It is 2am, Sunday night, and we are in the Campo Grande bus terminal. The Lonely Planet guide said that this is supposed to be fairly seedy at night, with hookers & dodgy characters. But there is nothing that interesting to observe to help kill the next 3.5 hours till our bus.
We arrived here at 11.45pm, after another fairly torturous day. Getting to the border crossing at 9am this morning high hopes were held of getting into Corumba, Brazil by 12. We got through the Bolivian side in 2 hours, but the Brazilian side took another 4 hours. Not sure if today was a special day, but there were a lot of Bolivians seeking visas today, the majority on their way to Sao Paulo. There was around 150 people to process, including 5 gringos, and for the first hour the line did not move. There was nothing to do but swat mossies, watch the numerous Eagles soaring above, or the odd Toucan flapping ungainly past. They flap quite vigorously, I assume to ensure that they don't nosedive due to the weight of their extraordinary beaks.
Eventually processed at 2.45pm, we grab a taxi to the bus terminal, and the ride quickly highlights the difference between the two countries. Coming from dirt, pot-holed roads & tin shacks in Quijarro, to tarred roads, nice houses and manicured gardens in Corumba. Even the taxi had a new car smell, as well as seatbelts; something we had not seen and used in months. After a 15min ride, we arrive at the bus terminal to find that we have just missed a bus to Campo Grande. Another one leaves in 1.5 hours, so we settle down at a table and have our first beers on Brazilian soil. It is a nice sight seeing the bus pull in, as it is like the ones we had in Argentina, and a far cry from the one we slept in on the side of the road two nights ago.
The 7hr ride to Campo Grande is unremarkable in that it is comfortable & air conditioned inside, & dark outside. It would have been nice to see the scenery, but the darkness allowed for some much needed shut eye. Getting in at 11.45pm, we have once again just missed a connecting bus to Cuiaba. The next one is at 5.45am, so we decide to forgo accommodation & wait it out at the terminal. Then something interesting happens, I get an attack of Bolivian belly. At least the incessant trips to the shitter & the bubbling in my stomach will help stave off sleep.
That is where my handwritten notes finish. The bus came on time and we were on the road for the final 12 hours of our ordeal. The ride was once again comfortable, and safe with the knowledge that the imodium had kicked in we slept for most of it, arriving in Cuiaba just as the sun had set and peak hour traffic was raging. It is a massive city, by far the biggest we have been to since Buenos Aires, and the air is thick and humid. Surviving the taxi ride to our hotel, we venture straight out for something to eat, having only eaten lollies, crackers and the odd empanada for the last 3 days. A churasco joint close to the hotel is quickly located, and we tuck into some amazing chicken and icey cold beer served up in 600ml bottles with their own styrofoam casings to keep the heat at bay. The food is served in enormous portions and is delicious.
Stuffed from food and nearly 3 days of travel it is back to the comfort of an air conditioned room to take it all in and pass out.
A rundown of the 70hrs is as follows:
• Friday 20:00 - Bus from Santa Cruz, Bolivia
• Friday 22:30 - We hit a blockade, the next 12 hours are spent sleeping in a stationary bus
• Saturday 10:30 - Blockade is over and we are off to Quijarro on the border
• Saturday 20:00 - Arrive in Quijarro, spend 12 hours in a hotel
• Sunday 09:00 - Arrive at border control
• Sunday 14:45 - Processed at border control
• Sunday 16:30 - Bus from Corumba to Campo Grande
• Sunday 23:45 - Arrive in Campo Grande, spend next 5.5 hours trying not to sleep and shit myself
• Monday 05:30 - Bus to Cuiaba
• Monday 18:30 - Arrive in Cuiaba
The original plan was after the Pantanal, to get back into Bolivia the same way. Somehow I think that we will find an alternative route...
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