Destination Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia.
Olivença was left behind, Salvador was reached in the nightly hours. The bus travel of 24 hours had ended.
It was already past six when the bus was ready to leave Olivença. We traveled northwards, in the direction of Salvador. The leader of our group seemed to be very sleepy, since some of our group were still missing, and appeared to have missed our bus in Olivença. There were some discussions among the students, lasting for almost thirty minutes, before it was decided to return to Olivença, and search for the poor lost sheep. And indeed, they were on the beach, waiting there, desperately. Within our group no one was mad or irritated about them, but we joked about them, speculating what they had done on the beach, beyond reach of our peering eyes. Our group was complete again, now we were definitively on our way to Salvador. A bus travel of five, six hours, according to the schedule.
But also this schedule was only a schedule, which could not be realized. The bus was not able to maintain speed at all times, and had to stop for another flat tire. One more break of one hour. And another stop was made for those, including our bus drivers, who did not have a warm meal yet. Most of us already had filled our stomachs with delicious – and cheaper! – fish. This break gave me a good opportunity to download my photographs to my laptop in a discrete way.
The combination of the fish dish and a day-long exposure to salty air made us feel sleepy. Carol and I took our double seats again and laid down to rest. I could not sleep easily, but dozed off from time to time. The coastal area was now more inhabited so you could observe many villages; little and larger cities were flashing past us. Unfortunately I could not see this beautiful area by daylight…
Salvador by night…
It was already 3 am when we passed the city limit of Salvador. Finally! We already were longing to our mattresses, though I had no idea at all where I was about to spend that night. Also Carol had no clear idea. She has an uncle living in Salvador, probably she would go there. She told me that I could eventually join her, when I would not have any other alternative. How sweet of her! Salvador is slightly larger than Belo Horizonte, the third largest city in Brazil, following the giants São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It took some time before we entered the city center. The bus drivers appeared not to be familiar with this city, since they were asking for a city plan. Salvador by night seemed to be complicated, and the bus drivers seemed to be lost here. I was amazed to observe some buildings not one time, or two times, but at least three times! Now it was clear that we were lost in the city jungle. The bus drivers halted regularly to ask passers-by the route to the university. But we kept on touring around. Evidently, the passers-by did not direct us to the correct roads. This also appears to be some Brazilian way of life. When you are informing about the direction to go, you will be informed with any route, even when they know this route vaguely or not at all. I already had the unpleasant experience that a passer-by is not always a reliable source of information. It is much better to approach a taxi driver or a police officer, they should know the (fastest) way…
It took some more time, driving slowly through the empty streets of Salvador, until the bus halted at the front of a building of the Federal University of Bahia, the UFBA. We were about to spend the time there. We gathered our belongings and entered the faculty. Students of the UFBA were still helping to decorate the building for the parties that would take place later that week. We were guided to a gym, were we could settle ourselves and spend our nights. It was already five in the morning. We all felt somewhat tired because of the broken night in the bus. Igor already had made reservations in a pousada near the light tower of Barra. We waited until six am to make a call to that pousada; we already could see the daylight. We walked for about twenty minutes to a gasoline station, where we took some breakfast and coffee. We then returned to the faculty, where Igor tried to call the pousada. It appeared that there had been made some mistake, that the reservation had not been made. But Igor did not give up and made another call, to another pousada. This time he was luckier. A Mexican, talking poor Portuguese, attended him, and he told him to have some vacancies left, at least ten. Also for me, Carol, and the entire group who stayed with us in the house in Olivença.
Tent or mattress
Others were erecting their tents inside the gymnasium. Skillfully or clumsily, they juggled with the telescopic tent poles, to put up their tiny tents. The news of the availability of more comfortable beds in a pousada was going around very quickly. Four of the tent builders did not hesitate and dismantled their recently erected tents immediately. A comfortable mattress always is preferable to a tent, and a pousada is preferable to a gymnasium where one could be sure of a lot of noise at night. Also the lack of a hot shower and the sight of dirty bathrooms did them decide to leave this gymnasium and join us to the pousada. Our group of ten left the faculty building, and halted two taxis that brought us to the pousada in Barra, the light tower district. We bargained about the taxi fare with success, so that we could travel to the pousada for only two reais per person…
By Dr. Adriano Antoine Robbesom
Original text in Dutch, translation with help of Google Translator