A Night (Not) To Remember

Trip Start Aug 17, 2010
Trip End Sep 16, 2011

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Where I stayed
The "Waiting For Godot" Cafe Hotel

Flag of Uruguay  ,
Saturday, October 23, 2010

South American border crossings are never boring. Each one is unique, always providing the traveller with varying degrees of anxiety - how do I get my passport stamps; have I the right paperwork; will I be allowed to enter ( or exit ! ). We can now report that crossing from Uruguay to Brasil by working up the coast takes first prize.

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 !
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patricia on

hmmmm poor jimy and louren but part of that is south america too much tramite ,, have good time in brazil becare of your things carinos mios

Angela Maria on

Glad to hear you are enjoying your trip and getting to know the times in South America....enjoy Brasil and looking forward to hear more of your adventures.
Big kisses and take care.

Elizabeth on

On behalf of Sam...Have you checked your passport Jim? Sam reckons that somewhere in South America there is a lookalike running around saying, "my name is Jimmy".

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