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Public Bus Trip from Belém to São Luís

Since our co-driver / mechanic girl Anki is still doing maintenance work on the Dragoman overland truck we had to continue travelling by public transport. Our leader Ross had purchased us tickets for the bus from Belém to São Luís. It’s quite a long journey and my roommate Molly and I got up at 4:45am to be ready for departure from the reception of our hotel at 5:30am. I really hate early mornings but sometimes you have no other choice. We took two cabs that brought us to the bus terminal. The bus to São Luís was leaving at 6:30am and we had a few minutes time to get something for breakfast.

What is interesting to know about the breakfast in Brazil is that they eat lots of cake. Usually you can find different types of cake at every Brazilian breakfast buffet. Even when there is no bread available there is always tons of cake you can eat. This somehow reminds me of my childhood since my mother used to bake lots of cake which we often had for breakfast. Nowadays people in Germany don’t eat cake for breakfast since our nutrition is already very fat and sweet. I’m wondering if one day the breakfast cakes will also disappear from Brazilian breakfast tables…?

The bus journey lasted 12.5 hours. We only stopped once for lunch at a buffet type of restaurant where your selection of food got weighted to determine the price you pay. Pee stops were not necessary since the bus had a toilet on board and there was even a screen in the front of the bus showing you helpful information such as the current time and if the toilet was occupied or not. In general the bus was very comfortable and also had curtains for sun protection. Only the air-conditioning was a bit cold so I was wearing my fleece during the whole journey.

Next to me in the bus was Bob my fellow traveler from Australia. Bob is already seventy years old but mentally and physically completely fit. Some people become very strange when they become old and their biggest worries are how the cars are parked on the street or if the people clean their shoes before entering the house. But Bob is very much different! He’s a really cool guy and has a behavior and attitude which can easily hold up with a thirty to forty year old guy. I wish I will be like him when I’m in my seventies. Bob is also an experienced overland traveler and has spent several months of his live travelling great distances in an overland truck.

Since I didn’t manage to continue sleeping in the bus I killed some time by chatting with Bob and playing all sorts of games with him on my Nintendo DS including “Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain?” and “42 All-Time Classics” including games like Hearths and Chinese Checkers. Although Bob has never played computer games before (with the exception of Tetris) he was picking up the handling of the DS very quickly and enjoyed playing most of the games. We played until the battery of the device died.

Afterwards I was showing Bob the pictures from my journey from Cairo to Nairobi. Bob had also done this journey a long time ago but surprisingly he remembered a lot and recognized many places of this journey just by looking at the pictures. I also found it interesting that Bobs trip chose a different route through Sudan. Approximately 15 years ago they went by boat from Egypt to Port Sudan and continued to travel overland from there.

After arrival in São Luís we took again two cabs which brought us to our hostel in the city center. The hostel was quite nice and we had two dorm rooms, one for the boys and one for the girls. I plugged in my Nintendo DS and my iPod to be charged. The power plug was located right underneath the hangers which my fellow traveler Charlotte used later on to hang up her washing. This resulted in her wet clothes dripping on my iPod but luckily I noticed it after a while and nothing got destroyed.

For dinner we went out to a small restaurant which was recommended to us by the guy at the reception of the hostel. It was just around the corner and the food was quite tasteful although it took ages to come. Our leader Ross did also warn us that São Luís is a bit of a dodgy place and we should be carefully on the streets and not carrying any valuables with us. He also recommended taking off our watches but I found this a bit too much especially because my watch is not shiny and shouldn’t attract any special attention. I’m carefully though and when walking in a group of people the likelihood that something bad happens is in my eyes significantly smaller.