Heading south out of Jericoacoara is a real trial by fire. A 4:30am truck to Camocim where you connect to another truck to Paranaiba. That truck dumped us all off about 20 minutes away from town and made us cram onto a small bus that was already almost full. A local bus to the bus station and then a 9 hour overnight bus out to the island of Sao Luis. This is real traveling. The nothth of Brazil is much cheaper and the towns much less touristy. Yay! I killed a few hours at the bus station in Sao Luis until the sun rose and then headed into town by bus to find a place to stay in the old historical quarter. I spent most of the day walking around ogling at all the beautifully preserved old colonial architecture and churches around every corner. I headed in the late afternoon to the Sao Francisco, a wealthy suburb over the bridge. The beach wasn´t very spectacular but I am pretty beached out. It was almost sunset when I passed a really ritzy restaurant along the beach. I ordered a drink and some shrimps in garlic sauce. I thought it would have been like the dish I had with Dee and Bob on my birthday, peeled smallish shrimps in a garlic butter sauce but instead they brought be out 10 giant garlicky, buttery prawns. Happy Birthday to me. Again. When I got the bill, it was much more than I had anticipated but when he brought me the my change he had made corrections without me saying anything. Apparently I had gotten there right before ´dinnertime´so I got the lunch price instead. I would have paid double. It was a real treat.
I got up early the next day to catch a ferry to Alcantara, a small island crumbling in decay. Not a lot to do there but meander through the cobblestone streets and look around. It was a nice change and the people were lovely. The boat ride back was really rough but I was so tired I think I slept through the worst of it. Back at the hostel I met some travelers heading to Barreirinhas the next day so we agreed to travel together. I went downstairs before bed to use the washing facilities to do some laundry but instead of a nice heavy duty washing machine I found two sinks and a scrubbing board. Groan. We really are so spoiled back home.
Jean-Phillipe, Bia and I made our way to the station early the next day to catch our four hour bus. We arrived about 2pm and the town looked completely dead. Some touts met us, found us a hotel, some food and then put us directly on a truck headed to the Lencois National Park. All within an hour. We had to cross the river by truck on a small raft pushed by a little boat before hitting the dunes and making our way to where natural lakes are formed between the dunes in the rainy season. The ride was fast, bumpy and wet but the view really was spectacular and swimming in the fresh water extremely refreshing. We walked around the dunes until sunset and then made our way back to town where we had a wonderful dinner on the river before turning in for the night.
We spent the next morning walking around the little town before Jean-Phillipe and I said our good-byes to Bia. We were heading north while she was heading south. Back on the bus to Sao Luis where we had about 50 minutes to make our connection to Belem. We got our wires crossed somehow and he thought that I was going to be a long time in the bathroom getting organized for the bus so he took an even longer time in the men´s bathroom. I thought I´d told him I was just going to be a second because I wanted to quickly brush my teeth. So I spent about 20 minutes running around the bus station looking for him thinking,´This is it, I´ve been robbed by a fellow traveler´because he was holding my bus ticket. To think I almost left my bag with him. Anyway, it was a mix up. He´s a really nice a guy and felt pretty bad that I´d gotten so stressed. We shoveled down some dinner and made our connection.
I was just settling into my book when they decided to turn the lights out at 8:30pm. Grumble, grumble. I tried to sleep but the road was bumpy, the seats horribly uncomfortable and the air conditioning freezing. I woke up at least 10 times in the night but the last time I woke up it was about dawn and I thought, ´Gosh, I think I slept for a really long stretch that time.´ I looked around and there were only two other people on the bus. I got out only to find that we´d been broken down on the road for hours. Luckily about an hour later a really posh bus came by and was willing to transport us all to Belem. I´ll be heading out from here on a five day boat journey down the Amazon, hammock class. You´ll here from me again when I get to Manaus. Should be quite a ride!