Wanderlino Arruda
Djalma Souto


Adventure before Christmas

Wanderlino Arruda

I had just arrived home from a holiday vacation, which had begun in the middle of December, when I was peremptorily advised that I had been awarded something and invited to the upcoming ceremony, which would soon take place in Goiânia, in the state of Goiás. The Second Week of The Art of Goiás exposition had chosen one of my paintings -Road in Movement- as one of the winning canvases, with a cash premium as well as an honorary diploma, and wanted me to be there in person for the event and following festivities. Since I didn’t have to get back to work for a few days more, I didn’t think twice about it and jumped on the interstate bus to Brasilia, where I arrived on a beautiful summer morning, with a beautiful, brilliant sun just coming up between the twin towers of the National Congress, a sight that any painter or writer that likes landscapes would appreciate. And it was there in Brasilia, that I discovered the trap into which I had unwittingly fallen, a harrowing confusion of problems…right on the night before Christmas. There weren’t any more seats left on any of the buses returning to Montes Claros in time for me to celebrate Christmas Eve in family. Now, the situation was beyond difficult. It was impossible. When things don’t go along as expected, the worst that can happen is for you to lose your cool and get upset. A little clear thinking is always the best path to take, being that a little caution doesn’t do anyone any harm. But turning down the invitation, at that time, would have put all the joy and sacrifice of my participation in the event to waste. To stay there, in Goiânia wasn’t exactly what I had planned, but going to stay in some other nearby city didn’t sound like any fun, either. So, what to do? Why, examine all the possibilities, of course! And that was when the best solution to my quandary hit me. Suddenly, I realized that I could make an old dream of mine come true. Traveling to the Grande Sertão (Great Wilderness) was my oldest and most cherished dream, especially if I could visit Serra das Araras and see some of the places described by Guimarães Rosa in his legendary books. On the 23rd of December, I bought the last available seat to São Francisco: estimated departure time, seven o’clock a.m. and estimated arrival time at five in the afternoon. I was so much more interested in my new adventure that the award for my painting was soon forgotten in the excitement. A little before seven, now back from Goiânia and at the bus station in Brasilia, I noticed a restless mob at the terminal I would embark from. There were enough people there milling around to fill three buses. At five minutes to departure time, the driver advised everyone that didn’t already have a ticket, to go, on foot, over to the W-3 avenue and wait for a while, because, as a security measure, the law demands that buses can only leave the terminal with all passengers safely seated. A little over one third of them stayed in line and about sixty of them started out to obey the order. What we saw next as we were passing under the first overpass was enough to make any normal person wonder, because there was absolutely no way that bus could support the weight of such a numerous clientele. There were six long minutes of accommodation, squeeze here, push there, little kids sitting on the laps of their elders, lovers and newlyweds as cozy as possible. The most afflicted at standing in the corridor, settling on the armrests, somewhat like ungainly pigeons. Indeed, it was truly a can of human sardines. Before getting to Unaí, there were another two stops to pick up even more passengers. It wouldn’t have helped any for the driver to say that the bus was full and there was no more room because more room was somehow always conjured up. At the coffee stop where the driver said we would stop for only a few minutes, it took fifteen whole minutes just to get everybody out of the vehicle. And for everybody to get back in, with an additional six passengers, by my watch, didn’t take any less than an eternal forty minutes. Then came the lunch stop, another three fellow adventurers and even more waiting for going in and coming back out because people always get slower on a full stomach. When we stopped again, this time for coffee around four in the afternoon, no one even had to get off the bus because the oranges, bananas, slices of watermelon, fried pastry and more, as well as slices of sugar cane were all bought and sold through the window like a colossal rolling fast food drive-thru. A great novelty and miracle of salvation was the appearance of mineral water, I believe nothing could have been more coveted in the broiling heat. At Serra Das Araras ( Land of the Macaws) , a beautiful little place, planted with shade trees with a pleasant square full of lush green grass. An old lady with three little blond kids and a crate with two turkeys going glu-glu-glu suddenly appeared. At the beginning, the driver didn’t let her get on, explaining that it was impossible because, even if there were space for her and the kids, where would he put the turkeys? The question became a general curiosity. More and more passengers stuck their heads out of the windows wanting to give advice and help out. So, where to put the turkeys? It was a problem for us passengers as well as the bus driver, because to the old lady, this was just a normal traveling situation. She called the ticket collector, made him move three of four bags, a few sacks and some packages, studied the baggage inside, and like the experienced traveler she was, deftly tucked her bags and things neatly inside among the rest. A sigh of general relief bubbled through the canned crowd. Then, with head held high, now an important member of the expedition, she smiled, wiped the perspiration off her brow, gathered up the kids, and with them, proudly occupied the first step into the bus. When we finally arrived at São Francisco, not at five in the afternoon, but at eight in the evening, The stuffy overcharged environment inside that bus was so packed that the door could only be opened from the outside. There was absolutely no danger of falling or slipping because there just wasn’t anywhere to fall. It may seem strange and I know that it wasn’t my job, but I felt it important to record some statistics about our journey for the Department of Roads and Highways or whoever may find it interesting or amusing. Including the driver, ticket boy and all the rest of us, one hundred and twenty three passengers got off that bus in São Francisco. One hundred and twenty one humans and two turkeys. But only we humans would make it through to Christmas. The turkeys probably ended up as the object of good appetites during the festivities. Or maybe even before, because we know that turkeys always get done in on the day before Christmas.

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Academia de Letras
Automovel Clube
Elos Clube M. Claros
Espiritismo Online
Folclore Brasil
Fundacao Marina
História de M. Claros
História M. Claros
Links Espíritas
Montes Claros
Poema Virtual
Poetry Poem
Rotary Club