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Reply #10: Cosmic comeuppance in Brazil [View All]

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Squeech Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-06-03 05:20 PM
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10. Cosmic comeuppance in Brazil
The first time Mrs. Squeech and I went to Brazil, we were trying to get from Vitoria (on the coast, 6 hrs north of Rio de Janeiro) to Belo Horizonte (capital of Minas Gerais, in the interior).

There are many many bus companies in Brazil, and they cooperate even less than they do here: as opposed to the old Greyhound station in American downtowns where they'd also sell you the Bonanza ticket if that's where you wanted to go, in Brazil every bus line has its own counter. And this also means that the onus is on you to figure out which line(s) go where you want to go. There were three companies out of the couple dozen represented that did the Vitoria to Belo route, and two of them turned out to be unavailable in our time frame (sold out, or only ran on the weekend, I forget exactly), which left Sao Geraldo as the only remaining choice. They're a big company, with lots of routes, and the line was long.

The other relevant point is that Brazilians seem to think it's okay to cut in line. So we were a dozen people away from the ticket window for an awfully long time, while people who hadn't actually waited barged in ahead of us and bought their tickets.

So when we finally got to the window, it turned out there was only one ticket left on that night's bus to Belo-- and of course the both of us wanted to go. We asked if we could buy the one ticket and have the other one of us on standby, in case there was a no-show, but they told us we couldn't do that. So we bought tickets for the next night. (It was an overnight bus ride, like a red-eye flight.) And we did get on the bus the next night.

Around dawn the next morning, we were meandering through the tortuous mountain roads on our way to Belo, when the bus suddenly came to a stop. There was a big tow truck with a humongous winch blocking traffic. As we watched, it pulled up a Sao Geraldo bus from out of the ravine next to the highway, where it had fallen in. The top of the bus was mashed in, just about down to where the windows began. You guessed it, it was the previous night's bus. All but six people died, and those six must have spent weeks in traction. It was not known whether those six had waited patiently in line.

So nowadays when people cut in front of us in line, we don't yell at them. We just tell that story. Loudly.
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