We eventually ended up in La Paloma, a small city with gorgeous beaches. Our last stop in Uruguay.
We had decided against taking an international bus to go to Brazil, and therefore we would have to cross the border by ourselves. This would mean taking a local bus to the border town of Chuy (Uruguay), get our exit stamps at the migracíon, walk to the city of Chuí (Brazil), get our entry stamp and hop on the 12:30 bus to Porto Alegre, the closest city. Of course, we did not know exactly where was the Brazilian immigration office (we had heard it was 3 km from the actual border). And the 12:30 bus to Porto Alegre was our only chance to make it out of the border town… and border towns aren´t generally safe nor nice.
To add to the challenge, we were tired. We slept in an hostel in La Paloma, no the best one. A tiny room packed 5 bunk beds, the mattresses so thin we basically slept on the wood. We had no air-con (but an open window which let the mosquitoes in) and when 10 people sleep in the same room, it got hot, hot, hot. Noisy too.
Oh, and I tripped on the (uneven) pavement in Montevideo and have a palm-size bruise and scratch on my right tight. I wasn´t drunk by the way, just wearing sandals.
We took the 8:30 bus from La Paloma 1) sleepy 2) anxious to make it to Brazil 3) itchy (mosquitoes) 4) slightly bleeding (my leg). Three hours to go to the border.
The bus driver dropped us off in front of the uruguayan migracíon wishing us ¨buena suerte¨. We showed up at the booth and the officer asked us for our entry card to Uruguay. I didn´t remember filling out anything, and we started to freak out. Turned out our entry card had been generated automatically when we had bought our boat ticket to cross from Buenos Aires, and was therefore attached to the boat ticket. We digged into our bags and luckily, we had not thrown it away yet. Phew! We had no idea it was an immigration entry card.
We took a taxi to the brazilian immigration office, which we were told was 3 km away. But it turned out it was closed and had moved to another location… 20 km further. However, a brazilian official told us that if we bought a bus ticket to Porto Alegre, the bus would stop at the migracíon for us to get our entry stamp.
We took a taxi back downtown, to the bus station. We did not have enough Pesos to buy the bus ticket to Feng ran to the bank to get some Reais. Lucky us, Brazil is one hour behind Uruguay, otherwise we would have missed the bus…
We bought and tickets and were told we actually had to first take a local bus to the immigration office, then hop on the actual Porto Alegre bus, which would wait for us. Sure…
We sat on a packed local bus for 20 minutes. We were picking up passengers, dropping off some, taking detours and the immigration office was nowhere to be found. After a while, I got up to ask the driver: ¨I will tell you when we get there¨. Okay.
Eventually, the bus emptied and we were 5 gringos left. The driver told us to stay in the bus, and we drove some more… to a bus depot.
¨Everybody gets off! For the immigration office, walk two blocks that way, turn left, then right, and then you will see another street. Well, it´s not that one, but the next on the right.¨ What the fuck? ¨Oh¨, the driver added, ¨hurry up because you have to take the Porto Alegre bus at 1:00 pm… from the other station¨.
Are you fucking kidding me? Cursing and sweating, we picked up our backpacks and started to walk along a dirt road, in the middle of nowhere, under the 40C heat.
We eventually found our way and the immigration, in a tiny house which looked like every other bloody house. The officer stared at our passport for what seemed half an hour but we get our entry stamp. It was 12:50, and we rushed back to the bus terminal, a good 20 minutes walk from there. On the road, again…