Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Free Love

It was a heck of a first day in Brazil. I honestly had nothing to complain about. I saw what might have been the most beautiful scenery ever, ate good food, and learned that Venezuelans have access to ridiculously cheap gasoline (A couple from Venezuela was on the tour with us.).

Nighttime was kind of different than the daytime, not because Rio doesn't boast good times at night, but because I wouldn't be there. Like I said, I had to get to Brasilia to start my job on the twentieth. I asked the dude behind the counter at BambooRio if he would help me out with getting a bus. He did, of course, and, after I gathered my stuff, he was nice enough to accompany me and two Israelis in a cab to the bus station. I got my 149 reais ticket to Brasilia (Yeah, that’s right, a mere 57 reais more for an eighteen hour bus ride than a fifteen minute cab ride from the airport. thieves.), and the dude eventually left me there. He told me not to talk to anyone (including the guy who, he said, had been staring at us talking) and guard my bags (all three of them, including my computer bag. I should have just held up a sign that said, “You ought to steal from me.”

One thing I, and many others, noticed upon arrival at the bus station, was an unpleasant altercation between a man and a woman outside by the road. The man started whaling on the woman, punching her violently. Nobody did anything about it. They eventually stopped, and they just kept hanging out together by the bus stop like nothing happened. Many found it more humorous than offensive. The dude from the hostel even laughed it off, carrying an attitude that seemed to say, “Oh, those guys, they’re so crazy.” I didn’t have the same reaction.

I eventually boarded the bus, and we were off. I got an elevated view of the city, which, like all new, exciting places, captivated me the whole way through. I was especially intrigued by the poorer neighborhoods, in and out of town, making me wonder what they were up to that time of night. Particularly, when I looked at these very dark, isolated homes in the mountainous countryside, places and lifestyles very different from mine, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What are they up to? Are they chilling out, under the one street light, drinking beers and talking? Do they hit the sack early?” Things like that.

The bus was pretty much empty. I nearly had the entire back half to myself. I’m sure the people sitting ahead of me were wondering why I was switching sides, back and forth, constantly through the night. I was just so stimulated by the view. I couldn’t see a whole lot in the dark, but it was really something to gaze at the mountains and these little towns on a nearly empty bus by myself. Yeah, we passed over some mountains, more than I expected, at an efficient speed, making going to the bathroom a little more difficult.

Okay, so one aspect of the Brazilian countryside has less to do with the scenery…or…Well, I guess it’s scenic…maybe. There are a lot of motels in between cities. A lot of them. You know where I’m going with this. I find these kinds of establishments are quite prevalent in the Catholic-dominated societies of Latin America. Sure, the United States has several sleazy joints, but I feel the out-of-town motel is particularly common south of the border. I think the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality prevails here. Also, this was explained to me by a gentleman in Mexico. The folks in Latin America aren’t as quick to divorce as they are in the United States, which is a good, essentially. However, it’s more likely one person (Particularly the man, I’m guessing.) will hit up one of these places out of town if he chooses to be unfaithful. In Mexico, there are even places with curtains blocking sight to the parking lot. And they make no mistake about it here, either. These motels advertise exactly what the patron is looking for. They’re huge, and several of them will advertise the cost of three hours in big neon lighting. One place in particular that I remember was called “Free Love.” Not exactly hiding it, are they? And these places are out there. Someone must really want sex if he’s willing to go that far. It didn’t appeal to me…or did it?...No, really, it didn’t.

The ride was not short. I eventually dozed off to sleep for a little while and was awakened by the bus pulling in somewhere. “Somewhere” might not be accurate. Actually, we were nowhere. I assumed we were taking a break from the road, but I was also so disoriented that I didn’t know what to do. I stumbled outside, gazing at the blackness around me, wondering, “Where in tarnation are we?”

Some people were getting food inside, and I was starving myself. A common way of restaurant eating in Brazil is the self service buffet, not all-you-can-eat, but pay for as much as your plate weighs. It’s convenient, but I was unfamiliar with the process at the time. I was hungry enough not to care, and I went through the line and figured it out. We then got back on the bus and kept going to wherever.

We made several of these stops on the way, just to stretch our legs. It was eventually light outside. I actually slept quite well on the bus, a lot better than on the plane. A feature of the Brazilian landscape that probably doesn’t cross people’s minds, including my own, is that much of it is quite stark and dry. I felt like I was riding through west Texas. I also noticed a lot of steep little dirt mounds out in the fields, probably ant or termite hills. This scenery lasted until we finally arrived in Brasilia. What was I going to do once I got there? I really didn’t know.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home