The next day was Saturday. When I got home from the previous night’s party at around 9am Peder was already asleep in bed, so I grabbed a pile of food from the breakfast buffet, threw it into our mini-fridge for later, and knocked out.
For about two hours.
Then we woke up and started scrambling to arrange our transportation back to Rio. The bus schedules did not appear to be in our favor, and it looked like we might be stuck in transit during our entire last Saturday night in Brazil, so we checked out of our pousada with moustache-lady and sat on the monument in town square scouring Lonely Planet for any last minute options.
As we sat, a couple of high-school students in matching T-shirts came up and initiated conversation. We were both quite low-genki. I couldn’t understand their Portuguese and Peder wasn’t trying that hard in Spanish. But for some reason, the next time we looked up from our guidebooks we’d amassed a circle of more than 20 of these identically-clad field-trippers.
“HELLOMYNAMEISMARCELO!” one shouted.
I truly don’t know why I love being the center of attention so much. But somehow, it’s just fun 🙂
After a few minutes and photographs the crowd dispersed, and when no better option could be found, we resigned to spend the remainder of the day leisurely roaming the city until it was time to catch the 11-hour bus back to Rio. We bought our tickets and got on. Thankfully, it was almost empty so we were each able to lay across a row of seats and hopefully, get some actual rest.
Peder knocked out instantly. My nap didn’t last quite as long.
Disclaimer: The following is slightly disturbing.
A few hours into the trip, the bus stopped at an unknown city to pick up some additional passengers. I awoke up to notice a large man confirming his ticket before stowing his luggage on the rack directly above me. It was clear that I’d fallen asleep in his assigned seat, so I promptly sat up, apologized, and began preparing to return to my own spot next to Peder.
“No no, okay okay” he said with a smile and took the still-available seat behind me.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes yes, no problem, you can sleep!”
“Wow, thanks!” 🙂
I fall back asleep.
Some time later, as I lay with my feet against the window and my head protruding a bit into the aisle, I felt something brush against me. It’s happened countless times on my various cross-country bus trips. Someone must’ve run lightly into me on their way to the back of the bus to use the restroom. I scoot in as much as possible and resume snoring.
Then I feel it again. It’s different.
I pull back my eye mask just an inch to see the man behind me stroking my cheek with his hand, a sort of creepy look on his face. I slowly move his hand away with mine. He caresses it gently. I look at him with disapproval, shake my head, turn around, and pretend to go back to sleep.
I’m wide awake under my mask.
A minute or so later I hear his voice:
“I want suck your d**k.”
I don’t even look at him. “No, no” I respond as calmly as possible.
“No?” he says with a tone of hurt-sounding disappointment.
It’s the last I heard from that man for the remainder of the ride. And believe me, I didn’t sleep one single minute. I peeked over a couple times to see him fast asleep with his leg dangling into the aisle, and considered waking Peder up or moving to the front of the bus, but there didn’t seem to be any obvious seat vacancies. So I just stayed awake until we got to Rio.
Despite my exhaustion, I somehow didn’t find not sleeping to be that difficult.
It was somewhere around 5am when we arrived at Rio bus terminal, and I pretended to remain asleep until I was sure the man had gathered his belongings and disembarked. I then woke Peder up, who was still fast asleep (lucky bastard!) to tell him of the whole encounter. He’d had no idea.
Rio bus terminal has a very specific reputation for being “seedy and dangerous after dark.” There we were, exhausted and with all of our belongings. I suggested we just hop into a cab and start looking for a place to stay immediately. Peder thought it would be a better idea to stay inside guarding the bags until sunup, and start walking the streets then. I was grumpy and wanting to sleep again.
Sorry ’bout that.
My head is pounding.
I need sleep.
He wants me to stay awake.
I finally pass out, and don’t make a sound until he taps me to say that it’s light enough to go into town.
I zombie my way into a taxi. We walk to Stone of a Beach, a hostel that Peder knew about from when he was staying in Rio at the head end of the trip. I take a seat on the couch in the common room, tape my eyelids to my forehead, tie a finger to each bag, and stand guard as he takes to the streets with his mental list of nearby hotels.
As I’m sitting there in a daze, a backpacker from Britain takes notice of the Spartan sword resting neatly against the wall.
“Hey, were you in Salvador a few weeks ago for Carnaval?? Were you dressed up as a Spartan??”
“Why yes, yes I was.”
Three Aussies turn around from the Internet computers. “Holy sh*t, guys, one of those Spartans from Salvador is here!!”
An American in the hallway stops walking and looks over. “Dude, I totally saw you at Guetta!”
We chat for a bit until they head out into the city, then I resume my zombified relaxation. Until I notice a poster on the wall across the lounge. It says “Jungle Beach.” I stand up and examine it closer. “South America’s newest and only Jungle Adventure and Beach Hostel is only a two and a half hour ride from Rio, located right on the Mata Atlantica rainforest’s most spectacular waterfall and whitewater river. Jungle trekking, waterfall rappelling, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, yoga, meditation, and a beach jungle gym.”
My (abbreviated) must-do-before-leaving-Brazil-list had come down to something like this:
2) Tropical Beaches
Peder came back and said he’d found a place to stay. I said I had a better idea.
Three hours later we were on a bus into the Atlantic Rainforest.