I have a bad feeling about this...

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South America » Brazil » Pará » Maraba
July 5th 2009
Published: July 7th 2009
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Alright well, about the title. I did not feel comfortable with the way things had been going and we talked it over and decided to switch our bus tickets for tomorrow morning at 10am and we switched hotels. It is probably just paranoia, but considering our location it is better to be safe and not take the risk. Besides, I just had a bad feeling about things and I have a tendency, especially when traveling, to listen to these sorts of things when I feel them.

The internet is still not good, but this hotel is much much much better. It is right next door (literally, they share a wall), but much safer I feel. I will get into more detail on these things later and if I get a chance I will post some pictures and stuff.


Now for the last couple of days. The train ride was pretty pleasant and I am not entirely sure (because I don't speak portuguese good enough) but I think I got solicited for sex by a 12 year old girl that was very physically mature and some guy that was with her while we were on the train. Again like the paranoia, I am probably just imagining things. The trip on the train was fun, we fit 3 people into two seats with luggage. Ate some food we bought from some people through the train window at a stop, pooped some liquid after we got to our hotel.

It's after the sun went down on our 13.5 hour train ride, and we arrived in Maraba, that things got a little anxious. First off we were already nervous because of all the stories we have heard and second only one of us really speaks the language and third it was a tiny trainstation unguarded in the middle of dark woods and finally none of the taxi drivers seemed to have any uniforms or logos on their cars (I have heard alot of taxi stories and been told by brasilians to be leary of this sort of taxi.) So we found a cab driver, dressed kind of like a mix between a cowboy and a mafia gangster to drive us to the bus station so we could buy a ticket. So we drove through some dark country side in the opposite direction as all the other traffic on the road and after a few minutes came to a small city and eventually a tiny outdoor bus station. He waited with us in line while we were buying a ticket and went off to talk to someone and pointed at us while we were finalizing the transaction (he knew where and what time the bus was going/leaving). He then drove us across the street (literally like in sight because its not safe to walk at night) and recommended a hotel to us. Now normally these actions would be percieved as kindness, but it all seemed shady, like something else was going on. Oh and have I mentioned that everyone we encountered last night was kind of shifty eyed and always looking around, which made me nervous. The guy at the hotel had a similar style as the cab driver and some scars on his face. We paid the cab $R10 per person and for the hotel $R 50 and went up our creepy ass room, with stains from god knows what on everything no ceiling (in as far as I could climb my way into the hallway or bathroom without the use of a door. One of the walls felt as thought it could be pushed over. Oh and the room number: 13. The bathroom might I add was public and had no toilet seat and the door didnt really close right. We heard some loud bangs in the middle of the night, but they sounded more like car back fire or firework mortars than guns so we didn't worry about that.

So we were all stressed from not getting much sleep before the train, not getting any sleep on the train, the general strain that comes with travel and our sequence of super creepy and potentially very dangerous events and the potentially dangerous hotel room we were staying in. None of us got much sleep last night. And I was a little nervous that we had been set up (even though i was giving credit to the cab driver for not screwing us over when he had the chance.) and also worried about the ability for criminals to climb over our wall. Kate upon unpacking realized she lost her travel card and that added to things. All in all it was a stressful night.

In the morning we were sitting around waiting for the bus and becoming more and more anxious about things. So we decided to see what there was to do in town for the next four hours and sparked up a conversation with a very pleasant woman who worked at the hotel. She told us how this was a dangerous place (where the hotel is) even in the day and to just keep an eye out. She also said that she doesn't work at night and does not like hanging out around here at night. She said that after a while though you get used to and lose your fear, might I add she has never been robbed. (It seems to me that the majority of crime here happens with travellers, but I do not really know this.)

She told us about a beach and which buses to take to get there and all that. We went, it was pretty sweet. On the way a lady at the bus stop told us a little bit about town and that the spot by the beach is not so dangerous and lots of people come here to go to it. It is on the banks of a river and you have to take a boat across to get to the actual beach part, which we didn't go to. But we did walk up and down the boulevard along the river which was bustling with all sorts of people enjoying themselves and vendors selling this and that. We were interested in finding where the two rivers met along the bank. (Oh yeah two rivers meet in maraba and the water on one side is blue and on the other is brown.) Somone pointed us in the right direction so we went on a long walk along the bank. Eventually we came to what seemed like favelas (ghetto to the max, with houses sometimes built with scraps and trash.) , but we could see where the rivers met so we kept on walking. No one bothered us, some kids flying kites some other kids just messing around people here and there doing daily things. At the end there was an umbrella with some young men with a montrous stereo listening to american hip hop. We looked at where they met, enjoyed it for a moment and then walked back. We didn't take any pictures because we did not want to pull out a camera where we were as it might have made us a target.

The guy who checked us in was not particularly friendly (not rude or anything he was nice just not particularly friendly) and he asked us where our bus was going and what time it was leaving, in a very matter of fact sort of way, right before he got on his motorcycle and went to speak with a man driving a flat bed truck with some guard rails and taking off with another motorcyclist and the truck. (again giving him credit for not robbing us in the night and keeping an eye on our bags while we went to town, it still made me nervous. Did I mention he was shifty eyed?)

I did not at all feel comfortable riding the bus from 3pm until 11pm knowing about buses being hijacked at night and especially after so many shifty eyed people had repeatedly asked where we were going and when, so we talked it over, found another hotel and tranferred our tickets until tomorrow. This way we can relax in a much nicer hotel with a much bigger room with real walls and barred doors at night with non shifty eyed people working here and our own bathroom plus hammock hooks for only $R60. And then take a bus in the day time and arrive around 6pm (when sunset starts) instead of 11pm with no shifty eyed people on motorcycles knowing where we are and relax on our trip while watching the country side.

WHEW! Stess relieved, I feel much better and feel as though I can relax now on our trip instead of being yet another shifty eyed person adding to the total ambiance of the city. Although I have to say that after getting out and going around town a little and speaking with some people here, the majority of the city seems like a pretty nice place with friendly people... just not the train station and bus stop which we are staying next to. And honestly it is much cleaner than Sao Luis and feels more like a city in the states.

Well I am going to go shower and rest and get ready for a much more comfortable and safe journey.


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