Sometime during the night, the electricity went off at the hostel. Not sure what happened, but since it was night, there was no real need for light, but the ceiling fan the kept my room so nice and cool was now not working. Finally, I woke up and decided to push the button for my ceiling fan. As soon as I did, all the electricity came on! Trust me, I did NOTHING before that – my timing was obviously right on!
In the morning, I packed and got ready for my next adventure – the bus ride to Santos. This meant getting to Jabaquiro Bus Termino with all my luggage. Okay, I am not a backpacker, especially with all the extra bits I need on a cruise, but I do love my Heys luggage – it is compact and has 4 wheels and long handles. Pedro was back on the desk; he helped me catch a cab and helped ensure I made it to the right bus terminal. Traffic was bad – then again this is Sao Paulo, so I should expect it. They listed that a cab ride to the bus terminal would run about 35 Real, and it ran me just under that amount – and the driver would not take a tip – something to remember for the next time I come to Sao Paulo.
Meeting me at the bus terminal was a nice man who helped me with my luggage and showed me where to get my bus ticket to Santos. When I got to the desk and asked for a ticket to Santos, the ticket agent started speaking to me in the fastest version of Portuguese I’d heard yet – all my confidence in understanding her was gone. Fortunately, she wrote me a note with four items on it: Santos, 19, 30 R, 9:30, #10. Translation: a ticket to Santos cost 19,3 Real, and it was leaving at 9:30 from platform #10. With ticket in hand, my luggage guardian angel assisted me to the bus, where I had to show my passport and add information to the ticket. Then, I was on the bus.
At ~9:40, the bus left for Santos. It seemed that we were outside of the city limits pretty quickly – then we would go over a little rise and the city was back – It goes on and on and on! I started to notice low-hanging clouds and next thing we were turning off the highway and heading for a two lane road that went through the hills. It reminded me a bit of the road between Calistoga and Harbin – with different vegetation, of course! More palms trees and no tall pines. We also had to deal with a lot of heavily laden semis, which reminded me of a very long trip that Gareth and I took (remember Hamburg?).
As we left the mountains, and returned to a highway, people on the bus started to request stops. A woman went up to the driver and said something in Portuguese that included the phrase “Vision of the Seas” and the driver said something like, “Nao Rodoviaria.” The couple sitting next to me were speaking French, but asked her in Portuguese about what he said. I decided that my best bet was to get off the bus when they did since my understanding of French was much better than my understanding of Portuguese. So, ignoring the guidebooks, I did not get off the bus at the Estacao Rodoviaria bus terminal (with the directions on how to walk to the port – what they did not mention that the neighborhood was not the friendliest place because, like most bus stations, it was in a poor area). So, for the next hour, we sat on the bus together and got a tour of Santos – and its traffic. There are some lovely beaches and, at one point, the driver stopped for a “10 minute break.”
I finally asked the French-speaking couple if they spoke English and they said, “But of course!” So, we talked about trying to get to the ship and hoping we had the right information – even talking about getting a cab if necessary. I also pulled out my map of Santos and we figured out where we were waiting and how we might get back to the docks. About 20 minutes later, the bus driver returned and we were back on our unofficial tour of Santos. In addition to seeing more beaches, there were these lovely storks that congregated at little food stands.
Finally, it appeared we were not only headed toward the port, but directly to the Estacio Cruizieros (terminal for passenger cruises). What a bonus! Except, that our way was blocked by an accident, a semi had run into a barricade and was blocking 1 ½ lanes of the road. We were able to squeeze by and the bus then pulled into the terminal. Our tour of Santos was officially over.
There were 2 ships in port – and no signs on where to go with luggage. I finally found the check-in for RCI Vision of the Seas, and, as a Gold Member, I was checked in quickly – towing my luggage with me. The next step was the security check – and that is where the long line was forming. I and my luggage snaked our way through and finally headed onto the ship. I did get some help – once on board, I was taken to a back way to an elevator. Bad news, rooms were not ready, so I and my luggage headed to the buffet for lunch.
The rest of the afternoon was just getting settled – finding my room, unpacking, checking out the spa, and the pool. While listening to the house band, two Brazilian ladies decided to take me under their wings and insist I join them for a bit. It was sweet, even though I had no idea what they were saying and they seemed convinced that I could pick it up if I listened long enough. I smiled and nodded a lot.
I also met a couple from Perth. They spoke English, so it was refreshing. The sail away included watching vultures flying off the top of the buildings. Vultures and storks – what an interesting mix of birds!
As we started to sail away from Santos, I went in search of a nice bar and met Paulo. I signed up for the second seating for dinner – which meant 9:30 PM. Plenty of time to enjoy the show of Brazilian music before meeting my dinner mates.
I am seated at a large table. At my table, there was a Brazilian couple who spoke little or no English and two friends sailing together. Wilson is from Malta and Dmitri is from Russia. My new Maltese friend of course has relatives in Toronto (his auntie used to live near Dundas and now lives in Woodbridge, of course). The three of us have a great time – so I have people to talk to at dinner. Our waiter is Alejandro from Mexico.