A few days ago when I was walking around Foz do Iguacu in the rain, looking for the bus station so I could get the bus to Paraguay, I encountered a problem. I found the bus station, saw the railings blocking pedestrian entry and the signs saying, in Portuguese with an accompanying picture, that entrance by foot was prohibited. It’s exactly the same in the UK- you’re not allowed to walk on the road in the bus station, probably so that you don’t get run over.
As I couldn’t figure out how to get in, and because it was raining heavily and I wanted to stand under a shelter, I just entered though the road, where it stated it was prohibited. If you do this sort of thing in the UK, it’s not really a big deal. You might get a few disapproving looks, but that’s all. When I done this in Brazil, straightaway two bus station officials came over to me to tell me entry by foot was prohibited and that I had to use the entrance. One of them said this all in Portuguese, while pointing at the sign. If you’ve read my recent post ‘The Language Barrier’, you’ll know that I don’t speak or understand spoken Portuguese. I said ‘Disculpa’ (sorry), then stated in English that I didn’t realise. He said I had to go and pay, I naturally thought he meant a fine, and misunderstood the amount- I thought he’d said 205BRL. I followed the other, like he told me, and then he simply sent me out of the bus station and into the tourist information office, where I asked where I get the bus to Paraguay from.
There was no fine to pay, thankfully, and upon returning from Paraguay and getting the bus back to my hostel, I found out that there is only one entrance into the bus station and that is because you pay at the entrance, not on the bus. And that the fare was 2.85BRL. Obviously, these bus station officials thought I was trying to fare-dodge. I wasn’t, I honestly thought I had to pay on the bus. This little experience did highlight to me the importance of respecting the rules and regulations in other countries. And I am grateful I didn’t have to pay a fine.