As 21st century travellers, we are often relying on the Internet to give us the answers to the most profound of questions – when does that bus come? how do we get there? how dangerous is that area? When we wanted to know how to cross the Uruguayan border into Brazil, the Internet drew us a blank other than to tell us that it would be very, very complicated. This wasn’t a lie.

Crossing the Uruguay-Brazil border at Chuy/Chui

There are busses that leave regularly from Punta del Diablo and go to the border town of Chuy (Uruguayan spelling) or Chuí (Brazilian spelling). We took this bus and asked the driver to let us off at Immigration on the Uruguayan side of the border. You have to stop here to get an exit stamp in your passport. The stop comes before the town of Chuy. You also have to show the immigration officer the little piece of paper that was given to you upon arriving in Uruguay. DO NOT LOSE THIS PIECE OF PAPER. (Luckily, we had stored them carefully.)

From there we got a taxi to Immigration on the Brazil side of the border to get our entrance stamp. You will be given another small piece of paper which you have to keep with you until you leave Brazil. (There are way too many of these pieces of paper to keep track of.) Up to this point, we were quite impressed at how smooth the crossing had been. Then, a very nice policeman at the border told us that to get our bus to Porto Alegre, Brazil we had to go back to the town of Chuy. Our bus was leaving in 10 minutes and Chuy is 2 km from the Brazilian border. We hopped in another cab. Our bus was already at the station, loading passengers. We ran to the ticket booth to buy tickets, praying they would take our credit cards or US dollars. No such luck – Brazilian reals only. The bus to Porto Alegre pulled away and we were stuck at the Chuy bus station. We quickly figured out an alternate route. We would take the bus to Pelotas that was leaving in 25 minutes, and from there we would get a bus to Porte Alegre. Dan and John started running around the town of Chuy trying to find a bank or exchange place where they could get Brazilian reals to pay for our bus tickets. After stopping in four different banks, they were finally able to get BR reals. Meanwhile, Jill and I were stuck at the Chuy bus station with all the bags not knowing what was taking the boys so long; we watched helplessly as the bus to Pelotas closed its doors and revved its engine. Just as the bus to Pelotas was starting to back out of the station, Dan and John came racing down the road. I ran up to the bus and pleaded with the drivers to wait. They did not look happy but they stopped the bus. We bought our tickets, loaded our gear onto the bus and flopped down in the comfy seats, extremely relieved.

If we had had more information, we would have done the route differently. After getting the exit stamp in Uruguay, we would have gone straight to the town of Chuy by taxi and bought our bus tickets. Then we could have asked the bus driver to drop us off at the Brazilian border to get our entrance stamps. This would have been a lot smoother and we would not have missed that first bus. Oh well, live and learn. But hopefully this post helps make the crossing smoother for other travellers.