Salvador is less than 1,700 km from Rio de Janeiro. In Europe, this distance corresponds to the travel between two major countries, in Brazil it’s only 3 states corresponding to our voivodships.
Armação dos Búzios
The first stop after Rio is a town on the tiny peninsula of Armação dos Búzios. We get there thanks to Lucas and Esther – the first ride, which takes 3 minutes to catch. Our hosts take us to the plot, where they build houses for rent. On the neighbouring plot there’s is Esther’s sister’s Laura house (more about Laura you can read in the first portrait of happiness). On the second day of our stay, our hosts go to the store to buy some bread in the morning. They are absent nearly three hours. Finally, they didn’t buy bread, they bought a house in Búzios instead 😀 The house is basically an apartment – a studio, with windows overlooking a loud street in the town. Lucas and Esther are going to move there with their teenage daughter. As for us, it’s a bit crazy decision, but at least there was an occasion to celebrate with a delicious barbecue.
Our next stop, less than 20 km away is Cabo Frio. We stop there thanks to Amador, the owner of a private school. Hearing about our idea of hitchhiking around the world, he repeats several times that we are crazy, and then he makes us an offer to stay at his home and make a short presentation about our travel the next day at school. Here again, contrasts in Brazil strike us. The day before, we spent the evening at Laura’s, who, with four small children, lives in a brick house of dimensions of about 5 x 6 m. She has to bring water from the plot next to it and keeps it in an old washing machine in front of the house. And on the contrary, there is nothing missing in Amador’s home, and in almost every room there is a bathroom.
After two weeks of travelling we are already ‘real travelers’ and we can give a travel lecture: D We tell the kids (in fact Michał talks, because my Portuguese… well, I will learn more in the future) about how we had to study hard so as to find a good job for being able to save for this trip. We raised considerable interest. The whole meeting lasts over an hour including presentation, questions and loose talks and results in millions of selfies.
The next stop on our way is Serra, where we spend the night in the driver’s house, who invited us to his place. Marcus saw us by the road and turned the truck back a few kilometers ahead to take us. On many trucks, we saw the sign ‘Prohibido dar carona’, meaning ‘Hitchhiking prohibited’. And this is because in Brazil, in the event of an accident, the hitchhiker has the right to be compensated by the transport company. Marcus, fortunately, didn’t care, and when we passed police patrols, Michał was hiding behind the curtain. In this way, we managed to get closer to the goal by over 400 km.
Serra is considered the most dangerous city in the state of Espirito Santo, 10 murders have been committed here last month. That’s probably why Marcus didn’t let us put our tent somewhere near the gas station, he just took us to his place.
Somewhere at the gas station
Our next good soul is Jefferson. He takes us to the state of Bahia, totally over 700 km. On such a journey, we pass the entire cross-section of crops – eucalyptus (for the production of paper), cocoa, coffee, bananas and papaya. Along the way, we pass a lot of villages, where sellers standing in the middle of the road (usually around the slower threshold) sell to drivers various snacks: bananas or other fruits, tapioca in banana leaves or river shrimps threaded on a string. For some time, we also drive behind a truck carrying cow’s bones – an unforgettable fragrance experience, I don’t wish it to anyone. The only thing you think about is to overtake as soon as possible, and it’s not always easy on a winding and hilly road. Drivers of such deliveries have extremely difficult jobs – they are often banned out of the station they want to stop.
Jefferson has a flat moving company and is just carrying the furniture of an older couple moving from the south of the country to the central part of it (Sao Paulo – Gandu – 1800 km). We don’t get to the destination in one day, but we stop for a night at a gas station. Again, the driver took care of our sleeping – he made a small transformation in the truck’s box and he found two pieces of floor for us among the moved things.
Our driver tells us some interesting facts:
- Why is beef here so good? Because the cows are here in the pasture and eat mainly fruit. Because Brazil has large spaces and large fruit crops, cows are treated differently than in Europe, so their meat here tastes delicious
- Brazilians tend to go hunting in the states of Amazonas and Mato Grosso. They hunt there for capybaras, crocodiles, snakes and panthers (!), hich they then cook on the campfire,
We set this place as a 2-day rest before Salvador. This part of the Bahia’s coast is famous for its beautiful beaches, we had to check it out. The Internet didn’t lie this time and we weren’t disappointed.
Wandering the first day around the town, we come across a local capoeira group. For the next two days we participate in trainings and roda, so that we can cross out one of the dream list points – play capoeira in Bahia. Itacaré is a big surprise for us when it comes to prices and the number of people. The town is a bit of a seaside resort, but the prices are lower than in Rio. Not only food, but also services – for example, for a comprehensive haircut at the barber Michał paid 20 BRL… In addition, the beaches are almost empty. This is probably because it’s already after the season (a few days earlier there was a shift of time for winter). After the season, which means the temperature of about 30 degrees… After three days of training, sunbathing and drinking coconut water, with burnt backs (mom, we used sunscreen) and terrible muscle ache, we leave this little paradise to thumb towards Salvador.
Again somewhere at the gas station
Hitchhiking stops working as before. Maybe it’s a change of the state, maybe just before we had a lot of luck. Itacaré – Salvador route takes us two days, including taking a bus for the last part. After 2 hours of standing by the road we find out that it is a waste of time when Salvador is so close, and a ticket for about 70 km costs 13 BRL.
We spend the night again at the gas station, this time under the tent. In Brazil, staying overnight in such places is safe and comfortable. As rail transport is practically non-existent, everything in this country is transported by trucks. The stations are therefore well-equipped. Each station we stayed at, was 24-hour, had bathrooms with showers and a restaurant, where you can eat well for 10 -15 BRL. What’s more, it was at one of such stations that we ate one of the most deliciously grilled meats so far. That night we also have the opportunity to test our tent during a tropical downpour 😀 In general, the exam was passed, although in the morning it was slowly beginning to drip on us.
Finally, it takes us 8 days to reach Salvador.