Destination Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia.
The states of Minas Gerais as well as Bahia are larger than, for example, France. It lasted twelve hours, from Belo Horizonte,to reach the border with Bahia by bus.
Friday, July 21, 06.30 h.
At six-thirty the bus stopped again. Half asleep we tried to open our eyes. We had arrived in Nanuque, a small city at the border of Minas with Bahia, after a 12-hour bus travel! Carol also opened her dark brown eyes; we folded and stored the blankets and pillows before we stepped out of the bus, for a cup of coffee. The travelers staggered to the restaurant where a cashier handed us a sheet of paper. This sheet was meant to be used by the waiters to write down our consumptions. Then the cashier would calculate the total amount of money we had to pay her. Our throats were dry, thanks to the dry night chill and the remaining smoky air in the bus. A cup of coffee and bottles of water were very welcome for us, though the prices were quite high. For a cup of coffee we had to pay 1 real, or 40 eurocent. Normally you would obtain the same cup for half the price. The snacks were offered for no less than 2 reais. Because we were all poor students and employees, no one of us was eager to buy such an expensive snack.
A giant placard between the entrances of the restrooms showed us that we had left Belo Horizonte far behind us: 620 km. It also showed us that we still had to travel a long distance: 540 km to Ilhéus, the city of our destination later this day, according the plans. And almost one thousand kilometers to Salvador… And we already had traveled more than twelve hours, inside the bus. This is a totally different experience if you compare this with ‘only’ seven hours from Holland to London, or four to Paris, for instance. How many Dutch people will get frightened when they notice of the enormous distances in Brazil, to be traveled by bus? Last year, some of our travelers had made the travel by bus to Belém, in the far north of Brazil, more than three days inside the bus… Now we had to grin and bear, at the end of today we would reach the beach!
The night had become day, faint rays of the morning sun shone on the Bahian landscape, tried to enter inside the bus. Some of use tried to prolong their sleeping time, others gazed through the window: dozy, drowsy. With much interest I observed the fascination Bahian landscape, took my pictures. Carol was still dozing next to me. The drought of the winter time was clearly visible. The lush greenness of grass was now dried and yellowed. Blackened, scorched shoulders along the motorway, due to numerous fires. Sometimes there fires were still raging, violent red and orange flames that greedily made short work of the barren fire food.
Now we had crossed the border of Minas with Bahia, we still had to travel more than ten hours inside the bus before we would reach the beach. Mountainous Minas has the big disadvantage that this state does not have any coastline. The state is surrounded by the littoral states Bahia, Espirito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo. That is why the mineiros travel in great numbers to the beaches, when having holidays, and occupy the popular beaches of nearby Espirito Santo, and the more distant though more popular Porto Seguro, Ilhéus, and Salvador. Also the beaches of the state of Rio de Janeiro are quite popular, despite the colder seawater there. For me it will be the fourth time to visit a beach resort: Recife and Olinda in February 2005, São Vicente in May 2005, Vitória and Vila Velha in January 2006, and now Salvador. Four different Brazilian states. It still remains my dream to visit the famous and idyllic beaches of Natal; according the beach fanatics these beaches are considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Others swear by the beaches of Macéio, the capital of Alagoas. It is really worth considering to visit these beaches within a short time. I only need to arrange the money for this travel…
Again the bus driver had to use the horn repeatedly to attract our attention and to get us inside the bus again. For many of us it was a real relief to stretch the stiff legs, thanks to the sitting position during the sleep. I had the luck that my legs were far less that stiff because I could lie them down, and I felt relatively warm and fresh. At seven-thirty, the stop that lasted more than one hour, we continued the travel through the mountainous and dry landscape. The mountains were covered with sparse, low vegetation, with an occasional palm tree or broadleaf tree that could grow on the hills. These hills were far from lush green; the vegetation seemed to long desperately to the rains that would start a few weeks from now. Abundant showers of rainwater will transform the barren hills back to lush green, in a very short time. A complete metamorphosis.
By Dr. Adriano Antoine Robbesom
Original text in Dutch, translation with help of Google Translator