Entering Brazil again

Trip Start Feb 01, 2003
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23
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Trip End May 02, 2003


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Flag of Brazil  ,
Saturday, April 19, 2003

We have just arrived in Brazil, after spending two days in Santa Cruz. The only way to travel from Santa Cruz to the Brazil border is by train. Since we had heard some unfavorable stories about the conditions on the train we decided to splash out to spend the 18-hour journey in some comfort. So we spend 20 dollars each for a place in the īSuper Pullmanī coach, the first class.

An hour before departure, 14:30h, we arrived at the station and started to queue in front of the entrance of the platform, one of the few things Bolivians DO queue up for. We had to show our passports and tickets to a few power-hungry officials but finally we arrived at our coach. The seats were comfortable enough with good legroom and at the end a TV hang on the wall. At 15:30h we departed albeit quite slowly, but after a while we finally gathered pace. The area around Santa Cruz is sort of a mix of rainforest and grassland, which made for nice landscapes to look at while the train moved through it.

Shortly after we left the first movie started, a bad movie about Gallic resistance against the romans in 60 B.C. Immediately after that finished we were presented with another movie, The Count of Monte-Cristo, a good movie and a lot better than the last one. Halfway through the movie was stopped and we were informed that dinner was being served. Suprised we were led to another coach were we were seated at small tables, and were served quite a decent meal which we shared together with some 20 other people and 1,000 mosquitos.

Satisfied we stumbled back to our chairs where we finished watching the Count of Monte-Cristo exact his revenge. Amazingly another movie started, this time called The Ten Commandments! Fortunately after an hour of this old-timer the personnel decided it was time to sleep and turned of the lights and TV. After some reading we decided to nod off too, and so we spent the next hours trying to get some sleep, which most of the time we did pull off.

At 7:00h we were served a cheese pastry with some overly sweet coffee. We felt suprisingly good especially compared to how we would feel after a bus journey of the same length. This wasnīt half-bad. At 8:30h we arrived in Puerto Suarez, the last stop before Giujarro, our stop. Here we were informed however that we could get to the border from here as well. So together with Kate, an english girl we met when buying tickets for the train, we shared a taxi to the border.

We had heard some stories about the Bolivian border officials demanding a 10 bolivianos fee for issueing an exit stamp, which is ridiculous. We had checked with immigration in Santa Cruz who confirmed that this shouldnīt be case and was illegal practice. When we arrived at the border official however, somebody closed the door behind us and the official demanded a 10 bolivianos fee for each stamp he issued. We first pretended not to understand him, and when this didnīt work, we told him that immigration in Santa Cruz had advised us that payment was illegal. The official then started to tell us that this is the border and not Santa Cruz and that it was for the government. When we still refused he put our passports away and started helping our people. We then decided that it was better to just pay and get it over with than to risk stronger action from the officials, so we paid up and got our passports back. We are intending to contact an bolivian embassy though to inform them of this supposedly illegal practice.

We are now spending the day in a suprisingly cold and rainy Corumba before going on a three-day, two-night excursion tomorrow to the Patanal, the worldīs biggest wetlands. We will let you know how that went after we come back.
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