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marge & ian’s Travel Diary

Monday, 27 Feb 2006

Location: *URUGUAY TO BRASIL*, Brazil

Map*URUGUAY TO BRASIL* 27/02/06 - 28/02/06


Our plan after visiting Uruguay was to make our way up to Iguazu Falls as quickly as we possibly could. We tried to book our tickets from the bus station in Punta Del Este to no avail. So the next plan was to get to the capital, Montevideo. So we bid our farewells to Pat and De again and hopped on the bus to Montevideo.

Upon arrival we were hoping to find a bus that would take us to Iguazu Falls in Brasil. We quickly learnt that on proper inspection of all the bus company booths that there were no buses that would even get us to Brasil that day.

We eventually found a bus that could take us to the Uruguay/Brasil border that evening at 11.15pm, we only had 12 hours or so to wait!!!!!!!!!! We would be going to a place called Rio Branca, which we were told was a 10 minute walk to the Brasilian border after which there would be plenty of buses gong North further into Brasil. It seemed like the best option - WHATEVER.

Looked around the very boring city of Montevideo, ate a maccy d´s in an attempt to make ourselves feel a little better about the bus situation, and generally wasted as much time as possible, which included a haircut for Ian.

When we arrived back at the bus station, while looking for our bus on the boards, Ian spotted that there was a bus going to Porto Alegre in Brasil, which is somewhere that would have been ideal to get to in order to reach Iguazu, and it was leaving at 9.15pm. Ian held his hands up - he had made a mistake. As you can imagine I was not best pleased. We went and enquired about tickets and there were still some left, after much deliberation, we decided that it would be frivolous to just waste our original tickets and buy new ones and waste all of $50 dollars, big mistake.

2 1/2 hours later we finally boarded our bus to Rio Branca. The overnight journey was uneventuful and we both got a bit of sleep. We were woken up at 5.00am by a complete evacutaion of the bus bar us. Looking out of the window we appeared to be in the middle of a remote provincial town, scattered with pissed up blokes. At 5.30am the bus stopped and we were kicked off the bus. `The bus station` was a shitty and dodgy little shop with what looked like a freaks hangout. It was pitch black and we were shitting ourselves, where on earth were we?

Ian went to investigate where the border crossing was and left me guarding the bags. He planned to only be gone a couple of minutes. He came back after 1 minute with a big turd in his pants. All reported to have seen was a load of drunks on a dark street corner and no sign of a border crossing. We sat and pondered what to do for 20 minutes or so. We decided that it would probably be best to wait until sunrise as things often look better in daylight.

When 6.00am came around and there was still no sign of the sun rising, Ian made tentative enquiries to the `bus station man/shop keeper` as to the location of the border. This was difficult as the guy just blabbered back to him in portuguese, Ian didn´t understand a word. After some fustration the bloke led Ian to a guy outside who we originally thought was a drunk, in fact he turned out to be the late night taxi driver of the town!!

We were greeted with a smile but were VERY unsure about whether to go with him and trust him. As we were desperate we decided to take the risk and get into his clapped out old banger with our backpacks sticking out of the unclosed boot. He immediately began to rattle on in Portuguese as we sped off down the road in what we thought was the opposite direction to the border.

For some strange reason (given that Ian understand better spanish than me), I could understand more about what he was trying to say to us. He was telling us that we needed to get an exit stamp from Uruguay so he would drive us there first, and then go to the brasilian side for our entry stamp which he would take us to afterwards. True to his word a few kilometres down the road we pulled up at the Uruguay office. We knocked on a kiosk window and a woman who had obviously been asleep came from nowhere and processed our documents.

After this we had more confidence in our `taxi driver` as we got into the banger and raced off to the Brasilian office, we were happy but still not completely out of the shit. We drove over a bridge and then down some very dark unpaved roads (things were getting scary again) until we came to the Brasilian police station. Once again we were led up to the door, pressed the doorbell and then waited a couple of minutes before another `sleeping policeman` appeared. Got all of our stamps, got BACK in the car and wondered where we were headed next. Fortunately we were dropped at the exact bus station that we wanted to be at on the Brasilian side in the tail end of their carnival, although when we arrived we were dubious as to whether this actually was a ticket office. We gave our little taxi man 20 dollars, we were soo grateful that he hadn´t robbed us of everything we had. In all the panic and confusion we hadn´t even realised that we were in Brasil until Ian asked the driver! We sat outside on our backpacks and waited for the ticket office to open and for the sun to come up.

The sun finally came up and the office finally opened at 6.30am as the driver had predicted, and everyone took on a less sinister look, they were just normal people having a good old drink at a carnival! We got some tickets to another remote place coz we couldn´t get tickets to where we wanted to go.

Two hours later we arrived at the most remote bus station, miles away from the town. Ian tried to book tickets to a place near to Iguazu with his credit card. No cards accepted, we had no cash as we hadn´t had an opportunity to get some since arriving in Brasil and there were no cash points anywhere, and to top it all off we couldn´t understand a friggin word of portuguese. It was a total nightmare to top of an already nightmare trip. Ian eventually found out that the nearest cash point was in town, so the poor sunburnt, tired boy had to traipse all the way into town in the stifling heat on a mission to find a bloody cash point.

Two hours later he returned jubliant with a pocket full of cash and two tickets to Porta Alegra, we were back on track, yaaaayyy!!!

Arrived at Porta Allegra and luck was FINALLY on our side as we booked our bus the same night to Iguazu Falls. About bloody time too!