Hello from the Costa Verde (green coast) on the Atlantic coastline of Brazil. I am in the quaint colonial town of Paraty at the moment, which is somewhat reminiscent of Colonia in Uruguay only not as nice. Being the green coast they unsurprisingly get a lot of rain here, and that was what we arrived to last night. Fortunately however today has been dry, albeit cloudy, which makes what would be one of the world´s most beautiful coastlines look that bit grimmer.
The journey here marked the 7th and final night bus of my world trip. Just when I thought I was getting accustomed to them, this one turned out to be the journey from hell. We left at 7.30pm bound for Sao Paulo fully 15 hours later. The first incident occured when a Brazilian woman got on the wrong bus and claimed that I was in her seat. She stood there going absolutely ballistic in Portuguese at me before being removed from the bus. Her horrible attitude was a hint at what was to come from the Brazilians, who thus far have proved themselves to be the rudest people I´ve ever met. We were allowed to get off for a meal at 11pm (they eat late in Brazil) and after getting back on half an hour later the lights went out with the intention everyone sleeps. However some of the local middle aged women seemed determined to assert themselves over us tourists, and were persistently shouting to each other over our seats. Our tour guide Joaquin was particularly aggreived as he was seated next to one of the women who insisted on getting up past him to talk to her friends throughout the early hours. They all seemed very hostile towards us and it seemed very much like an assertion of their territoriality over us foreigners. Using my pill I did finally get some sleep only to be awoken briefly at 4am by the driver putting the radio on loud across the whole coach. Joaquin complained about this but he was simply met with a shrug of the shoulders. The final straw came at 6am when the person behind me´s mobile phone alarm went off, only he remained asleep so did not switch it off for fully 1 hour. An absolute farce!
To top this Sao Paulo bus station turned out to be the worst place in the entire trip! It was on the outskirts of the massive metropolis (25 million people - the largest city in South America), which is recognisable from the cream skyscrapers of the Barclays waterslide advert that was on TV not so long ago. On getting off the bus I immediately spotted a dodgy looking spindly man hanging around us as we got our baggage offloaded (which took ages as all the Brazilians barged past us). While waiting I looked to my right to see the dodgy man unzipping a local person´s rucksack! I tapped him on the shoulder and shouted no and he stopped, pulled an angry face at me and legged it. When people think of South America many people think of this type of activity but I have to say in general its not been bad at all. Sao Paulo bus station was full of these theives though. I observed another one attempt the same trick in the toilet queue only to be disturbed by someone else. I was most relieved to depart the place after half an hour hanging around. But the fun hadn´t stopped there. Our private transfer driver was horrifically heavy on the brakes, which was not good given that there are speedbumps every few hundred yards in Brazil. I think everyone felt travel sick after 6 hours of his driving.
Anyhow we arrived safe in the end. Today I put myself through more sickly driving by taking a jeep tour up a series of dirt tracks high into the rainforest, where we did some swimming by nice waterfalls and visited a couple of cachaca distillieries, which is the primary spirit in the Brazilian caipirinha cocktail. I have to say I am not a fan of the sugar cane based drink, so did not enjoy the tasting. The swimming was fun, albeit cold, and I struggled given that my right ankle is massively swollen following an insect bite in the jungle. I opted not to do the waterslide waterfall as it hurt so much but it was fun watching others slide down and I had a nice morning. This afternoon I spent wandering the quaint streets of this white town, which seems to have a lot of nice shops which I´ll go back to later. Havaina flip flops are only about 3 pound here, and there are some nice football shirts too!
Tomorrow we are taking a bus and ferry to the paradise (well it would be in the sun) island of Ilha Grande, which is what the picture is of on this blog. Its only a few hours on the bus and then a couple on the ferry thankfully. I need a break from long journeys!