The bus trip from Rio to Cardinot was (I hope) the worst trip I will have. It would have only been worse if I had got stranded along the way.
But on the second of four buses, when I realised I was once again heading for the wrong destination, some awesome things happened.
Now baring in mind very few people speak any English here, I was not holding out hope when I realised I was heading to the wrong bus stop and would need to ask people where to go. So I turned to the (incredibly hot. Not really relevant but…relevant) Brazilian girl next to me and pointed to Nova Friburgo on the map and said, ‘you go here?’
She said yes.
Then she said, in near perfect English ‘everyone goes there, it is the final stop’.
YES! Someone who speaks English. I was about to be stuck, in the dark, at a random bus stop hours away from any tourist sites and the universe drops me this lifeline. She could see how relieved I was. All I wanted along this journey was someone to confidently point me in the right direction and here she was.
So I showed her the directions I had been given and she explained what I needed to do. As we got off she said ‘ok you get your bag and I will go and ask at the bus stop how you get there’. This was above and beyond what I would ever expect of a stranger and it lifted me.
She then took me to the correct bus stop so that I could go from south to Central, change again, then get to Cardinot.
As we waited she told me that whenever she asks for something in Brazil she asks two or three times as they are likely to be wrong …and she is Brazilian. She said after just three days in Brazil I had done well to get this far out of town and not to worry about getting lost all day. That was EXACTLY what I needed to hear.
The bus pulled in pretty much immediately and she had a very long confusing chat with the driver which continued even after every one else had boarded the bus. She told me to get off at the last stop and I thanked her as much as I could in the few seconds I had before the bus left.
The bus drove slowly through rush hour traffic for a while. It was just me and the locals driving through a bustling town at night and it was awesome.
I thought we had reached the end stop so I asked the driver but he pointed in front and signalled ‘5’ with his hands. I didn’t really know what he meant so it took a few more points at my chair to realise I needed to sit down. The man in front of me got wind of what was going on and kept me on the bus. When we got to the final stop the man in front signalled for me to get off. He was the second kind person.
So we got to the next stop and the bus driver came and got me, took me across to the other side of the bus terminal and put me on the right connecting bus. The kindness of this guy was amazing. I’m not sure what the girl must have said to him when she was putting me on the bus but it was enough to prompt him not to let me go till I was sat on the final bus.
The final piece of good fortune came at the last stop. It was at the end of a long dirt road and Bart (my host) was standing waiting at the bus stop. He had just dropped off his friend and happened to be there exactly as I arrived. If he wasn’t there I would have struggled to find his house as it was quite a bit further along an unlit dirt road.
The house I have is amazing. And I have the room to myself for the next few days. Life is good…..although I just saw a HUGE ant walking across my floor 😦