Destination Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia.
3. The bus travel from Belo Horizonte to Salvador lasted 24 hours. The night was spent inside the bus, when driving through the state of Minas Gerais.
Thursday July 20, 2006, 22.30 h.
Sunflowers and birds
The bus driver decided to halt the bus at about ten-thirty, our first stop-over. The location was a roadhouse with the attractive name “Gira-Sol” (sounds like Sunflower) in the tiny city of Bela Vista de Minas Gerais. We all got out of the bus to stretch our legs, get some fresh air and eat some snacks and drink some fresh water or… beer. The night was chilly, not very surprising when you imagine that this region of Minas and Bahia is mountainous. The road will lead us further northwards, and only in the early morning we will pass the border between Minas and Bahia. Minas is a bit larger than France and Holland together, imagine… The roadhouse appeared desolated. Only a few people were having dinner here. A collection of woodcraft was positioned close to the entrance of this restaurant. Woodcraft of local birds, such as birds of prey, macaws. From a distance they appeared to be real. The macaws sitting on a standard or hidden between the branches and leaves. A fascinating combination of colors. Also other animals, native or not, were carved from wood. I took my time to pay a closer attention to this kind of local art. Until the bus driver blew the horn to mention us that it was about time to continue our long travel. According to the Brazilian way of life, everyone boarded only fifteen minutes later, after many repeated calls from the bus driver, who became increasingly impatient.
For a short while another music DVD was being played, but this time there was more need to relax after the intense hours of dancing and partying in the bus. Carol and I were not the only bus couple, more couples had been formed among the travelers. A scramble has occurred among the seats; almost no one regained his or her original seat. Now a cartoon had started, restarted from the first attempt earlier this evening. It was an interesting movie about a girl of the world of the dead who was married by accident with a young guy of the world of the living. Carol and I were watching this movie. We were lucky that the monitor was attached just in front of our seats. Later this screen turned to be disadvantageous because of the emitted light and sound. A piece of carton was sufficient enough to cover the screen; the volume button solved the other problem.
Sharing two adjacent seats has the big gain that you can lay next to each other instead of sitting next to each other in a much less comfortable position. During my previous travels I already had experienced the advantage to lie down when the adjacent seat was vacant. But also now this was the best option. Carol had brought one light blanket for herself but now shared with me to protect ourselves against the chillness of the night. We closed our eyes, while the soft humming of the bus motor kept us aware that we were on our way to the border with Bahia. We surrendered ourselves to our need of some sleep; we trusted the experience and responsibility of the bus driver.
A sudden bang late at night shook most of us awake: a flat tire. Only a short time later the bus driver managed to halt at a gas station where the tire was being replaced. For more safety and security two more tires had been replaced. This heavy work lasted more than one hour. This change of tires reminded me of the moment when I was traveling from Recife to Belo Horizonte. Then we also experienced the loud bang of a flat tire. In the middle of nowhere. For the bus driver there was only one option: to change this tire along the motorway. But it appeared that this bus driver had little experience with changing these big tires. He tried his best, but the heavy and probably rusted bolts did not move when he tried to unscrew them. The black man who was sitting next to me appeared to be a mechanic. With his help and leadership it was much easier to change the tire. The big wrench was hidden under the nose of the bus, as well as the spare tire. Also here this job lasted more than one hour. When we halted at the nearest restaurant, my dark neighbor was offered a free lunch, because of his excellent efforts, by the thankful bus driver.
Back to our travel. At four in the morning another stop was made, but the majority preferred to stay on board, warm and rather comfortable in their chairs. Also Carol and I remained on board; she was sleeping like an angel. The chilly night was still young, more than hours later the first rays of light would penetrate the windows of our bus. We arranged ourselves in the chairs and continued with our sleep, our dreams, with the constant and monotonous humming and droning of the bus….
By Dr. Adriano Antoine Robbesom
Original text in Dutch, translation with help of Google Translator