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Published: July 30th 2011
Watching the mundial
Roof balcony on the boat to Manaus
It was in the height of the Mundial, daily football matches dictated our actions for the day. We set down in a cheap hostel, in a big room with many thick mattresses, not very far from Manaus' docks. We were seven who stayed together from the boat journey Tabatinga to Manaus. It was a lovely journey well set and organised, a cruise compared to the rough boat I had in Peru. Although we were on hammocks there was enough space between them and a nice breeze cooled the sweltering heat and calmed the humidity. At the roof balcony there was a little canteen that served burgers, ice cream, coke, chocolate, tea and coffee, AND we had a TV set with the Mundial on - floating on the Amazon and watching the Mundial for four days - living is not so bad after all.
There we were, two Colombians, a beautiful French girl, a Brazilian photographer, two Brits and an Israeli - can you get a better audience for a football match? The city of Manaus, a two million people city in the middle of the amazonian jungle - crazy - didn´t leave a hint to its secluded location. Its colonial
architecture was dressed up in Mundial costumes, colourful stripes and flags tunnelled its streets and vivid colourful graffiti decorated its walls, roads and pavements, bringing happiness to the eyes and excitement to the heart. I wished to see the celebration had Brazil won. In the few days in the city I got to see a modern dancing show for free, eat as much as I could of Brazilian meat and tan on a white sand beach somewhere at the heart of the Amazonas. It helps when you a have a Brazilian friend who guides you and paves an access to any event or place in town.
Time had elapsed, as it normally does - quicker when you are having fun - and I had to farewell Byron & Marika again - another chapter of the trip ended. They were to take a flight to Sau Paulo and continue their RTW trip in Europe. I, on the other hand, finally set a date for my returning flight to France and started counting down the days until I see Liz (as I still do count...)
My plan was to take a bus to Boa Vista and then to Bonfin, by the
White sand beach
On the sideways of the Amazon river
border with Guiana, to cross Guiana and Suriname on the way to Cayene in French Guiana where I could take a domestic flight to Paris (one way ticket that doesn't cost too much). The bus journey to the Manaus bus station took more than an hour - more than I expected. As the next bus was full I could only buy a ticket for the next day bus - which I missed as well but luckily the ten o'clock bus had a seat and the roughest bus journey in the trip began. At least I won another day in the city with my friends.
The hug of friends that embraced me for nearly a month ended. A gust of wind swept away the past and opened a new episode for the trip. There I was, an alien, seated on a rough bench in a bus station at night waiting nearly two hours for the bus where only locals are. Their Spanish as bad as mine, their English as none existent as my Portuguese. They were staring at me and sassing me out, some faces were not so friendly. The food counters were already closed so I couldn't treat myself
Manaus - Two million people city
On the sideways of the Amazon river
with a sweet. On the verge of a new adventure, heading far from the beaten track, facing the unknown, I felt lonely and miserable and insecure.
I read that the bus journey from Manaus to Boa Vista was a tough one because it passes on a rickety undulating road through a kind of no-mans-land. Surprised by a well paved road for the first two hours of the journey I wanted to believe I had some good news - but no! Just as I fell into sleep, we hit the ground - bouncing frantically from one hole to another, bushed to my left and right I felt like I was being buffeted in a wind tunnel. I was smashed onto the walls of the bus and on the passenger next to me who weirdly was asleep. Being sweltered, my head started to ache and my dark blinded eyes swelled of exhaustion. in my heart I begged the bus would stop but it is not allowed to stop along this road because of a conflict between the local tribe and the Brazilian government. Late in the morning, at some point, not particularly different to the repeated scenery snicked into my swollen eyes
since dawn, there was a restaurant - we stopped for brunch - very expensive for such a remote spot on earth, but I was hungry and weak. I ate and soon after the bus hit the road again I dosed until arriving Boa Vista bus station.
As it should, heavy rain welcomed me. I spent another hour at the station waited for the rain to stop and hoping to grab some info regarding the city, but there were only papers about outdoor activities. I wanted to cross to Guiana, therefore I preferred to spend less time there. I thought that in the case I cannot cross the border I would visit some of the attractions at the Roraima region and perhaps set a trip to mount Roraima. I rushed to find the Guyanese consul first to sort out my visa to Guiana. For the biggest city near the Venezuelan border the city looked boring, plain and utterly lack of tourists. The Guyanese consul was no longer in duty but was kind to let me in his office despite I was drenched with sweat. I trundled for another hour before I found an expensive basic hotel, air conditioned though (thanx god)
Border point at Bonfin
Good bye Brazil, Hello Guyana
and walk along the main bulouvard, as wide as football pitch, in search of food. Many cafés and restaurants along it, in its centre, but none was appealing for me. At the end I found a burger place and calmed my poor little stomach. On the way back I noticed a boy with a helmet walking behind me. My senses turned my alarms on - there was trouble. I looked back at him few times trying to signal that I had noticed him. After I passed some motorcycles my suspicion grew stronger, as tensed as I got I had to continue walking, wishing a taxi to pass by, but the street got empty. He continued following me. I changed my direction to a nearby bank that was open surprisingly, despite the late hour. The boy came after me into the building and sat on the stairs at the entrance. I waited, there were few people inside the bank. When the first person left I joined him. I glanced at the boy with the helmet as I left the building, he stayed inside, sitting. The next day I said good bye to Boa Vista and Brazil.
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