Day 79: Slow Train to Brazil

Wed.31st October 2012

Train to BrazilWhat is there to do in Santa Cruz to fill half a day before we catch the overnight train to the border with Brazil? After consulting the guide books, the answer is not a lot. There is a park close by with a lagoon apparently favoured by the locals to sit, away from the hubbub of town life.

We finally arrive after a slight map reading error and also after taking our life in our hands crossing various roads. The driving is mad – no indicating, changing lanes with no warning and no giving way for anyone or anything! The park, which is green on our map turns out to be an area concreted over, around a murky pool of water and an empty building on an island. It had potential which was not realised. Undeterred there is a local market which we decide to explore, which sells everything a local may need but nothing we need, so we head off to the supermarket to buy food and supplies for our 18 hour train journey.

Unused ParkThe other attraction we feel we should visit is the Irish Pub for lunch, which is excellent . Chilli con carne for me and Irish Stew for Dave, served with no rice but just bread, still filling enough to keep us going.

A quick minibus ride took us to what looked like a combined bus and train station. After checking our baggage in at one queue, we joined the next queue to the platform and the train. The formalities to access the platform and train included the checking of our ticket, departure tax voucher, yellow fever certificate and finally checking our bags and being asked if we had any marijuana! (I think it was to stop smuggling rather than checking if we wanted any, but you can never be quite sure!)

You say hello, and I say goodbyeThe train carriage was like airline reclining chairs – so it could be a long night as the train pulls out at 4pm and ambles along rolling from side to side. The distance by road is 594km from Santa Cruz to the border so it is not a world speed record to get there in 18 hours. There are action movies dubbed into Spanish for us to watch on the airline-style overhead TVs. I still cannot take O’Brien (Colm Meaney) from Star Trek seriously as a baddie – he is too cuddly!

As we set off, there is a safety announcement in 100 mile-an-hour Spanish. Zaida tells us that it is all the usual stuff but, in addition, drinking alcohol is prohibited. This is bad news as we have bought a couple of beers and a bottle of wine (to keep up with our five-a-day, of course). The train chugs along until its first stop at 9pm and soon after one by one we try to sleep. The next thing I knew was the sun coming in at about 5am so I must have slept – whether it was the wine we secretly drank or the motion of the train I do not know.

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