After the border crossing we realised we were going to have to up our game if we wanted to make it around South America. With a deadline of December 16th for a friends wedding in Chile, it hit us that we needed to be in Brazil to be on schedule, with nothing but main roads ahead of us we decide to hitch. This was a decision that in some ways feels like we have cheated on our trip, the roads are dull, main highways and the scenery is nothing compared to what we have been through or what lies ahead but still, something didn’t feel right with our choice. 5 days, 3 hitches and 2 buses later we were in Posadas, not where we wanted to be but well over 3000km from where we made the decision to not ride. Christmas Day was a relaxed affair with us not really knowing where we were or what there is to do, the weather is also notably more tropical. After the final bus and a rather unpleasant bus driver who judging by his waist line hadn’t been near a bike for far too long, and judging by the way he manhandled our bikes didn’t much care to be near a bike any time soon, we opted to ride the last stretch; 320km on a good road, easy, 3 days and we would be at Iguazu falls!
We were wrong, so very wrong! The road had more in common with a roller coaster than a normal road and in the 320km I don’t think we experienced more than 100m of flat; constant ups and down coupled with the horrific humidity levels left us struggling. 5 days later we made it to the falls thoroughly exhausted.
Sight seeing and new year in Peurto Iguazu with an impromptu pool party left us ready to finally get to Brazil. A few nights in the casa de ciclista and Brazil was not off to the start we were hoping, Jess not feeling 100%, whether it be a 2 day hangover or actual illness we weren’t sure but a few rest days we hoped would help rejuvenate her motivation to get on the bike.
We left Foz do Iguaçu with the aim of Curitiba to see Daniel, one of the Brazilians we rode with in Chile and then hot foot onwards to the coast. Again though our plans were hindered with Jess deteriorating, turns out it wasn’t a two-day hangover!
We made it as far as Cascavel where we were staying with a couple who we had been put in contact with while camping in a petrol station. A man with very little English came to chat to us, when learning we were from England he thrust a phone upon me exclaiming Albania, Albania! I tried to explain I wasn’t from Albania nor did I speak Albanian but nevertheless I was forced on the phone wondering what I was supposed to say. It was then I heard a cockney accent on the other end asking me if we needed any help. Turns out the crazy mans brother-in-law was from Albania but luckily for me spoke perfect English, well almost perfect, the cockney accent wasn’t his fault, he had lived in London for 8 years! We made plans to stay the next night.
It was thanks to this chance meeting that Jess’ illness was as comfortable as could have been. In true Brazilian style we were made to feel right at home and ended up staying for 5 nights in all. Being sick on holiday is never easy, being sick when travelling with no fixed abode is even worse and I hate to think how miserable we would have been if it wasn’t for the kindness of Artur and Regie
Reluctantly we hit the road again with Jess now feeling almost as good as new. Next stop Curitiba! Another great few days catching up with Daniel and seeing how he normally lives compared to the cyclist we had known on the road. We even managed to watch the latest Star Wars, more for my sake than Jess’ and do a spot of shopping in Decathlon!
With warnings from every Brazilian we spoke to and to us not being well behind schedule we opted to skip the next stretch of road and catch a bus to Santos, from here we would be within touching distance of the beaches we had been dreaming about since Chos Malal.
The coast road led to some amazing vistas and for the next few weeks we were never too far from the sea. Again though Brazil was not making it easy and we found ourselves climbing the steepest hills we have encountered yet. Luckily the climbs are never long but the legs were still finding it tough. With this we decided it was time to use another contact and stay with Daniel’s mum who lives in a small town on our route. Once again we were blown away with Brazilian hospitality and had to tear ourselves away from the idyllic little beach town, not after a night of beers, whisky and BBQ’s something we are coming to realise Brazilians take great pride in!
From here it was on to Ilha Grande, an island that has no roads, sounds perfect for cycle tourists and we couldn’t pass up the chance to explore it for ourselves. With perfect white beaches and crystal clear water we spent a few days trying to eradicate the cycle tourist’s tan lines while searching for the quietest beach we could.
After another prolonged stop we now had our eyes set on Rio. The road provided endless vistas and we slowly became accustomed to steep climbs we had to overcome each day. Before we knew it we were in Rio, now to find somewhere to store our bikes securely! Cities were never a highlight for ourselves due to the increase traffic and the general hustle and bustle that doesn’t lend it self to a fully loaded touring bike, still Rio has an excellent system of cycle lanes that meant we were able to navigate in relative safety, bare a few clueless pedestrians!
Our time in Rio was spent hitting the countless tourist attractions that appealed to us, we cycled up to the Christ Redeemer, had a tour of one of the favelas and cycled up and down Cococabana beach. All that is left now is to wash and prepare to get out of Rio before Carnival fever fully takes hold of the city!
Our first month in Brazil has been far different than our experience in Patagonia. Brazil has been amazing because of the people we have met so far. The riding has not been anything to brag about, most of the times we are on main roads, the beaches we have come across, although beautiful have been very busy. Too busy for our liking. What we need to find now is some remote areas of Brazil, we just hope that the northwest of the country can offer us this!!
Danny and Jessica living the nomadic dream.