For hundreds of travelers and families, the dream of living in Brazil has turned into a nightmare because of the new coronavirus pandemic. By plane, by boat, by car, by car and even by bicycle, they try to reach Uruguaiana, in Rio Grande do Sul, to cross the border between Brazil and Argentina.
Without access to repatriation flights and frightened by the devastation of Covid-19 in Brazil, Argentines cross Brazilian states and cities to reach Uruguayan, no Rio Grande do Sul, and enter Argentina through Paso de los Libres (province of Currents).
From Uruguaiana, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Argentine is responsible for the logistics of the last part of the trip, paying for food, accommodation and, for those who have no one to pick them up, also transport to Buenos Aires.
The barriers of border are open from 8 am to 4 pm. The traveler has to answer a questionnaire about possible symptoms of Covid-19 and, after having his temperature measured, he needs to sign a sworn statement. Brazilian authorities do not allow crossing the 1,400 meter bridge on foot. The person must have their own or rented vehicle, or get a seat on the free buses provided by the Argentine consulate, which will take them to Buenos Aires.
The family of Gabriel Camilli, Milena Bratich and Olivia, 5, decided to leave José C. Paz, in the province of Buenos Aires, to fulfill his dream: “Go to a beach in Brazil and not spend more winters in Argentina”. In January 2019 they went to live in the fishing village of Pontal do Maracaípe, in State. “We sold everything and went there. We had no intention of going back,” says Milena (29), a dance teacher, who got a job at an all inclusive hotel in Porto de Galinhas. Gabriel (32) played guitar in bars and was also a receptionist at an inn. But with the pandemic, the situation has changed. They were left without work and nowhere to live. “Everyone was on the street. There were no controls and it was not mandatory to wear a mask,” says Milena, who decided to set up her own protocol for the family.
“That was when he started countdown to come back. With the money we had saved, we bought tickets, “he says. On May 4, they started their trip back, along with three friends. Of the 200 Argentines who lived in the city, 30 remain there.
They traveled by plane from Recife to São Paulo and from there to Porto Alegre
“That’s when the problem started. The van we had hired didn’t show up and we had to look for an alternative.” Desperate, afraid of missing the bus that leaves Uruguayan, they hired a taxi for the six. “It was the worst part. We traveled 12 hours, tight and rainy.” In Uruguaiana, they found that the consulate buses no longer leave daily. “I had to ask my father to pick us up there by car. He got permission and went,” he says. Separated by nylon, to prevent contamination, they traveled eight hours to a farm in province of Buenos Aires. There they spent 14 days in quarantine and then went to José C. Paz, where they are living.
Five thousand kilometers of bicycle and with the dog
Dante Baños Pozzati (28) had been traveling since September 5 last year. For four months, it was a normal trip for him: cycling with his dog Nacha in the basket, playing the guitar to earn money and setting up his tent in a camping or on the side of the road.
In March, when I was in Itamaraju, on Bahia, heard a truck with loudspeakers warning that there were cases of Covid-19 in the area. Thinking that the situation was not so serious, Dante and Nacha went to Porto Seguro, but tourism there had already decreased. They then went to Arraial d’Ajuda, where they met a group of Argentines traveling by van. When talking to them, he decided it was better to go back to Argentina. He traveled with the Argentines to Diamantina, in Minas Gerais, and that was the only “motorized” part of your trip. Then he separated from the group and continued on his bicycle path. “The roads were open,” he says.
Finally, on Monday, June 22, Dante arrived in Uruguaiana, at the border. After waiting several days to catch the bus from consulate, arrived at Buenos Aires on the 2nd of July in the morning.
The “summer”, interrupted by the new coronavirus
Wanda Altomari he is 34 years old and in October last year he decided to move to Brazil in search of a better lifestyle. He sold everything he had, stopped teaching yoga, quit his job and went to Florianopolis. He spent five months in the city, working in a restaurant, and then decided to go to Salvador, where he worked at an inn. But in mid-March, because of the pandemic, the city’s streets became “a horror movie”. Without strict measures on the part of the authorities, Wanda took its own precautions. “I lost my job. Fortunately, the owner of the inn allowed us to stay and, having a resident visa, I received help from the Brazilian government,” he says.
However, as he could no longer work and missed his family, he decided to return to Argentina.
Like many, he sought out groups of Argentines in the Facebook tips on how to get back. On June 11, he took a three-hour flight from Salvador to Sao Paulo, another two-hour drive to Porto Alegre. From there, after an eight hour drive, she arrived in Uruguaiana, where a van was waiting for her. Nine hours later, he arrived in Buenos Aires. And, for now, he postponed his dream of an eternal summer.