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A Boat And a Bus to Go Somewhere New

On paper, the plan could work.

It had to. I had no plan B to leave the island.

Step one involved a boat because well, see the sentence above. I could take the lancha rápida from Cairu, the Morro de São Paulo village where I stayed, to Valença, on the mainland. And from Valença there was a bus directly to Ilhéus, my next destination—that was step two.

“It is tricky logistics at ‘expert’ travel difficulty level. Don’t be scared, just be realistic,” Feng warned me.

But I’m stubborn and it looked doable so I started planning. I bought my bus ticket online as usual—I stopped going to the rodoviária in person during the pandemic, Busbud and Clickbus saved me a lot of time. I booked a seat on the 11:25 a.m. bus from Valença to Ilhéus arriving at 4:30 p.m. So far, so good. Long ride but at least I’d get there early enough.

Now, the boat. Two boats were linking the island to Valença, the lancha rápida (40 minutes, R$37) and a “chicken boat” (1.5 hours). The lancha rápida was every hour on the dot but you had to show up and buy your ticket on the spot.

So I just had to hope there was a boat and enough room for me and my backpack.

Damn. That was a bit too much uncertainty for me. I don’t have my life plan and goals figured so I quite enjoy the small luxury of having a bus, boat or plane ticket with a seat number and set departure time on my phone.

I tried to figure out the next day timing while packing. I had to leave at 8 a.m. to be at the docks at… how long was it going to take me to go down all the stairs and steep streets with my backpack? Okay, 8 a.m. to be there at 8:30 a.m. at the latest. Then the boat at 9 a.m. so that if it doesn’t show up I get another chance with the 10 a.m. boat. I could get to Valença at 9:40 a.m. Now how do I get to the boat terminal to the bus terminal? Uber?

Yes, there were a lot of unknowns—that’s what travelling is all about.

The next morning, I cursed the steep stairs but I made it to the boat terminal at 8:20 a.m.

The 9 a.m. boat was on time. It was a cross between a lancha rápida and “chicken boat”—it did stop at several random docks but it was fast, so fast passengers were both baking under the sun and getting watered like a turkey in the oven. Mind you, the luggage piled up in the middle stayed dry.

I arrived in Valença around 10 a.m. and teamed up with a couple of young British backpackers to find the bus terminal (we ended up taking a taxi) and kill time before the ride. They had just arrived in Brazil and they were going to Itacaré so we were taking the same bus.

“Wanna bet? The bus is going to stop somewhere for lunch before 2 a.m.” I joked.

“No way. We’re leaving at 11:25 a.m., I’m sure everybody had breakfast or lunch,” the British guy replied while eating a ham-and-cheese sandwich.

“Trust me on this one!”

Of course, being new to Brazil they didn’t know yet that the bus was coming from Salvador and that lunch is a serious matter around here.

The bus was almost on time. I dozed off and sure enough, just before 2 p.m…

“Lunch! Thirty minutes!”

I turned around and I saw the two British backpackers laughing at the back of the bus.

We were in Camamu, aka middle-of-nowhere Bahia, so it was a simple comida por kilo buffet of rice and beans.

The couple got off at Itacaré.

Eventually, the bus arrived in Ilhéus around 5 p.m. I took an Uber to my Airbnb and watched the sun setting over the city—just enough time to buy coffee and groceries, cook, shower and sleep.

I have no idea what kind of city is Ilhéus by the way nor what the hell I’m doing here.

Something to find out after a good night’s sleep.

Packing in Morro de São Paulo
Packing in Morro de São Paulo
Mysterious critter scaring the shit out of me when I took my laundry, hung behind the window
Mysterious critter scaring the shit out of me when I took my laundry, hung behind the window
Mysterious critter scaring the shit out of me when I took my laundry, hung behind the window
Mysterious critter scaring the shit out of me when I took my laundry, hung behind the window
Mysterious critter scaring the shit out of me when I took my laundry, hung behind the window
Mysterious critter scaring the shit out of me when I took my laundry, hung behind the window
Last meal at the Morro, i.e. let's mix what I have left and hope it tastes good (it did, rice, carrots, green pepper, eggs and parmesan)
Last meal at the Morro, i.e. let’s mix what I have left and hope it tastes good (it did, rice, carrots, green pepper, eggs and parmesan)
Queuing for the 9 a.m. boat to Valença at the Morro de São Paulo
Queuing for the 9 a.m. boat to Valença at the Morro de São Paulo
The "lancha rápida" from the Morro de São Paulo to Valença
The “lancha rápida” from the Morro de São Paulo to Valença
The "lancha rápida" from the Morro de São Paulo to Valença
The “lancha rápida” from the Morro de São Paulo to Valença
The "lancha rápida" from the Morro de São Paulo to Valença
The “lancha rápida” from the Morro de São Paulo to Valença
The "lancha rápida" from the Morro de São Paulo to Valença
The “lancha rápida” from the Morro de São Paulo to Valença
Arriving in Valença
Arriving in Valença
Arriving in Valença
Arriving in Valença
Arriving in Valença
Arriving in Valença
 Morro de São Paulo to Valença
Morro de São Paulo to Valença
Waiting at the bus terminal in Valença
Waiting at the bus terminal in Valença
Bus Valença-Ilhéus
Bus Valença-Ilhéus
In the bus Valença-Ilhéus
In the bus Valença-Ilhéus
In the bus Valença-Ilhéus
In the bus Valença-Ilhéus, stopping everywhere
Lunch break close to Camamu
Lunch break close to Camamu
Lunch break close to Camamu
Lunch break close to Camamu
Arriving in Ilhéus
Arriving in Ilhéus
Arriving in Ilhéus
Arriving in Ilhéus
Arriving in Ilhéus
Arriving in Ilhéus
Arriving in Ilhéus
Arriving in Ilhéus
Arriving in Ilhéus
Arriving in Ilhéus
Arriving in Ilhéus
Arriving in Ilhéus
Arriving in Ilhéus
Arriving in Ilhéus
Football game in the roundabout in front of the bus terminal in  Ilhéus
Football game in the roundabout in front of the bus terminal in Ilhéus
In the Uber to my Ilhéus Airbnb
In the Uber to my Ilhéus Airbnb
Morro de São Paulo to Ilhéus
Morro de São Paulo to Ilhéus
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Zhu

French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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