We want to get to Ushaia before winter kicks in. Being on the end of the world, I can imagine it can get pretty cold there and we are not really geared for extreme cold conditions. But to travel from Rio to Buenos Aires and then to Ushaia, will cost the same as traveling from Rio by bus, to Iguazu, from there to Buenos Aires and then Ushaia. So why not take a 24hour bus trip up to see the worlds most impressive waterfall?
That is exactly what we did! Traveling from Rio to Foz is a long 24 hour trip. The bus stops at about every town to pick people up, drop others and as we continue our trip the strangers and friends on the bus change. Well some of them. We were very lucky to be placed close to a couple from Sweden and Australia. Great company and we had lots of conversations from mining, travelling, countries, kids, sweets, sugar and what not! Jokes were made and snacks shared.
The trip will be remembered for a few other things too. As we left Rio things started to get a bit hot in the bus. Trying to get the attention of the drivers whilst driving is impossible. The are locked in and there is no way to reach them. So you either have to wait two hours till the first stop of phone the bus company so they can contact the drivers and inform them that the air con is not working. Brazil, 14:00 in a bus with no windows that can open is pretty hot! 48 Body heaters in the top section to heat things up a bit more and it does not take long before everybody is either asleep (but apparently not from heat, this is due to last night’s Carnaval escapades!) or totally sweaty and soaking wet. I have never done nothing and sweat that much! Luckily being in Brazil two “fris” guys got up and opened the 3 vents in the roof, just for a little bit of ventilation. A bit of hot air could escape, what a relief.
We were told at the next stop that we will get a new bus in Sau Paulo. Another 4 hours… At least the sun was setting and earth cooling down. Things were getting better. At 22:00 we transferred to a new bus, this time with a working air con…unfortunately that also lasted for an hour. At the next stop the air con’s gas was filled and we were ready to move on.
The long distance traveling by bus was new. The bus terminals are huge. Geared and equipped for busses. Restrooms, shopping for snacks, drinks and limited traveling necessities. Every place has either fast food outlets or a eat by kilo restaurant or take away. The parking can accommodate at least 30 busses. These stops look like train stations. Bussing in Brazil is big. It takes longer, but it is way cheaper so locals use it. The bus is also packed with other travellers like ourselves on their way to Iguazu. Their next stops vary from Buenos Aires, Mendosa, Bolivia or other countries up North. Each has their own idea, or their own no idea what is next.
We have at least two weeks planned, because we realised that leaving bookings for a week or a few days prior to departure will cost you double. What is surprising and maybe great to know is that this route is well traveled. Many young females do it on their own. Independent, travel wise, limited luggage and easy chatting personalities to get to know other travellers, and have some company on the road. Facebook profiles are shared and connections are made. Traveling to South Africa might be part of their next trip and that is how the travellers roll!
It’s now 14:46, about another 2 hours to Foz. Some stops are checkins only, 5 minutes and maybe a driver swop. Others are a drop off and pick up, 5 minute and smokers make use of this as a break. Other stops are 30 minutes, where you grab something to eat, go to the restrooms, brush teeth settle in for the next stretch.
We will have to get ready for more of these trips, especially when we are in Chile.
Despite the fact that Brazil is big and green the cities are huge. No massive, Sao Paulo just never ends. Lights and more lights.
The towns or cities we travelled through today have loads of industrial areas, I think we see these because that is where the bus terminals are and we travel on the highway. We do not get to see what the inside of these communities look like. There I missed the mansions of concrete and glass windows next to the road. So everything is not old, industrial and agriculture. I will see what we find once in Foz regarding housing, buildings and architecture.
What I do know is that there are many farmers, tractor repair shops, packaging industries and warehouses, Agro-Brasil and the like. Farming activities along the way with mealies, beans, sugarcane and sunflower for kilometres along the road. Huge fields. Other areas have fruit trees, bananas, paw-paw, mangoes and nicely maintained yards. Other areas are overgrown with lush green plant life. Natural forests again for long stretches along the way. Forestry is also visible along the road. Something of everything can be grown here in a matter of 100 km.
I did not see livestock next to the road. A sigh with sheep, one farm with a few cattle, other farm entrances with “Ranch” written on it and that was about it.
We did pass through one town where there were huge bells on the sidewalks. Not high. Every corner had one. One of the guys on the bus said it was a religious thing the Catholics introduced many years ago.
The roads are well maintained. You do find trucks on the roads and then the regular traffic, but not huge holdups on the way. We travel at a constant speed. We do not see big luxury SVU vehicles on the road. Standard sedan, delivery trucks, old cars, busses and bakkies. Volkswagen, Ford, Hyundai, Toyota and other Japanese brands. Trucks are Scania, Mercedes, Volvo, Volkswagen, just to mention a few brands. Loads of busses, of which are new and well maintained…except for the air con… Cyclists do not wear helmets and most motorbike riders in towns do not wear them properly. On the main roads the actually fit and strap helmets.
Toll gates are pre-paid so no waiting here as well as at police stops. It looks like they have checks on the way, and when required confiscate cars there and then on the spot. Cars are parked next to the road and left. This is also the dumping ground for cars and motorcycles that were in accidents. Scrapyard look.
Rotary signs are up in most towns and you will see churches everywhere. Old church buildings and on the side of the road. Some looks like just another shop in town is a congregation of some kind. Cemeteries consist of little houses built everywhere.
Pretty much it. Now on our way to our new home for the next 3 days!