It felt like a Recife moment again.
On Monday night, I was looking for a way to get to Maceió’s bus terminal in order to take the 12:30 p.m. bus to Aracaju the next day. My Airbnb was technically very close to the terminal but nowhere near a taxi stand or a popular beach hotel.
Taxis aren’t exactly roaming the streets of Maceió, anyway.
I would have scheduled an Uber ride but Uber failed me beautifully somewhere between Fortaleza and Natal.
In Fortaleza, I took a Uber from the airport to the Airbnb. The ride was 29.96 reais ($5.80). The next morning, I woke up to an email from Uber saying the total had been readjusted to 608.67 reais ($116).
The map tracking my ride didn’t make any sense. It was all over the place, and apparently, I had been in the car from 5:12 p.m. to 2:20 a.m. most likely, the driver didn’t “end” my ride and I was paying for all the passengers after me.
I dispute the new fee with Uber and PayPal. PayPal apparently dealt with Uber directly and refunded me the following day. Uber also sent me an email saying the fee had been readjusted to a very reasonable 29.96 reais.
But unfortunately, it wasn’t the end of it. I couldn’t schedule a Uber ride until I paid the 600 reais I apparently owe.
I wrote dozens of emails to customer service explaining that 1) the ride had been incorrectly readjusted 2) I had an email from Uber admitting it and refunding me.
I wrote in Portuguese and English, and I sent dozens of screenshots, but apparently, I was arguing with AI because the replies didn’t make any sense whatsoever.
I gave up on Uber and downloaded 99 instead. This is the Brazilian version of Uber. It works just as well but you can’t schedule rides.
Back to my Monday night dilemma—I couldn’t schedule a 99 ride to Maceió’s bus terminal and, of course, I couldn’t predict whether there would be drivers available.
Eventually, I found a taxi willing to come over and drive me to the bus terminal the next morning. We exchanged WhatsApp numbers.
Getting to the bus terminal is often more complicated than taking long-distance buses, especially now that I buy my ticket online. I use Clickbus (blocked outside Brazil for some reason) or Busbud (more gringo-friendly) to choose the bus company, travel dates, seat, etc., then at the bus terminal, all I have to do is show a first QR to access the boarding area, then another one to get on the bus.
Much easier than going to the bus terminal in person to buy tickets, which is what I did until… 2020, I believe.
As usual, I spent the evening doing a load of laundry, packing, organizing, charging devices, etc.
Going from one city to the next is a fairly tedious yet somewhat exciting step-by-step process.
I never get enough sleep on nights before a long bus trip.
It doesn’t matter, I usually sleep through the bus ride.
The next morning, I woke up to a message from the taxi driver who explained he was going to charge me 40 reais for the ride because he wasn’t in my neighbourhood. I cancelled the ride—this was way too much.
I waited for 99 to load… oh yes, perfect, a driver nearby and the ride to the terminal was only about 8 reais!
And this is how I eventually got to Maceió’s bus terminal. Phew.
I was early but whatever. Whenever I go from point A to point B, I know that the first part of the day will be spent waiting and the last part of the day will be a rush because arriving somewhere new is the start of another tedious process—check-in, quick Airbnb inspection, learning how a bunch of new appliances work, hauling groceries back, cooking, unpacking, etc.
I boarded the bus to Aracaju and immediately fell asleep. It was a quiet ride, with few passengers, and most of them slept through just like me. I had two seats to myself. The bus wasn’t as fancy as the Rio de Janeiro-São Paulo one but it was still pretty comfortable.
I arrived in Aracaju at 5 p.m.
I got another 99 ride to the Airbnb—cheaper than a taxi, and I didn’t have to wait long.
I dropped off my backpack, quickly checked the place, and quickly checked Google Maps—I kind of remembered where the one and only big supermarket was, but you never know, it’s been two years since my last stay in Aracaju.
Still in the same mall, a thirty-minute walk away.
I sighed. This is probably the toughest part of travelling alone—if you don’t do what needs to be done, nobody will do it for you.
I needed to eat. I hadn’t eaten since night before and finding a restaurant would be as time-consuming as getting groceries and cooking, especially in an unfamiliar city—not to mention I needed water bottles, anyway.
I also needed a shower, to my clothes, get some work done, and I was looking forward to my daily video call with Feng and Mark around 10:30 p.m.
Yeah, I didn’t sleep early.
You get it—travelling is fun, but it’s exhausting.
I have a few days to recover in Aracaju before the next bus trip.
Leave a reply