Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Road to Rio

By Mark

After leaving the Pantanal we were very happy to know that we had another Brazil Rider ready to take us in in a small town called Aquiduana. Valtemir was our host along with his wife Vera. Their small home town is by no means a tourist town but we really enjoy coming to these small towns and have the locals show us around. Valtermir was great, taking us out kayaking and showing us around town, and when we would return home Vera would have a fantastic meal there waiting for us. The best was her Risotto, oh my god! It was good, it was so sweet of her to cater to our vego needs. We had only a short stay with these guys but we were made to feel very welcome the whole time. Valtermir helped me get my bike sorted out after the problem I had in the Pantanal. I have been carrying a lot of weight on the bike for a while now, maybe too much and with this and including the bad roads and the bike having to put up with this for so long the pannier rails could not handle it anymore and snapped clean off in two different places. Luckily Valtemir's mate who lived across the road was there to help and had the frame welded back together again in no time. Was not too keen on his idea of straightening the frame. When I tried attaching it back to the bike again the bolt holes did not quite line up, one would usually heat the metal and bend it, but not this big guy. He pulled out his big arse hammer and started belting the life out of it. I was not too happy about it but it did work. While here, we were interviewed (again!) for a local rag. Oh the life of being a celebrity...

Our next stop was Campo Grande, and another stay with a Brazil rider. We were escorted all the way by Valtermir and Vera, it was a sad fairwell as Vera started to weep as we said our goodbyes. It is hard to believe the connection we make with such open people as we travel. For us it is all we know now, moving on to strangers' homes day after day interacting with all sorts of people all the time and we tend to forget what it must be like for the people we leave behind. We are also strangers coming into these peoples homes going about our lives and in a flash we are gone. We have had so many sweet things said by the people we have stayed with and do not realise how it must be for the people we leave behind. We are very lucky for our life and feel blessed to have the chance to meet such great and hospitable people.

Our ride east was one with nothing too much to note, but for the first time on our trip we did find that someone, a particular host or his family members found themselves with sticky fingers and left us short of $250! We did not realise this until we were 180km's down the road and we were really pissed that someone would take such advantage of us and leave us with an empty wallet. It did put a bit of a dampener on things but we could not let this stop us from keeping on taking the opportunity to meet and stay with locals. It has just made us a little more wary and now we keep a closer eye on all our possessions.

We had another stop with more great hosts and the next in line was Saimon and Vanessa from Piracacaba. Well, we really landed on our feet here. They have a beautiful house on the edge of town with an awesome outdoor kitchen along with a guest house out the back with ensuite and cable tv which Sanne put to good use! Again our hosts went to great lengths to make us feel welcome, our first night they had friends from Brazil Riders come over for dinner and meet us. The whole time we were here we were treated to some great food, company and all round good hospitality with Saimon even helping out driving all over the city to find a plastic welder as Sanne’s petrol tank had somehow sprung a leak. A crack had appeared in the strangest of places and I am still baffled at how this came about but with the help of Saimon we found a place where it could get fixed and the guy did a good job at repairing it. I just hope that it holds. This time we were lucky and in a place where we could fix the problem easy, I hope it doesn’t happen again especially in the middle of Patagonia!

While we were in Piracababa we also attended another school, this time a private school where Saimon and Vanessa’a kids go to school. It was a fun morning and the kids where right into it, not sure about their journalistic skills though, one of the first questions asked was: Do you like Justin Bieber? WTF! Bad questions aside it was a good morning. At the end we both found ourselves writing autographs on half the classes arms.

We took off for a weekend to meet up with a bunch of fellow Brazil riders in Itapeva. About 250kms away. It was a great weekend for a ride but not so much of the nice flowing roads that we would really like to be on, or dirt for that matter. I did get to have a good little ride on Saimon’s BMW F800GS. Sanne is going to shoot me for saying this but I really enjoyed riding the bike and could see myself owning one in the future, I may be single then as Sanne loves her little Suzy and any talk of ever getting a BMW is met with rolling eyes and the disbelief that I would be so quick to pass on my little Suzuki. Saturday was met with many beers at the pub meeting many new people and some hosts we will be staying with further down the road. It was a good day but turned out to be very hot so had to watch how much I drank, the other thing is that we still needed to find a campground. When it came time to do so the sun was gone and we had scored a place to sleep the night, no tent required. Oh the life of having contacts.

After our weekend away we hit the road first thing Monday morning to make our way for the coast. I could hear the beach calling me and I could not wait to smell that sea air again. We came into our first real heavy traffic since being in Brazil around Sao Paulo and it was heavy and fast and as usual I had my little moment but soon got over it after a quick break to check we were still going in the right direction. It was mostly a boring ride until we got close to the coast and you could start to see the start of the mountains that we would be crossing. Half way up we encountered a massive traffic jam that went for many kilometres, so we ducked and swerved all the way until we got to the front. No sign of any vehicles going in either direction, great! Ah, but we have bikes. We have got this far, we can go further. It just happened that we were right next to a small lane that leads off down into a village, up over a hill and spits you back out at the end of the road works, sweet. Got to love being on the bikes in those sorts of situations. Within no time we are at the top of the mountain and find ourselves twisting and turning down the mountain and then we see a view I had been longing to see for quite a while, the Atlantic ocean spread out in front of us. By the time we had got down to the coastline the beach wasn’t looking as promising as up on the mountain but the salt air smelt great. We stayed in the city here, Caraguatatuba for 2 nights, again through the help of Brazil riders. That night was interesting as there was a huge storm and it belted down with rain and we found our room flooding with a torrent of water coming in under the door and filling up quickly. Thankfully it subsided after a while and we could tidy up. We managed to have time to get some small jobs sorted out and planned a route for our trip to Rio De Janeiro. 

We had a few days up our sleeve as we had a couch surfing host lined up to take us in for our first few days there. Our first stop was going to be Paraty, but we had read about a place called Trindade so we left the highway which was after a stunning 130km stretch of road which they call Costa Verde (Green Coast). We found ourselves climbing up another steep mountain side before dropping down an even steeper road on the other side until we came across a beautiful bay and a small village. We arrived early and straight away I suggested that we stay the night so we did. It was great to be camped right by the beach. There is nothing better than lying in bed listening to the waves as you drift off to sleep. This is where we met Jonas, a really nice guy who we got chatting to as we were cooking dinner that night. In our poor Portuguese we learnt that he had been living in his tent here for 3 years. I can see why as it is a beautiful piece of coastline, but I did find it a little odd.

We decided that we should move on and the next day we had our shortest days ride to date, 29km! Paraty is meant to be this charming little colonial village. Well, the buildings are beautiful, the cobbled streets are hellish to ride on and the food is overpriced but we did decide to camp there all the same. I wish we hadn’t as it turned out to be a very noisy night with stuff going on everywhere, motorbikes hooning up the road at all hours and just when we thought it had gone quiet, the dogs in the entire neighbourhood thought it was their turn to make some noise. Not a good sleep and then we were lucky to awake to grey skies with lots of rain sitting and waiting for us.

Within minutes of leaving town the sky opened up on us and we thought we would just ride on through it. I am sure the sun is meant to come out later I said, well it didn’t. Well, not until we were entirely drenched first since we had not put our wet weather gear on in the morning. Who cares, we had a bad night, a wet ride but we were finally headed for Rio Baby!

Valtemir on the right and sadly I have forgotten the name of the guy on the left, 
I do know he is the oldest member of Brazil Riders and still enjoys riding solo

Sanne enjoying a paddle on the river

Our great hosts, Vera and Valtemir

The one time we didn't get hosted or find a camp spot, a hotel was the only option

We found there was too many of these for our liking, especially when they are every 30 to 50km's

Me, Saimon, his daughter and Mr McGoo, Piracababa

Enjoying a meal with Saimon and Vanessa (in the middle) and with friends and family

Piracababa skyline

Our free accommodation in Caraguatatuba

Busy mopping up the flood in our room

Sanne enjoying a bit of sunshine in Trindade

Me enjoying some of the local fauna

Our nice little campspot by the beach in Trindade

The cobbled streets of Paraty

This little hook is used to save us from being strangled by kids and adults with kites! In Rio and Sao Paulo state many people use glass powder on their kite lines to cut each others lines and take down their kites. Also known for taking out the occasional motorcyclist!

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