Maybe I should describe the recent 5 hours a little closer. I sat on a bus thinking we would go to the 600km far away Maraba. The driver though didn’t see it that way and at the bus station he made clear that I have to jump off. Off the street and crossing the city at night without orientation. Things that I appreciate.
I walked for 5 hours, or rather, strayed around. I did a bad job choosing my points of orientation. I was looking for a bridge that unfortunately only existed inside my brain. I wandered around through some Favelas alongside the Transamazonica that at some point became single-laned and finally blocked by some road barriers. Very strange. Several cars passing, the people inside screaming strange things towards me.
Also the atmosphere was a little aggressive. But well, I ignored them and that was fine. At some point some drunk man picked me up to show me the way out of the city. Full of naivete I jumped in and we made it to the next local kiosk where he wanted me to buy him a bottle of spirit. Screwed. I really didn’t want to discuss and so I payed it, fuck it, it’s just money.
Somehow I ran into some Brazilians there. Beatrice spoke English and there was beer. That’s why I sit here and party with them. No hitchhiking tonight…
04:40 pm (That’s what I logged, must have been 06:40 though)
I think we partied until about 10am including a bath in the Amazonas river and a full sized lunch. Now I am back on the street at the city boundary holding a pack of peach juice. It’ll be dark soon and I hope for my first ride tonight.
Until now hitchhiking at night worked pretty well. A motorbike stops and we drive for 20 minutes, me not wearing a helmet. Kinda refreshing at night. Love this kind of rides. Next stop: Ferry.
Maximum confusion. Somehow the driver of the bike got me on a bus that would go to Maraba. What an irony that the same ride (Bus 500km towards Maraba) was canceled for me last night. Now riding the whole night through. Tomorrow I will leave the Amazonian area, hopefully on paved roads.
Thursday, January 15th 2015, 04:00pm
The past 11 hours were typically Brazilian. Long waiting times, close to no traffic and a lot of walking. I took pictures of several roadkills that I found along the road. Now I am back on a ferry again. There was that person, glowing blue eyes, brown hair, looking like an alien. A Brazilian speaking German with a very funny accent. Also he told me, that I had been hitchhiking on the wrong road all day long. But the people there show me the right way. Again, the motivated people on the ferry manage to get a ride for me.
Finally on the Br-153, the highway that will accompany me for several thousand kilometres heading south. I meet the first Brazilian that speaks fluent English and he taught me Portugese that I really needed. Two sentences: “Where do you go?” and “Can I go with you?” will make my life much more easy from now on.
Friday, January 16th 2015, 01:14am
Auto Posto-Station Brazil. Kind of a deluxe service area. I eat something, take a shower and go to bed afterwards.
I woke up a little late. The first trucks are already leaving. Quickly I pack my things together. Work is calling.
There was that truck. Loaded with cars. I asked if I could come with him. The driver, Marcus, declined. I didn’t really understand why. He had very confusing body language so i just stood there continuing to talk to him. I had a suspicion. In the end I was allowed to ride with him (until his first break) inside one of the cars on the loading platform. My own car. Ha! Later I could join him in the driving cabin.
I will be riding with Marcus for 37 hours and 1528km. The longest ride I ever had in all my life. The next day I drop out of the truck in Santa Babara. Completely satisfied with the covered distance. Again, taking a shower, eating and just be happy.
Saturday, January 17th 2015, 08:37pm
I get a ride with Pablo, a lecturer for international relations at the University of Sao Paolo. Soon after starting to drive he lights a joint. We smoke. Marcus, the truck driver, was also smoking all the time in his truck. He had some medical approval to smoke Marijuana. Somehow you can get that in Brazil.
The ride with Pablo was very amusing. Passing a police checkpoint on the highway Pablo suddenly hit the brakes. He wanted to ask for directions. That wasn’t very clever. When we almost stopped, he also realized that it wouldn’t be the best idea to enter the checkpoint completely stoned. Quickly accelerating as if nothing had happened and onwards.
The first service area behind the highway intersection was rather a normal gas station but glowing like an UFO. We stopped, teenagers everywhere inside their cars, drinking, talking, filling gas… Sao Paolo on a Saturday evening. Also it was gang war time at the moment in the north and there were heavy fights with police. I was rather not motivated to exit the car jumping into the colorful night live of Sao Paolo.
“Oh, so many … locals … here.” I told Pablo. He didn’t get my ironical sub tone. “Yes, I will leave you here.” First I was laughing but he meant it really serious. Anyway, in the end he gave me a ride further to the next gas station.
On the gas station before there had only been those teenagers. No trucks, no tourists from the highway, … well, pretty much nobody else than then teenagers. On the next gas station was just…nobody.
Sao Paolo at night. Like the “Brazilian Venezuela”, if I remember how many people warned me of that. But now I am more tense, I don’t really want to get in trouble. I got some decent respect from the crazy people here in the city. “Sick city with mad people!” is how Pablo referred to it. Not a single car at sight. But the highway looks nice. So I decide to just walk along it. Can’t really be much worse. And it’s more safe along the road.
Next to me a big club appears with a lot of drunken people. A place I always NOT wanted to pass. Some horses are tied to the trees. Urban parking. I keep on walking trying to keep it down. Further on the highway into darkness where I am alone.
Suddenly a lean guy walks towards me, obviously after some decent partying. Fuck, why do people walk here on the highway? My calmness vanishes. Only as an amorous couple crosses my path I realize that the highway might be just some extended sidewalk here in Sao Paolo. I walk on and find a small kiosk where I get me some water and beer.
Upcoming is probably the one really dangerous situation on my journey so far. Another lean man appears, looks a little like a fucked up football hool. Red-eyed from some shit he took and a deep-rooted frustration shining through his face. He entangles me into a conversation, questioning my origin. “Allemana”. Thats the keyword. Football. He is Paulista, Brazilian and this German is facing his suffering existence on a Saturday night.
I see hate flickering in his eyes, he starts to swear at me, obviously aggressive. Going after his body language it’s something like: “You damn fuckers screwed us at the world championship, fucking assholes….!” and so on. I expected him to start hitting me every moment. But I managed to smile at him behaving as always when a Brazilian comes to the subject of the 1:7 versus Germany: “Sooooorrryyy!” Not my fault guys. He got it, in the end he was starting to like me. But I didn’t. I really wanted to pass him as soon as possible, back into darkness, away from the crazy folks around.
Sunday, January 18th 2015, 02:20am
Next gas station. I am here since a while already. The petrol attendant approached me as soon as I came across the highway. Very welcoming. He got everything under control and knows everyone here. A prostitute exits a truck with the driver. The trucker goes for a wash at the filling station, two others join him. The pump attendant, the prostitute and three truckers engage in an active conversation. The atmosphere is familial. Compared to the last 4 hours of walking it is really peaceful here.
A ride with a Hyundai. A good night.
I am on the highway intersection south of Curitiba. What a run. The morning sun shines merciless down on me. Onwards, it’s not far anymore.
Surrounded by the beautiful Florianopolis. Sun shines even more grim. One of the hottest passages during my journey so far. I will have to wait for another 86 minutes until the next car stops.
In the last 101 hours I managed to hitchhike pretty much exactly 4000km through Brazil. I am a fucking Roadrunner. I am standing behind the toll station south of Porto Alegre. It is dark since 2 hours. Mosquitoes everywhere, I can’t stand still, need to move. Uruguay is only one day ahead.
Again a driver speaking German. A demeter farmer from around. Offers me a sleeping place. Why not after that hardcore tour. Taking a break killing the last 700 kilometres tomorrow in a relaxed days ride. Unusual for me, but I take the offer.
Monday, January 19th 2015, 02:12pm
I was late on the road, according to the log it was 06:48am (roughly 10:30am). And now… Pelotas. 250 kilometres away from the border. No idea who came up with this goddamn place. Again I wait since 2 hours for a car. No one stops, for fuck sake. It’s time to walk again. Won’t work though. All good mood has faded, close to the goal Brazil appears on it’s best.
The military shows mercy and picks me up on … a pick-up. They drop me at 03:50pm at a speed check.
The first car stops. Towards Chuy. Smooth. The driver is old and doddering but he drives like a maniac. On 180 km/h through Brazil. I appreciate that.
The last Brazilian ride. A surfer with an old VW bus (T1). Chuy is split in two. You just cross the street and you are in Brazil. As we pass the Brazilian Immigration Office I ask the driver if I should go for a stamp. He says no, not necessary. Okay. I ask again but he is confident that I don’t need one.
Exit in Chuy, heading for the Uruguayan border.
Arrival at the border. Its still bright outside and there is traffic. Perfect for my next 200km. The border is nice, nobody wears weapons or uniforms, rather suits and ties. At the passport control they address me with my first name. I am informed that I can not enter with the Brazilian stamp missing. Shiiiiieeet! Newbie mistake for border crossing. I am pissed.
Okay, 5km back and forth. Still pretty hard pissed. That stupid mistake had cost me 2 hours. But even worse: I missed the “end of work day”-traffic, I ignored number one of the hitchhiker’s rulebook: “NEVER trust the driver!”
I will be at the border for 9hrs and 54min until I catch a car in the morning. But the border here at Chuy reminded me of the service station Berlin Grunewald. There is always some action, couple of other hitchhikers (around 6 within 10 hours) passing by. In fact you don’t really want to leave the place. Still, I waited for that lift to Uruguay longer than ever before. Although… there was that time in Norway … whatever. Let’s say this was my longest waiting time ever.
The next day I will arrive after traveling exactly 3 months and 18.000km at my friends place, Ralph. I will add several special experiences that are rewarded with a blog post to the Brazil section. Also the missing “Hitchhiking in ...”-Articles and something about hitchhiking boats will be covered in some posts. All written, just waiting for publishing/translation.
Next stop is the southernmost point of South America with the option of taking a peek into Antarctica. If I can hitchhike there of course. Arrival is estimated for end of March 2015. Afterwards speeding north, I want to learn to horse riding and climb some mountains before the winter.