A Night (Not) To Remember
Trip Start Aug 17, 2010
83Trip End Sep 16, 2011
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Where I stayed
The "Waiting For Godot" Cafe Hotel
Chuy / Chui is a town that has sprung up on the border between Uruguay and Brasil thanks to people's enthusiasm for duty free shops. Basically, that’s all there is – not even the immigration offices are in town, being 3 kms on each side respectively ( i.e. stamp out of Uruguay 3kms before Chuy ; stamp into Brasil 3 km after Chui ). Hereby lies the beginning of the complications. From Punta Del Diablo, one can only take a local bus to Chuy – well, after that, the road is in a different country, isn’t it - we’re talking international travel – can’t even book a seat on the bus from Brasil Chui to Florianópolis. Grrr.
On the local bus, one has to hope that the conductor is a nice fellow, and will agree to stop at the Uruguay immigration office on the way into town – otherwise, a taxi is required to track back for the exit stamp. Luckily we score such help, and the conductor not only holds the bus for us, but also fast-tracks us through immigration. Now there’s a time when I didn’t mind handing over a tip !
Chuy – and now we must walk across the border ( the main street ) and buy a seat on the Brasilian bus from Chuy to Florianópolis. We have some company, a Swiss couple travelling the same way as us, so together we manage to find the bus offices and book the last 4 seats on the bus ! Too tight for my liking, but there was no other option but to go out on a limb, apart from tracking back to Montevideo and booking an interstate bus from there.
Now – we have our bus. But. It is due in Chui at 1:30am. Yes, after midnight ! Here we are stuck in a border town consisting a duty free shops with about 12hrs to kill ! Waiting on a connecting air-flight will never seem a trial again. We did manage to find a café to sit in, and basically ordered 1 coffee per hour to justify staying there ! The presence of another couple did provide some conversation material, so at least it was not just the 2 of us – very much a case of pain shared is pain lessened !
Finally it is 1:00am and we head out to the bus station – cold, dark and located in the back blocks of Chui – very comforting – not ! Luckily a collection of local families also gathered, so we felt safer, but the bus turned up an hour late at 2:30am. Waaahhh ! Now to negotiate the Brasil crossing – a little more organized as basically everyone on the bus needs to pass through immigration. As such, the conductor collects all the passports and runs them through – strangely enough, as one does not present oneself at immigration. One extreme to another – the last time we entered Japan we were photographed, finger printed, questioned – next time I reckon they will take a DNA sample ! Or you can go to Brasil, Peru, Bolivia and just waltz straight in !
We are on the home straight – sitting on the bus, all paperwork done, on the way to Florianópolis. Except it is a LOOOOONGGG home straight – the uneasy relationship between South American buses and the clock raises its head again ! We eventually arrive after 25 years, 16 hours and 24 minutes on the bus – at least, that’s what it felt like ! Let us leave this story, and enter Brasil’s surf paradise – Florianópolis !