April 23, 2007
I got another bus that took most of the day to Corumba. The bus took me right through the vast wetland area known as the Pantanal. It was a beautiful ride being in the middle of nowhere after spending the last few weeks in the city, and it was capped off by a spectacular sunset.
Corumba is on the Rio Paraguai, which borders Bolivia. The best way to get into Bolivia from here is the "Death Train," which goes to Santa Cruz. As soon as I got to town I found out that in typical Bolivian fashion the Death Train employees have been on strike, and the train has been canceled the last few days. Supposedly the train will go tomorrow, but after that it looks like it might be halted for a few more days.
The main way to get tickets for the Death Train is to cross the border to Bolivia in the morning, buy a ticket for the afternoon train, then come back to Brazil before heading out for good. However, because of the strikes, that would mean getting up at 5:00 AM, waiting in line for hours, and then maybe getting a ticket if I got lucky and it wasn't sold out yet.
I decided to opt for a somewhat safer route. A guy at one of the travel agencies in town will do all of the dirty work for me and claims that the train company guarantees him a certain amount of seats, so I should get to go tomorrow for sure. His commission is steep, but I'm more concerned that he's going to take off with my money and that of the other unsuspecting backpackers and hide out in Bolivia a la Butch Cassidy. I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place, but I'll just have to wait until tomorrow to see what happens.