Peter was speaking to us in the lobby of the Magna Rosa after giving up hope the bus they hired was coming to pick us up and deliver us to the station for the beginning of a long days travel to Penedo. Given the fact that we spent an extra twelve hours in San Juan on the way here gave us a real insider's perspective to what happens when you don't get where you're going on time. Connor was not feeling good so he had to throw up in the lobby bathroom before we got going. It was not the start any of us were looking forward to. Peter did an amazing job organizing the cabs for us as five of them were waiting for us by the time I got to the street. We loaded up and hit the road in the rain that started to come down on us as we left. Peter gave the drivers directions about where we were headed and then we were off. First, to do a lap around the block to end up right where we started. Our driver was shaking his head and I'm sure Marta and I were wondering together if we were ever going to make the bus station on time. The group was now split up. What was happening with the rest of the crew? Personally I found myself wondering if we were fated to another night on the lobby floor, this time at the Mange Rosa?
As it turns out we made the station and had time to get things put in order without a rush. Peter and Amy had a chance to give us instructions about how to check bags and where to load onto the bus. Happily luck was on our side today. Earlier Peter had mentioned to me that these were not your run of the mill buses. They were very luxurious. Being American I had a hard time conceiving the idea of a luxury bus. I didn't have to think about it much longer and was introduced to the real thing. First hand accounts are always best. Our bus was a double Decker and our group had the first twenty rows on the upper deck courtesy of Amy's planning. The seats reclined into virtual beds so sleeping on the bus was not easy and restful. That rest was welcome after four hours of sleep and a sick kid, who by this time was recovering nicely. There was also going to be entertainment provided by an American movie shown dubbed in Portuguese. Turns out "John Carter" was tough enough to grasp in English, let alone Portuguese. The bus rolled out of town on time and we were off on our first leg from Salvador to Aracaju. Four hours of restful travel on the cloud liner of buses.
The countryside we covered was really quite beautiful. There were rolling hills covered with banana and coconut plantations, cattle ranches, and eucalyptus farms. The natural vegetation was varied; palm trees, conifers, open fields of grass, combined with red dirt and vista views of the Atlantic ocean. Rivers ran here and there. Rural villages dotted the route with everything from fairly substantial haciendas to huts made from sticks and plastic tarps or palm fronds for walls and a roof. It was not what I had expected but I really hadn't thought of it that much with all the soccer on my mind. Perhaps this contributed to my astonishment a bit. The scenery turning what could have been a very long trip into an enjoyably short ride.
When we pulled into the bus station in Aracaju, the provincial capital, another pleasant surprise was waiting to greet us. It was without a doubt the cleanest bus station I have ever seen. The floors were clean, bus stalls were swept out and concessions were spotless. The bathrooms stank to high heaven, though. With a methane capture system they could've powered the whole bus station. By conservative estimates. Truly an eye watering experience.
We hopped a much smaller bus for the remaining two hours to Penedo. Not nearly as comfortable, but effective nonetheless. We could feel the end of our destination nearing and were looking forward to stretching our legs there. Our last ride would be by ferry to bridge the four hundred yards of river between us and Pousada Thirty-Four. Where I am writing you from right now. It was great to feel the cool river breeze in your hair after a long day of travel. My spirits were lifted having gone from a puking sick son and rushed departure from the Magna Rosa that morning to a cooling drift across the river with a soft timely landing on the banks of Penedo. I think Connor felt the same way strolling across the street to a very nice looking pousada. I have my own room and Connor is spending time getting to know the boys better rooming with Skylar, Brody, and Carson.
By this time Peter was ready to play some soccer, so he hit the street followed by about eight boys and myself headed for the barefoot playing field along the banks of the river. He was like the pied piper leading us to the promise of fun times on the field. The fields were rough hewn. Barely a pasture. There was some tall flora and some short grass. No touch lines were drawn. I remember walking past one burro and two horses on the short distance off the promenade to the field. This was confirmed by the mounds of manure off to the side of our landing spot and the burro hee-hawing in the background. Peter immediately took up with some of the locals. He is a sort of hero to them. They played together when Peter's family spent a year here. He helped them get to games by making contributions of money and time toward their cause. Peter is a master at establishing relationships with people and holding on to them. A month or more can go by in my life without seeing Peter and he and I can pick up where we left off. Which is what he did with Aladine, a fresh faced kid slick with sweat carried on a wiry frame in possession of some seriously fast feet. Five aside soccer ensued. Soccer therapy after a travel day is usually just what the doctor ordered. Today solidified this foundation. It is also a kind of universal language. You don't need to know Portuguese, you just need an understanding of an aesthetic. Another boundary beaten down by the greatest game on earth. The 'Mericans played a much different style of game than the Brazilians but I had fun watching what unfolded in front of me. Saddened by the fact that I couldn't join in but still having a good time. It was clear that Peter has a home here to the end of days and I found myself a bit envious of that. He is an example for me how to make connections and live through the lives of others. He and Amy both have that quality. To me their lives are bigger than they are, as it should be, making contributions to those around them with unassuming generosity.
The day ended as most do on this trip, sharing food and drink with friends talking about the day and our place in it. Cheerfully living lives that are bigger than our own vicariously through the eyes of traveling companions.
Signing off from Penedo, Brazil wishing you bigger perspective on what you already have. Know that you will always have more than you need and never have less than you want.