Destination Rio de Janeiro, the third travel to the former capital of Brazil.
Start of the third travel to Rio de Janeiro, culture hopping with students…
January 2007, Day 1: 21 h.
About one month after my first two travels to Rio de Janeiro, I received another invitation to join students, for another travel to Rio. It was an invitation to attend the biennial cultural event that was organized by the Brazilian student union, the UNE. Thanks to this invitation, I didn’t have to pay the travel and lodgement expenses. Of course, without any hesitation, I accepted the invitation. We now wouldn’t stay for four days, but for no less than eight days! Jader, who was our guide at our travel to Salvador six months before, provided me a mattress, a so-called colchonete. This time, we weren’t about to stay in a hotel or in a pousada, but we would share study rooms with hundreds of students, from all over Brazil, in one of the campuses of the federal universities in Rio de Janeiro. At the start of our travel, it was still unknown which location was appointed to us.
I was about to meet Jader and Vania – his girlfriend – at the entrance of the university campus. At the other side of the avenue, I waited in a small bar for their arrival. I was killing my time with reading the touristic guide of Rio, in order to plan my routes, to plan what to see and what to do. However, I only was allowed little time to plan that. One of the customers in that bar sat next to me, and he started a conversation. A very interesting conversation. This man had lived in England for some time. He had lived there legally, and he still was able to speak English quite fluently. Nonetheless, we continued our dialogue in Portuguese.
For me, it was no surprise at all (and completely according the Brazilian way of life) that Jader arrived fifteen minutes later than scheduled. He arranged a little mattress fro me. We folded this mattress and tied it with a piece of rope. We left the bar. Jader wanted another beer and some bite before we would take the bus to the center of Belo Horizonte. He suggested to visit another bar for his beer and bite. This bite was part of a little churrasco. Various types of meat – chicken, beef, pork, and sausage – were grilled above charcoal, and cut in small bites for the guests. All guests took part of the cutting and distributing ceremony, and I also had to participate. That was no problem for me. It was already nine-thirty when Jader looked at his watch, and decided that it was about time to take the bus to the center. We grabbed our bags and mattresses together and crossed the avenida, to the bus stop.
We didn’t have to wait too long for the bus. This avenida is one of the principal roads to the center. At rush hours, you might observe dozens of buses. A colorful view, since the buses are painted in red, blue, green, yellow. Less than thirty minutes later, we arrived at the bus stop, where the buses were about to depart for Rio. No less than five buses, all crowded by enthusiastic students. My name was on the list for bus number three. Jader and his girlfriend were on another bus. Since I was one of the first, I was able to select my seat. I opted for the frontal seat. A seat with a lot of space for the legs, and with a good view from the wide window. Unfortunately, my camera broke just before the start of this travel. I was not able to take pictures during this travel…
I was introduced to our bus driver. A jolly man. He was with a little overweight, a bit short, somewhat tanned, bald, and he wore round glasses. His jolly behavior was contagious. I was amazed that he didn’t lose any moment of his jolly behavior during our travels to and from Rio. Thank God, these people also exist on earth! According to our European culture, his behavior would have been considered as exaggerated, and wouldn’t have been approved by many. The European motto is “Behave normally, you already are crazy enough”. Crazy or not, he was a very experienced bus driver. Please do not forget that a bus travel to Rio is with some risk. At that time (2007), it was not uncommon that buses arriving in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro were stopped by groups of bandits, who robbed the belongings of the passengers. Not that I should have worried about that, since my camera was broken, and I wasn’t rich at all…
It is already becoming a cliche, but also at this night, the scheduled departure time was surpassed. It was scheduled that all buses should depart at exactly 11 pm. However, it was not 11 pm, not even midnight or 1 am, but no sooner than 2 am! Why this significant delay? The answer is quite simple: the passengers had to arrive from various parts of the city of Belo Horizonte and its suburbs. Thanks to the weekend rush hours, they got stuck in traffic jams. We had no other option than to wait patiently. Our jolly bus driver kept us busy with his waterfall of jokes and funny stories. Sometimes, we were starting to get the idea that we had to deal with a lunatic. His name was Eduardo, and he finally got the green light to start the bus engine at 2 am, on our way to Rio de Janeiro.
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom
- Travel in Brazil: RIO DE JANEIRO (48). The Climb of Morro da Urca (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- Brazilian Days (066): March 7 (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- Travel in Brazil: RIO DE JANEIRO (49). Morro da Urca (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- Travel in Brazil: RIO DE JANEIRO (47). Destination Urca (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- A Foreigner in Brazil (20): MAY 2006. Bairros in Belo Horizonte (MG) (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)