A semi-clear liquid, looking more like beer than anything else, sold as a soft-drink. Guarana is an extract of some plant. It is sold profusely here in Brazil. And it is GOOOOD stuff.

Guarana has many of the properties of caffeine but more of a kick and less side-effects. Combine that with a handful of sugar and some fizzy water and you have yourself a very good drink. Oh, it tastes great too which helps.

Why mention this drink? Well, it has been my sustinance for the past six days of conference. When the days grow long and the sleep keeps getting less and less, there is nothing like a large bottle of Guarana to put the “zing” back into life. Two bottles and you not only have the “zing” but there is a “buzz” starting to happen as well. After three, there is no stopping you and it is possible to do things without tiring. I label this one the “zoom” factor.

So every day I have been “zinging” and “buzzing” around the place with the help of my friendly Guarana. Not too much “zooming”, but the term does come from real life experience. Cold and fresh, it is a classical Brazilian drink. If you find it in your country then grab a bottle and check it out.

Great stuff.

The Conference – Last Day

Well it has been hard to find time for Internet during this conference. There is a huge line of people waiting to use the only internet nearby that is available. The first day I missed it was when I discovered that it closes at 7.30pm at night. Doh. Second day I arrived before then, but a huge hail and thunder storm came through and took out the Internet connection so I had no access. Today was more successful though.

The whole thing has been reviving for me. Hearing amazing stories of people doing impossible things is very encouraging. Learning of the size and impact of this organisation called YWAM in the world is also very incredible. Seeing their vision and future direction is something that perhaps I could be coaxed into joining them in. But then the important thing is to keep going the way God directs me.

More people, more contacts, more information, more late nights. That about sums it all up.

Oh, and great food, great fun, great teaching, great friends. The whole picture.

The Conference – Day 4

Yesterday, being Sunday, was a day of rest. Sleep was high on the agenda, but so too was time to meet new people and catch up with some of the new friends that I had already made. Wandering around this rather large base property, there were plenty of other people with the same idea.

Entertainment for the family happening at a venue across the road resounded within the trees and buildings that I was walking through, and during my short visit to this place I saw traditional dances from Argentina and Bolivia including Tango, Gaucho something, and Samba or Salsa (or perhaps both, as my awareness of these dances is still not very high except that I know they look great to watch).

After moving back to the base property, I found some friends and settled in for a relaxing afternoon of chats about nothing in particular. Our table was full of laugther that came mostly from tiredness and silly things, amongst other tables of serious talkers. As we relaxed during the afternoon the hour for a football game between Brazil and Chile arrived and in true style, the Brazilians reflected as much vigor, passion, and emotion for the game as the Argentines do.

The first 30 minutes of the game saw Brazil score four goals. It was not necessary to watch the game to know this. Every goal elicited a raucous shout from all of the Brazilians in the area, followed by songs of victory, shouts of encouragment and lots of dancing and jiggling. It was a party atmosphere throughout the whole game, and their high spirits were very infective, placing smiles, grins, and laughs on all of those around.

It was quite late before I finally returned back to my “ranch” where I was staying. During the day I had met a number of fellow Australians spread around in various corners of the globe including Chad, Mexico, and Brazil, and some other interesting people too. One of these people was a man working in the University in Kosovo, teaching the political undergraduate students the Biblical principles they need to be the next leaders of their country.

Today, the “program” starts for real. Our previous three days were totally unorganised (I refrain from saying dis-organised because it was actually organised to not be organised) but now we have been given a German-precision timetable to run by. What a difference. The beauty of so many nations working together is that we get this sort of diversity every single day.

Time for lunch, and I am off to join one of the many queues that abound out there. Asian food, Brazilan BBQs, hamburgers, pizzas, and dozens of other choices abound. I think today will be lunch in the restaurant, where they serve up pastas and rices sufficient for a Sumo wrestler.

Another great day.

Time to Leave for Brazil

Well, after all of the anticipation of hitch-hiking to Brazil which then changed to travelling all together in some dilapidated old van, we are back to the standard old method of climbing aboard a bus for the entire journey. I am sure that my mother will breathe a sigh of relief now…

I do not have too much time to write as I am leaving within 1/2hr. Our bus departs Corrientes at 1am and after about 9hrs of travel we turn up bleary-eyed at the border with Brazil. Foz do Iguazu is a very cool town just on the other side of the border with Argentina. From here we catch another bus at sometime around 4pm for a 25hr journey up to the big city of Belo Horizonte.

If our calculations are right, the bus makes it all the way, there are no emergencies, and nothing requires us to deviate from our intended route… then we should arrive at our destination at around 5pm on the day the conference starts. I suspect it will start at around 8pm, so that gives us a 3hr window for any mishaps that may occur on the way.

With a 6hr stop-over in Foz, I hope to drag everyone over the border to Paraguay to show them my popular destination of Ciudad del Este, which they have not yet seen…

…or maybe I will just sleep. 🙂

The Bus That Broke

For the first time in all of my crossings through Foz do Iguaçu, I stopped at the border crossing to get my passport stamped. Leaving the bus behind, as they do not wait for this process, I headed to immigration and filled out the paperwork. Once done, I would need to wait for another bus to continue my journey.

There are two lines serving the Argentina to Brazil route. My journey was free if I used the same company. As I waited, I watched both time and two buses from the other line pass by. Eventually a bus from my company showed up. My goal was the centre of Foz city, where I would be staying the night, although we did not make it quite that far.

The bus was full when I climbed on at the Brazilian border although it almost emptied out at the turn-off for the waterfalls. With a long weekend in both Argentina and Paraguay, there were plenty of tourists around. Once they had gone, there were only six of us left aboard.

As our journey continued towards the city, our bus suddenly turned off and parked on the side of the road. We were all surprised to find our bus stopping such a long way from town. Buses never turn off their engines, even when fuelling, so when our motor stopped we knew the news was bad. Our driver got off and after a short wait returned to tells us that the bus is broken. Our only choice is to get onboard the next bus which he assured us would be coming shortly.

We all get off and wait outside the bus. Some of the more inquisitive of us wander around to the back to see what the problem is. The engine hatch at the back is closed, but there is steam pouring out of most seams. It looks serious. When the hood is opened we can see that the fan belt has slipped off and the engine is boiling. We wait, expecting another bus, but it does not come.

Broken Bus
The broken bus, and fellow passengers waiting for a miracle – which comes.

Meanwhile, our driver digs around in the bus and returns with a stick to prop the engine hatch open and the only tool onboard. With all of the expertise of a mechanic, or someone that has been through this process many times before, he coaxes the fan belt back onto the pulleys. To tighten the belt a special sized spanner is needed, or it would be impossible. Our Mac-Gyver bus driver puts his only tool to work. It fits perfectly. One more thing that makes me suspect it is not an isolated incident.

Looking longfully over the hill at the coming traffic, our rescue bus never does appear. Instead, our driver tops up the water in the bus, starts the engine and gives the all clear for getting back onboard. We stop at the nearest service station and add more water before continuing our journey. The bus is serviceable once again.

The bus that broke was now un-broke once again, thanks to our Mac Gyver driver.

The Stress of Travel – In Foz

Well, here we are in the bus station of Foz, minus one of our team. It was not until we arrived in Posadas for our bus change that she realised she had left behind the only things that would let her leave the country… her national document and a letter of release to travel. The latter is required for travellers under the age of 21. So after some frantic phone calls and lots of lateral thinking, there was nothing left to do except send her home.

Some of the team are already feeling stressed. Our first bus was a luxury coach which became a sweet memory when we changed over for the second leg of our journey here. Our second bus was a very normal sort of travel bus with only one floor level and typically uncomfortable seats. When it started raining… and it hasn’t stopped yet either… water poured in through the windows and ran around over the floor. This, combined with constant stops and starts and all the rest of the movement that happens during bus travel, we are contentedly without sleep.

On arriving in Puerto Iguazu, we encountered a contingent of 7 people from YWAM Buenos Aires in the bus station. They travelled to Posadas by train and then hitch-hiked for a while before climbing aboard a cheap bus to get this far. They are all low on cash but hope that when they pool their money it will be enough for them to join us on the bus to Belo Horizonte.

Things did not go completely smoothly here either, as when we arrived at the bus station our planned bus was already booked out. The only other bus we knew about still had seats but the journey was going to be 38 hours instead of the 25hrs we had planned. This would have landed us at the conference quite late.

Instead, after a lot of scanning through the different vending windows of the various companies, I finally found another one that went to Belo Horizonte. It not only had available seats, but was also only a 25hr journey. So now we are waiting for the team from Buenos Aires and hoping that they will be able to both afford the journey and find enough seats on the bus to come with us.

Only a little time remains, so I need to run. So far so good however.

Hitching To Brazil

After a lot of anticipation and preparations, I was ready. Packed for two weeks with just a daypack sized bag. I could not reasonably use a larger bag as my plan was to hitch-hike my way up to Brazil. Larger bags tend to reduce my chances of getting a ride. Besides, I had everything I needed for the two weeks nicely packed into my little bag.

We were heading to Belo Horizonte, Brazil where there is an International Workshop for YWAM. Since I am currently part of this organisation it seemed like a great idea to head up there and get to know more about it. Meeting a bunch of people from all around the world and parts of Latin America will be a lot of fun too.

So there were four of us planning on doing this; travelling in pairs and meeting up in certain waypoints along the route. We were all prepared. Most of us did not have enough money for the bus fare, which was our motivation for going by this method. Those of us that did have money still preferred the choice, and wanted to travel with our friends. It sounded like adventure… and that is magic to a man’s heart.

But now we are not travelling this way any more…

Continue reading “Hitching To Brazil”

World Trip – Brazil

Travelling through Brazil was like magic. It was also a real culture shock, the first time I had seen true poverty and been surrounded by temporarily built buildings and life-threatening situations. Beyond this it was full of amazing people, amazing sights, and a culture that has to be experienced to understand. Arriving in São Paulo (San Pablo), I found my way up to the amazing little town of Paraty (Para-chi) with its streets designed to be flushed out by high tides. This was the launch point to reach Ilha Grande (Ill-ya gran-gee) which means “big island”, a tropical paradise perfect for relaxing and doing nothing.

Rio was said to be a dangerous place, with every single tourist who came from that place telling their own horror story of loss, robbery, or worse. Fortunately I left without a story to tell, but managed to see the inside of the Rocinha Favela (Slum), a community of precariously built houses on a steep and dangerous hill, where the poor live and the drug lords rule. It was also interesting to be able to attend a local football game at the famous Maracana Football Stadium before leaving this amazing country.

São Paulo | Paraty | Ilha Grande | Rio de Janeiro | Rocinha Favela | Maracana Football Stadium

<<< Return to World Trip Overview >>>

Continue reading “World Trip – Brazil”