February 1, 2007
Philip and Elise dropped us off at the bus zone this morning. It was not nearly as chaotic as the one in Paramaribo, but still a backwards system with no schedules. We rode the bus ($52 to ride for an hour? Definitely time to leave the country!) to St George's on the border with Brazil, got the usual immigration situation taken care of, and took a boat across the Oiapque River to the small town of Oiapoque on the Brazilian side.
We tried to get info about a bus to Macapa, but it was difficult because everyone wanted to speak to us in either Portuguese or French. From what we gathered, the bus had already left at noon, and we didn't want to wait another day for the next bus. Several people tried to get us to go in their pickup trucks, which would have taken nine hours, versus twelve on the bus, but they they all wanted significantly more money than the bus. On top of that, I wasn't sure I could trust any of the truck drivers. One guy eventually offered to take us in his truck for fifty reais, the same price as the bus. He pointed to his truck, and it looked great. However, then we realized that we weren't looking close enough. He was pointing to the BED of his truck, which barely had any room left because there was already a motorcycle in it, and recalling how much it rains in this region, it would have been a long night. We passed and decided to discuss our options over lunch.
Craig took one more look to see if there was a bus at 5:00 today, as some crazy-looking guy had claimed ("Follow me, you can trust me, I'll lead you to the bus.") It turned out that the guy was telling the truth and there was an actual desk for the bus company. The sign was in Portuguese, so we didn't know what it meant the first time we passed it. We got on the bus late in the afternoon for the overnight trip, knowing that this would be our last time dealing with the confusion of an erratic public transportation system.