Hitchhiking: Ilha Grande to São Paulo
Goal: Get to São Paulo without getting too wet!
Distance: approximately 440 km
Intended Route: Take a boat from the island, then start hitching outside Angra dos Reis along the coast BR-101 towards Santos then go up towards São Paulo.
It looks good enough to be a billboard, but that’s the real backdrop you can expect if you’re hitchhiking/driving/biking along the BR-101. If we thought the way from Rio de Janeiro to Angra dos Reis had been beautiful, the next part of the route was even better — or it would have been if the weather had held out. Actually it rained almost the whole time we were on Ilha Grande (just the one day) and it started again Wednesday night and followed us all the way to São Paulo.
This time I did actually have to hitch a boat ride from the island… because the return ticket we’d gotten was for a boat that wasn’t leaving till 12:30, a little late for our taste since it took almost 1.5 hours. A guy on the dock told us there was a boat going back to shore that very minute that only cost 4 reais; we could see it just on the next dock over getting ready to pull out. So we hurried over, but Julio was ahead of me and though he made it past the guard and onto the dock, I didn’t. Despite my protests to the guard that my friend had just gone through and had, in fact, gotten on the boat he wasn’t having it. Did I mention that Julio had the return tickets for the other boat as well!
Since there was really no way for us to contact each other, I decided the only thing I could do was arrive on the shore before him. There was yet another boat, the Flex Boat that takes 30 minutes (vs. the 1.5 for the big boat), leaving at 11. I was reluctant to pay another 40 reais as I had already spent 70 on 2 return tickets and, fortunately, I know enough Portuguese by now to talk my way out of it. With a bit of irate explanation of how the guard hadn’t let me through, how Julio had our tickets and money, etc, etc, the ticket salesperson took pity on me and they let me on the boat for free. I arrived probably 15 minutes before the other boat docked, giving me enough time to find out where it was coming in so I find him and start the actual hitchhiking.
First ride, really don’t remember much as it was just from the crappy spot right outside of town entrance to a gas station towards the exit. He picked us up because we were in a “dangerous” spot right by the favela. Maybe at night things were different, but at the moment it seemed like this was just the spot with the best view.
After being at the gas station for twenty minutes or so someone stopped and gave us 20 reais to take the bus to the next town. Julio was all for it, but I kept hitchhiking at the bus stop while we were waiting just because — and I know that people will pick you up almost anywhere and why waste a perfectly sunny day and because I hate those stupid turnstiles the local buses in Brazil have.
And like clockwork someone showed up… it was the young Brazilian Morgan Freeman, actual name Judson, and his French friend Jerome who stopped for us this time. And with a duo like that, of course they were awesome.
Jerome was in a few bands and had been living in Brazil for 15 years. They were heading home to Paraty, which in their opinion, was the best place in Brazil. Their description of the place — waterfalls, jungle, mountains, seaside, camping — have convinced me that I’ll have to come back. If we weren’t on a semi-schedule I would have been inclined to hang out, but there was also a good chance of more rain.
And it started almost immediately after this next guy plucked us off the road. No it wasn’t the dog…
I actually can’t remember his name now, but he had a lot to say about a lot of things. He had traveled through almost all of Brazil, though not really outside of the country, and spent a good portion of his university days hitchhiking all over the place. But times had changed… it’s difficult to catch rides in Brazil. That’s the truth, though it might seem a bit of a breeze the way I’m writing about it. He also mentioned how all the fish are dying, another truth, and talked about all the corruption in Brazil, a sad truth. Inevitably, we spoke of the World Cup and Brazil’s historical, humiliating defeat a few days ago. His son had gone to see the game in Belo Horizonte; an excruciatingly long journey that meant taking a bus to SP, a plane to BH, another plane back to SP, and a final bus to Caraguatatuba (where they lived). Apparently he had sent his son this text message, “How was the game over there in BH, because here it was a disaster.” It was a good joke, though the whole affair is rather symbolic of the World Cup being hosted here.
Anyway, because it was raining and because by some magic luck charm we seem to have, this guy had a completely empty house/shop that we could stay in overnight since it was raining. We just had to make sure the dogs didn’t escape. Perfect!
And we continued in the morning with a guy whose photo I forgot to take:( Another person who picked us up while I was hitchhiking at the bus stop. He took us over some gorgeous mountains looking over the sea back to the boring freeway Via Dutra that goes straight to São Paulo.
Shortly after our last ride, the rain really started coming down with a vengeance.
He was also upset about the corruption in Brazil and the World Cup came up again… but he was proud to be Brazilian. While we were on the topic he asked what people from the US were like and I found I had a difficult time answering. Turns out he didn’t like the US and I couldn’t blame him… there’s plenty of reasons for South Americans to be annoyed at the states, but one of his main reasons seemed to be that people from the States mostly act like they are better than everyone else and go about calling themselves ‘Americans’ as if they are the only people on this continent. Of course that’s a vast generalization, but I think he’s got a valid point…maybe it’s time to get a new adjective. I guess estadounidense doesn’t really have a proper translation in English.
I could beat Stephen Colbert at LOTR trivia. Just sayin’.