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Published: July 19th 2009
Got up very early to catch the 5:30am shuttle leaving in front of the Estaccion Mall for the airport. Took only half an hour and by the looks of it the flights were leaving on time, fog is forecasted today and the travel agent told me at this time of the year it delays flights in the morning regularly, cause for alarm for me as I need to get to Brasilia before 11am to leave my passport at the Suriname embassy to be picked up before 2pm. Anyway I breathe a sigh of relief when we took off on time and TAM airlines is by far the most leg room I have ever experienced, I can have someone sit on my lap and will still be spacious, excellent for tall people. Arriving in Brasilia I cant find the tourist office, a taxi driver approached me and quoted me 30 reais for the Suriname Embassy, I bargained it down to 25 . His car wouldnt start, not a good omen, eventually we were off and he dropped me off at the gates of the embassy which is a house in a nice area of the city where lots of other embassies abound.
The consul officer John welcomed me, he is very polite and nice, he took the requirements from me, and told me to come back in 2 hours(12pm), meanwhile he suggested to hang around by the mall 10 minutes walk using a short cut route besides the house, he hasnt a clue how I could take the bus to the main bus terminal and as he showed me the way out he said he wishes he could do the same thing I am doing, travelling the world but he said he wants to do it on a bike.it ended on a good note.
At the mall area, which is a bunch of small shops, there was a playground and I saw a shaded area with seats so I sat as I watched the time go by and the kids play. Then I saw a travel agency in one of the shops and so I went to check flights to Fortaleza for today, 1,470 reais!!! Bus it is then, the kind woman gave me directions where to get the bus and what number etc. So after I picked up my passport I went to walk towards the main road, asked a
guy sitting there at the waiting shed if that is the stop for bus#147.3 heading to the local bus station. He said he is waiting for the same bus and 30 minutes later it came. At the local station i asked around where the bus for rodoferoviaria leaves from, found it with ease, the bus went past the main avenue where most of the attractions were, reminisce for a bit for when I was here last was 5 years ago, did not take any photos just passing through. At the bus station I found out only one bus company leaves for Fortaleza and the next one leaves at 5pm, the lady from the GUanabara bus asked me to choose my seat pointing to the map outline of the bus seats, I picked #1 then she said "that and all the orange colored ones were all taken," then I noticed only one unticked seat, #43! So I told her why do you make me choose then just assign it to me as I have no choice! She just gave me a wry smile .
To pass the time by I went to a shopping area adjacent to the station nothing
performers getting ready, June festival
interesting there, I had a meal and then went to internet, very expensive, 2.50 reais per half hour! I looked at the ticket and went to ask another teller in the bus counter, how much time it takes to get to Fortaleza he said out loud 42 hours! So relieved I was because at first I thought 67 hours as the woman who sold me the ticket said it takes 3 days and we arrive at 12noonish in Fortaleza. 4:30pm I decided to head for the platform to get there early, and lo and behold a big crowd is waiting as well, my god the luggages and boxes waiting to be loaded, I just wandered if there will be a space to sit on, it seems like every one of the locals on the bus has a refrigerator sized box each!They brught the whole kitchen sink with them! I managed to squeeze my way to the front queue only to be told the Fortaleza bus at 5pm is yet to be loaded, they are loading the 4pm bus to Parnaiba! almost an hour delay just to sort out the luggages and so it happens to us too. We left at
6pm the locals getting impatient. My seat is justin front of the toilet, I got the very back seat and no choice, just have to tough it up for 42 hours. This is an experience I will never forget, first from the crappy bus station so ill organized for a capital you would think it has to be the best. The bus is loaded with young kids and none of the adults speak English so I just nod and smile each time an attempt is made to communicate with me, English solamente I would say, then they keep quiet.
To sum up the 42 hour journey, got stuck in the Brasilian traffic, we stopped a lot in small towns I havent a clue of their names, they never announce it . We had 5 drivers they switch at some stop along the way, the 2nd driver was an Ayrton Senna wanna be, no regard for potholes just keep going straight to the dismay of everyone especially us on the back of the bus. Every pothole was felt and so is every hump. We stop for meals and by the end of the trip I am so sick of buffet
foods they are all the same and the meat looks very dry as if they have been there for days, needless to say I hardly ate. The toilet stinks on the 2nd day and someone vomitted on the floor hallway and in the toilet, must be one of the annoying kids who goes to the bathroom every 20 minutes. The stench every time the door is opened leaves little to the imagination, Its one of those situations you cant get out from and just have to live through it. One guy takes his shirt off and walks around the hall, the aircon is on so its really not uncomfortable, and he is not a stud either. Most people got off on the 2nd day at Iguatu and Candide only 2 towns I knew as we stopped long enough for me to investigate where the hell we were. 1pm we finally arrive in Fortaleza, not an impressive city but Lucas and Andre raved about their hometown with passion so I will give them the benefit of a doubt, we'll see. No internet in the bus terminal, a guy pointed me to a hotel where he says a cyber cafe is on
the side but it was shut, drops of rain started and am pissed, hot and bothered, not a clue where to stay for the night.
There is an event going on at the Centro Cultural Dragao do Mar which is a complex that houses a planetarium, cinema, theatre, galleries etc. I think its a Forro festival, lots of dancing and singing so I checked it out for a bit but itwas raining on and off and when it rains it pours so did not stay long as I was quit tired after enduring a long journey went to bed around 10pm.
The next morning I walked around to look for a laundry place there was one close by the hostel, then went for a walk trying to search for Velastur at Tabosa Ave, the main drag of the ped walk way, its Saturday and its shut! I need to book a bus ticket to Jericoacoara and also try to book the Suriname flight. So looked at LP there is another agency along Ave. Beira Mar in the waterfront so I walked, long time! About 45 minutes later I found a tourist office and inquired, i went past
Centro Cultural Dragao do Mar
it and so had to walk back, finally found it. Booked the bus and was directed to a travel agency for the flights, the agency is weird, family run, the guy helping me is Italian and cant speak English and the computer system is in Portugues so we cant understand each other, the nephew, the niece the other customer they wer all helping me to no avail, for some reason i cant book it until Belem I was told so i left. Found another one, more helpful but same thing since its a Saturday they cant book it. Totally given up I went for a walk some more to find the fish market, itwas bustling with activities, they have fish, crabs, lobsters, shrimps and other crustaceans I have not seen before. I bargained hard and was rewarded with 3 medium pieces of lobsters for 20 reais($10). I have to bring it to another place, just behind the market stalls, and have them cook it for me with oil and garlic just like LP said. 14 reais for everything including a beer and a coke! bargain. But the dish took an hour to arrive, lots of customers, I was nearly fainting
as I have not had breakfast nor dinner from the night before, when the lobsters arrived i consumed it in 15 minutes. Piles of shell and debris on another plate, i can see people are looking at me in disbelief, but hell i dont care i was famished. One dude came up to me mid meal i thought he was gonna commend me for the good jod i am doing with the lobsters, but he was actually asking if they could take my place once iam done, i have a big table to myself, he had a good look at the pile and he smiled in disbelief i think.
Had my fill walked back to town . Along the way in the ped walkway there is some commotion so I investigated, It was a group of fishermen dividing their catch for the day, sacks of fish being portioned out evenly, i watched them for a bit then went my way. It is very very hot and humid so I have to try and walk in the shade. The area around the beach is full of developments, tall rise buildings mostly condos, reminds me of Miami, and like Miami its
Centro Cultural Dragao do Mar
hot hot hot and muggy but I wont trdae this for the cold in the south. In the evening i went to the cultural center where they are having a June festival thing, groups dancing and competing, very lively and there are other things going on around the complex, carnival like atmosphere, when i got tired i went back to the hostel and have a read of Lp to plan for the next week.
Had a visit to the MercadO central, lots of trinkets for sale and the building is enormous, i bought a kg of cashew worth $10 really good and toasted. then went out on one side and had a walk around there are some interesting buildings up a hill away from the church, there was a park there and i went for a walk, all of a sudden i feel like i am in the bad part of town, hardly anyone there, very deserted, well its a Sunday, but my suspicions were confirmed when I was solicited by a prostitute at 10am! i ignored her, her friend came and asked to have something to eat, i gave her some cashew nuts, and that's all the nuts
Centro Cultural Dragao do Mar
she got from me! i swear! then back to Mercado de peixe for more seafood, i bought small sardines and a few shrimps, wow this combination is more expensive to cook as they have to clean the fish etc. all in all $20 so I at least am full and satisfied, got tempted to buy lobsters for dinner but i have left over shrimp to gorge on tonight. another hot sweltering day, though at night and in the morning it rains, love this weather, tropical and unpredictable, off to Jericoacoara tomorrow..
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