The bus pulled into Ouro Preto at 5 the following morning. At first I thought that we had stopped somewhere else on the way to let some people off but I looked out the window and read the sign. It was annoying that overnight buses in Brazil were often scheduled so they arrived at awkward times.
It was only a short walk to the hostel but I was too groggy to navigate my way there and in the dark I would probably get lost. I suspected that at this hour there probably wasn’t anyone working at the hostel to let me in and that I should probably wait in the bus terminal but when a taxi driver approached me, I agreed to get in. As soon as I arrived, I knew that I had made a mistake; it was only a small hostel, not the sort that had 24 hour reception. I knocked for a while anyway and then sat on the front step, wrapped in a blanket.
The hostel faced out onto the main square and I could just make out some people loitering on the other side. Because Ouro Preto is a quiet small town, I wasn’t worried about safety but it was really cold. I continued to sit there, getting up to knock on the door every twenty minutes or so. It was better when the sun came up an hour later; I could actually enjoy the view and it wasn’t so cold. Finally at seven a guy leaving to get a bus opened the door and my wait was over.
I had wanted to spend Easter in Ouro Preto because I knew that the town had a large Semana Santa festival. However, there wasn’t any English information online and even finding information in Portuguese was difficult so I didn’t know what was happening. There were ceremonies over the next few nights, which I attended, but essentially they were open air masses that went on for hours. The most important day of the festival was Easter Sunday; this was when the cobblestone streets were decorated and a procession took place.
I woke at six on the morning of Easter Sunday and went out into the street to look at the decorations before they were trampled on. I found out that the other girls at the hostel had stayed up to help the locals; at the time I had been dubious how much we could help when we couldn’t understand Portuguese and had gone to bed early, but they told me that they had spent an hour making a dove. I was surprised at how elaborate the decorations were; they had mostly been made with a material similar to tissue paper. The streets were bright with Jesus faces, crosses and abstract shapes and swirls.
We followed the streets to the church where a service was being held. We stood outside until the procession began. Hundreds of people dressed up as Romans and angels passed us, then a marching band. After a while we walked in the throng of people that was walking alongside the procession. When the marching band wasn’t playing, the atmosphere was surprisingly sombre. We passed about four other churches on the way to the main square and the streets echoed with the ringing of church bells. It was an interesting morning and I was glad that I had made the festival.
I returned to Rio the next day. I had planned on staying in the bus terminal for an hour before I got the bus to my hostel, but for some reason, the bus got in at six and there was no need to wait around. To my surprise, there were a lot of English speaking people at the hostel when I got in. Later that night, they asked me if I wanted to go to a boat party with them as they had a spare ticket. I hadn’t gone out in Brazil yet, aside from a street party I had gone to the last time I was in Rio. I was only there for half an hour as it wasn’t so much a street party as it was people aimlessly milling around.
The boat party had unlimited free drinks for girls in the first hour so I went with them. It was only when we were on the boat that I found out that it would be on the water until four and we would have no choice but to stay on for that long. But I had an alright time and the time passed surprisingly fast. I remember checking my watch at two; then before I knew it, it was four and we were back on dry land.