Bonito to Rio de Janeiro

Today we took a flight from Bonito to Rio de Janeiro.

We awoke at 8:20am, packed a bit, and went down to enjoy the included breakfast at our hostel. There were a surprising number of people at it shortly before breakfast finished at 9am. We enjoyed lots of juices, coffee, and tea with our breakfast. Katie had what we later identified as a limada-persia, a sweet, crisp version of an orange. We headed back upstairs at 9:45am. JT went to the lounge to write postcards – and ended up chatting more with Sam – while Katie started packing and worked on blogging.

We finished packing everything right at the 11am checkout time, at which point we moved ourselves and our belongings downstairs to some chairs outside the dining area. JT ventured into town to buy stamps (which was a convoluted process – see below), while Katie stayed at the hostel with our belongings and worked on blogging and researching Rio de Janeiro.

The post office (correio) is on the main street of Bonito. They are only open from 9-11:30 am and 1-4 pm. It seems to be the only place in town where you can buy stamps – our hostel owner did not know of any other place and we did not find anywhere else that sold stamps. Once at the post office, you have to take a number and sit down; do not line up behind the person at the counter. There were two desks open and I was the third number in line. I ended up waiting about 7 minutes. At the counter, I handed the six postcards to the clerk and pointed out “Estados Unidos” as the destination. After checking the price in the computer (R$2.45 each), the agent had to retrieve sheets of R$2.30 stamps from the back and log these into his station. He rang up six R$2.30 stamps, six R$0.10 stamps and six R$0.05 stamps and collected R$14.70 from me. It had already been a long process, but it wasn’t over… He handed me these stamps and my postcards for me to attach the postage myself – which was difficult due to how large the stamps were compared to the postcard! I ended up having to rewrite parts of the postcard in the margins since the stamps had to cover parts we had written. I finished shortly after they closed the office for lunch. The clerk who had just locked the door for lunch reopened it to let me out.

Papaya Hostel (R$200 for private double with private bath for two nights on in Bonito worked out well for us. We paid R$4 in addition to rent two towels (R$2 each) for our entire stay – which we had to remember to pay for before leaving, as they didn’t bug us for this. The room was basic in that it just had a double bed and a single bed with air conditioner and bathroom (no chairs or TV). No soap, towels, or hand towel were included, but sheets, pillowcases, and pillows were included. Our room and bathroom were very clean, and the bathroom was cleaned daily. There were 7 rooms at the hostel, plus a room that had been converted into the owner’s residence (complete with a cat door for their three cats). The hostel had a common lounge area upstairs (with an TV, books, board games, and an extremely-slow common computer), a kitchen on the bottom floor open in the evenings for cooking dinner, a dining room, a common refrigerator outside the dining area, a moderately-small pool (open 8am to 8pm), outdoor lounge areas, R$20 per day bike rentals (which we thought about using, but didn’t), two hammocks, and a clothes line. We found the staff to be very friendly and helpful. The owners are a couple that live on site. Both speak English, but the lady is a native English speaker from the UK. She handled our check-in, check-out, tour booking, and was the staff member than answered most of our questions. With only 7 rooms (including 2-3 6-person dorm rooms), it was a small, quiet hostel but still seemed active enough for us. We would highly recommend it!

The hostel arranged a R$50 taxi to pick us up at 1pm for our 2:25pm flight. We were not sure if this would give us enough time to get to the airport in time, but we trusted them. The taxi driver drove extremely quickly (topping out around 120 kph) along the two-lane road and made some concerning semi-blind passes around other vehicles, but we got there safely. We checked-in at the Azul desk and headed back outside waiting to watch our plane arrive. After looking around for a bit and wondering how long before the plane would arrive, we noticed that we still had an hour before our departure time!

We watched the 70-seat ATR-72 turboprop plane fly towards the airport perpendicular to the runway, turn, and then loop around the airport to approach to land. It was strange to see this and we wondered if the pilot was checking the wind and/or ensuring the runway was clear. Since the Bonito airport only has a few flights a week, it has no air traffic control tower and the pilots likely are on their own for landing and take-off – necessitating checks like this.

Azul Flight 4471 – Bonito to Campinas
Bonito (BYO): Gate U; Runway 36; Scheduled: 2:25p
Campinas Viracopos (VCP): Gate n/a; Runway 15; Scheduled: 5:53p; Actual: 5:33p

Direct miles: 609
PR-ATR; “Azul Tango Romeo”; ATR 72-600 (212A); First flight: Sept 23, 2011; 70 seats (70 C)
Seat: 5A and 5B, Coach

We sat in row 5 of the ‘Azul Tango Romeo’ plane, which was right next to the propellers. This lead to interesting views during the flight! We could clearly see the blades rotate from takeoff to cruising position – and back again for landing. The flight took about 2.5 hours to fly from Bonito to Campinas.

Once in the Campinas airport we found seats near outlets where we could charge electronics. We also changed our watches and phones back to Brasilia time (from Amazon time). There was WiFi, but it was pretty bad. JT started itching really badly on his arms, head, and back. He went to the pharmacy outside the secure area. All he had to do was make some exaggerated itching motions on his arm, back and head to get some prescription cream for the problem. It is interesting how many ‘prescription’ items we have gotten from Brazil pharmacies this trip!

We boarded the bus for our 8:10pm flight at 7:50pm. We have found often that Brazilians are funny in how they hurry to wait in long lines. Each time we have boarded a plane, the line would quickly swell as everyone got in line, so we learned to just sit and wait for the line to get short before finally joining it. Especially in Campinas, this typical hurry to get in line does make sense – as you are just boarding a bus that takes you to the plane (and entering the bus later usually means you will exit earlier). We boarded the crowded bus in the back.

Azul Flight 6993 – Campinas to Rio
Campinas Viracopos (VCP): Gate ??; Runway 15; Scheduled: 8:10p
Rio Santos Dumont (SDU): Gate 2?, Runway 20L; Scheduled: 9:29p
Direct miles: 253
PR-AYD; “Amigo Azul William Rodrigues”; Embraer 195AR (200IGW); Initial delivery: May 1, 2009; 118 seats (118 C)
Seats: 10C and 10D, Coach

Our flight took off normally, but once at cruising altitude JT’s ears kept popping and we noticed that the flight was loosing elevation (per the in-seat entertainment display). He believed this meant the plane was having pressurization issues and the pilots were lowering the plane in case of full depressurization. Our plane continued descending mid-flight, and was quite low (15000′) by the time we reached Paraty – still quite a ways from Rio. We continued to lose elevation gradually until we got to the city of Rio, when we finally leveled off for a bit. Our turn to approach to land was very sharp, and the engine throttle was rapidly increased and decreased multiple times during final approach. After being concerned about landing “short” (in the bay), we finally hit the runway too far down the runway and the pilots had to slam the brakes. The plane barely stopped by the end of the 1.4km SDU runway. Overall, a strange and concerning flight, although the pilot claimed everything was fine when we asked as we left the plane!

We inquired at tourist information how to use public transit to get to our hostel in Botafogo. They said to take R$3 per person white city bus 16 from the airport to the Cinelândia metro station (the end of the bus line), and then take the R$3.50 per person metro to the Botafogo stop. From this metro stop our hostel was about 0.7 miles away. Having been warned about the safety in Rio by guidebooks, we were wary the entire bus ride, metro trip and walk. All the electric fences outside houses and condos in Botafogo make us question the safety (although there is not nearly as much graffiti as we saw in Santa Teresa – where our last Rio hostel was). However, everything went smoothly and we arrived safely.

After checking into the Jabaga Hostel (R$440.50 for a private double with shared bathroom for three nights on, we dropped our bags and went out to dinner. We ate “loco nachos” at Tacos and Wraps, accompanied by a strong caipirinha. This meal satisfied our cravings for cheese and TexMex. The guacamole was really good due to its limey flavor.

Before leaving for dinner JT took some Benadryl for his itchiness. Once we returned to the hostel, the medicine (perhaps combined with the alcohol) seemed to be really affecting him, as he crashed on the bed exhausted.

Bonito airport

Our ATR-72 turboprop plane

Our ATR-72 turboprop plane (note the luggage compartment at the front of the cabin)

Manually pushing the luggage cart to the plane

 Blades right next to our seats

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