A very old bus arrived and I checked the sign three times: destination Ubatuba, no doubt about it! I got in and the bus left sooner than I thought: 5 minutes early! Everything was fine until we stopped at a deserted parking lot in the middle of nowhere along the highway without lights or warning. Across the mud was another bus and the locals got up and transferred, I was confused: should I follow them? I positively thought I'd be murdered instead of framed this time. Finally a local explained we were leaving the state of Rio de Janeiro and entering the state of Sao Paulo: we had to change buses- the 'new' bus was going to Ubatuba. I didn't have a choice. Convinced, I got up but when I tried to exit the bus I got stuck with my backpack between the doors... Two locals had to re-enter the bus in the front so they could free me from the exit on the side... After some shoving & pushing I was free and they helped me get to the 'new' bus. By this time I figured out I got on the wrong bus: instead of the safe 'tourist friendly' bus I chose a local-local one, the 19:05 bus. Not the 19:10.
This second bus was even older, a lot of the plastic seats were broken and there was a variety of rather large insects crawling amongst us. The locals were staring at me and I felt sick, my mind was racing, what if THEY wanted to put me in womenprison- for no reason at all? Could they? Apart from my aunt, nobody knew I was on a bus to Ubatuba. A woman noticed I was freaking out so she sat next to, she spoke little English but explained that yes, I got on the wrong bus, so it would take longer to reach Ubatuba and we would arrive at a different bus station but apart from that 'I was fine'.
Luckily my uncle figured out I got on the wrong bus before I arrived and they were waiting for me at the Ubatuba station. I was very, very tired and slightly emotional, so when they started singing Happy Birthday I had to stop myself from crying AGAIN. When I start, I just can't stop (bloody annoying). We hugged and my uncle said 'It's your birthday, choose where you want to eat. What do you feel like eating?' Within minutes we arrived at a beautiful Italian restaurant where they served strong caipirinhas and great pizza. My uncle asked how long I was planning to stay (with them, so that problem was solved) and I said 'I don't know, a day? Maybe two?' He looked at me, laughed and said in a fatherly tone 'Oh no, you're not going anywhere for at least 10 days, you need to get some rest, sleep, eat, Edeli will take good care of you and I'll show you around Ubatuba.' SO I STARTED SILENTLY BLOBBING AGAIN.
The next 10 days were amazing, they showed me around, took me to dinners and parties with their friends, I ate & drank so much I gained at least 3 kilo's and doubled the size of my liver. My uncle told me great stories and about the time my dad lived with him in Brazil when he was my age. Edeli took great care of me and sent me off to bed each night with a big glass of hot chocolate and a plate with a variety of cakes which gave me a sugar rush. After a week Edeli & I said goodbye to my uncle and Ubatuba, we took a bus to Sao Paulo where I even got to meet a part of my Brazilian family; one of my uncles daughters, her husband and 2 sons- my age. Cousins! Very special and I felt very loved when I left for Porto Alegre.
In retrospect I can laugh about it, but there’s a reason it took me so long to relive it in order to write it down. I have never felt so threatened, alone and unsafe altogether then I did that day. You might think of it as ‘just a bad day’ but it put things in perspective for me. I love to travel by myself, but I do have to be on guard, I don’t need to trust everyone, I need to be prepared and ALWAYS let someone at know where I am at any given time. If my phone had died before I called my mom to tell her the name of the hotel, what would’ve happened? My aunt wouldn’t have called to calm The Bitch down, my mom would wonder why she hadn’t heard from me in a while, would the Bitch get her way and see me locked up? Framing someone is a cruel thing to do, she blamed me so she didn’t have to admit her hotel made a mistake. Being on an island where no one speaks English and all you need is a minute to explain the mix-up and move on, is scary.
Words of wisdom; TRAVEL! Have fun! But be safe and on guard, especially when traveling alone. Let your loved ones know where you are. Adventure is all around and it’s amazing, just try to stay out of prison. Especially womenprison. In Brazil.