Corumba via campo grande – 24 hour bus

Posted: July 4, 2011 in Brazil

With time against me and a project in Peru beckoning it is time to get moving again, this time I am heading north to Corumba where I will cross the border into Bolivia. I am not terribly excited about the 24 hour bus journey but have been assured that the company I am booked in with are one of the more professional and comfortable carriers.

I will miss the staff in the Hostel I have been staying in, they are a great bunch.

By the way, some of you have asked how my portuguese is coming along… well here are a few choice phrases I seemed to have picked since landing in Brazil a month ago!

1. Olá meu nome é Benjamin e eu vivo em Falmouth, na Cornualha, que é na Inglaterra

2. Eu sou voluntário no Brasil

3. Eu trabalho com crianças e adolescentes

4. Eu gosto da academia, praia, sol, viagens de ônibus, cerveja e Santa Maria

Well  I got to the Rodoviária or bus station as the sun was setting and boarded what seemed to be a very smart looking bus, that still had that ´new car´smell as I sat down in the VERY comfortable seat. Immediately I started pushing buttons and pulling levers to see how far the seat reclined and it almost went horizontal! There was a seperate section to put your feet and legs on.

We departed at 6pm on the proverbial dot and off we went. I got chatting to a German girl who was heading to Campo Grande too and we discussed a bus change that we needed to make at 7.40pm as the bus we were currently on went somewhere else… or so we thought.

In Brazil it seems nothing is quite that straight forward! Our bus, the ´Foz do Iguacu to Alta Floresta´ on the ticket connected with the ´Porto Alegre to Alta Floresta´bus? So far nothing suggesting we would actually end up in Campo Grande. Further down on one of the tickets under Origim (origin) I found Foz do Iguacu and under Destino (destination) I found Navirai. On the second ticket the Origim was Cascavel and the  Destino was Campo Grande… hurrah success! I was  now comforted to know that at least Foz do Iguacu and Campo Grande were at least mentioned on the ticket. Problem solved I thought… NO… this was before I had considered times off changes!

The tickets clearly stated that the bus left at 18.00 from Foz and we changed onto the next bus at 19.40 at Cascavel however when we checked this with the driver he said ´non.´Instead he kept saying amanhã which means tomorrow, which got us thinking that the change was at 07.40 and not 19.40 and the ticket was wrong. We pointed out the difference between 19.40 and 07.40 to him and explained that we had got on the bus at 18.00 as the ticket indicated further up. He wagged his finger, and sensing we were making little progress sat back down and agreed to be very alert at 19.30 in case we needed to make a quick exit.

We pulled into a bus station at 19.45 and got off the bus to clarify with the friendly (Portuguese speaking) driver whether this was indeed our stop. He looked bemused and said ´non.´We  once again pointed out the obvious issues we had with the times printed on the tickets, although I started to feel foolish for trusting blatantly clear information! He motioned beyond my head and them over m shoulder and once again said amanhã. He pointed at his bus and shrugged, I shrugged, German girl sighed and we got on the bus to DESTINO unknown.

We looked again at the ticket and something dawned on me. The driver had gestured toward his bus when German girl had pointed at the clear contradiction between 18.00-18.00 and 19.40-7.40. That made me think the side of the bus (or bus in general was relevant here.) What if the Bus/service number had something to do with the confusion?  The 18.00 and 19.40 printed were perhaps departure times that the had started their journey, e.g. we had boarded the 18.00 Foz do Iguacu to Alta Florestaat at 18.00 hours, as the service started in Foz. I quickly scanned the ticket and saw 18.00 writen in large print (which I had worked out to be the sevice number) and a smaller 18.00 (which I assume was boarding time.) On the second ticket I see that the connection is with the 19.40 (in large print) Porto Alegre to Alta Floresta and 07.40 (in small print.) Ok so our connection was the with the 19.40 out of Porto Alegre at 7.40 amanhã! RESULT, all was now clear. Our bus would take us to an hour outside Campo Grande, we would change, and that bus would continue to Alta Floresta!?

With the comforting thought the incredibly complicated bus ticket conumdrum had been sorted we both settled down for some sleep 🙂

NO NO NO at 21.0o we pulled in Cascavel and everyone got off, except German girl and myself. Being a bit stubborn and thinking we had it sussed I assumed it was a refreshment/cigarette stop. HOWEVER Mr Driver had other ideas and walked up the isle and smiled in an `all knowing´way and motioned to us to get off. I was adamant I didn´t want a break but German girl was hungry so I escorted her off the bus, proving to her that English men were gentleman.

At this stage we see bags getting unloaded, no problem I thought, a big bus depot like this people will clearly be ending their journey  here. Hmmm then I see my bag getting unloaded… I walked up to the `bag unloader man´and said we were in fact going to Campo Grande and to stop unloading my bag. He obviously understood the word `Campo Grande´ and agreed pointing at my bag…

Seeing as all the bags had been unloaded I didn´t sense arguing was going to resolve the situation to I found an English speaking station employee who informed me that a new bus would be leaving at 22.10 to Campo Grande? The subsequently arrived at the correct time, I saw my bag be loaded on board and I climbed wearily up the steps and took my seat (same seat) as before. This bus was older and colder (heating didn´t seem to work) than its predecessor but I was determined to try and get some sleep.

Looked at the time and it was now 23.47, next time I checked it was 5.39, did I need to change, I neither new on cared, more sleep!

I watched the sun rise which was absolutely stunning.

Bus pulled into Campo Grande at 9.30 an hour late and my next bus was due at 10.30, loads of time, but wait we had crossed a time zone so I had actually arrived at 8.30, so may be I was not an hour late after all! Spent the two hours waiting for the bus chatting more to German girl and French boy (a chap I recognised from a neighbouring hostel in Foz do Iguacu.)

Broom broom off we go to Corumba!

This section of the trip we would cross the sothern area of the PANTANAL..

The Pantanal is a tropical wetland and the world’s largest wetland of any kind (size of France.) It lies mostly within the Brazillian state of Mato Grosso do Sol but extends into Mato Grosso as well as into portions of Bolivia and Paraguay… Various sub-regional ecosystems exist, each with distinct hydrological, geological and ecological characteristics… the name “Pantanal” comes from the Portuguese word pântano, meaning wetland, bog, swamp or marsh.



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