Feb 172008

The morning after our last beach party in Morro de Sao Paolo I woke up feeling absolutely horrible. All those nights of sleeping only two hours had finally caught up with me. I had a fever, runny nose, zero energy, and to make it worse, a HORRIBLE case of traveler’s diarrhea.

I spent the first half of the day in bed while Peder went to a travel agent to sort out our bus tickets South. The plan was to take an eleven-hour overnight bus to Porto Seguro that night, then transfer to a local bus to Trancoso, our next destination. The bus was scheduled to leave at 9pm.

But at around 3pm he came running into the room. “The Porto Seguro bus is completely booked, unless we want to stay in Morro until tomorrow night our only option is to leave NOW, take the next speedboat off the island, then a two-hour bus to Santa Antonio and go to Porto Seguro from there.”

I took some heavy-duty diarrhea medicine and got moving.

We made it down to the docks in good time, but found that the next “regularly departing” ferry wouldn’t be departing for another fourty minutes, so we negotiated with one of the drivers to leave earlier (in exchange for paying a Gringo ticket price). We made it to the port of Valenca in the nick of time. We threw on our backpacks. We rushed through the small cobblestone streets to the nearby bus station. We approached the ticket office. And we were told that the bus had already left.

Apparently the stupid Morro travel agent had written the wrong time on our ticket receipt: the 5:30 bus was actually a 5:20 bus, and we arrived at 5:25.


But the Santa Antonio connection wouldn’t depart until around 10:30 so we had plenty of time if we were willing to make an hour and a half taxi ride.

We decided to go for it.

That was one hell of a ride.

The taxi driver must have been going in excess of 100 miles per hour, in pitch-black night, passing trucks on blind curves over double-yellow lines. There was nothing but jungle on both sides, and the road was ridden with potholes. If he’d had a problem there wouldn’t have been a chance of getting saved. More likely we would’ve gotten robbed by bandits.

The two-hour ride took barely one hour. Even though we negotiated the price down pretty hard, he bid us goodbye with a huge smile and handshakes all around.

We pulled into Santa Antonio bus station just after 7pm. It was almost deserted, except for the gang of about ten shirtless, drinking delinquents loitering out front in the parking lot. One of them came over specifically to eyeball us as we unloaded our huge backpacks. I think we were all a little uncomfortable.

But the station cafeteria was open so we went inside and set up camp right in front of the employees. It was a long three hours to wait, and I spent most of it drifting in and out of sleep on my little stool at the food counter. The others played Yahtzee and chatted with the employees who all seemed to get quite a kick out of the Sparta swords.

The little television playing a dubbed version of Scorpion King kept scrolling the words “Message: Jesus is Coming.”

Finally the bus came. It was exactly what I’d hoped for; extremely luxurious, with fully reclining seats, bathrooms, TV, and a water cooler. I slept straight through until sunrise, looking out the window only once to see the sun coming up behind a surreal landscape: rolling grass-covered hills that streched all the way to the horizon and looked something like the Shire from Lord of the Rings. It was completely different from anything I’d seen in Brazil so far…or anywhere for that matter. I tried with all my might to keep my eyes open, but two minutes later I was asleep again, and before I knew it we’d arrived in Porto Seguro.

Two more hours on a local bus to Trancoso.

Right away we were approached by the usual “Are you looking for a pousada?” group. We carried our stuff to a nearby icecream shop where Johnny and I waited while Dave and Peder went in two different directions to look for options. There were tons. Apparently the summer rush had ended about a week earlier, and what were normally overpriced and overbooked had turned into a plethora of cheap availabilities. We chose a situation similar to that in Morro; two separate rooms for two people each at a cost of 30 reais a night.

It was quite nice, except that the creaky wooden doors had no weather stripping and the room very quickly filled up with insects. Solved by mosquito nets. Also there was no hot water – but the weather is so warm we really didn’t need it.

I set out to explore the town a bit while Peder stayed back for a nap. I was finally feeling marginally healthy again; now it was Peder who had a fever and the runs.

Trancoso has a noticably different feel from any of the cities we’d been to so far:

Rio was a big, busy, and dangerous city set among magnificent cliffs and tropical rainforests.

Salvador was a dirty African-feeling city overflowing with music, culture, and interesting architecture.

Morro de Sao Paolo was an international Spring Break town set in a tropical island paradise.

Trancoso a quiet hippy villiage with only one small main square where everyone knows everyone else, and the pace of life is something like “Hey man, like, relaaxxx, why don’t you have a puff?”

And you know, while I’m not into the drug scene in the slightest, I really like the small-town feel that Trancoso has to offer. I feel like some of the others are dissappointed with the lack of activity and nightlife, but to me this place just feels so much more authentic. And personal. It’s cleaner, the people all smile and say hello, and I don’t sense any danger at all like I did in both Rio and Salvador. For the first time I spent an entire day walking around with my phone in my pocket; previously I wouldn’t dare leave the hotel room with it. Rather than homeless people constantly pestering me for money or desparate vendors hounding me to buy their handmade necklaces, people just seemed to be going about their daily lives – enjoying a day in the park, sitting in a lawnchair outside their little shop, or having a beer in front of a hamburger stand. It’s very…quaint. But in a distinctly Brazil kind of way.

After my brief tour of Quadrado – central square – I turned in early. My plan was to wake up early and take a 20-mile walk along the coast.

I awoke to find the small wooden table on our pousada’s front porch covered with a tablecloth and neatly set. Breakfast included! Soon it was covered with bread, cakes, fresh fruit, and of course sweet tropical fruit juices. And ham and cheese.

They really, really seem to love cheese in Brazil. Cheese on or with everything. Or just by itself.

Fine with me, I love cheese! ๐Ÿ™‚

Peder and I made it out the door around 11, while the others decided to hang back, sleep in, and head to the beach. Johnny flies back to Norway in just over a week and has decided to throw it into “quick-tan” mode. Plus Johnny and Dave had stayed out until sunup the night before. I love going out, but made it clear that I wouldn’t start a night after 12 – lately they’ve been starting somewhere around 3am.

The day’s walk turned into just the kind of unexpected travel experience I love.

…But i’m out of time at this net cafรฉ, so ill have to finish up next time.

It’ll be more interesting, I promise ๐Ÿ˜›

  4 Responses to “One Wild Ride”

  1. stay well ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. hi Justin,

    hope Brazil is treating you well. I’m the girl you shared wonderfull seats on the flight to Brazil ๐Ÿ™‚
    Your name came to my mind and I decided to pay you a visit. Really cool site you have here!
    Have fun and take it easy on the caipรญrinhas…

  3. Mmmm….Cheeeese

  4. Haha hey Emily! I’m shocked u rememberd my website ๐Ÿ˜› It was nice meeting u on the flight – I hope u had a nice trip too.

    And no promises about the caipirinhas ๐Ÿ˜‰

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