination. At dusk, we started noticing more and more houses, and after not so much time we finally reached the city, Salvador de Bahia!
The bus station was quite small, we took our backpacks and got off the bus. After all those hours spent on a seat, the first thing to do is some stretching, then looking for a proper toilet while the other one stays with the belongings.
Cleaned and stretched, with our map in hand, we headed to the ticket booth to ask where our hotel was. The guy, of course, spoke only Brazilian but when he saw the address he started smiling, making us understand that the hotel we booked in was not there, simply because that was the wrong city.
I gave him the map, and he made a big cross on the city we were: Vitória da Conquista, more than 500 km south of Salvador de Bahia!!!We didn’t want to believe it, but after asking several times and getting the same answer, we gave up. No bus was leaving the station before 4 am, for nowhere close or known to us. We analyzed the situation, and after a while, we decided to wait 6+ hours there for the first bus to leave in the morning.
The destination was São Paulo, more than 24 hours of travel south of there. An epic trip, I’d say. We were quite pissed off for everything that happened we both agree to ignore Brazil completely. Too big to appreciate it in a short time, too inexperienced the both of us to face a country so far from our habits. Argentina would have welcomed us in a better way, especially for the language!
Crossing Brazil from north to south by bus without almost stopping and seeing anything? Check.
And you, have you ever failed so hard you almost ruined your trip? Tell me in the comments section!
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