Our bus ride through the Pantanal to Campo Grande was spectacular, as we had been told it would be. A landscape with a much more tropical feel. The bus sped down a smooth road passing waterholes and lush vegetation. Birds of prey and deer which Al would spot having a shy swim in the reeds at the edge of an opening. 6 hours passed pretty quickly as one of the shorter overland crossings we have endured. As we approached the City, we had our first taste of a Brazillian city with wide busy roads. Much more private cars on the roads than we have been used to seeing in Bolivia.
At the bus terminal on the edge of the city we get directions to a ´cheap´place to rest for the night. Then a 15min walk down the motorway with impending storm clouds encroaching us allows us to avoid being stung with an expensive fare for a very short journey (2.50Reis). The Real Hotel (24 reis each) is our first motel experience whilst travelling. Looking over a motorway, with the redeeming feature being at the top of a hill to provide a clear view of the looming thunder clouds. With no shops or restaurants around our only choice to to spend 30 reis on a takeaway. Hungry now that the potato salad energy was running thin, we persuade the hotel manager to give us for hot water for a homemade feast of packet noodles and a sachet of ´catchup´ for good measure. It does the trick for the time being.
The following morning we set off for a day in Campo Grande so with our mochillas (backpacks) we catch the public bus. The busses have these stupid turnstalls that makes it quite a tricky challenge to negatiate the bus with bags and all! We learn early on in our day the Brazillians people are really friendly and they are proactively helpful with directions- a real contrast to Peru and Bolivia.
Once in the centre of Campo Grande we set about looking for tourist information and a potential place to dump our bags for the afternoon. Soon we realise that both maps we have are wrong and on this occasion nobody knows about a tourist information existing. With our stuff and extremely huid conditions we resign and choose not to walk around searching for too long. Instead we go on a hunt for a coffee.
Strolling down a main avenue, a man stops in his car and asks us if we need help- we didn´t know how to react with such unexpected generosity! We didn´t actually need help, but all the same, it was a nice thing to happen in a foriegn place. As we continue down the road, it soon becomes apparent that most shops and restaurants are close…wierd for a Monday morning. A notice in one window solves this mystery, it is a public holiday, Independance Day. Not the best day to have chosen to explore a city! We do manage to find a snack bar with coffee though, and shortly after we are undercover the heavens open us.The thick clouds full of rain look as if they are there to stay immenently. They did, with really heavy rain and the loudest clashes of thunder over head that Al has ever experienced (that is saying something!)
With hardly anything open, no hotel to hide away in and neverending rain we were left with few choices on where to shelter before we head to the airport to catch a flight to Salvador. Exploring with our mochillas in tow was pretty impossible. We accept it is a lost cause and shelter in another snack bar that serves everything deep fat fried…pretty gross really..and afterwards we found another place that sold beer. For a couple hours with watch the rain over some beers until we a chucked out (3pm).The rain really was not easing up, so with nowhere else to go we decide to head to the airport, only 12hours ealry for our flight! After a few wrong busses later with more unexpected help from the general public, we arrive at Campo Grande airport. Getting a little lost enroute almost seemed like a luxury to pass a bit more time, however the airport had a nice restaurant and bar on the arrivals side, so we enjoyed a proper meal and some pre birthday drinks for Al, whose birthday was due on our first day in Salvador.
Considering how long waiting in an airport can seem, it went quickly and before we knew it we were bording the flight to Salvador via Brasillia. We got a glimps of the grid like internal city and then like no time at all we were walking off the plane into the hot and sunny Salvador airport by 10pm. The view by air of this coastal city was much more impressive as we curled over the Atlantic.
We caught an hour public bus ride to town, getting a good taste of the beautiful beaches the region had to offer enroute to a prebooked hostel in Pelrhino, the old area of the city. Walking in search of the hostel we pass through cobbled roads, colourful colonial buildings with interesting graffiti. The combination of old, new, urban, vibrant and culturally exciting is what both Al and I love. We arrive at the hostel Nega Maluca with the catch phrase, ´for travellers by travllers´. Over the next few days it really does prove to be just what we need to enjoy Salvador to the max. For the time being, on arrival a hammock on the veranda with a beer will do. And…..relax…..