Sitting Room

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sea of buses

Photo by Nei de Souza

The "sacoleiros" soon became a crowd of millions. Sacoleiros began to hire local residents to bring goods across the bridge for them. These people were called "laranjas" - which means orange in the sense of "mules". It is said that over 20.000 people in Foz do Iguaçu alone are "laranjas". These "laranjas" soon began to deliver these goods in other states. They brought the goods, little by little, a box a time, like the ands do. Soon they were called "formigas" - (carrying) ants.

There are all kinds of "ants" on the border: Paraguayan "ants" taking toilet paper, food, drink, clothes; Brazilian "ants" bringing computer goods, abortion pills, fake watches, gadgets and junks, to viagra sex power pills and now and then grass, dope, bullets, guns and what not.

The not so funny chapter we lived through recently was the "tour bus chapter". Thousands of buses mainly of one brand of buses sold by a huge company in São Paulo called Cometa. They were buses that had been sold due to age. At first those buses brought paying passengers and shoppers picked up at special places in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Then, half the bus were people paid to come and take goods for somebody else. In the end the buses travelled with four or five people on board. The bus packed with thousands of kilos of goods of all kinds. To fight the growing numbers of such buses, The Brazilian Revenue Service and the Ministry of Transportation questioned the legality of buses carrying cargo. The result is seen in the photo above: thousands of buses in Government parking lots. I call the photo "Sea of Buses". All of this will be history, soon.

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