Monday 26th October 2015 evening
The journey to Campo Grande started by arriving at 7.30pm at Santa Cruz terminal bus station as I was told by Mauricio, the guy who sold me the ticket…and realising that the bus was leaving only at…9pm!!! Thanks….Anyway. It was interesting to observe how buzzying the station was at night. Most buses must be leaving in the evening because it was much more busy than during the day!
I waited at the bus agency office, and tried out the mate de Bolivia which is similar to the mate de Argentina that they drink a lot there.
We watched a football game. Santa Cruz team was playing against a La Paz team. Chatted with one of the guy who showed me photos on his phone of his two daughters, one who was 8 years old and lived a few hours away with his first wife and one who was 8 months old living with him and his current wife. He had tatooed their names on his arms, one on each. The smartphone is nowadays that WiFi thing that sometimes kills conversations and make people isolate themselves where there used to be great conversations in hostels for example, but it is also that easy “photos carrier” tool that can instantly make you share your life with the people you meet and connect to them more closely. Interesting how it can be both a white weapon and a dark one! View of that section of the bus station from my seat at the agency. Those 3 little girls who were children of parents working there were totally oblivious to what was going on around them, the bus station was their playground, their island where they could lie down like if they were at home, that was cool!
Here was the bus in which I finally boarded. I realised that the agency which had sold me the ticket was just an intermediary. The first question I should have asked was if they were operating the bus and if the bus was going all the way to Campo Grande in Brazil or stopping at the border. Cruz del Sur for example was a bus which took me all the way from Lima, Peru to Guayaquil, Ecuador. I shouldn`t have assumed that this would be the case. I could have bought a ticket directly with the bus company taking me to the border instead of a triple price “take you to Campo Grande” ticket on which the intermediary took a big commission. Something I got to realise later that day. Lesson learned for next time!
We departed at 9pm. Here was the map of the journey. 1,082 kilometers to go to Campo Grande!
About 90 minutes later, the bus stopped. There was a mechanical issue and we got stranded for a bit more than an hour. As they had turned off the motor, it was getting really hot in the bus so they had opened the door. We were getting devored by mosquitoes. I was so glad I had taken the insect repellent with me in the small backpack. I happily shared it around, saving my 8 bus mates of the first floor from being bitten. 7 of them actually, as one old woman claimed that she was never being bitten. I wish mosquitoes didn`t like me either!! A few of us went out to stretch our legs and check out what was going on.
Not sure what this big round thing in the middle is, but that seemed to be the issue and the mechanic kept splashing water on it.
He also kept pumping up this thing which was located on the left side of the bus.
Somehow, it worked. It was great to have a good mechanic.
onboard! Off we went again. The temperature was not too warm, not too cold. I was so happy I had taken my United-borrowed blanket, it was great to use it to sleep in the bus. They were not lending blankets and everyone had brought theirs too. The seats had as much space and where as reclining as in a Cruz del Sur bus. The road was really smooth. I slept really well!
Tuesday 27th October 2015
I woke up at sunrise.
Looking out of the window. We had just stopped in a small place.
Inside the bus
Outside of the bus, the landscape was pretty monotonous and boring. Pretty flat, green, tropical landscape with palm trees, sometimes cows.
We had driven all night, were almost at the border between Bolivia and Brazil and my GPS said we were still 392 kilometers away from Campo Grande.
For information for the travellers, I asked my bus buddies and they all paid 80 bolivianos when buying directly with the bus company for a one way ticket from Santa Cruz to Trujillo. We arrived in Trujillo and disembarked. Taxis were waiting for us outside to take us to the border. It is interesting that the bus doesn`t go 10 minutes further to drop passengers right outside of the border. At the same time, it does give jobs to all those taxi drivers living there.
With my full “rip-you-off” travel package I was supposed to have a taxi guy waiting for me there but he wasn`t. The taxi guys were asking me to pay 20 bolivianos to take me to the border. One bus buddy said no,no it is 10 bolivianos. I told those taxi guys:”Come on, I am already paying 560 bolivianos with a stupid intermediary that ripped me off, so don`t try to rip me off too, I had enough of this tourist price thing!” One taxi guy offered me to take me there and talk to the bus company there. He took me there and would wait for me. I got off the taxi and went inside the bus agency asking for the taxi driver´s name who finally turned up. I couldn`t find the first taxi driver anymore. I also got told that the taxi ride was 5 bolivianos, not 10 bolivianos anyway. Oh well, I got a free ride for once. That was very kind of that guy.I am sure that if he wanted to be paid, he would have got out and found me.
Here was Sergio, the “taxi buddy of Mauricio the guy who had sold me the rip-you-off package” with the blue and white shirt, asking about the bus ticket for me at the counter. It was 7am and they wanted to put me on the 11am bus from Corumba (on the other side of the border). I asked: Why not the 9am bus? They explained to me that there was an hour more on the Brazilian side, so right now was already 8am and by the time I would finish the border formalities and gone to the bus station, the 9am bus would probably be gone. Fair enough. For info, the bus ticket from Corumba to Campo Grande is 100 reales, so about 220 bolivianos. Only one bus company does this bus journey and is called Andorinha.
I queued here to give my Bolivian exit paper and get my exit stamp.
Three counters inside, one for Mercosur people, one for Bolivian people, and the left one for everyone else (where I was queuing).
Then I walked across the bridge.
And queued here to do the entrance to Brazil. Now the interesting thing is that it was all on computer. I did not have to fill anything! And I was not given any paper to keep safely in my passport. Modern…
Now, the funny thing was to walk…back to the Andarinha bus agency. So back to Bolivia basically. Whoooo..I was illegal for a bit. I had an exit Bolivia stamp in my passport and an entry stamp for Brazil but was back in Bolivia. Oulala.
It was 8.15am Bolivian time which is 9.15am Brazilian time. Indeed, I would have missed the 9am bus from Corumba. Sergio told me that it was illegal for him to drive me in Brazil to Corumba so he presented me to my Brazilian taxi driver who would take me to Corumba. I asked them how much they were getting paid. Sergio told me that to assist me in the logistics, he was getting paid 50 bolivianos. For the taxi ride from Trujillo`s border to Corumba, the cost was 100 bolivianos or 50 reals. So all in all, it would be 80 bolivianos for the Santa Cruz to Trujillo bus, then 5 bols for the taxi ride to the border, then 100 bol to the bus station in Corumba then 220 bols for the bus to Campo Grade, so 405 bolivianos. And Sergio was getting 45 more bols so 450 bols. And I had paid 550 bols, so basically the agency was taking a 100 bolivianos commission. Fair enough. Now, there is actually a bus leaving from the border to Corumba which costs 3 reals, which is 6 bolivianos. That means you can do all this journey on your own and pay 80 bols, 5 bols, 5 bols, 220 bols, so a total of 310 bols. If you are going to travel that road and still have questions, let me know! I usually don`t write prices too much in this blog, and it doesn`t matter much to me how much I pay, but one thing I hate is being ripped off and taken for a damn stupid tourist, no matter if it is a 2-dollar rip-off or a 200 dollars one. Anyway…
Off to Corumba in the car of the Brazilian taxi driver.
Here was the bus station.
I wanted to buy some brekky but the cafe didn`t want to accept my bolivianos. Come on, we are right next to the border! When crossing from Chile to Bolivia, the women had accepted my Chilean pesos. The cafe guy showed me the shop across the road where I could change my bolivianos for reals when it would open. I just had to watch for an old white beetle which would announce the arrival of the change maker. So I hanged out there with the taxi drivers, waiting to see that change maker arrive. In a pink t-shirt is Claudio. We chatted for a while and he told me he had two children, one son who was a dentist and a daughter who was a cardiologist and was currently travelling in Italy and France right at the moment.
While chatting to him, I could recharge my phone here. Now, that was handy! 🙂
The change maker guy arrived at 10.45am. My bus was already there starting to board people.
I was not keen on rushing and taking the risk to miss the bus so I gave up on changing bolivianos in reals and decided I would rather starve. Too bad for me for not planning ahead by buying biscuits on the other side of the border or changing bolivianos in reals in La Paz or Santa Cruz! Inside the bus
The landscape outside of the bus, pretty boring really.
Around 3pm which was 2pm Bolivian time, I was starting to feel pretty hungry and counting the hours. It was going to be probably 2-3 hours before we would arrive in Campo Grande. And then..the bus decided to stop for a lunch break! There were 2 Brazilian girls sitting right in front of me. I asked them if I could by any chance given them bolivianos in exchange of reals. They said that there was no need, they would invite me. Here is my saviour!!
The system was to get a green plastic token at the entrance and choose the food at the food`s counter and give the token and the woman was entering the food item on it. At the end, you give the token to the cashier after you ate and you pay there. Interesting. I had what they call a “chicken leg” in Brazilian Portuguese which is this thing with chicken inside. It was pretty good.
The restaurant was clean and modern. You could feel you were in a much more developed country. It was funny to chat with Mariana and Vanessa actually. They had just been travelling in Bolivia for 2 weeks and were happy to be back in Brazil, where you don`t pay for toilets and the toilets are modern and clean, where everything looks modern and clean, where you can eat lots of different cakes and where the food is generally much more modern and varied. They were excited to be back. We got back into the bus and they gave me a “Survival” lesson of Portuguese and Mariana wrote down for me a couple of sentences. Phew…
On the TV, they were screening a movie where a guy is turning into a wolf at sunset and his lover is turned into an hawk at sunrise by a mean priest who was jealous of their love, which means they are condemned to never be able to be together as humans until the spell is broken, and so the guy has to find a way to kill the priest and is helped by a young guy who is a great thief. They had seen that movie when they were young, I had never heard of it. It was a nice gentle Medieval time movie.
Then we stopped at the airport and they got off as they were taking a flight to Sao Paulo where they live. As I have a stop-over in Sao Paulo on the 23rd December evening on my way to Europe, I suggested that we meet then so I can invite them for dinner for saving me from hunger that day. Let`s hope we manage to meet!
We arrived in Campo Grande around 5.40pm.
Next…off from Campo Grande to Foz de Iguazu with another night bus, straight!