For the last week I’ve been struggling with a bad cold, that I had gotten sitting on the beach last Saturday having maybe one caipirinha too much, but mainly freezing like crazy, because autumn in Santos can get chilly and my German mind is still in summer mode. Because some days still are like summer in Germany.

Going downtown

So I’ve been sick, staying home, not doing too much and I was looking forward to going downtown today to visit (my friends at) the Polícia Federal and ask about my “permanencia”: why the website where I am supposed to look up the information never works. And while we are at it, I wanted to have them extend my “protocolo” which is the official document stating, that I am in the process of applying for the “permanencia”. And in order to go to downtown, the best wife ever and me took the bus.

Taking the bus in Santos is nice, they seem to run frequently, are not overly expensive and though I have never seen a complete bus plan or a schedule, people rely on them. Since Canal 1, one of the main streets leading downtown, is close to our home it was easy to find a bus: we just went to the next bus stop hopped on and arrived downtown 15 minutes later. Piece of cake.

A quick stop at the Policia Federal

To my surprise the Policia Federal also seemed to be in a good mood – after waiting for only about an hour I was told, that everything is going ok in the process, that I should check on the website (haha) and with a stamp my “protocolo” was extended for another 6 months. The only problem seemd to be, that I was getting very tired again, due to me not being completely healthy. I grew even more tired after a nice “comida por kilo” lunch at a Japanese restaurant and so we took the next bus back to our hose to have a nap. At least that was, what we thought.

And taking the bus

The downtown of Santos is a grid of one-way-streets and finding the one where a bus to Canal 1 leaves was difficult. We ended up on a street with bus stops every fifty meters. And there were many different buses leaving: inter-municipial buses, buses to all parts of town, official ones, small and unofficial ones. In short: I did not understand. And I was too tired to ask and be patient. We headed into the direction of our home, which by coincidence is also the direction of the bus terminal, and when we saw a bus with “Canal 1” among other things on the front arriving, we hopped on. Big mistake. Sometimes I can’t get the German out of me.

….to the terminal…

The bus continued to the bus terminal, where we could’ve changed. But since we thought we were on the right bus, we did not ask. Big mistake number two. Because the bus left the terminal and headed out of town. I was not too worried for a while, because it could’ve taken a turn and continued to our neighborhood and a little later I just hung on to my believe, that what had “Canal 1” written on the front would eventually go there – even via São Viçente.

…and far out to the west of the city…

Half an hour later and well beyond the Botanical Garden of Santos the best wife ever gave up the witing and asked the bus driver. He (or she, because our bus driver had the voice of a woman while looking vaguely like a man) told us, that the bus was (of course) not going to Canal 1. We had to get off at the next stop and take another bus back into town. You know these moments in which you feel extraordinary stupid? This was one of them.

…and being stuck…

But it would not be Brazil, if people were not very friendly and helpful. Our bus driver explained that this was the end station of many bus lines, he/she led us to the right bus (back into town) and even talked to the next bus driver, that he would let us enter the bus without having to pay again. It turned out that we were not the first people who had taken the wrong bus. Actually it seemed pretty common. We only had to wait another 15 minutes until the next bus would leave.

At this point I want to remind you, that I was extremely tired and even though I was happy, that I finally knew where the Botanical Garden was located, I wished I were in my bed like nothing else.

… and back at the bus terminal.

About forty-five minutes later we arrived at the bus terminal (again, only this time in a bus with air-condition!). It turned out that our bus (of course) did not take the shortest possible route to Canal 1, but went through downtown again. So we ended up being in exactly the parallel street of where we had taken the first wrong bus, only about 2 hours later. At this point I was getting very humble, happy that the bus did not go through the whole city back to Canal 1, but seemd to go there fairly directly. We finally arrived at Canal 1 about two and a half hours after we took the first bus downtown, and we were asleep about 10 minutes later. And here are the

Top 5 rules for taking a local bus in Santos

  1. Never trust the schedule!
  2. Never trust what is written on the bus (or your map).
  3. Always ask the driver (when and where the bus is going).
  4. Just to be sure: ask a passenger as well. Or a waiting person.
  5. Take water and some snacks. Because of a traffic, the weather, a detour or whatever the trip might take longer than you expected.

Other than that: have fun.

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