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Brazil 2016

We have booked a ticket for October! The plan to buy two bikes when we get there.

Sept 6th
Have bought Brazil..Lonely planet guide. Two Michelin maps,. Brazil Real is about 4.35 to £. Last year it was more like 6. We should have managed to go then!!
Oct 3rd
We have had lovely weather for the past two months and notably through September which has made tidying up the orchard un-stressful. We have pulled old trees out, tried to tame the willow breaks , cut the grass and picked apples. Caravan is ready to be put in a barn and hut cleaned. Still haven’t got money sorted…hating the exchange rates.Slowly getting there. Clive getting apprehensive about being held up at gunpoint. Discover Rio 4th dangerous city to visit but we have been to the most dangerous…Caracas …and survived. We are not spending much time in Rio. Are landing in Sao Paulo which did not feature on the dangerous city list but I think is no better than Rio!!Just read about a guy going round South America on his bike….he wants to be sponsored! Have booked first hotel; near airport and near bike shops…..

Oct 14th Friday

With the weekend looming and realising that documentation might be a problem we go to Max Bikes nearer here. Whilst finding  bikes that suit us ,the problem is documentation. We cannot buy bikes in our name. We sort of knew this but thought they would manage to skip through this formality like the Indonesians did for us. Not so easy here it seems and this bike shop would not. We head back to the more innocent place of yesterday and the very nice “Deisy” tries her best with her boss. Whilst one of the employees was willing to put his name on the papers his boss would not allow it and nor could he put the company name. I had carried along a load of cash so that had to be carried back.! We were in a taxi so actually felt safe enough. Clive is doing his level best chatting up all the parking type guys at the hotel to see if we can find a way. I remember that I have been in touch with Alan who we met on the tran siberian railway. He has a brazilian girl friend and family in Jundiai , a town only 1 hour away from here. Maybe they can help? We know they are in Brazil.

The jolly £ dropping in value all the time is not helping!! Clive had to change some money today…rates not good. We also spent the most ridiculous time trying to buy a local sim card. With no english speakers around it was difficult but in the end found the right kind we think.

Very few brazilians seem able to speak english..even here in Sao Paulo.  Clive has a smattering of Portugese which is helpful. The hotel has staff that speak english which is good but the downside is the hotel position which is off a motorway and can only be approached from one way along the motorway. Also there is no way you can walk away from the hotel to a shop etc. Can only leave by car…

It has rained heavily each afternoon .!!

Oct 15th Sat

We have not had a reply from Alan. So trying to solve the problem ourselves, we took the hotel manager’s advice. He  suggested that we could get a RNE form from the police at the airport. This form apparently is needed in order to get a CPF number. If we can get a CPF number we can then buy the bikes. We had been told that this was only available for residents. Now after talking to people left right and centre and looking on the internet we have gathered that it is necessary for any tourist who might want to buy any kind of asset…car/bike etc, anything. So we went off on the free shuttle bus to the airport and found the federal police. Nice and helpful but said we needed to go to the federal police in the middle of Sao Paulo..not today but Monday. We catch a local bus to our local bit of town…Guarulhos. Decide to find supermarket and buy picnic for tonight. Hotel food expensive. However by the time we have bought food and paid for taxi its probably not that different in cost. Brazil is not cheap.! 

Back in the hotel I find a great….hope so…internet site that takes you through the process of getting this CPF number. A kind of idiots guide. We have to get a form printed off..hotel will help…take that to a main post office, pay small amount of money and then go to a government place and get the CPF .Sounds possible. We do not need the RNE!! We are told many brazilians do not know what is needed. Definately have to go to this certain post office in the middle of Sao Paulo so we think we will be taking our first Uber taxi ride. Got the app and going to give it a go. This can only be on Monday when things open. Tomorrow Clive is threatening to go off to play Golf!! He has found some golf course not too far away….

No photos yet as nothing much seen except some birds by the swimming pool.Got my camera out and the battery was flat. Try again tomorrow.

Oct 16th Sunday

Woke up to find the clocks had changed! Bit of a surprise and luckily we were not off to catch anything or meet anyone. Gone forward by an hour.

Spent quite a while preparing , and , with the aid of the hotel printer and staff,  printing our forms ready for the trip to the post office and federal tax office tomorrow. We are intending to go early.

It would seem that I have had a bra stolen from our room. The maid must be the same size!! I know I had it and now i don’t ! So we went shopping for a bra and a sewing kit to repair a shirt. Did not think to lock my clothes in the safe as well as the money. 

So busy! Its a waiting game till tomorrow. 

Oct 17th Monday

Took our first Uber ride into the centre of Sao Paulo. It was good and half the price at least of another taxi. We left early as told and amazingly all went completely to plan. Why a tourist should need to get a social security number in order to purchase things while here , rather defeats me. They have very little on us infact. Just the passport details in reality for the address given is the hotel and telephone number. Soon we shall be gone….However we are not quite there….But big thank you to the website www.liveinbrazil.org.

With great glee we rang ( Clive got a local sim card) the bike shop and yet again they came and picked us up. Its about 24 kms through traffic. This is our 5th trip with their employee, Eduardo. We have had kindness and smiles all the way. Have now passed over the majority of the money. Came to no conclusion of the rate of exchange for the $ part of the payment so we are changing that tomorrow ourselves and bringing the balance in Reals instead. Many receipts later, more photocopies, more form filling and eventually we are off to an office to register the bikes in our names. Yet more photcopies, more receipts, more little payments. The result is not finished but maybe tomorrow. There is no problem with us. It will go through ,but when?. We suspect the day after tomorrow.  So we are delighted with the days efforts, the Uber taxi rides and the success of the CPF.

Finally brought home by Edvardo…again. Now on whatsap with friendly english speaking girl in the motorbike shop without whose english we could not have managed. Deisy is her name. And i have spelt it correctly.

Uber taxis are difficult/impossible  to order  without wifi and this is tricky on the streets of a foreign city with your english phone.  ( Clive not managed to get his brazilian phone on the internet yet). We had to go along the streets asking various shops if they had wifi we could latch on to. …

Oct 18th Tuesday

Yesterday we were in the centre for the first time. Large grand old buildings and pavemented streets made for a pleasant place EXCEPT there were a great many homeless either in small tents/cardboard homes or being allowed to sleepover night in large marquees on foam mattresses. They were all fairly rough as you would expect. It is thus that you cannot  walk around the centre at night safely.

We have been staying in our hotel near the airport to be near motorbike shops. They are generally not in great spots in this type of country/town. On our trips to and fro with Eduardo we have seen some fairly squalid streets as you would expect. The registration office yesterday was not in a great part either and driving back from that was a bit rough.  On some of these drives I have been clutching my rucksack with the bike money in it…in cash!!  It is not the part of Sao Paulo that most tourists would be acquainted with ! 

Today we changed the dollars and I had to make 2 trips as picked up the wrong folder. Uber taxis to the fore! The registration document will be ready at 3pm tomorrow. Deisy’s last word! So now it really is a waiting game. We have the last of the money on our side and they have to push the office on their side. Swimming pool beckons…Clive slumbers.

Typical street view in suburbs.

Got to have a bird photo! Its a Rufus bellied Thrush.

Oct 19th Wed

To our surprise Deisy was soon on Whatsapp and photos appeared of our completed and collected registration documents…by 10.30am. Wow! We had just put our hotel bookings back a day…the one for Foz de Iguacu. The shop even sent someone to pick us up ..again. So by lunch time we were on our bikes and on our way back to the hotel. Lots of photos at the shop. 

Parking here at the hotel is a bit of an issue. There is a secure park area where we have to pay. If they are stolen from there we would get compensation. Outside the hotel they are at risk. The parking guards of the secure parking would look the other way if a thief came to take them. So reluctantly we have paid. The hotel manager says that Sao Paulo is really bad…other places/districts are better. 

We prepare for an early start. 

Oct 20th Thurs

Try to be off at 7am. Off we go, bags hanging on. We have to head the wrong way to go under the motorway and then back on. As we floundered in the back streets to get back on it started to rain!!! We shelter. Clive’s boots not very adequate…. Eventually we are off again and very luckily negotiate the dual carriageways of Sao Paulo correctly. Nevertheless it took about 2 hours to finally leave conurbation behind and see countryside again. 

On” new to us ” bikes we have chosen to do a long day! 300 miles. This is  because there does not seem to be any where to stay that passes Clive’s standards!!  The countryside is of big hills…sierra. Harvest is happening in one part and seemingly crops quite green a bit further on. Some places jungle , some serious forestry, some fields and some grazing. Lots of lorries carrying logs and crawling up the hills. Scenery looks like europe, then dry malaysia, then south african. A real mixture. Road very good and not too busy. Toll all the way with motorbikes free in Sao Paulo state but not in Parana state where we are now. Toll even on ordinary main roads. Motorbikers getting their money out is a real pain for everyone as it takes a while ( gloves off, helmet up etc.) When it started to rain again in the afternoon we held up the queue for ages while wet gloves came off and money had to be found from its waterproof place under layers of waterproofs etc.

Clive was not a happy bunny. We got caught in a shower only 40kms from our destination of Ponta Grossa. By the time we got to the hotel he had soaked feet, shirt, trousers, gloves, helmet lining..everything. He has decent waterproof trousers and jacket so not sure what happens. Things will have to improve as rain will threaten at the end of the day again. Our room in the hotel is festooned with wet stuff.His suitcase is not waterproof either….

Oct 21st Friday

Day is cloudy but dry. We head on towards Foz do Iguazu. The road is excellent, frequented by lorries but otherwise not too busy. Its up and down dale all the time, with us overtaking the lorries as they slow down on the hills. Double white lines not a problem as we undertake on the hard shoulder. Bit naughty but seen it done so do as a native. Cars do not respect double white lines either. The police have their checkpoint offices where all the traffic has to slow down and crawl by. We did not see a policeman today. They have huge car dumps nearby where crashed cars are kept as well as confiscated ones…it seems.Also quite a quantity of motorcycles, all rusting and neglected and no doubt telling a story.

We saw barley being combined yesterday. This morning we have seen fields of green barley, weeks off being combined and then this afternoon we are back to combining ripe barley. Do the brazilians plant combinable crops all year round?  Big tractors, big combines, all quite sophisticated. 

Lovely green countryside.  Jungle in parts, hilly always, fields sometimes enormous , sometimes small holdings. Houses generally bungalows and modest. When you stop you can spot birds. They are plenty flying around . No strange animals seen yet. Bikes going well.  Clive  playing with his luggage as he does not have much room to sit. But trolley suitcases do not lend themselves well to the seat of a motorbike. Petrol slightly  less than £1 a litre and bikes economical we think.  We reach Cascavel and have our first meal outside an hotel. ie we dared to walk back in the dark! We had no problems!!

Oct 22nd Sat

No rush with only 130kms to ride to the Iguasu Falls…wider than the Victotia falls and higher than Niagara falls and more beautiful. So says So says the lonely planet guide. 

Breakfast has been good in all hotels so far. Same format though. Choice of cakes and other sweet pastries. Fresh fruit including papaya which must be in season. Cooked food namely scrambled eggs and sausages in tomato sauce. Bread etc.  It does and sets us up for the road.

Our communication system has failed. Clive’s unit is the weak link. It is not waterproof and has not recovered from the rain 2 days ago. Will it ever. It is important to speak to each other. As a consequence of no communication this morning Clive went one way and I could not follow as in one way system. He did not stop for me……

To his credit though he has booked an eco hostel very near the park to the falls. It seems fine. We can walk to the visitors centre so avoiding buses and tours etc. Normal  tourist spot with souveniers etc. We shall give it all a go tomorrow. Still not many photos so here is Clive and his bike again. Have seen some pretty butterflies but expect good things tomorrow with the camera

Clive trying to change his bike’s load setup.

Oct 23rd Sunday

We went up the road to eat last night  as we discovered late on that this place serves no food. True backpacker…you can cook your own. We had no food to cook so off we went on the motorbikes to the next hotel or so up the road. Arrived and Clive’s bike would not start again when asked to park in a different spot. We ate and then tried again. Starts and then stops. We left it there and went home on mine.

Decided to forget the bike and get on with what we came to do here…see the Iguasu falls. They are very pretty falls. Hugely wide but not so high as Victoria. Just very scenic. We did the whole tourist walk . Such a relief not to be security checked all the time as we were in China. It was all pretty well done and tourists all relaxed and not pushy. An enjoyable visit on this the brazilian side.

Afterwards I went to a Bird Park/zoo. Took some close ups/photos of birds I should see in the wild.

 Quite fun…Pick up Clive and off to his poor bike. Get some more petrol but makes no difference. Find air filter..it is dirty but bike still does not start. Considered opinion is fuel pump . Today was Sunday so its phone Honda tomorrow am. We intended to stay tomorrow as it is, so no panic yet….yet!

Oct 24th Monday

Clive and english speaking receptionist get on the phone to Honda dealer. Not very helpful. I suggest an independant and here they had success but we had to get the bike there. Everyone helpful and a lift for the bike is found and off we go. Very nice mechanic, clean and efficient and highly recommend , (www.motorevisa.com.br). Within moments he has found an alarm on the bike. Clive does have an alarm fob with the bike but he took it off the key ring and put it in his suitcase. No where near the bike or used. No where near the bike that night it stopped. Anyway, disconnect the alarm and bike starts!! Relief.  New air filter, new spark plug and away we go.

Mess around for rest of day, getting food to cook tonight and think about the next move which is northwards to the Pantanal.

Oct 25th Tuesday

The evening we arrived in Foz do Iguacu the police called in at the hotel enquiring about us. They had seen our bikes with the Sao Paulo number plates and wanted to know more.Armed to the teeth they were.I was somewhere else, so Clive met them.How did they know where we were as the hotel had a long dirt drive.? Did they see us turn in ? Will we get another visit like that in another town ? They were fine and happy with Clive’s replies. 

Quick little thought on chickens. They are everywhere through out the world. First ones we saw over here were in the Hotel Panamby’s well looked after gardens….scratching around. Then they were also down the road on an industrial plot, scratching along the boundary there. They appear along side any road, be it a motorway, main road or secondary road. In wooded areas….anywhere, What survivers….!!

So we left Foz and headed north ending up in Guira. We have followed the Parana River and the Paraguayan border. Rolling countryside, big fields with clumps of woods. Newly planted crops. Some tobacco growing. It rained before we left (and heavily in the night). Got stopped by one shower which we sat out in a bus shelter and then after arriving in the town it poured and thundered.

Tried to use an ATM. Failure,… which is a bit concerning as running out of cash. Only big towns have ATM’s which will work with our foreign cards. We hope Campo Grande is a big town. Have to survive for 2 more days…..

Oct 26th Wednesday

It rains, torrentially at times, all through the night and is raining this morning. We are going to gain an hour as we go from Parana  to Mato Grosso so do not get too concerned at first. But I reckon it is not going to clear and that we might as well leave. Clive wants to wait…he will get wet feet if nothing else. I set off ahead, slowly ,and in spite of the rain enjoy seeing all the brown water rushing ,  and rivers of water lying in the land contours of the enormous fields. After an hour and a half and no let up in the rain, I stop to wait for Clive who promised to set off half an hour after me.He eventually arrives.On we go and we spend the rest of the day in the rain. It lets up now and again! Clive’s bike seems to have a higher gear than mine..so he goes faster! He then got a problem with his side stand such that the engine cut when he raised it. We thought water in the electrics but after riding it with the stand half down so the engine did not cut out , Clive found a bike shop and there some WD 40 did the job. Reach Dourados.

Once again the hotel room is covered in dripping waterproofs. Clive not as wet as before, but not great. We have failed so far to eat a decent brazillian meal and tonight was no exception.

Oct 27th Thursday

The sun shines and goes to my head as I suggest to Clive that we head in exactly the opposite direction to where we want to go. Only waste 5 mins…..We head for Campo Grande via secondary road. It is a pretty major road nevertheless. Clive spots our first Rhea in a field and later see more and young ones.

 Big farm country with huge fields. Soy crop planted, sugar cane growing and cattle. We stop in local cafes to rest . Our bikes are not the most comfortable and frequent stops are needed. Today though is good and we are getting into rhythm at last!

Reach Campo Grande. Quite a big place and I am able to get my visa card working at last. Money was running out as we had failed in the last two towns to get ATM’s that work for our cards. We now know it has to be a big town. Clive has still not managed….think his card is playing up.

Most towns we have been through are originally built on a grid system. It makes for a boring town I think, as one is much like another. Dourados was built like a spiders web which was a variation on a theme. We look forward to Cuiaba which has a colonial centre.

Oct 28th Friday

Apart from the police looking us up in Foz, and their police checkpoints along the main road, the police seem to be low key.They are not out to catch us for speeding fines as in Eastern Europe. There are speed cameras but they are fixed. What really slows the traffic down are sleeping policemen. Big humps that are a pest!!

We have had a huge meal tonight in Coxim. We ordered something to do with Fillet Mignon. Cost about £10. We were told that one portion would do us both. When it arrived it was 4 fillet steaks on a skewer, with accompagning plates of different veg and rice. Vast amount of food. Sadly the steak was overcooked…. But this is how it is ..huge portions  that will do two people . They seem to like deep fat frying too and several types of dough wrapped savory things. They are nice but not exactly slimming. The brazillians do not seem to be figure conscience. Men and women can be pretty large and quite unabashed in tight fitting jeans and tops. When the weather is hot I cannot understand wearing tight fitting jeans etc. 

This hotel did not want passports..just that magic card , the CPL, and its number.

29th Oct Saturday

Bit of a brick for a pillow, noises and dreams…not a great night’s sleep. Today we are in a sugarcane producing area.Massive endless fields, sugarcane in various stages of growth, and large sugarcane mills. Now discovered that sugar cane can be grown on the same fields year after year. The sugarcane of mato Grosso produces 70% + of ethynol, 30% of sugar and the biomass by- product produces electricity.  We saw vast buildings on several “fazendas”.  

Rheas like the new sugarcanes. Birds are around and several birds of prey above in the sky. 

Rondonopolis reached. Small non exciting town. Its pretty warm at the end of the day…30C +. Good dry heat..I am not looking forward to the Amazon humidity.

31st Oct Monday

The road was more interesting leaving Rodonopolis and leaving the sugarcane behind for a while. But back came the huge fields and the straight road and it got hotter and hotter. Nice stops though and we duly arrived in Cuiaba which was meant to have an historical centre. Our hotel was in the centre and so I went off out in the heat to explore. Can’t say there was much to shout about…. Later we went out on one bike to find somwhere to eat. Funny noise from back wheel ( Clive’s bike!) until I saw this screw sticking out of the tyre. We did take it out and thankfully it had not worked through the tyre enough to puncture it. Found a Burger place and  ate a good burger each. 

Today we have travelled a shortish distance to Pocone on the edge of the Pantanal. We are at this place in the photo. 

Hopefully some photos and rest after our 6 nights on the move.
Nov 1st Tuesday

I was up first thing and off on a wildlife drive for 2 hours. Pleasant…saw lots of birds but not many animals.  Caiman in a waterhole along with lots of fish. 

Some different kind of Coati. Later we went on a boat ride. This entailed 1 plus hours driving up the Transpantanal road which is dirt and corrugated. We were all ( 7) in the back of a pick up sitting on high seats bouncing all over the place.  

But some wildlife to be seen and then the boat. Plenty of birds again but few animals.

 On the way back however, in the jolly Pick up, on our high seats, and only under a vague roof, we got over taken/ran into a good thunderstorm. It howled and lashed us. We all sat tight and brave and got absolutely soaked! The driver drove as fast as he dared and we bumped around even more!. One stop when the rain had eased to admire a pond where the Caiman had all come out of the water to enjoy the rain!! No photos as my camera was wisely in the cab in the dry with the driver.

We were still dripping as we arrived back at the hotel but the warm weather helps….

Nov 2nd Wed

Was meant to do a night safari tour tonight but cancelled because it was still raining. Bit of a shame. But we saw a Tapir as we walked back from supper in the dark.  It really did rain this afternoon and water leaked into our new  bedroom block here. New roof not up to it! Bikes seem to have survived (not under cover)  though we noticed Clive’s had been moved….perhaps it had fallen over. Get ready to leave tomorrow.

Nov 3rd Thurs

Both bikes had fallen over in the storm and the clutch lever on mine had been  broken. It was rideable so off we went pretty early as weather today not meant to be great. First we had 10kms of dirt road which was a bit wet in parts. Reached Pocone, and a bike shop soon had me on my way with a new clutch lever and fitted for £3. To our surprise the next section of road was dirt too and so we tucked another 40kms of dirt under our belts. Pretty rolling countryside, lots of green. Road less busy and the rain, which drizzled for a while , then stopped, and all was well. Lunch was had in what seems to be a normal way for here…namely help yourself from a hot buffet and then take your plate and have it weighed. You then pay accordingly.  The man to-day was not that pleased with me for I did not have any meat…just veg.!

 Reached Mirassol D’Oeste. A very minor local town. Hotel seems new, otherwise all looks basic.

When we went off to shop at about 7pm, nothing was open. In other towns the shops had been open at this hour. They seemed to open at about 5pm after an afternoon siesta and stay open till late. Everything was well locked up here. Rather sinister….So we ate fish with chips ….not exactly fish and chips english style….in a restaurant near the hotel watching mopeds short cutting through a garage forecourt. Then it was straight back to the room and the streets by then were pretty empty. I had noticed when we arrived that the private car park where our bikes went had its door shut straight away…not just at night.

We are now heading to Porto Velho; next major spot.

Nov 4th Friday

We go the wrong way quite quickly! Not a disaster, just a nice alternative route. We find our way with a paper map, asking, and my phone google maps. We do not have a GPS. My phone can tell us where we are so at least we can see we have gone right or wrong. We had left the main road and there was a choice of route. What we did not really find out was if they were dirt or not. Anyway, there we were on one of these routes and it was tarmac. Nice road, interesting villages and we were doing pretty well on tarmac ( albeit with large potholes at times which are quite good fun to ride around) when suddenly its dirt.

 Visions of 80kms apparently but in the event only 30kms before we finally hit the main road. It had been good  and we had even see an armadillo cross in front of us….too fast to get the camera out sadly. We had had a drink stop in one little cafe and the family thought it pretty good that we were english. I am not sure that many english would have been through that small town…..

So we finished the day on the rather straight main road. Not that busy but not so entertaining. There has not been much choice to go on secondary roads….unless we want to spend months crossing Brazil on dirt roads. This little town , Nova Lecarda, is much more lively…shops open later and a cafe/restaurant in the petrol station where the local lads were showing off their music systems in their cars…at full blast. We had  3 kebabs  between us with cassava/manioc. Not the best meal but definately the cheapest….less than £6 including 2 cans of drinks and an icecream. But there was no other choice…..

Nov 5th Saturday

We had to be up early to have the breakfast…only served between 6am and 8am!  We only have  200 kms to do today ! The road is dull..straight and pretty empty. Stops are fine. Usual cafes in petrol stations. Clive wants to press on…why? We arrive at our pre booked hotel very early as we have gained an hour we did not know about. The town, Vilhena , is not attractive. Huge wide road..dual carriageway, straight through the middle. Hotel is in amongst industrial sites as is others. Grid pattern of the streets…I could go on….no character.

6th Nov Sunday

The day on the road began, 1, super early as Clive woke us at 5am thinking it was 6am, and 2, with a lovely Toucan flying like a slow arrow aross the road, his great big beak out in front like the arrow head. During the rest of the day I saw quite a few road kill armadillos, one brazilian porcupine and a number of other strange animals and deer. All a little sad as I imagine some are endangered.  They were all on the roadside with all the tyre bits that  lorries leave behind. 

Brazilians have all been friendly so far. As we head up this way we are becoming a little unique. They see the Sao Paulo number plate on the bikes and that alone is far away. The fact that  we  are English on them rather bowls them away! Clive is doing very well with his smattering of Portugese and I am getting the gist sometimes. To me , brazilian does not sound so ” schmaltzy” as Portugese. Its a bit clearer and many words are close to Italian or Spanish. 

The lorries. Well laden, with lots of wheels and sometimes long trailors. NONE are container carrying lorries. ALL seem to have heavy loads under their tarpaulins. What are they carrying? Why not in containers? Is it rice, soya or another loose crop? Some are very obviously carrying hard objects. Not seen any unload or load.

Enjoyed watching 2 girls last night trying to get off with 4 guys. They completely upset the boys chat. All dynamics changed. Girls failed I think. They really did not look good enough to succeed….

We ended up in Jaru. Pushed on as weather good and now we will make Porto Velho tomorrow. Covered over 400 kms today. My headlight bulb has failed…again!

 8th Nov Tuesday

Yesterday saw us set off early again and we had a smooth trip to Porto Velho. We are now poised for this highway to Manaus. But rains are against us.Its a dirt road for 428kms. All in all it is about 700 kms to Manaus . We can go to Humiata which is slightly off to the side for the first night.There we can possibly take a ferry if the reports of the road are too bad. They might make a fuss about getting the bikes on board. Or we can set off and if we fail catch a ride on a lorry or pickup perhaps. We believe there are problem muddy spots. How long the muddy spots are for or how muddy is the big question.

L
Like the  trailor. Or this one

In the meantime….got new head light bulb …again ! Oiled and adjusted chains. Got my tooth fixed. I broke a piece off a tooth a few days back. Finally plucked up courage to try a brazilian dental clinic. Much translating on mobile phones and everyone very sweet. Nice young girl seems to have made a good job. It wasn’t giving me” grief” as translate called it, but it was a bit spikey etc. We failed with Clive’s glasses which have lost one of those little nose bits. Porto Velho a busy place and people continue to be helpful and friendly. Pray it stays dry enough…

10th Nov Friday

I write this in a room, a box, with 4 wooden walls and no ceiling. We are looking straight up to a tin roof. We have been woken a bit before 6am to the sound of others getting up, a radio or a television on, sounds of motors etc. Actually the cock had crowed a great deal earlier , (I think he is living under our floor boards) and the dogs had barked. The bed has a plastic layer under the nylon sheet which did not stay in place at all. We had one pillow between us so Clive had it as he cannot sleep without. I made a pile of clothes for a pillow. We were able to make a cup of tea with a glass of milk  from the “restaurant ” as there was an electric plug for our little electric kettle. In the morning the glass of milk from which we had just used to make tea had a cockroach in it. We only found it when we tipped the remaining milk out.We had arrived here in the dark after a long day. It was better than nothing.

On Wednesday we left Porto Velho and rode to Humatia with no problems on tarmac. Good hotel. Had a look at the port on the river and watched this boat being loaded with a couple of cars.

 This is what we could have travelled on to Manaus. Instead we are determined to ride the notorious BR319.

We set off early as we could..6.50am after breakfast at the hotel to set us up. We had some bits of food for us, water and an extra 5 litres of fuel for the bikes. We were ready for the worst. We hoped to find a humble place to stay for the night but if we couldn’t  there was one thing for sure…Clive did not want to spend a night in the jungle. We have no camping stuff with us. 

Tarmac ran out and the dirt began. We know from another blogger that there was 428kms of dirt. In the event it was dirt interspersed with bits of broken tarmac. The road had been  asphalted at some point!

First excitement was a stuck lorry. Bit of a surprise for we were blessing our luck at how dry the road was. Been stuck for some hours. He had found a sticky patch.

 

Then we came across a restaurant/shack at kilometer 220. 


All going well! Dirt was not bad, and we got along  pretty well. Bridges were wooden with three planks for each tyre line. We did meet some big lorries plying the road in a huge cloud of dust as they belted along, trailors swaying in the potholes.

We then noticed a black rain cloud and eventually saw the storm coming up the road towards us. Stop and don  the waterproofs. We had not seen any houses , let alone abandoned huts, for ages so we stood under the trees/creepers and waited for the worst to pass. I was impatient , but setting off so soon meant a bit of slip and slid on the wet clay. It dried out very quickly and soon we were getting along okay once more.  I had been noticing that my headlight assembly was  rattling. Then we discovered it was missing a screw to hold it better. Oh well….

Now we are beginning to wonder about where to spend the night. It is obvious we will not reach the end of the dirt. Progress was about 35kms an hour, including stops. We hoped there was something at a crossroads with a little local airport road, but there was nothing. We could only continue. It started to get dark. On we went until a bit of a disaster struck in the form of my headlight assembly falling off.  Since it was now dark I needed the light….which was still working. So it was strap it up with some bungees and on we went.

It is hot. It was very dirty in the dust behind Clive. I can see his dust hanging in my headlight. It is working and I can see but it is pretty wobbly. My googles keep dusting up and my contact lenses and eyes are dirty. Vision is a bit of a problem  and there are all sorts of potholes etc. Worst bit was the odd bit of tarmac which was a dark colour and you knew it would have deep potholes in it. Then my light drooped a bit and I had to go even slower. 

On we went. I thought the bonus of being in the dark was that we would see some animal life. Nothing….very disappointed. Eventually we saw some lights and some rough little settlement, the first for hours. We came to a full stop. The result was this little room and the fact that we could not have gone further. Here was a ferry crossing and the ferry had stopped for the night. We had covered 435 kms. Of the 428kms of dirt we think we have about 30/40 to go.

Friday… later

We took the little ferry. It was a quite ancient cable ferry whose cable and motor had given up and so it was pushed across by another boat. They charged us double the going rate we are sure .

Note the exit from this ferry on the far bank. Bit tricky on the bikes!!

EditSo on we went and I think it was about 60kms before we found real tarmac. It had potholes in it for a while but gradually  improved. We were then looking for the 2nd ferry as on our map, but that ferry was now a bridge and instead of pausing in the town there for the night we found ourselves well on the way to Manaus before we checked things out. 

The last ferry was a bigger affair. We had to hang around for this one, about 45 mins and it went on a longer journey,   We saw the two rivers joining…the black waters of the Rio Negro joining with the paler water of the Rio Solimoes……. The Amazon is considered as having clear water.

It took ages for the ferry to come in because the landing was occupied. The landing being essentially on a beach. By the time we got off it was getting dark. We had an hotel in mind but nothing booked and no great map of Manaus. After much searching and tempers fraying from Clive, we found it. No one on the streets seemed able to read a map, tell us a street name nor had heard of the hotel. We were filthy and I was so hot. Into a shower …bliss..even pure cold!!

No wine to celebrate with, no bottle of champagne, just a shandy. Brazilians are not wine drinkers. You can get a bottle but it is generally a bit ify or pricy.  Had a pretty poor meal in the hotel. Welcome to Manaus….

 12th Nov Saturday
Slept well ! Bike shop first where they washed them down fixed my light with cable ties ( new part would take a month), adjusted my clutch and also washed Clive’s bike. That was free of charge  mostly because we are going back on Monday to have oil change and new chains and sprockets to both bikes.

Next the port to find the ticket office for a boat to Belem. This is our next move. Ticket office not easy to find and much going round very trafficky one way system near fruit and meat markets etc. Its where Manaus  was busy this morning. Boats just come nudging  into the “beach” and are unloaded pretty much  manually.

We find official office but nice lady there directs us to one of the outside touts. We think this is because of the 2 bikes…we are not straight forward passengers. So we put ourselves in the hands of ” Bento”. We have a receipt for the money paid, have been told to bring the bikes on Tuesday pm and ourselves on Wednesday morning. Boat leaves sometime that day. 
It gets hotter and we go back and take refuge in the air conditioned hotel. Forgot  to get the vital shopping supplies..ie tea, milk, water and wine ( if possible) so I went back out later and got hot again….very!

We manage to do well re a meal tonight. Found the main square and the Opera/Theatre building of which they are very proud. The main square was nice, surrounded on two sides at least by nice older buildings and plenty of eating places. 

We finally had a sample of Brazil’s national drink. It is called Caipiranhas and is based on an alcohol spirit made from sugar cane. Pretty strong and flavoured with lime and sugar. The result is “sublime” says Lonely Planet! The other drink we enjoy everyday is called sucos and is “divine” says Lonely planet ! It is fresh fruit juice made from the abundance of fresh fruit that they have. Sometimes it is not divine as some water it down far too much or add too much sugar. We have had some strange fruits…

13th Nov Sunday

Probably should have gone on a one day tour on the river. Clive did not want to. For myself I was not that enamoured by a trip to local village to see the locals dressed in their grass skirts etc and dancing for a whole load of tourists. Watching them show us a snake and maybe a sloth. Then seeing the two rivers meet ….we have already seen that on the ferry. Only bit that I would have liked was swimming with the pink dolphins but having seen someone’s photo of them all standing in a bunch in the water round one dolphin I am not sure that a great deal of swimming was going to happen. Instead we saw the Opera house in daylight and a street market. That made us hot enough! Back to hotel as Clive not feeling great.  He takes to his bed. I wash my motorbike jacket in the shower. I would have liked a jungle trip but I think for it to be good it needs more money than we wish to spend on this trip. It needs to be done properly. Not just a survival 24 hour trip. Again Clive is not into that!!

14th Nov Monday

It became obvious during yesterday evening that Clive  was not that well. He felt hot and obviously had a temperature. He also had an upset stomach. Temperature raged all night but by the morning it had gone. He is not feeling that bright however….Somehow he drags himself out and off to have our bikes seen to. New chains and sprockets and oil change. We both sit in the waiting area and fall asleep!! Back to hotel where Clive sleeps some more while I go out and walk the streets down to the port area and explore. I come back dripping from the heat. 

As in any country you notice things like rubbish, number of children, schools, smart cars, ostentation,poor, pavements etc. Street sweepers were still working as we walked back tonight. Where does the street rubbish go?? On the surface it seems quite a clean country. Not too many young children…for a catholic country,  I think for Clive, our population watcher, its been quite an eye opener.  Maybe in the Favelas ( the shanty places) it may be a different story. 

Would not like to be a wheel chair user around here. High pavements, rough and generally a drain running between you  and the road.. 

Nevertheless I rather like Manaus.. its humming, everyone seems busy; typical port town. 

15th Nov Tuesday

Whilst Clive has been having stomach problems, I seem to be in the reverse position in that department. Breakfast is now bowls of cereals instead of eggs and lots of fruit and fruit juices. These things I have been doing for days but not with much success! I have eaten vegetable where possible but they do not cook veg that well. Otherwise food can be good and in particular their stews have nice spices in them. Tend to be chicken or beef. Here we are naturally eating fish. Fresh fish farmed on the river. Big fish the size of our salmons. Still, I think I may be shopping for a laxative this morning! 

Today is “put bikes on boat day”. First we take a look at the Rio Negro bridge. Its 5 years old. What they call a cable stayed bridge. Its 3.5 kms long. ….we ride across and back and then to the port to find our boat.

 

Boat is called the “Cisne Branco”. Translated that is the White Swan. Clive notices it is built in 1978. Our fixer, for that is what he is, in cahoots with everyone and getting backhanders from everyone and us, leads us to the boat. First we pay port fees…about £25. Then we have to pay the men who are to load our bikes…£40 to them. It is a job they have no doubt done before but Clive likes get in there and tell them . The bikes have to be roped downwards between quay and boat and swung into the deck below.  

Out of the Quay are jutting some nasty spikes. I thought they did the job well but Clive’s wing mirror somehow falls off. The last payment is for our cabin key. What a cheek! Clive is not a happy bunny.  Boat too small, too old, too scruffy  etc. Our cabin is tiny but does have AC….vital for Clive. Might not have power points and definately no WiFi. (that we did know). Cabin smaller than our railway carriage on the Trans Siberian trip. Other people take hammocks. They look very comfy..I quite like swinging in a hammock but it’s not for Clive. Drawbacks are that your luggage is on the deck unguarded, no AC ,and can get very crowded. Below deck hammock space looked pretty horrible as it is near the engine. That is where our bikes have ended up. Will they be there tomorrow.? We go there at 10am. In the meantime we have a last meal here near the square and it is the best meal yet.

About to update the blog with the following pages I found this on the internet.It is a story about our boat which began life under a different name , the Sobral Santos.. Amazingly when we were docked at Obidos a man related the story to us though not in such detail . Hope you can read the following 4 photos with the story.

16th Nov Wednesday

During the night my prayers were answered with a natural laxative in the form of food poisoning from the fish meal. ! That sorted things out and luckily I was feeling okay by morning. Taxi to the port. Easy bit. Clive then enlists help of a porter with his trolley for all our stuff now not on the bikes. Luckily  he was a nice strong guy and used his head. Our boat had moved further than we had beeen told and was now docked at another quay. Down the street in the hot sunshine, following our guy. We are clutching helmets, water bottles, jackets and rucksack and getting hotter by the moment. Then its everything off his trolley, down some steep steps, onto the beach , across to a jetty, onto the lower deck of the boat and then up some steep staircases ( boat style) and again to the upper deck. The porter was great and did the job to the cabin door. He struggled with our bags on the tight stairs….they were not light . We sweated and struggled behind him ,helping too. 

But in the end all is good. We have a different cabin to the one we thought. 

We are on the upper deck in a suite. Sounds so grand but there is very little space. We do have our own bathroom…its not exactly 4 star, more like a half star but its ours. Its got AC. ! Lower two decks are now completely crowded wih hammocks and people and luggage. 

They have to share one electric socket between them. We have one to ourselves. This all better than we thought and Clive is happy. We sit outside our cabin on plastic chairs and watch. Our motorbikes have disappeared into the hold…we hope so. Since they made £40 out of us getting them in there then they will have looked after them so they can earn more money getting them out. At least thats how I think. Our deck has a little shop and the steering house. Passengers are now making themselves comfortable with loud music and alcohol. 

Supper came at about 5pm and possibly later. We were alerted to go down one deck amongst the hammocks and to the back where we found hot food being dished out from a hatch in the deck floor ! The kitchen as such was somewhere near the engine and on that floor. The one bowl ( 10 reals) was pretty good and either a fish or chicken choice with spagetti and rice and some veg. Clive declined.

Brazilian music then kept us entertained (!) until quite late.  Only one of our bunks had a sheet to sleep under! Luckily I had my silk sleeping bag liner….

17th Nov Thurs

Sitting in a lovely warm wind on the back upper deck. Its 8am and we have already had breakfast. this time served from the same place but not up through the hatch in the floor. It was a piece of toasty with melted ham and cheese and a cup of coffee. No sleeping after 7am as the music has got going again.

The river is huge. It has muddy looking water. Not full of debris, not many boats. Barges are pushed rather than towed by their tugs. 

For quite a while yesterday there were houses dotted along either side of the river. There is no “tree down to the water feel” as I expected, but it is dry and the river is at its lowest waiting for the rains. Apparently it rises by as much as 10 metres.Then the trees on the banks would be in the water. No birds flying over head and no pink dolphins so far…disappointment from me. The day is cloudy which is good! 

There is one english person on board. He is walking the entire  length of the Amazon. Going back on the boat to walk a 40kms stretch he missed out. Using guides to take him through the jungle. Sold his house to do this.  Been in Brazil for 18 months and we are the first Brits he has spoken to for 6 months. www.ascentoftheamazon.com. He has seen a great deal of wildlife which the local Indian people are still eating,  including the jaguars.

Clive has entertained the bar crowd with some English music off his iPad blaring out of the speakers. There is a small beer drinking bunch….that is at lunch time ..in the evening it is yucca alcohol apparently. You drink that like vodka.

We have been calling in at various places. People get on and off and sellers of food sell to who  they can. 

We don’t generally stop for long so we stay on board. I see one grey dolphin while stopped . Later in the evening we stop at Obidos where the river is relatively narrow. Here there is only one  channel and so the police often take the opportunity to check who is on board and what they have got. They do come on board but do not do a serious check..we are not checked. Off we go again with lightning lighting the sky.  We are going to reach Santerem in the middle of the night . The boat’s search light flickers to and fro checking our route in the dark. The bridge is almost beside our cabin and is a pretty informal affair with open doors and windows.

18th Nov Friday 

I wake to various noises.  We are docked in Santarem.  There is no electricity  and the engine keeps starting and then stopping.  We did have a moment yesterday when the engine stopped  and we did a bit of free floating down the river. After about 20 mins it got going again. We do wonder how many more trips this boat will make.  Apparently it sank by the quay at Obidos 30 years ago . It’s cargo shifted and it keeled over and 25 people drowned. So we were told last night…..

We discover that the boat should leave at 11am. In the meantime there is a gret deal going on in the unloading and loading department. Passengers leave and arrive, hammocks get taken down and new ones put up. The 4 hold hatches on the lower deck need to have access from under the hammocks. We watch lorry load after lorry load of rice depart. The loading of them is very onerous. ..all by manual labour. A team of fit sweating men labour away getting the bags (bundled as 30kgs) up from the hold to the lower deck floor,along that deck and then chucked up to the quay and then upwards again into the lorry. All upwards. 

            

 

No pallets. no pallet mover, no conveyer etc. One man balances precariously over the water on a wooden plank tied by ropes. In the meantime porters arrive with loaded carts, other lorries arrive with more stuff.These are brought inwards down the gang plank and then down the very steep stairs. We sit on our upper deck, at the front, watching to the loud accompaniment of music from another boat docked in front. Clive waves at them to turn it down which they do!! At the back ,deep down, another team of engineers are labouring away at the engine of our boat. Every now and again it is started and the back of the boat wants to leave the quay. This causes a bit of gangplank chaos. Three more bikes are also loaded, just like ours , on ropes. Bet the owners don’t have to pay loading money  like us!!

 By 12 noon, we are still here. We see some of the workers leave with goods of various kinds as in a bunch of bananas or a bag or two of rice… In over 30c temperatures they deserve it!.Passengers have stopped arriving…it is just the rice unloading holding us up. They have doubled the gangplank, doubled the workforce. At least 10 men involved. By the way, it  comes from Paraquay. By road to Manaus, or maybe boat.; loaded and unloaded manually how many times I wonder??

We finally left at 2.15pm. There were about 300 sacks of rice on the dock. I estimate those guys shifted about 50 tons of rice. Later in the evening at another port..Porto Allegro.. we watched another gang shift  ” white crystallised sugar” in quite big bags. It was a Safra crop…charity? They were obviously not as heavy and going downhill…on board in to the hold..but they worked very hard to get it done asap. 

The afternoon was pleasant, less humid and Clive thought he would have an afternoon shower on the back of the boat.

 Poor Clive has been hitting his bald head on various nasty obstacles on the low deck ceilings. Must keep cap on….. Our bathroom gets cleaned every day but it stinks as it is so old with leaking this and that. We still have only one sheet..we did ask, but one was our ration. We are not eating much as there is not much. Evening meals are the same every night.  Not taking any exercise either so I am feeling very unfit. 

19th Nov  Saturday

The English guy, Pete, got off at about midnight at a place called Prainha. The boat stopped later in the early hours but no place on the map at that point and we suspect the engine failed again. Or an illicit meeting on the water. Running feet on the deck, other boat engines,  ….strange noises.

The river now looks like I imagined..trees down to the river , floating bits of weed. No huge seasonal change in river level any more as we near the sea. Large barges carrying containers up river , creep slowly along the edge . A barge carrying lovely (sic) hardwood logs comes downstream.

 We call at yet another little place. This time 4 or 5 police come on board with 3 handcuffed prisoners. They have the prisoners in a cabin and they are sitting outside. Where are they going to get off.?

The beer drinking had begun by 8.30am . Today we have a drunk female who seems  to be keeping the boys well entertained from the sound of it. The music began about 8am. We enjoy sitting at the bow in the breeze and the shade.

Later on in the day we see more boats and then more little houses and people come out to our moving boat in their little dugouts with paddles or other boats with motors out the back.

 Some  catch up the boat and then moor themselves alongside  and come aboard and sell food products. It is a tricky manoeuvre and it is mostly done by children.

 At one point the boat had 4 little boats attached on each side  and the occupants/children were having a good time on our deck dancing to our music and playing.  They were miles from where they had joined us when they finally left. We saw one little boat head straight for a barge heading the other way and get a ride back. Obviously a bit of a way of life. Do the parents know where their young children are?

The finger of the river we are taking gets pretty narrow for a section. The trees really are close and the boat feels huge as it heads down this bit. Then all opens out again and we have managed to cut through to Breves on our way to Belem. Quick stop there ; the prisoners get off with all their guards and on we go into the darkness. We are not sure when we shall get to Belem tomorrow. 

20th Nov Sunday

We arrived just after 9am. A relief to get here. Fed up with same meal every night and same breakfast and the music going from 7am to 10pm. Fed up too with our stinking bathroom’s drains. For once the smell of Clive’s mosquito rings came in useful and  over rode the bathrom smell. The door could not shut…it did not fit the frame any more. 

We got off just like that and put our bags in the shade. It was not pandemonium but we could see what was coming. They wanted extra money for taking our bikes out of the holds and up on to the quay. Other peoples goods were being lifted up and out with no charge. Why should we pay extra? Some woman had her entire household goods with her…and business too it looked like. There were our two bikes and 2 more. Ours were the heaviest. They were got out of the holds. Then there was the hoist up to the quay just the same way as they went in. Stand off for sometime. Other guy was brazilian…he did not want to pay either. We had already paid for their transportation had we not? In the end Clive paid half the asking price. Up they came with us watching. When it came to looking closely at the bikes it became apparent that Clive’s bike  must have been over. His handlebar is bent upwards a bit and the gear lever has bent inwards. Handlebar the worst problem. So tomorrow , as it is Sunday today, we stay here and get these things fixed. Found nice funky french style hotel with little greenery and a pool. Belem is full of high rise blocks…big place..1.4 million people.

21st Nov Monday

Clive got talking to some very helpful man called Lucas as we arrived yesterday. The upshot is that he came round here this morning at 8am and we followed him to a motorcycle repair shop that he knew. Lucas used to ride motorcycles for a hobby.This was to repair Clive’s damaged handlebars ( he got a new one) , sort out his bent gear lever and get a new wing mirror; all damaged by the ferry. This was all done for £25 and within the hour while we chatted to Lucas about corruption, pirates on the river etc.We then parted company after a photo of us all was taken. The rest of the day was spent looking at parts of Belem like its cathedrals and histroric part, and its new river front eating and music place. That was stylish but the old part near the fort was very run down. The little original harbour area had some very old looking boats

 

Tomorrow we are ready to move onwards.

22nd Nov Tuesday

Our rather funky french style hotel, La Massilia, had a really good restaurant and we spent a rather silly amount last night on a bottle of Argentine wine. It was nice and so was the meal. Today we have ended up having a completely opposite kind of meal…the best in this town..Maracacume. It was help yourself to salad stuff and pasta etc and then choose the kebab stick you fancy. Best drink in the house was a suco..fresh fruit juice and a good one… Price was about 10% of last night. Ambience was nil with television blaring and a certain lack of decor but it was all very friendly. Thus ended our first day back on the road. We are heading south east and have headed into ranching country. Not as I might have imagined with nice fields of green grass but rather scrubby in outlook if you can call tropical bushes scrubby. The cattle graze amongst  this scrub. The grass looks dry. They are awaiting the rainy season still.  There was a fire burning somewhere but not near the road which was the usual fairly straight one. It was hot. We had to do more kms than we like in order to reach somewhere with an hotel or two. We are in one called the Nero Palace hotel. Not sure its name quite describes it!

23rd Nov Wednesday

The forecast says it will be 39c today. At 7.15am it said it was 26c!! We woke early and were off by 7.45am. Luckily for us the heat is drier and thus a bit easier to cope with in our motorcycle suits. We do our usual and stop often for sucos…fruit juice… and whatever we can find.

The countryside looks very dry. Water holes and little farm reservoirs are drying up. Cattle are scattered across the hilly landscape. Palm trees are dotted around and much of the land has been burnt at some time. Palm trees seem to survive but for a while they look pretty dead and then new branches come out the top. At some point donkeys appear by the roadside. They are mostly free to roam. The odd cow/bullock is the wrong side of the fence. Vultures hover around ready to get dogs that have been run over ..and the odd cow. Some of the cattle are very thin, one or two looked like they were on their last legs. It was a rather sorry landscape waiting for the rains. Sadly for them it is not in the forecast, apart from tomorrow. The small towns are slightly tidier but rubbish now more evident on the outside of towns. Up until now rubbish has been under control. Drains are another matter, the smell coming on the air to remind us of our bathroom on the boat.!

In the background to this photo is the cafe with Clive.

We have not been bothered by police at all until today when Clive who was quite far in front got stopped by the military police who were in a bunch under a tree. They were well armed and perhaps thought Clive was hiding something under his loose jacket, which they were searching  when I pulled up. We were waved onwards.

We spent the night at Bacabal in an Ibis Hotel !! Why there should be an Ibis Hotel here we could not tell. The town was not special but we definately found the best spot . 
24th Nov Thursday 

Not quite an Ibis tonight…we are in quite a rough town it seems and in a Pousada with high walls round it. Everyone friendly but choice is limited. 

It has been a day on the road thinking about the heat wafting its waves of hot air across  as we rode through more arid landscape. I have now read that this area has always been arid so this is normal till the rains come after Christmas. 

I was thinking about the road here in Brazil.

We do not obey double white lines…no one does.Nor a single solid white line. You overtake when you can. As “motos” we can overtake or undertake. We can ride along the hard shoulder,even against the traffic flow and seemingly without a crash helmet.You might come across a bicycle here going either way. Or wandering donkeys…..Mostly the driving is okay but a few car drivers go too fast and too close to us.  Our bane in life is the sleeping policeman. Some are like mountains, some short and steep , some mutilated by heavy lorry wheels, and occasionally some that we can skip round the end of. Whatever shape they are they are a pest.Lorries really have to slow down and if a town has quite a few then the lorries all get in a queue together and the traffic really slows down.That of course is the purpose and they do do their job. But if we go a bit too quick our bags on the back shift forwards with the jolt and then you have to give it all a shove back with your behind. I am carrying Clive’s case now to give him more room and it loves slipping forward. The whole braking movement, slowing down, speeding up, braking, jolt,speeding up,  is a pain. 

The road surface has been potholed in places  which is actually quite fun for us weaving around but not good for others. Other places have been damaged in the heat by lorries and you get rather chanelled down tarmac lanes.! In this area there are several dead animals by the road..bullocks, donkeys and dogs killed by traffic I guess. Field day for the vultures who do a grand job in tidying up.

25th Nov Friday

There we are having breakfast by the filthy river watching some women on the far side washing their clothes ( the water is brown ) at 7.50am when suddenly there are three gunshot noises. Then some more and for some few minutes there sounded like a gun battle going on in the town. The ladies doing breakfast looked sort of nervous and resigned. We hoped it was over as we left!! Outside town was an army/soldiers checkpoint. We have not seen one before.It was a permanent site but that and the gunfire rather emphasised our feeling that it was a bit of a rough town!

For quite a while the road was great.  Lovely green vegetation ( jungly, palm trees etc) and up and down dale went the road with bends . Very little traffic and early morning the heat was okay.Forecast 42c today. Then things get arid and the countryside looks a tough place to be in. There are houses of varying types including mud huts with straw roofs. Small towns had the tarmac road running through the middle and red dirt roads elsewhere. The two districts/states we have been going through…Maranhao and now Piaui,…are the two poorest in Brazil. Piaui is the least populated. 

We have headed for a town called Itaueira for the night. It is not large but oddly has a Hotel Formule Flat , owned by a french company which we think will be okay. It is and we get out of the heat which was quite tough the last hour.

26th Nov Saturday

Time is flying by. Today the sun shines without a cloud in the sky. Destined for 38c.  Hot but good road with no traffic hence time for thoughts of England and elsewhere! Then a town and those sleeping policeman and thoughts go as one contends with the bumps. Its lush for a while and then arid again.  The countryside reminds one of the Bush in Australia, the Atlas mountains in Morocco and pure desert. Inhospitable, unproductive. Turkey vultures fly overhead, searching for dead animals. We get along well till the last 40kms of the day. We had been asking and had ascertained that it might be dirt road at this point…it was! Corrugated dirt  mostly.  Not great but we did it and arrived in Remanso .  Only one Pousada listed which we found. Restaurant next door was not bad and most of the time we had music  courtesy of this car. Engine running  and music going from the speakers on the roof. They are keen on this kind of thing..in trailors towed by bikes, in pick ups and  cars. We shall impose on you…..!

27th Nov Sunday

Whilst it is a catholic country, church going  does not seem much better than our own . The road is good but it is now wandering goats as well as donkeys and cows. With only 200kms today we arrive in Petrolina, the biggest town we have been in since Belem. It has a lovely river..the San Francisco and our hotel room has a good view of it.

28th Nov Monday

Leaving town we went past numerous irrigated and green fields of sugarcane. Other crops grown in the Sao Francisco river valley are Mangos  and table grapes. Then the green fields ended and things began to look terrible. Really awful, virtually every tree and shrub was dead.

 About 10% was green or alive looking. Even the cactus  were dying and crops of prickly pear were looking pretty limp and dying. Reading now on the internet it seems this area has suffered years of drought and especially in 2013. Perhaps not much better since. We are told that there should have been schemes to help the area from the River Sao Francisco but in spite of money being made available it fell into the wrong corrupt hands. I found it very depressing and for over 2 hours we travelled through this silvery grey world of dead bushes and trees and empty river beds. Some animals were making  out….in particular goats! It was hot with a dry sauna like feel which did not help the ambience of this particular bit of countryside.

We reached Tucano. Slightly off the road, it was amazing it had any hotels but we had looked it up. Walking out from the hotel later to find food, we found there was a kind of communal out door shower area in the main square where people were showering in their bathers. They were showering on our way out and still doing so on our way back. We had difficulty in finding food. One restaurant as such did not seem to have any food and the one we did stop at…on the pavement, did not have any drink other than water. From the huge lady we ordered eggs and frites/chips. We got some fried eggs and salad, beans and rice. Then she had no change…surprise, surprise, and so the whole meal cost not £4 but £5!  Back in the hotel I am tempted to spend the night in a hammock…there is one on our balcony. Clive thinks I am mad but the bed is hard as a rock!

29th Nov Tuesday

I managed about half the night in the hammock. Failed I guess because I only had a towel as a cover and not little pillow. The town was very noisy for a while but I did doze then until essentially I was a bit cold. 

As we neared Salvador the countryside greened up and the road was more fun. Salvador has its share of shanty town in the form of little brick boxes built one on top of another any old how on the side of the hills. Similar to other Latin American countries/cities.  We successfully navigated to the district of Barra which is at the bottom of the peninsula where the beachs are. Clive wanted an hotel near the beach but now we are here says he will probably not swim in the sea but in a swimming pool. We ate peruvian food tonight near one of the forts.  Heavy police presence along this seafront…we guess to keep everyone safe as they dine out.

1st Dec Thursday

Yesterday was sight see Salvador. We duly caught a bus and plodded round the old city in pretty hot and humid conditions. Highlight was the church of Sao Francisco which was also attached to a convent ( now not functioning?). Its interior was amazing.

Pool for a swim, not the sea. I have to admit that the beach is very full and the sea we are told is not that clean. I have put my foot in and it is quite warm. Eventually persuaded Clive that we should take a walk to the beach round the corner with waves and not so busy as our local beach.

 We did swim and it was nice. On the way back we went to the nautical museum in The fort de Santo Antonio do Barra . It was right here on this piece of land in 1549 that Tome de Souza ( a portugese) landed and founded Brazil’s first capital city…Salvador. A lighthouse was built inside/on the fort in 1698 and still exists and works today. It was built after a large ship foundered on the rocks about 30 years earlier. Amazingly we were allowed to climb all the way up to the light of the lighthouse….Clive huffing somewhat. Since we had been swimming we had no camera so no photo. The turning gear, built in Paris in very late 1800’s for the light, was still working though now an electric motor turned the cogs.  It was interesting.

Large container ships in the bay..its called the bay of sinners and saints.!  More forts line the shore. Lovely site for a town, you can see what attracted the Portugese of old.

We eat for the third night along on the beach front/promenade/street. No brits as far as we know but next door table seem to be german but also speak portugese. As we eat we are watching a keep fit scene. The moment the sun goes down and the beach sunbathers wander off others come out. The fast walkers, the dog walkers, the joggers. The cylclists, the scateborders and naturally the runners. Tonight  there is a special team doing warm up running exercises and then running off down and then back up the road. Male and female mixed. On the beach there seems to be a kind of beach volley balltraining session..again male and female mixed. Old and young are exercising…but some are sitting and eating and watching!

2nd Dec FridayOff we go to catch the Salvador-Itaperica ferry. Its back up a bit,through the historical city and down to the port. It starts to rain! We manage to ride our bikes right through the historic part probably where we should not have, but no one stopped us and we descended to the port on a little cobbled street as in the old days I am sure. Ferry about to leave as we got on. Being motorbikes we were told to push on past the queue….

Rain threatened but we were lucky. Pretty road, heading south down the coast, but beleaguered by sleeping policeman everywhere as so many villages. Progress a bit slow what with sleeping policeman and potholes in the tarmac. Last bit was excellent however…sweeping road, steep hills up and down and jungle to the sides. Arrived in Itacare. Its meant to be a bit of a destination for surfers. Pousada is found and then we walk the main street for our evening meal. I book a day tour but Clive opts for total relax tomorrow. We eat Italian and watch the crowd go by. Amazing sights…the brazilians do not have the best body shapes and many various went by. The worst had to be a pregnant lady who thought we all wanted to see her bare pregnant stomach on display. Dress varied from long to shorts and t shirt….anything goes. Street was the trendiest we have seen with the likes of Billabong shop etc. Masses of restaurants…..

3rd Dec Saturday

I go off on a day tour , supposedly  to explore the peninsular north of here,see a beautiful beach and either snorkel or  dive. Result was different. The day began with rain so we went down the dirt road in the rain.The driver was good..knew the business, and we arrived at the beautiful beach in the rain. This upset the whole day and we never did get the snorkel/dive. There were three of us and the other two were not exactly keen to swim etc. Nevertheless I learnt about where a cashew nut comes from, that there are cocoa trees here, and giant almond trees. We did stand in some very clear water and allow fish to bite us…ow!

 Quite exciting car ride on a sandy road going through giant puddles of rain.

 Saw Barra Grande. Ended the day having a hot chocolate drink …really good…and getting to know the other two. They have a restaurant in Rio.

I like Itacare. Its dirty and trendy. The locals come out as in Salvador and play games in the evening based somewhere on the beach. Nice vibe.. unlike inland.  Barra Grande at the end of the dirt road and after about 15kms of sandy road is a “hippy “place. Only thing ..its quite expensive to be there. The restaurants looked expensive on the beach . Very difficult to get things there and difficult for you once there to move around.You would have to hire an ATV to get through all that sand. Lonely Planet waxed lyrical about it.  Each to their own..

4th Dec Sunday

We move on and have a really good motorbiking day as regards road and scenery. Up and down the hills we went and round the bends. Beautiful jungle mostly. Rain holds off, its cloudy but hot enough ! We are going through cocoa producing countryside. .. the cocoa coastline apparently. I think I have worked out what a cocoa bush/tree looks like…..We are also going through a sustainable logging region ! Stop in Eunapolis. We are on the edge of town and probably won’t see much of it. 

5th Dec Monday

Eunapolis was founded in 1988 ! We did not see it …the hotel was a surprise…rather good design and quite good.

Another good day on the bikes. Good road and fun countryside. Coffee plantations

  and finally worked out which are cocoa ones…Plenty of sustainable  forestry  and trucks full of wood labouring up the hills. Strange rock formation  which was called Monte Pascoal. Arrived in Nova Vicosa expecting a trendy hotel , lovely beach and fun town. Well it did rain after we arrived  so not seen beach yet. Hotel a bit down at heel and we have changed room 3 times to try and get decent wifi and AC. Basically have failed. Sort of better wifi than room number one; room 2 had good wifi but AC not working and here both are iffy. Tomorrow we shall see beach and town.  Wanted to stop and enjoy and thought there would be more action. Maybe…..

6th Dec Tuesday 

We have swopped rooms again…back to number two as AC now working if a bit weakly. It is very humid here and quite hot…32c. The real reason for Clive’s liking for ACS ‘ is that mosquitos don’t like them. I am not too bothered about the mosquitos as we are out of malerial zone. Could get Zeko I suppose…..

Seen town. Nothing touristy or spectacular. Vultures eating fish off the fishing boats, nice river scene and fishing boats doing their thing. Ladies standing in a shed peeling shrimps… Thoughts of changing hotel have gone as this does look like one of the better ones.!

8th Dec Thursday

We arrived in Linhares yesterday and booked into a hotel called BHS. On the face of it and on the map it looked like it would be terrible but it has turned out much better than we could have imagined. Nice hotel, good value etc. So we are spending 2 nights here. Coming back down the road to this place in the dark last night I saw something scurrying across….looked like a crab ( we are inland). It was an enormous spider bigger than a credit card. I got this photo with our hotel room card near it.  It is a bird eating spider….says brother in law…

We visited a beach on one of the lakes here. It nearly rained as we went there and then did so . We sat in a kind of cafe…tin roof under some trees with a man selling cans of drink and beer…..and watched people swimming in the rain. The water was lovely and warm. There was a car on the beach, girls dancing together in their bikinis  and generally brazilians having fun as they do…even in the rain. Clive did not fancy swimming and I had not got going before the rain….bit pathetic!

9th Dec Friday

What fun to set off with Mackaws flying over head…2 pairs…. Heading down the coast. Heavy traffic and jams in Vitoria and the next place. Not had traffic like this since setting off. Hills,  plantations and sea! 

It’s difficult to place what you book on line with reality. We are meant to be IN Anchieta but whilst the Pousada said it was there, its not. It’s outside the town. No signs and not quite what it said. So we negotiated a better room to make up for lack of pool….a tub, and lack of wifi…working tomorrow!! 

We shall explore….

10th Dec Saturday

Last night we had difficulty finding a restaurant that was open. We seem to be the only ones at our Pousada and the town is empty. Anyway, find a place, empty, bar us, and then half a dozen souls come in. We ordered, a dish of prawns and some extra chips. Chips arrive, we pick at them with our fingers. Then told no prawns so we say meat…dish finally arrives and it is bits of fried meat with onions, no sauce. There is no sign of plates or cutlery so we continue onwards eating with our fingers. No paper knapkins either so it was lick the fingers. No plates ever arrived! Interesting, as we had thought as we travelled towards Rio that things were more sophisticated! Perhaps the waiter just forgot…..

We got back just before it rained and it has rained most of the night and still is, but forecast says it will clear. Good choice of not moving to day.

Went to Anchieta after the rain had stopped , carefully negotiating our wet sandy road for a bit. Not much to say about it! Back here and I had a long walk along the beach after a swim. Back out on the bikes in the evening to find a restaurant. Strike quite well with a creperie, brazilian style. Clive spotted a female Black Witch moth. (ascalapha odorata). It’s wingspan was about 6″  long….

11th Dec Sunday

No rush as only  170kms to do. It is humid  and hot and we do not go quickly as endless villages and sleeping policeman,. Clive reckons at least 10 to each village and so 10 villages makes 100 sleeping policeman….slow down, bump, speed up, brake, change gear and so on. I get hotter and hotter.  We go wrong slightly  a few times and we stop for sucos. ( fresh fruit juice ) . Small time farmers here with an assortment of tropical crops…sugar cane , cassava , etc, cattle and even some vines. Pretty rolling hills, relaxed and not high powered farming. So it seems….We are taking a secondary road and luck runs out re tarmac and we do some dirt but it’s not bad. The road was tarmac in the past…amazing that it has deteriorated so much. We ask our way of friendly locals..

The Palace hotel..once so grand perhaps. This is our spot for the night.

  It’s restaurant, still so lauded by its staff, did not have a sole in it , so we walked around the streets till we found a vibrant pavement cafe and enjoyed it’s ambience and drinks if not its food…pizza! Back past the hotel restaurant and still no one there. The river view is good…..a river bigger than the Thames and yet whose name I do not know. 

 12th Dec Monday

Slower start. We are only moving a short distance. I walk to find a post office and bank and have an explore. Then we head off. Before we know it we are in Macae. Approching via a coastalroad you can see islands off shore and oil rigs and supply vessels. Does not auger well for tourist destination. 

I head off exploring the two beaches. One is a town beach and the other is deserted and lovely but backed by crap and industry. Strange place, quite decent, but this huge presence of Petrobas, the state oil company.

14th Dec Wed

Yesterday stayed put.Clive and I walked the streets admiring this town. Well, there is not too much to admire but we did our bit walking the main streets. Nothing in the shops tempted us. We found the fish market and the very tame egrets. Harbour was busy and there were plenty of cormorants after fish. I loved the frigate birds flying over head. 

14th Dec Wednesday

We have shifted a little further down the coast to Buzios.  This has been feted as one of the seaside locations  for the Rio jet-set.  It is indeed, as far as we can see so far from our walk in the rain, a much more sophisticated spot than we have been in for a long time….since Itacare.

Apparently Bridget Bardot came here with her Brazilian boyfriend.  We have found a cafe/film place named after her and the beach road is called Orla Bardot. There is a statue too. 

Between here and Macae the lovely beachy coastline was spoilt with industry and linear development of pretty filthy housing along the busy road. I do wonder how it will be in 20 years time. Will industry or tourism win.? 

15th Dec Thursday

It rains all day! Just like England,  pulsing heavier at times.  Coldest day we have had. We manage to take Clive’s samsung phone to a shop . His new S7 ( not a note!) has not worked well since he got it. Now it just doesn’t work. They said they could fix it. Back later and no , they cannot. Something wrong with the motherboard.  Samsung in Norwich have looked at it too….. Its useless.

One other thing we have, I have , sorted,…a dive for me. Going on Saturday. Christmas present from my mother…

17th Dec Saturday

Took my bike along yesterday to a shop recommended by our italian landlord. It was not starting at all well when hot and getting worse. The result is that it needs a new oil temperature sensor which they do not have in stock. So we left my bike behind  waiting for the part. Hope it arrives and works. Bit of a blow for the reliable Honda.

Today had my dive in the morning. It was a bit disappointing as the sea was not super clear…pretty murky.. There were fish and did see a Moray eel lurking but nothing that exciting. Only turtle I saw was swimming on the surface and saw it from the boat. Nevertheless good to be doing it…it is enjoyable.

Walked , with Clive, along the beach front and towards Ossos. Saw the Bardot statue and others. Realise that this place, Armacao dos Buzios is rather like Bali’s  town Kuta….its a total overload on the senses of eating ,drinking and shopping….if you can say that! 

18th Dec Sunday

Moved about a mile up the road to Buzios Ossos. Had booked this place before the other or you could say before we knew how things were going to pan out.Interesting move as we had only one motorbike as mine still at Honda shop waiting for its part. So Clive, (who would not let me ride his bike) went back and forth with our luggage and finally me too. Three trips. No rush and looked at this huge cruise ship as we pootled from one place to the other.

The new spot is quieter in town but the nearest beach was overloaded in the afternoon. Apparently we are now surrouded by Argentinians who like holidaying here. Difficult for us to detect as not much good at Spanish either. I swam all the way across the bay.

19th Dec Monday

Explore a quiet beach but find it is on overload too. Very pretty, reminds me of Sardinia. This is holiday week so we are not too surprised to be surrounded by people at last. Hot and sunny.

20th Dec Tuesday

This is almost the end of the holiday part of our trip. Have enjoyed people watching and generally slowing down. Think of everyone back home getting ready for Christmas…..Feel it is a shame that we are not going to be there. I don’t like hot Christmas.

We have had a week here in Buzios and during that time not really had a glass of wine. BUT we have both been drinking Caipiranhas.  This is the local (to Brazil) spirit as in Vodka to the russians. It’s made from sugar cane. ..Cachaca.The drink Caipiranhas is a tot of Cachaca with lime, sugar and ice all shook up together in a shaker/mixer. You can get good and bad mixes.  The restaurants here tend to offer free Caipiranhas if you come and eat with them etc. The Cachaca is absurdly cheap, a litre selling for 15 reals which is about £4. It is 40% proof.  A glass  of wine here is 20 reals which rather puts it in perspective. 

21st Dec Wednesday

Off we go to Rio. Not too far to go and we arrive successfully in our budget Ibis near Copacabana beach….chosen for its location and not its facilities. The parking as advertised on google  Ibis is not going to happen so we get man outside/security guard to be the guard.  We do hope they do not disappear. We have not had them on the streets of a big city.

So off to the beach which we look at, have a drink at , but do not swim.  I have caught a horrible cough so that is probably why I did not nag Clive to swim. 

22nd Dec Thursday

Sightseeing day so off to Cristo  the Redeemer  by bus. Then you catch a train up the mountain,  one of those cog trains. It was all through a national park so pretty jungle  until you come out at the top. The view is very impressive. Not too busy, but hot! Bit hazy…not a really clear day . 

Thought there would be a few supplicants  at Cristo ‘s feet but did not see anybody who was not taking  photos. Down again and long but relaxing bus ride back. My cough/cold not good and we went back to the hotel and did not do Sugarloaf mountain.  We can see it and it is only another big view. Clive not too bothered! So feeling a bit more with it in the evening we went to see Ipanema beach and ate around there.

The beaches are full of people . Swimming not the prime sport possibly as many ball games being played. Funny to be in a big city and find people walking back along a street in their wet bathers with a towel. No one blinks an eye lid.  

In Buzios the waiters had to sell their restaurants’ food because of the intense competition  between eating places. They would be out on the pavements really trying to entice you in. Here there is not that competition and our waiter last night would not have got a job in Buzios. Very nice and relaxed.

23rd Dec Friday

My cold had struck…my eyes were streaming  and I was sneezing nine to a dozen. Breakfast down the road, feels like New York. Tall buildings shade the street, hardly know what the weather is doing, but at the end of this street is Copacabana beach  and that makes everything different. People walk past in their bathers, walking their dogs. ! No one cares in Brazil what they look like or its trendy to just be natural. We are not used to so much flesh on display. 25% of females in Brazil are obese and that is what you see in the flesh on the beach  and on the street in the t shirts and shorts.

We head out of town past the Olympics park which was in fact miles from the centre of Rio. We are on a really nice coastal road, sweeping up and down hill from one bay to another. My eyes are infected by this cold and they are really light sensitive  so have sun glasses on and sun visor down. Sneezing!! Beautiful jungle scenery, lovely bays and beaches. Past  Brazil’s only nuclear power station at Angara. Quite old but produces much energy. We reach Paraty. We have booked the Jabaquara beach resort.  In the event the photos have sent the place up. Booking .com getting quite famous for this as far as we are concerned. This is no beach resort.  It has no beach that it is connected too. Very nice Dutch guy owns it and makes up for some disappointments.  This is our Christmas stop!! We upgrade the room…at a price. The pool….amazing what photos can do…its okay. The area looks fun… we eat in La Lune on the beach. It is quite a romantic setting there is no doubt….in paradise.! Back to hotel room and mosquitos.?

24th Dec  Saturday

The dire cold seems to have disappeared and now Clive is getting it. Strange , these Brazilian bugs!!!

After breakfast head into Paraty to catch a tour boat.

 We have booked again ..tried in Buzios which got  cancelled because of wind…a tour of beaches with swims. Have token which needs to be converted into a ticket “near the pier ” Encourage Clive to leave early.  We do, and park bikes near a church and walk to pier. Finally told half way up that need to get ticket 5 streets a way.  With not much time to spare,  Clive takes  my bag and I run to the tourist agent that apparently doles out the tickets. The streets are old and paved with huge cobbles, all uneven. 

I concentrate hard on where my feet are going. I make it there and back and then am so hot!!! But we are on the boat and it is very nice and we have a great day with some lovely swims in good clear warm water. Amazing scenery, it is very pretty  and here is one of the privately owned islands. If I was that rich I think that this would be a good spot.

Clive succumbing to the bug , we eat down the road again but he just eats icecream while I order a fish dish which has is not great..fish old I think….and therefore drink some good wine instead and leave the fish!  It’s Christmas eve! !!!

Christmas day..Sunday

Happy Christmas greetings to everyone. Not much sign of it here. There have been shops selling lights etc and there are municipal artificial trees up but here at this hotel not much sign of it. No one seems to be saying “Feliz Natal ” to each other at breakfast ! 

Our last day of “fun” in Paraty. Tomorrow its off to Sao Paulo to sell the bikes and stay in the boring Hotel Panamby where it all began. So I head into town on the bike to take photos. Clive stays behind to relax with his cold/cough. Good sunny day and feeling hot. Later we head off together on our bikes to see a waterfall and place where you can slide over the smooth rocks into a pool. 

Much fun is being had by everyone. Not too full of people ….Take my time in weighing it all up and then have a go.Great, bit tricky to take the right slippery route. Clive declines but does swim.Then up a bit more to the Cafe de Tarzan and another rock pool. This time you could swim forever against the current. Brilliant. Water was clean. Up here in these mountains are  sugarcane distilleries where they produce the Cachaca. Probably need the water a bit like  Scottish whisky.Nice end.

Back to hotel to clean bikes and have a barbecue of chicken for our Christmas meal.

26th Dec Monday

Off to Sao Paulo. Last day of riding. Hot , sunny as we head down the coast on nice twisty road and then after Utatuba head straight up into the Serra do Mar. This is a long mountain range that runs parallel to the coast. The road was alpine with tight bends. Coming down was jammed with holiday traffic for this seems to be the start of Brazilian holiday season. They seem to stay at home for Christmas and then go off. We climbed up 8kms with the jam of traffic all the way to the top…probably 800m high. Nice rolling plateau with grazing and trees and then the motorway into Sao Paulo.  Decided to stay at the Panamby again! We have really completed a circle round Brazil. The same manager is there!  We get a good room…the place is not too busy and then have problem over parking the bikes because the car park people want the same money as 2 cars. Not very fair. So we park them outside the car park and pray they are there in the morning. 

27th Dec Tuesday

Bikes are there. Sell bikes day. Head off and try a few shops.  Offers are fairly consistent so off to Deisy at Yngra motos where we bought them. Deal is done, forms are signed etc. That’s it…bye bye to these bikes.  Now we have too many Reals and will need to change  back to ££s before leaving Brazil.

Back to hotel, change flight  for London and all is organised for departure tomorrow.  We had meant to stay another day but flights for that day even more expensive. 

28th Dec Wednesday

A morning spent shopping and changing money…Reals back to £s if possible. That money for the bikes. …..we think it has cost us about £800 each. That is a great deal cheaper than shipping our own over and back. That was the intention.

On to the plane and time to reflect on Brazil.

Points in no particular order.

I noticed quite quickly the number of adults with train tracks to straighten out their teeth. Lots.  It is not state sponsored , people have to pay and the explanation was that the parents could not afford it when they were children so they were paying themselves now, in adulthood. In many ways it is like their bodies, there is no embarrassment.  In Europe we are more body conscience/proud. Brazil….anything goes. It was very refreshing in many ways but in others less so.

Brings me to point two which is connected. There is a great deal of flesh on display in Brazil. It’s hot,  t shirt and shorts and flip-flops is the standard  dress for the masses. Smart flip-flops,  smart shorts and t shirts sometimes, but there you are, lots of bare legs, thighs , stomachs and boobs on display. 25% of females in Brazil are obese…official. That is a lot of flesh. I would also say 25% of men are also obese. They enjoy lifting their t  shirts and patting their stomachs. Generally nice brown ones but not what we were used to!  If 25% were obese then the rest are overweight.  No one cares so it does not matter. Live life and enjoy.

So point 3. There is a small percentage of Brazilians who are trying to keep fitter. It’s difficult when it is so hot, so exercise takes place in the evenings. If a beach around then it is jogging in the sand or playing volley ball  etc and other ball games . Continues until dark.

Point 4  Not much can happen after dark as it is dangerous in many cities.  Whilst we had a very friendly time and did not see anything  untoward we were careful, we were being warned all the time. We were told not to go up one dirt road in day light because of robberies.!  Not to go round Belem in the dark. Etc.

Sucos. We loved the sucos. Fresh fruit juice, sometimes whipped up with milk as well as ice. Could be served up by the jug. Cheap and great usually , but a bad one would be watered down.  The more local the cafe/restaurant  the better the sucos…generally.   We loved the mango, passionfruit,  orange, sugarcane etc. There is a palm called Acai which produces a very dark colour fruit with a particular taste. Very high in anti oxidants  but we were not that fond of it.

Happy to not see/do any more…..

Chuck loo paper into a bin and not down the loo. Thin looking paper. But quite liked the loo seats that seemed to have air in them and gently went down as you sat on them!

Never want to ride over another sleeping policeman.

But will miss…..

The very friendly people. Always willing and wanting to help even though few spoke english. 

Caipiranhas.  Cachaca, the local spirit made from sugar cane that cost as little as £2 a litre in a big supermarket. 40% proof it obviously does no one any good but it makes a good cocktail called Caipiranha. It is cachaca, lime and ice.  A glass of Caipiranha could be bought anywhere. It took us a while to discover but once we did we enjoyed. The cheapest bottle is called 51.

Perhaps last but not least we enjoyed the breakfasts. These were generally included in the price of a room  and consisted of scrambled eggs or omelettes,cakes of various sorts including chocolate , sweet breads, cheese and cheese balls,, and fruit as well as normal stuff like cereals and toast. Always some nice fruit juice.

We loved Lanchettes .  Self service places where you pay depending on the weight of the food on your plate. 

Brazilian chocolate…very good.

I was hopeless at the language and left it to Clive who has a smattering of Portugese. But I did get in a muddle with Chorriscaria  and Churriscaria. The former was a welding shop and the latter a barbecue place. For a while I could not work out why the barbecue places were so dirty!

Mileage .  Approx 10700 kms . 6,700 miles. We also travelled for 4 days by boat covering about 1000 miles.

8 Responses to Brazil 2016

  1. ROSS HADDOW

    Nina, trip looks great. Web site is fantastic too, who is your provider please? rOSS

  2. bev rockliff

    Those waterfalls! And I thought Niagara was impressive.

  3. George Morton

    Great to read about your adventures. George

  4. George Morton

    Great to read about your adventures. George

    11/11/16: Nina/Clive, If you’re reading this you have made it along the BR319, which I sincerely hope you have. I googled the road after Clive’s last e.mail and it looks awful. It looks a lot worse than muddy in parts. You obviously enjoy the danger. Take care. George

  5. George Morton

    21/11/16: Nina and Clive this is some journey you are having. It’s just as well you both love an adventure in the wilds of strange countries. You appear to be losing weight Clive or Nina has a camera that slims you down. Stay Safe.

    • Nina Plumbe

      Clive did eat very little on the boat for some reason so he should have lost weight. We took no exercise of course…and Clive hardly ever went down to other decks.

  6. Martin Noble

    Nina, the photos and journey look incredible. A big difference from heliskiiing to biking on mud roads in Brazil!

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