Leaving Venezuela: Back to Brasil
We wake with slight headaches, after a celebratory night full of good-byes to our new friends. While sharing breakfast with Ben, from the Netherlands, (I don‘t mention coffee houses) our host, Eric gets called away on an emergency. He summons a helicopter to rescue a hiker who fell on the Roraima trail.
We share a taxi with Alex, from our hiking group, and another man, for the three-hour ride back to Boa Vista, Brasil. The borders are closed for a two-hour lunch, so we decide to lunch as well. They let us pass through the closed borders to eat in Brazil, but we have to go back for exit stamps. What a treat, with skewered, sizzling meats fresh from the barbeque being sliced onto our plates…all you can eat for about US10. The border opens. We say goodbye to the scowling Venezuelan servicemen who tote machine guns, and say hello to the Brazilian guards who smile and carry handguns in holsters. We barely make it to the bus station in time, where Alex assists us in purchasing a ticket for the 12-hour night bus back to Manaus. Thank you Alex! (This time we have hammock blankets with us)
From the bus station in Manaus, we taxi to the airport, and the friendly staff finds us a good deal on a flight to Fortaleza. The plane leaves in six hours. While sitting in the airport, Mare says, “Come here right away.”
I see the panic in her face. She points to her feet, which are swollen like balloons. Her ankles are puffed-out and there is no space between her toes. I try not to show fear, but we both are thinking about the venomous snakes and insects of the Gran Sabana.
Airport paramedics roll Mare downstairs in a wheel chair to a basement bunker, and place her onto a metal hospital bed with hand-cranks. One paramedic shoots a clear substance into a vein in Mare’s arm, while another shoots something into her buttocks.
“What is that?” I ask.
In broken English, a paramedic says, “Medicine.”
They elevate her legs, and about an hour later the swelling goes down a little, and it’s time to board our flight. An airline attendant shows up leads us upstairs, to the front of the boarding line. With a twist of irony…we all walk and the attendant pushes a wheel chair that carries our backpacks. It is a true disadvantage not knowing the language.
Although Fortaleza is not on the international tourist track, the size of this city of 3-million poeple surprises us. We find a Posada and stroll to the beach the following morning, swollen feet and all. Unfortunately, I see more men wearing skimpy bathing suits than women wearing thongs. I thought we were in Brazil? We sip beers under an umbrella with our toes in the sand. Venders saunter past and sell me a pair of Ray “Bon” sunglasses; Mare purchases a purse made from a coconut shell, and both of us buy dozen hard-boiled quail eggs. Life is good.
However, a beach in a big bustling city is not what we seek and we’re out of money. My debit card is rendered invalid and American Express places a security alert on our account. The following day we spend walking the sweltering city streets trying to straighten out our accounts. Nobody in this town speaks English. We know only one word of Portuguese. At last, we find a night manager at our small Posada, who speaks some English. About $50 dollars in international phone calls later, our accounts are in order. The next morning I retrieve some cash from an ATM and feel as though I hit the lottery. Let’s get the hell out of here!
We hop a comfortable bus to the small beach town of Jericoacoara, simply called Jeri by the locals. The five-hour ride ends with about 15 miles on another bus, a 4-wheeler that bounces through sand dunes. Finally, we find the paradise that we seek after our adventure trek. This is a town of only six sandy roads. We gaze over the ocean where kite surfers twirl in the wind. White horses graze where the grass meets the sand. A breeze strums the seed-pod wind chime, sounding a calypso rhythm. Oh yeah, babe. Our US90 room has air conditioning, a balcony on the second floor, and a hammock for me to sleep in, after visiting Mare on her double bed.