10 April 2009

You Are Bus 96, Even If The Sign Says 92

Day one and we’re on the move. After an entire first evening of carbohydrates (we ate baguette snadwiches, crackers and muffins, a baguette sandwich on the plane and a croissant sandwich from our new best friend at the border, not to mention the two granola bars that had been rationed somewhere in the middle) we started the day with toast smeared in spreading chocolate. Delectable! Next stop: The Algarve Coast! 8 metro stops later (which took about 3 minutes - Lisbon is tiny and adorable!) we struggle to find our way out of the subway (which cost less than $1 to ride) and into the bus station. “Two tickets to Lagos, please,” I ask. “Next bus is 2pm.” It is now 10:30am. “”Ok!” We drop our bags at the “holding tank” as it is called and head into town, aware that we need to be back before 1pm because the holding tank is closed from 1pm to 2pm for lunch/siesta/because it has always been closed from 1pm to 2pm.

Still in massive city London mode, we are surprised over and over again at how close everything is. A quick jaunt down the main drag lends our stomachs to more carbs - a chocolate croissant and custard cake. No fruits and vegetables to be seen. Along the water, into the hills and back to the metro we go, not wanting to have another mishap and miss picking up our bags. tragic foreshadowing.

While our bags did make it onto our bus with us, our bus did not make it to Lagos. An hour into our now epic trek we’re parked on the side of the freeway with engine failure. A fresh bus has arrived and Zeynep and I are splitting up tasks - she’s running foll throttle to make sure we get seats and I’m taking care of the bags. Unbelievably, the highway, vegetation and general ambiance are strikingly similar to Southern California, though I’m guessing it’s more of a flashback to the 1950s kind-of thing. More on our progress (or lack thereof) soon!

UPDATE: Another hour passed and we pulled off at a Portuguese rest stop for treats and toilets. Another foreigner on the bus had mentioned thinking she heard the driver say that those of us going to Lagos now had to change buses somewhere else. On her way off the bus she stopped at my seat and said “I think this is where we change.” Naturally, I begin to scurry around, compiling our mild explosion of books, iPods and laptops before hurrying off the bus behind her.

Zeynep was buying fresh fruit (since we had eaten nothing but carbohydrates for two days) and I was hunting for our driver to get details. “Dispatcho,” I screamed. That means “excuse me,” though I’m fairly certain I just spelled it wrong. He turned and I mimicked running faster. He was not impressed. “What,” he replied, hands on hips. “Oh, you speak English! I’m sorry, but is this where we changes buses to Lagos,” I asked. Now, Mr. Happy Pants wasn’t so happy to be answering my question. “No, it’s not so difficult to understand this,” he started. “We go to Algarves (I think) then you change the bus to Lagoa, [Insert name of another town], [Insert name of a third town], then you arrive in Lagos. Is this hard to understand?!?!” Considering the fact that we had pulled off the road an hour earlier because our bus broke down and he was speaking ONLY in Portuguese up to this point, yes, yes it was. I scampered back to the bus and buried myself in my book.

We arrived in Lagos after five lovely hours on a bus. Fortunately, it’s tiny and adorable, so we found our place with no problem, put on sweaters, went exploring, ate some delicious food, had a lovely cocktail, watched a movie and hit the sack! This morning found us scarfing down more carbohydrates (LOVE the continent), moving hotels to a quaint, charming little guesthouse and hitting the beaches. More on those soon!


Kyle Taylor