The shock of Brazil

Went for the 12 € breakfast buffet. Hopefully the last I’ll eat inside the European Union in a long while. Ate everything. Twice. Coffee and tea. Asked for more coffee to the room. Had a

Went for the 12 € breakfast buffet. Hopefully the last I’ll eat inside the European Union in a long while. Ate everything. Twice. Coffee and tea. Asked for more coffee to the room. Had a long, nice shower, packed my stuff, and out into the heat.

At the palm park there were lots of Algerians playing with the statue, that Frank the Francophile one. They were tying Algerian flags to it, laughing etc. I had no idea, thinking it was some kind of late independence joke. Although Algeria got it (or, well, fought for it) and Guiana didn’t.

I went to the bus station, as advised to me by a website whose date I didn’t check. You cannot believe everything you read on the net. I’m sure the bus went from there ten tears ago. Now it didn’t. I walked up and down. Sat and tried to get internet, that was supposed to be for free right here for two hours. Walked to the tourist office. They don’t speak English (why do so at a tourist office, I asked the accountant that I hired to clean my windows and throw my junk mails), but I tried to rehearse my French from long long time ago. But all that came out was Chinese and Japanese words. Luckily, they were closed anyway. ”Closed on Fridays from 13” it said. The clock was 12 in Cayenne, but hey, time zones and all that, who knows.

I walked back to the street of no buses. I found the police, and tried to ask him in French. He picked me up and off we drove. You can always trust the police in France. Les Gendarmies do what they need to keep you safe at all times of the day, unless you’re royal or killing someone on the Devil’s island, in which case you get to throne at the most epic French symbol ever, le guillotine.

The bus was back at Avenue de la Liberté, at the river. It was cleaned by a man in a t-shirt that said ”Transport” who told me to sit inside a cafe to wait for his colleague. It’s funny, because the walls of the cafe made you not see anything, unless you moved your head, in which case the brain quickly connected the various dots to make a picture. So in there I sat with a 2 € coffee and moved my head back and forth. Don’t miss the colleague. Move your head. Don’t miss him.

A scruffy man came inside and asked if I wanted “taxi”, but I said I waited for the bus. He did some weird movements involving his head, that I didn’t understand, but that didn’t look nice. As the driver no 1 got active I got outside, and he showed me the Saint George bus (well, car) and told me to put my backpack inside. So I did, and then stood close watching it, since the taxi driver was there as well, like his beer-drinking friend. They sometimes talked to me in French, but I ignored them. At some point I took my backpack and walked away a few meters to be alone for a while. Then the taxi driver started the car – he was the bus driver! I apologized, put my backpack inside and off we went.

First we drove around Cayenne a few times picking people up here and there. I guess I could have just talked to my hotel and I could have sat there waiting instead of running around town and getting sunburned, amused by Algerians and helped by the police.

As we left the city, we were quite an international ride. In the front, the driver, who was native American, and an old French drunk and his mixed kid. In the middle there was a Chinese man, reading manga in simplified Chinese, and sleeping most of the time. And in the very back there was me and an Algerian gentleman who spoke English, so that we soon became good friends. He worked as a teacher of mathematics and physics inside the wild south of Guiana. So he was going to Saint Georges with me, to take a boat to the South from there. He taught mostly native American students math. I told him about my homework help in Hallonbergen and we exchanged ideas for how to motivate kids. As for the Algerians inside Cayenne, he told about demonstrations all over Algeria, and they probably were part of that, using their Guiana trip to something political. Here are the news: In case the news disappear, it is Algerians demanding sweeping government reforms, take the corruption away, prevent the super-old president from getting elected again etc.

The road was curvy and dangerous, and we drove at high speed. I kind of loved it and looked at all the jungle. It is technically not Amazons since the water runs into another river, but it looked like much of it. Sometimes I tried to change my legs to not be all caught behind the seat in front in case we had an accident. Like I wrote before, traffic accidents are the worst for tourists, statistically. Good thing is that I don’t know how to drive, which makes it a lot safer. Habib – the Algerian – wrote down “avoid” to the driver’s number. He also warned me about the city on the other side of the river, Oiapoque. He had many stories of people getting killed or robbed there. He invited me to the house he rented nearby his school. Or, near and near, he paddled two km to school every day – through the water! I felt a little bit stressed though. The climate meeting in Santiago was cancelled, and there is a small chance of one in Costa Rica instead, in which case I’d need to hurry on.

In Saint George we all went in different directions, with the taxi driver introducing me to his friend who’d take me to Macapá. I told them I was looking for buses, and they were all like “there is no bus” blablabla. I hate getting kidnapped like that, but in the beginning there was not much to do as the boat to Brazil was the same:

My kidnapper on the left. The other two were innocents, the girl busy by her phone.

After a lovely river ride, we entered Brazil. I was shocked by the number of people. It was like being back in China of 2000. Twenty thousand people just roaming around, shopping, eating, living great lives, tearing me apart to get my tourist $$$. I walked along as long as we were going to the police, but when they tried to get me into a car, I walked away from them. They got angry, but I did what tourists must learn: walk and don’t talk, pretend they don’t exist. And then they don’t. Like magic!

I had no idea where I was though. There was supposed to be a grand, nice street straight from the harbour to the police, but I didn’t find it. And I had this feeling that the whole town was looking at me. They were all themselves, while I was the touri$t. That’s why there are no pictures, despite the scenery being the most captivating ever, with hairdressers, restaurants, clothing shops, kids playing football and tons of people everywhere. I had to capture this though:

“Is the Amazon forest just a big farm?” Eating cows deforest it. Directly, or through prices.

An older guy gave me instructions, but the police was closed. I walked around until I found a nice hotel, and the owner gave me better instructions. I finally found the open police and went inside. Short talk, stamp, done. I then managed to get some ca$h and decided to stay in a hotel and keep on tomorrow. It was dark now, and I simply felt like sleeping. I walked around the river and checked the internet of hotels and when I found a good one, I took it. The owner looked so surprised when I looked at the room and said “yes”. Was it the lack of windows? The cold shower? The tainted appearance of everything? I don’t know. But if I get a key and internet, I’ll have it. Give me my 2.5 sqm closet. And as a surprise, there were beer in the fridge!

Untz untz untz.

I tried the “beer plus Civ” combination. The day demanded it. Then I got brave enough to leave my luggage behind and hit the town. It’s crazy how much they party for such a small town. There were a number of French though, which explains parts of it. I had my beard cut at a night-open shop. Lovely to just lie and sleep while they work on it. And in the end I got the most accurate age signal I ever got: they shaved my ears! And my nose. I then did the town. Watched pool at one place, talked to a French guy at another place, and in the end I watched women beating the crap of each other at the TV of Bar Safadão.

Then I went home. I have one small little problem that needs to be done with tomorrow: Checking my passport, I only got a visa of 5 days, with no comments. I’ve read online that you get 90 days visa, unless you’re a single man coming to the sex business in Fortaleza, in which case you get 30 days. So I was six times a sex tourist in Fortaleza! I wonder why.

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