(Click here for the complete coverage of ‘FORTALEZA’)
Destination Fortaleza, capital of the state of Ceará.
A report of the bus travel from Belo Horizonte to Fortaleza.
Part 1. The first day: through Minas and Bahia.
The bus, which would drive us to Fortaleza, was scheduled to leave at ten pm. I kept myself quiet that day; during the past night I only had updated some articles. At three am, I switched off my light and went to sleep. Generally, I do not need much time to pack a bag; I only need some fifteen minutes to have that done. My luggage consisted of a small backpack, a small overnight bag, and a travel mattress. That was all what I considered as necessary. Why should I carry more, if you only use swimming trunks at day, and a shirt and shorts for the rest of the day? I already have the experience that the scheduled time of ten pm would not become the real departure time. With any luck we can leave at midnight. And… my prediction came true; it was just before midnight when everyone had collected their luggage in the cargo compartment, and when all travel companions had taken their seats. A new bus adventure had started!
Minas and Bahia
Not necessary to explain that the states of Minas Gerais and Bahia are no small states. Many tourists, who drive to Spain or Italy by car, know that they spend many hours crossing the French landscape. These motorists would start scratching their heads when they notice that the distance from Belo Horizonte to the border of Minas with Bahia is the same distance as halfway through France. And they will scratch even more, when they notice that the distance through the state of Bahia is equal to that of France. They will get shocked when they realize that the highway follows the slopes of the mountains, and that the highway is predominantly a two-lane road without street lights, and often with no road markings. Even sweat will appear, when he learns that the road is often crowded with long columns of trucks, each carrying its peculiar load and with its own speed. The bus driver must be very experienced to drive the bus agilely and safely on these sometimes treacherous roads. For me, these drivers are heroes.
Last July, I traveled the same roads through Bahia, to São Luís. The drought that began in March had drawn clearly visible marks: a barren landscape with light brown and dull green as dominant colors. The air was very dry. But the rain season had started in October. The rainwater has really done wonders: trees and plants benefited to the fullest. A green landscape is the result. Not just green, but intense green that almost hurts your eyes. Green mountain slopes, blue skies, white clouds, rust-brown earth. A unique color palette. It is very difficult to imagine that this part was completely forested, before the first Portuguese had arrived. Even more difficult to imagine the speed of the logging that almost all the Atlantic forest (as it is called here) is destroyed now. How to Brazil would have looked like at the time of the Indians, who only cut down wood for a campfire, and for the construction of some huts? It then had been a natural paradise in Bahia and Minas, with densely wooded green slopes, and numerous small and large waterfalls.
The trip to Feira de Santana, near Salvador, is a kind of benchmark. A bus travel of one entire day, twenty-four hours. And indeed, we arrived at Feira de Santana around midnight. We took a break for a small snack, and to go to the bathroom. It is certainly advisable to make use of these stops. In order to stretch the tired legs, to stretch the stiff back. To get something to drink at the bars, to eat something in cheap restaurants, and to buy some stock of something to eat and drink in the bus. Because at some stops, the prices are sharply higher. The student knows that, and I know that by now too. I bought there some home-made cake, made of corn flour. And water in bottles, which you can refill for free at some taps. The bus does not stop every hour, but only every three to five hours. And when you are in need, it may become a harrowing experience…
By Dr. Adriano Antoine Robbesom
Original text in Dutch, translation with help of Google Translator
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