Relaxed Atmosphere in the Bus
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Destination Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia
2. Impressions of the atmosphere among the bus travelers, on the long way to Salvador.
Thursday July 20, 2006, 19 h.
Leaving Belo Horizonte
.. This coach had no air conditioning, but sliding windows for fresh air. During this travel we needed a lot of fresh air, when some smoked their cigarettes. A choice between two evils: traveling in a riding smoky bus, or shivering with cold, almost with clattering teeth. For me it was a rather easy choice, if preferred to see the goose bumps appear on my bare skin. Later that night, I had another more enjoyable and more practical solution against the goose bumps, still to come in this story. I moved my chair to a more comfortable position and observed the buildings flashing by, when we were riding on the avenidas on the way to the motorway that will leave us Belo Horizonte behind, on the way to Bahia. Still twenty minutes would be needed to leave this megacity and tear through the night. However, the bus could not really make a lot of speed, thanks to the numerous and treacherous and always surprising tears and holes in the road. The bus drivers always need to be very attentive and very careful to avoid these obstacles. Especially on those long and curvy tracks without any illumination. It is not very uncommon that the bus driver needs to shift the bus from left to right to left to avoid big holes and obstacles.
I had prepared myself mentally to have a peaceful travel, like what I had experienced in the past when I was traveling for many hours by bus. Quiet evenings with a DVD playing to kill the time, the passengers quietly or vividly chatting with each other. Then at eleven pm. everything and everyone will be quiet, preparing to catch some sleep inside his narrow seat, his temporary territory, his basket for the night. And for this reason I brought my own pillow, for more comfort during the night. Every chair was equipped with a woolen blanket. Because of the cold winter nights in mountainous Minas these blankets have been proven to be absolutely necessary. Soon it would come out that this would NOT be a peaceful and quiet bus travel as I had expected…
A music DVD was playing, the people left their seats. Soon a joyous atmosphere filled the bus. The corridor was occupied by the passengers, chatting with each other, dancing with each other, drinking with each other. Igor introduced me to the other passengers; soon they fired a lot of questions at me: about crazy Holland, what the hell I was doing in Brazil, what crazy subject I was studying, what my opinion was of this lunatic country. Just standard questions. Meanwhile the cans of beer were ice-cold enough to be opened and consumed. In a short time the stock of cans had run out. In addition a bottle of cachaça and a bottle of wine were opened too. Cachaça is some strong booze made of sugar cane. This booze was distributed with a metal nap, everyone nipped from the same nap. In contrast to the Dutch way – everyone wipes the nap after drinking and turns the nap one quarter to avoid the part that had been touched by his predecessor – the nap was not wiped and not turned. The red wine was very sweet; Europeans would classify this wine as grape juice with some alcohol. Igor had brought some fried chicken wings from home and soon many of the passengers were enjoying the weird combination of cachaça and chicken wings. Alcohol and fat. Also these chicken wings were divided among the passengers; everyone bit one tiny piece of the chicken meat. About 5 passengers bit from the same wing. Also here no difficulties with turning and cleaning the bitten parts.
Two girls sat behind me and Edson. The blond girl was a friend of Igor, she introduced herself as Simone. The dark-haired girl introduced herself as Carol. She had beautiful dark eyes and beautiful shiny and wavy dark hair. When I was about to go to the bathroom in the rear of the bus, I passed one of the passengers who looked straight in my eyes. He noticed the color of my eyes and exclaimed: “Meu Deus! You really have beautiful deep blue eyes!” A sudden silence in the bus. But not for a long time. As a spontaneous unity the girls looked in my direction. I felt some temporary heat production in my face. It is very common in Brazil that people openly make comments about your appearance, comments made by women as by men as well. And by men about men. The latter is something I did not notice too much in Holland. Normally the Dutch men are more discrete and less open to comment about the men’s appearance. And Dutch men commenting about men, no way… They do not want to be considered to be gay. But here in Brazil it is already more common for me that any passers-by, friends and girlfriends make clear comments about my looks. Many times I receive comments about my hair, which they prefer that I keep the length of my hair a bit longer. And sometimes I listen to these well-meant comments…
The atmosphere in the bus became more animated. We danced to the music, we drank beer, wine, cachaça, and we chatted and laughed a lot. Now the passengers were aware that they had a “holandês” amidst them, I had no lack of attention. At about nine they tried to start a motion picture, but they preferred more music. One hour later we felt a bit tired and many of us returned to the comfortable seats. Some of us tried to lose the eyes in an attempt to relax. Many seats were occupied by others than the original passengers. My seat had been occupied by Carol, the girl that sat behind me. Her seat had been occupied by Kléber, who sat next to Simone. Edson, my neighbor, also had moved to another seat, and I took his seat, next to Carol. Earlier this night we had an animated conversation and now we had the opportunity to continue the conversation. She appeared to feel somewhat tired and laid my arm around her, nestled herself close to me. Soon some started to make jokes about Carol that she had reserved the “holandês” for herself. This kind of jokes is common in Brazil; here they are more open, friendlier, warmer, and more intimate. I considered myself very lucky that I already had discovered and adapted myself to this peculiar aspect of the Brazilian way of life….
By Dr. Adriano Antoine Robbesom
Original text in Dutch, translation with help of Google Translator