My alarm went off about 4:30 a.m. and I grabbed my bag and headed downstairs. Incredulously, Luis was still up! He had not gone to sleep all night! A family of five had come looking for a room late in the evening, and he had sold them the floor space of his office, where he normally sleeps! So he stayed up all night and worked on the computer! With mega-cups of coffee! Unreal! I don’t know how these people’s bodies survive!
The bus for the Aeropuerto pulled up across the street from Katharina House, and I hopped on board – it was still dark outside! It took almost an hour to arrive at the airport – we arrived at 5:45 a.m., and I learned there was a flight earlier than mine that I could have caught! Darn! I checked with the agent and rescheduled my connecting flight in Sao Paulo to an earlier flight that would arrive in Salvaldor at 2:55 p.m. instead of 4:25 p.m. From Salvador I would have to catch a bus for a ride up the Coconut Coast to get to Praia do Forte (Beach Fort), and I needed all the time I could get for that last leg of the trip.
The flight from Foz du Iguazu to Sao Paolo had a stop in Curitiba, a beautiful coastal town north of Florianopolis that I had wanted to go to, but decided to save for another trip. It has a train ride that runs from the city down to the ocean, where the tracks are cut into the sheer cliffs and the view is spectacular (if not downright scary) through steep canyons on the way to the coast. I read about it in my travel guide, and the pictures were stunning. But Brazil is very large, and my time was limited.
Flying over Curitiba, it was quite impressive – very modern and clean looking. Later I learned that it is one of the top choice cities for folks who are retired and have their pick of places to live. Curitiba has great museums, symphonies, art galleries, restaurants, golf courses, theatre – everything wealthy retirees would enjoy.
The plane flew just off the coastline from Curitiba up to Sao Paolo over the water, and the views were magnificent – green hills, white beaches, clear blue water with breaking surf along the shorelines. Inland, there were some interesting geological features. There was a set of jutting coastal ranges running parallel with the beach, and in between the two ranges was a deep verdant valley and large river running the length of the two ranges, nestled in between. Looked like the plate had suffered a serious buckle and uplift all along that stretch.
The air was very clean and the sky was sunny and blue, but as we approached Sao Paulo the sky became polluted and hazy gray-white. Sao Paulo is enormous, and it is astonishing to fly over just for sheer size.
The plane change in Sao Paulo went well, and boarded on time. I prayed my duffel bag made the connection. Didn’t need another one of THOSE experiences! The young man seated next to me had never flown before in his life, and he reeked of alcohol. He was quite nervous, and communicated to me (even though he didn’t speak English) that he thought his blood pressure was through the roof and his heart rate was too high. I grabbed his wrist and measured his pulse – it was maybe in the mid-70s – not bad at all. I showed him how to fasten his seat belt – he’d never used one before, not even in a vehicle!!! I showed him how to turn on the light for reading, the air for cooling, and the button to lean his seat back. Take-off was quite a rush for him and he couldn’t look out the window for about 10 minutes after we were in the air. Finally he started relaxing (after he’d ordered and drunk a beer), and by the end of the flight he even got up to go use the restroom, just like an old pro.
Once in Salvador, it was quite a culture change. Dress, mannerisms, speech, color – all very different than southern Brazil. And my baggage arrived – Glory of Glories!!! A small group of us stood waiting for the regularly running airport bus to take us into Salvador to the main bus terminal, so we could each catch our respective buses there. It never came.
After an hour and a half of waiting, two others and myself caught a cab – by now the sun was almost down. We arrived at the main bus terminal in Salvador at 5 p.m., I caught the last bus leaving north for the Coconut Coast at 6 p.m., and at 7 p.m. it dropped me in Praia do Forte!(Prah-ee-ah doe For-chay)
There at last! But…I had no hostel reserved. I walked down the main thoroughfare – a wild party was going on everywhere. The town looked very much like Carmel in California back about 20 years ago. It was lovely! Within about 15 minutes someone told me about an International Youth Hostel one street over. I found it – very nice one – and they had ONE BUNK LEFT! Unreal….saved again…by one bed…was this starting to be a lucky pattern?
The shared shower was busy, so I changed clothes and went out for dinner in the well-lit, noisy, highly active town. There were restaurants everywhere, and all look great, so I picked one and ordered filet of fish. The head chef was a woman, and she did a splendid job with the dish – gourmet! A perfect way to end the day!
And tomorrow, I would be off to see the Turtle Sanctuary, where crippled turtles found at sea or along the beach are brought to be rehabilitated and returned to the wild if they are able, or to live out their lives in peace and protection if they are not. Ahhh, sweet slumber after a long and lucky day of travel!