Destination Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia.
From Salvador back to Belo Horizonte, a 24-hour bus trip…
Saturday 29 July, 8 pm.
After some considerable delay, we left Salvador late in the afternoon. Two hours later, there was a stop. It was about time to have something to eat. The bus driver had parked the bus in front of an expensive restaurant. We all ignored this one. We already had focused on another, smaller restaurant, at the other side of the highway. We ordered a so-called prato feito (menu of the day) for about half the price of that of the expensive restaurant. The prato feito of rice and beans was accompanied by pork meat, beef, chicken or fish. And it was surprisingly delicious!
Now Salvador was more than two hours away. We still had to travel more than twenty hours by bus, before we would reach our final destination: Belo Horizonte. There was a joyous atmosphere in the bus; however a bit less joyous than when we were on our way to Salvador. We all had to deal with fatigue. We had a very intensive week in Salvador: travels, parties, lack of sleep. Less than two hours later, at about ten pm, almost everyone went back to his or her seat. Simone already was moved to another seat, and Pedro sat next to Carol. He appeared to be asleep, but it was more a drunken daze. Carol and I waited impatiently until he would move to another seat. Or that someone would whisper him to move. At about ten pm, his seat became vacant, and I quickly moved to that seat, next to Carol.
My move to the seat next to Carol didn’t remain unnoticed to the others. They started to create jokes about us. We ignored their jokes. Suddenly, Igor and some others stated to darken the television screen above us, by attaching blankets around the frame, and around our seats. Like some canvas screens around us. We both laughed about that. These blankets were meant as a kind of ‘cabana do casal’, freely translated as the couple’s little hut. No one was about to disturb us then. In fact, it was an excellent initiative, we would sleep without being disturbed. Carol told me that I shouldn’t pay too much attention to this joke, she appeared to like it even. I could only agree. Two souls, one thought….
We were sound asleep when the bus rode on the highway through the state of Bahia. There was a short stop in the night. But only a few of us left the bus for some minutes. We continued our sleep. Early in the morning, it was time for Carol to pack her belongings. Just across the border of Bahia with Minas Gerais, she got out of the bus. She was born there and was about to visit her family. A friend of her got out of the bus too. It was about six-thirty. Not much later, a car arrived to pick them up, for another travel of about one hundred kilometers. According to Brazilians, a very short distance. We said goodbye to each other, we would mail each other, and meet each other soon again. Now her seat was empty. But not for long. Another fellow traveler took her opportunity to have a better view of the DVD that was being displayed at that time.
I didn’t pay much attention to that movie. I was more interested in the interesting landscape of mountainous Minas Gerais. Now it was much quieter for me, I already was missing Carol’s company. The landscape changed greatly with every kilometer, as it appeared to me. We traveled through the mountains, the bus had to climb and to descend various times. The bus driver was skilled and experienced enough to drive the bus smoothly on the sometimes treacherous narrow road, with numerous curves. At noon, the bus stopped again. In front of another restaurant. We now enjoyed a more complete lunch: rodizio de churrasco. That means that waiters are running around with large skewers of various kinds of freshly roasted meat. When you give the sign that you want some slices, they cut them above your plate. The meat was delicious! I really enjoyed the beef and roasted chicken hearts. When we neared Belo Horizonte, we started to become more impatient. We all wanted to be at home, to have a refreshing shower, a comfortable bed. We played some games, including the mafia game. We were about to arrive in Belo Horizonte at 7 pm, according to the bus driver’s schedule.
According the Brazilian way of life, this schedule was just another schedule. This time there was no flat tire, but there was a check-up by the highway patrol. They ordered the bus driver to stop the bus. We all had to get out. We needed to hand over our identity cards. Not that they were checking from some criminals, but to compare the names of the identity cards and the passenger’s list. And indeed, these police officers found some items that had to be checked with their police station. On a Sunday night. They proposed us to follow them to a nearby restaurant and wait there for the decision of their superiors, if we were allowed to continue the bus travel. That would last about one hour. We protested, but the police officers didn’t change their mind. We had no other option than to wait. We entered a restaurant and ordered some cans of beer and some snacks. It was very cold. Some of us were still wearing light summer clothes and were trembling heavily. We took blankets from the bus, to warm us. We walked around with the blanked wrapped around us. Like a bunch of homeless people…
Finally, the police officers got the answer from their superiors. We were allowed to continue the bus travel. It took more two hours until we arrived in Belo Horizonte. Now the bus was on schedule, despite some minor road works. We arrived in the university campus at nine pm. We got out of the bus, and took our luggage. It was time to say goodbye to each other. We hugged and kissed each other. We made promises to meet each other soon again. Those were emotional moments of a group of students, who had enjoyed each other’s company, for one week, in Salvador. I had left my keys in the faculty, in order not having lost them during my travel. I entered the campus, while I left my luggage at the sentry’s office. I was walking on my flip flops, but with my coat tightly shut. It took about fifteen minutes to reach the faculty. I got a feeling of emptiness, that started earlier that morning, and now I had it again. My thoughts returned to the happy and sunny moments in Salvador. Now I had to return to reality, to the daily routine. Going on with my thesis, and writing this travel story….
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom