Day 228 - Itacare to Ilheus

Trip Start Sep 02, 2007
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229
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Trip End May 01, 2008


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Thursday, April 17, 2008

We slept pretty well, but it was raining again when we opened the door to our little balcony area.

Rain rain go away 

We had breakfast, then headed out to try and find out about buses south towards the city of Belo Horizonte.

Unfortunately this seemingly simple task turned out to be absolutely impossible.

The only thing we could do was to collect our laundy (still damp, cheers), get our packs packed, walk down to the bus station and take it from there.

At least it wasn't raining for the 10 minutes it took us to get to the bus station...

The bus station here only has got one small office, so all we could do was to book a bus to the next big town about an hour south, called Ilheus.

We hoped that Ilheus was rather better geared up towards tourists not fluent in Portuguese who needed to book bus tickets!

The bus took forever travelling the 60 kms, winding in and out of small villages with about 4 rain showers en route. At least we weren't missing perfect sunbathing weather...

As we headed south down the coast road it started to clear up, but it was still very changeable.

Coast view

Sea

When we got to Ilheus, there were offices for 5 bus companies, but after assaulting them with our Portuguespanglish we discovered that only one of the companies had buses going to Belo Horizonte and that was in TWO day's time! Helllllllo....

Our second option was to try and get to Rio today and use that as a base to travel.

Two of the bus companies went to Rio, both quoted us 24 hour journeys (A FULL DAY ON A BUS?!) and only one of them had reclining seats!

As a certain Mr McEnroe used to say, "You Cannot Be Serious"...

The full cama (flat bed) bus to Rio was about 200 Reals, which is very expensive considering we paid less than that to fly thousands of kms from the Pantanal to Fortaleza!

Either way, there were absolutely no buses heading south at any stage today, so we would have to find a place to stay here tonight and get a loooooong bus out early tomorrow.

We discussed our options, realised that we would lose another day if we went by bus, possibly with no sleep and decided that they were bloody expensive considering the length of time they took.

With this in mind we decided to have another look at flights to either Belo Horizonte or Rio.

Fortunately there was an internet place in the restaurant inside the bus station (...errr quite remarkable) and almost miraculously the PCs were very fast, the connection very good and the prices were the lowest that we'd seen anywhere in Brazil.

Maybe things were looking up...

The flight from Ilheus to BH had gone up since the last time we looked and was now approx 120 quid each, which is a lot of cash, but at least it took 1hr 30 mins rather than 20 odd hours on a bus.

The other problem was that it left at 04:20 tomorrow, so we would have to get to the airport for 3am in the morning! Niiiiice....

We talked it over and decided to bite the bullet and fly there, but we had a nightmare with the GOL website, which always seem to crash as we get to the final confirmation screen, after we've inputted all the credit card details!

We didn't know if the booking had been confirmed or not and there was no way to find out apart from waiting for the email confirmation to arrive. Or not.

Last time this happened we tried two more times to make the booking with exactly the same result, but it subsequently appears that I was charged TWICE on my credit card statement, which I'll need to challenge when we get home. 

With this in mind I wasn't keen to try again, in case we got charged again. Again. With me?! Excrement.

With our flight leaving very early tomorrow morning we now needed to find a place to stay for the night.

Our first choice was a place in the centre of town which had a good write-up, so we grabbed a taxi and showed him the address.

He debated loudly with a number of his colleagues before giving us a stern "Nao".

When we asked why, he said they were closed. Great.

We were rather caught off guard, but offered him a second choice. The same thing happened.

Katie & I screwed our faces up at each other and decided that these chancers were clearly having a laugh, so if they weren't willing to take us to either place, we'd walk instead!

The map in Lonely Planet was about as helpful as Champions League Final tickets to an Arsenal fan, so after walking down the road and asking a few people for help before giving up, we walked back to the taxi line and took a different tack.

"Aeroporto por favor" was our new destination. I swear if he'd tried to tell me the airport was also closed I would have kneed him in the gonads.

He smiled, chucked our packs inside and off we went. At last!

The airport turned out to be miniscule, located just behind a small network of residential housing, very close to the water.

At one point I wondered where the hell he was taking us, until seeing a hand-written sign for the airport. You don't see many of those in the world!

We paid him, climbed out, strapped up and shipped out to look for a pousada.

Our new thinking was that the chances were the booking had been confirmed, but the final screen had crashed before loading. The only way we could be sure was to ask the airline at the airport if they had a record of us on tomorrow's early flight.

We figured it also made sense to sleep as close as possible to the airport considering that we'd be up before 3am tomorrow morning!

The first couple of streets that we walked down didn't have any pousadas, but then we spotted a fair sized hotel.

It looked like it was about to be demolished, but beggars can't be choosers, right?!

Hotel

The bloke behind the desk showed us a very average room (allegedly there are no double beds in the whole hotel?!) but we were having a horrible day so we couldn't be bothered to look anywhere else.

After chucking the bags in the room we headed down to street level again and I somehow managed to pull the metal elevator door back and across my toes, causing one of my toes to instantly gush with blood!

God we were having a bad day.

So it was back to the room, to wash my toes and put a plaster on and then off we headed again, with me looking like Hop-along Cassidy.

It was about 4pm by then, so we walked around to try and find somewhere to have some lunch.

On the way there we saw a school of about 20 fish swimming really fast and jumping out of the water, it was really cool.

However, in the few seconds it took me to get the camera aimed, they stopped jumping. Typical!

Bay

The centre of Ilheus was to the left of the photo above, across the bay from us. 

Ilheus is supposed to have a nice little old town, but neither of us could face another bus into town and back, so we agreed to relax after our late lunch.

I settled for a couple of snaps instead over the bay, the first showing the old town area and the second a mini Christ statue by the water.

Hopefully the one in Rio is rather more impressive!

Old town

Mini Christ the Redeemer

Most of the places to eat we passed were closed, unsurprisingly considering our day so far, but we did find a basic restaurant open which looked over the water.

Katie had some fish with all the usual trimmings, while I went for chicken & chips.

Both were fine, even if the super friendly staff kept hitting us with machine gun Portuguese no matter how many times we tried to tell them that we had absolutely no idea what they were saying!

The food was good value, filled us up and gave us the necessary energy to walk to the airport in order to try and communicate our problem to them!

I really wasn't looking forward to this and prayed that the GOL staff would speak some English, otherwise we could have a nightmare. 

If we couldn't ascertain today if we were on the flight tomorrow, then we would have to arrive at 3am tomorrow and try to check in.

If that didn't work and we were rejected then we would have no choice but to cross town to the bus station and take one of the 20-plus hour buses to Rio instead, which would be a NIGHTMARE.
 
Realistically there would be no guarantee of us even getting seats on the bus at such short notice, but we TRIED to keep positive!

When we got to the departures area of the airport, we had to queue to be seen (which made us both nervous) and when it was our turn at the desk we shuffled forwards like naughty schoolchildren and asked if the lady spoke any English. She shook her head.

Oh.

Shit.

I had no choice but to launch into my very best Portuspanglishguese and miraculously she seemed to understand what I was trying to say.

Katie was trying not to either laugh or cry behind me at my poor attempts and I must admit that I nearly fainted when the lady stood up, walked over to her computer, printed off our flight confirmation and handed it to us! You LEGEND! ;)

So our internet payment had obviously gone through ok and we were on the plane tomorrow, so finally we could relax for the evening and get ready for our pre-dawn flight tomorrow.

It had been a stressful and difficult day and we'd definitely sworn more today than the rest of the trip put together, but we'd also been able to laugh about it which has been great.

Brazil can be a very difficult place to get around, for all manner of reasons; in fact we think it could be the most difficult country to travel out of the 15 countries that we've been to in the last nine months. Trust us to do the hardest country last!

Hopefully we can get to sleep early, board and depart with no issues, which would see us arrive in Belo Horizonte at about 6am.

From there we will head straight to a place called Ouro Preto, which is supposed to be a charming little town which all the guidebooks rave about. I hope it's worth it after all this bloody hassle!

From there we head to Rio, before passing through to our last few beaches and then coming back to the city for a few days before flying home to London on 30th April.

Today was really demanding and we were glad to see the back of it!


Lots of love,


Al & Katie xx
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