The year by road and sea

2022-11-05 @Travel

Hail 2022 as the year of covering great distance and experimenting new forms of transport: new for me, but we needs start somewhere. Though I do encounter no rare traveler long seasoned in these ways and beyond.

I meet hitchhikers who thus appeal to virtually no other means but in the quest to cover vast territory across Brazil and elsewhere: resorting to a multitude of shorter segments, the suspenseful wait under the sun, the camping out at gas stations or mounting hammocks between trucks. Even chanced upon a boat hitchhiker (to occasionally compensate with labor) thus exploring the less frequented recesses along the Amazon river route.

By thumb I’ve managed to merely traverse two close towns of Nayarit, MX at the year break. My dismal effort and lack of commitment have not otherwise delivered.

Throughout South America a class of pilgrims move around by bicycle, covering phenomenal distance through high altitudes - thin air mountain regions as well as perilous jungles where a rest break could prove lamentable. There’s commitment. There’s resolve.

For my part, I’ve barely broken fluvial horizons midst the series of cargo-boat segments I undertook to traverse the Amazons from inland Peru into northern Brazil. Then spent the remaining months covering major ground by bus. Nothing extraordinary save for the expenses incurred.

Towards the end of the Brazilian sojourn, my then whereabouts in Recife, the outbound São Paulo flight (for nowhere else could I find an affordable fare) and time scarce, I yielded to extreme measures:

  1. A 14-16 hour bus segment from Recife to Salvador - nothing terribly frustrating, the two-hour departure delay notwithstanding.
  2. The 45-hour two-night bus segment from Salvador to São Paulo.

That last one can frighten. I’d never before fathomed the prospect for even half the duration. The fare, had I purchased it nigh departure would’ve cost a toothache and close to an airfare. Now a fortunate discovery led me to execute a 10-12 day anticipated purchase immediately upon arrival at the Salvador bus terminal, resulting in a sensational discount of nearly 50% some others later incurred.

Somehow endured the unprecedentedly lengthy duration: leveraged each stop, consumed plenty of water, avoided excess meals and voilà. Speaking of which, the bus practiced the awful habit of stopping by the same ludicrously overpriced restaurant chain. Once was enough. The next occasion I sprinted to the nearby eatery 200m downhill, ordered a take-out meal of half the cost and double the quality, sprinted back with just enough to spare within the 30-min stop.

In São Paulo one day before departure, stayed at the never before explored Santana neighborhood a walking distance from the Tieté bus terminal. Between the two preceding nights and the forthcoming overnight multi-leg journey to the States, that Santana stay would prove the only night of bed rest within four days.

Certe, the metro system across those remaining Brazilian cities left an impression. Recife’s metro reaches both the bus terminal and the airport. The same holds for Salvador, an improvement over six years prior not to mention the remarkably modernized condition.

Sometime in the last few years São Paulo likewise saw the metro coverage expanded to reach the Guarulhos International Airport, including the hourly 30-min express line from the Luz blue-line station.

Within seven months I ultimately journeyed from Lima, Peru through the amazons into Brazil, hugging the north, proceeding into the northeast and lastly southbound into São Paulo.

My recent Antigua to San Cristobal travel likewise saw unimagined transport between the repurposed (and lavishly decorated) US school buses on one side, shared vans on the other.

Such breadth of movement within a year span comes as anything but novel to some. I, on the other hand, have endured my share. Presently in the Chiapas state of Mexico, hoping for a bit more stasis in the months forthcoming.

Tuning out.

Questions, comments? Connect.