The border town of Chuy sits half in Uruguay, half in Brazil. The town is physically split in two, on one side of the main avenue the shops are all in Spanish and the money is still in pesos and on the other everything is in Portuguese and the banks dispense reais. It's a pretty nasty place, dodgy as f***, with suspicious men selling their wares on the side of the road. Fake gold watches and tracksuits proliferated.
We arrived quite late in the day and headed to the bank to get some money and find a hotel. We tried all 5 cards and three banks in both countries but none of them would let us have any money. It started getting dark and I really began to panic; why weren't our cards being accepted and why did none of the hotels take credit cards! We ran around for while getting more and more worried and standing out like sore thumbs; there weren't any other travellers around and the banks were all closed. Anyway, in the end we managed get some cash out on a credit card and find a hotel that let us pay on card as well.
Went to get our tickets to Florianopolis on the Brazilian side at the rodoviaria, which is the hardest name for a bus terminal in the world. We were going to have to wait a few days for that bus so decided to go to Porto Allegre instead. Anyway, it turned out that they didn't accept credit cards either and we didn't have enough money to pay for the tickets so the lady reserved them for us until the morning (also told us to be there at 10am, even though the bus left at 12).Had a chat to her (broken English vs no Portuguese) about officially getting into Brazil (we'd heard some horror stories about the immigration officials strip searching, checking bank accounts and refusing entry etc). She said we had to first get an exit stamp for Uruguay, which meant walking a kilometre back down the road to the checkpoint. We did that and go the stamp fine, and got some more money out before the ATM ran out again.
In the morning we turned up to the bus at 10, and found out that our bus was actually going to Santa Vittoria, about 20 minutes up the road, in Brazil. Bemused, we got on anyway. Turned out that we had to get our entrance stamp in the town, but the immigration place was a fair walk away from the bus stop. Luckily a guy called Julio took us there and let us go first in the line as our bus to Porto Allegre passed through Santa Vittoria an hour later. Entrance stamp was no problem and we walked back with our new friend practising my Spanish, talking about the crap weather in England and bloody football. We quickly learnt that Portuguese is really very different from Spanish; written down it seems familiar but the pronunciation is completely different. Sat on the bus watching Mona Lisa Smile in Portuguese. Not fun.