Health and safety – please! - Days 423-424
You may think that sitting on a bus for 29 hours, I really wouldn’t have much to write about, and that’s what I thought. But, well...Health and safety – please!
Twenty nine hours on a bus (or was it?!) Not much to do apart form looking out at the wonderful scenery. We ate our food, we slept, we read, we even did a few exercises using Resistance Loop bands, it’s essential to keep the muscles moving even when you are sitting for hours on end. I did write an article for our website called “How to prepare for a pleasant long-distance bus ride” which you may enjoy reading. No, this is not for a 2-hour bus ride from London to Bristol, this is for bus rides that are long, that covers meal times and sleep times.
All was going well. The bus wasn’t as comfy as the overnight one that we had from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, but pleasant enough with air conditioning, a foot and leg rest and padded chairs.
The scenery was amazing, especially on the first leg of the journey, with tall, steep oval mountains that towered from the landscape. The highest with their rock exposed, too high and smooth for vegetation to cling to. Along the mountain roads, I loved seeing the layers of foliage, trees soaring up above, some with their frothy canopy at eye-level, and others that I looked down on. Palm trees, giant ferns, bamboo and many deciduous trees I don’t know the names of. At one place, the forest was dense and dark with thick bamboo, other areas more open, giving a glimpse of the river gently flowing over the smooth boulders running parallel to the road. Occasionally, there were trees covered with lilac-pink blossom, areas of bare bright orange soil with the red-tiled cottages blending in, if it wasn’t for their golden yellow plastered walls.
We sporadically went through small towns, with homes growing upwards. If you have extra expenditure for your home, you will render over the exposed brick, and then build an extra storey above. The structural engineering doesn’t bear thinking about. Often the town would have at least one area of defunct cars piled high for people to pick over for spare parts, recycling at its best. Women would be sitting on the pavement, chatting, and barefooted children running around. Men, leaning in a doorway smoking or a group playing football; the average Saturday.
We did stop off quite a few times for comfort breaks, where there were restaurants, toilets and even showers at a few of them. We mainly took advantage to charge up our mobile phones, as we had brought plenty of food to keep us going.
The sun was setting so no more scenery for us to admire, Tim suggested watching “Big Bang Theory” on his phone he had downloaded. We love watching this programme, so cleverly written and acted, and great funny family-friendly entertainment. (Spoiler Alert) We were watching Sheldon and Amy setting fire to their thesis on asymmetry after they learnt the devastating news that this had already been discovered and disproved by a Russian scientist. The flames were rising, and suddenly there was a loud bang. But this seemed to be from outside. I was confused. I looked out of the window and, first impressions, it looked like fireworks, with light glistening. I then realised that there were no fireworks, the window right next to me had shattered. In fact, there was a big pile of glass on my seat!
Sitting behind us was an elderly gentleman who was blind and deaf. He had been leaning on the window, asleep for a lot of the journey. How we both didn’t get hurt was a miracle. Apparently, the bus had clipped a parked truck causing the accident.
We were astounded at the laissez-faire approach from the driver. He didn’t check that we were ok or that we had somewhere to sit, there was no communication and after a short time, he carried on driving! We couldn’t believe it! Pieces of glass were either dropping into the coach or being sprayed out! A pedestrian could have easily been hit with one of these shards. Talk about health and safety at its worst.
Were we going to change buses anywhere? A few people assured us that we were and I noticed on google maps that we seemed to be returning from where we’d come from. Eventually, we were back at our previous stop over and had to wait for a replacement bus for an hour.
During this wait, we got chatting to a local guy who had lived in the USA, illegally for 8 years and wanted to practice his English. He is one of 6, and when we said that we were going to Salvador, he excitedly said that his eldest brother lives there. Later Tim mentioned that eventually we will be flying out of Brazil in June from Fortaleza, and he shared that his youngest brother lives there, insisting on giving us their WhatsApp details.
Our replacement bus arrived. What happened to the Deluxe coach we paid for? This one had no leg rests, and no air conditioning. The latter didn’t register to begin with, it was midnight, so the evening was cool. I can tell you that the next day, it certainly registered with us.
Our bus was due to Salvador by 2:30pm on Sunday. We guessed it would be late, perhaps by 1 or 2 hours. We eventually arrived at 7:30pm, five hours late rather hot and sweaty. The bus was quite empty by now, with the elderly gentleman, five others and us remaining. One of the passengers organised a joint complaint, so we wrote down our details, more than happy to participate. I doubt anything will happen from it though. I will also inform the company that we booked our tickets through of this poor service.
Mmmm… not sure this journey was the best of ideas. And we have another 3 long distance journeys coming up in the next week. Let’s hope there are no more health and safety issues. Fingers crossed.