Flying down to Rio … and beyond


Brazil currently seems to be the centre of world attention – a visit from the Pope, the football World Cup next year and  the Olympics in 2016, not to mention the mass public demonstrations that filled the streets of many major cities last month.

Eldergate member Nina Cirana is currently in Brazil, teaching English for 6 months at a school in the highlands of Minas Gerais province, some 300 miles NE of Rio. Here she recounts the kindness of strangers she met on her journey from Rio to the small town of Alto Caparao (pictured left).

“On the flight from Rio to Vitoria, I asked the gentleman next to me how much I should pay for the taxi from the airport to the main bus station (rodoviaria). He said “wait” and asked the man in the front seat whether I should take a taxi. The lady from the other side shouted “oi sim (yes) taxi”. The man from 2 seats behind on the left shouted something else. An old man from the front seat stood up and gave a lecture. They were all talking very loudly and I thought they were having a fight but they were simply ‘talking’ about the best solution for me. Finally my neighbour said to me “You go, don’t take bus, you go take taxi” and gave me all the details.

In Vitoria, the information lady at the airport tried to phone a friend at the rodoviaria to reserve a bus ticket for me but couldn’t get hold of him. She got me a safe airport taxi voucher, came out with me, and helped me into a taxi giving the driver clear instructions. I tried to shake her hand but she gave me a big hug!

The taxi driver, who couldn’t speak a word of English, parked by the bus station entrance, and searched in vain for a trolley. He stood in the queue with me for 40 minutes then spoke to the counter person, bought me a ticket, took details of where the bus departed from and went to the taxi to get my suitcases. I started noting down his registration number, just in case he drove away with my luggage. Instead, he returned with my bags, took me to the right bay to catch my bus, wrote down his name and phone number and gestured to me to phone if I had any problems.

I had to wait 6 hours for the coach, sitting in a shaded area bordered by hibiscus shrubs and banana plants, soaking in the sights and sounds. A brother and sister started talking to me and the brother, who couldn’t speak a word of English, made conversation for 3 hours with the help of a super-speed translation on his phone.

When I got on the coach, a girl called Eezabelle talked to the driver to make sure I was dropped off at the right place. When we stopped for supper, she came out with me, to help me out with what I wanted to eat and with paying at the counter.”

More from Nina in the months ahead.

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