Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Brasil we will be back !

Our two weeks spent in Brazil started off as a plan to stay one night at the Iguassu Bikers Hostel (Foz do Iguassu) to do an oil change.  It was at this hostel that we met Rod and Adriano, the very friendly and helpful hosts who convinced us to stay for the Horizons Unlimited Meeting planned for the coming weekend.  Horizons Unlimited is a very helpful webpage that connects fellow travellers and provides a forum to both share information and ask for advice/help.  The prospect of meeting fellow overlanders and to be a part of the Brazil 2014 meeting meant that we stayed in Foz do Iguazu another 5 days.
A trip to one of the largest hydroplants in the world Itaipu dam organised by Rod

Loads of bikes

72kgs of meat brazilian style !! oh yes !!

The weekend was fantastic!! We were inspired further by the stories we heard of South American travels as well as further afield and loved meeting local bikers – some of which do not necessarily understand our choice of travelling.  However we were also jealous of the bigger machines parked around us and this got us thinking of our KLR650’s in England! Thus the plans have shifted a little…Instead of travelling with our Honda 125 XRs up to Peru, we are going to rather spend more time in Paraguay, Bolivia and see more of Argentina on our way back to Santiago to sell these bikes. Then we are going to see about shipping/flying our KLR650s into Peru to then venture further north and into North America! Exciting times ahead J

During the weekend we found out that our friends from South Africa, Deborah and Lee, were in Florianopolis - only about 1000kms  - and they invited us to come visit them.  Excited to see them, the Atlantic Ocean, some amazing landscape seen in pictures at the Hostel, we headed out early in the week.  On the way to Florianopolis we decided to take the more scenic route through countryside and into the Serra Catarinense escarpment.  The first day out on the road we couldn’t believe our luck when a passing motorbike invited us to stay the night at his house. Adriano and his friends were very friendly and took us on a tour of their town all the while trying to chat to us with our broken Spanish and occasionally with the help of Google Translate! 

Adriano our friendly host for a night
The next day we passed another hydroelectric dam and more agricultural fields and eventually landed up on one of the main roads down to the coast.  The number of trucks was ridiculous and we decided to try another route to avoid them, however that road as it turned out was even busier!  It was on this route that we spotted a good spot to camp -behind the local museum and next to the cemetery.  We luckily just made it there in time to put up a shelter and hide under it from the passing storm!  To say these summer storms consist of downpours is an understatement…

Taking cover from the down pour

We continued along the BR282 towards the coast battling with the trucks along the way, and were relieved when we could turn off into the Serra Catarinense.  Unfortunately, mountain ranges and hot weather means heavy clouds, and before long we were moving on through the rain.  We climbed up to Sao Joaquim and decided our feet were tired of swimming in a pool of water and found a Pousada to spend the night.  The electric storm continued through the night and into the morning, and we awoke to another torrential downpour.  This was quite a pity as we planned to do the Serra Rio do Rastro pass which is meant to have fantastic views down to the coast.  We were quite lucky when we got there though as the clouds cleared for a moment to show us the amazing switchback road below.  The rainfall and mist actually made it look so much more beautiful, and as we descended the passthe waterfalls and gushing water next to the road added to the experience. 

Moving on through small towns, and the occasional bigger ones we arrived on the main coastal freeway and headed north towards Florianopolis.  Finally a glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean…! En route we were very pleased to be on motorbikes because we were able to weave in and around the traffic jam about 10km long! They are in the process of building a new bridge over the laguna and this has meant a massive backlog of trucks and cars!  

View when we arrived

Starting to clear

And there you have it !

Serra Do Rio Do Rastro

Decorations !

One of the many buffet livres along the road, yummi !!!
We arrived on the island of Florianopolis at what seemed like peak hour traffic, luckily this flowed pretty smoothly and we managed to navigate our way to the north of the island to meet up with Deborah and Lee.  Having to kill about 30 min before we met them, we went to Praia do Forte for a sundowner.   We couldn’t believe our welcome at Deborah and Lee’s as the door opened and out wafted the smell of a delicious chicken curry and a Mrs Balls chutney bottle sitting on the table…we had arrived in heaven!  This was the first step to falling in love with island living!
The next week was a myriad of relaxing beach days nibbling on acai gelo (frozen Amazonian fruit smoothies) asado haloumi (braai’d cheese), day trips around the unexpectedly hilly island with 42 beautiful beaches, experiencing different levels of carnival partying with live music and dancers, chilling in the apartment we were graciously given to stay in and spending time with Deborah and Lee despite them being so busy over the carnival period!  We were spoilt to say the least, and it was difficult to leave the beautiful island.

Street carnavales

The tradition is for men to dress up as girls and they take it very seriously !!

What would brazil be without a thong shot on the beach !!

Portable braais that they cook the haloumi cheese on

Praia Mole

Teen and Layla

South african braai brasilian style ! courtesy of Lee

Teen and Alex

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We thought we had timed it perfectly to miss the rain, however heading back to Foz, we were caught out in a number of downpours again.  Wanting to explore more of the Serra Catarinense, we headed for the Corvo Branco pass and on to the campsite in Urubuci. The universe had different plans though, and we found ourselves at the bottom of the pass being warned that it would be impossible to take the motorbikes up due to the amount of mud.  As the rain continued to fall we eventually headed the warnings after seeing a bakkie and truck stuck in thick mud, and the condition of our tyres after only 10m along the ‘good’ section of the road.  Unfortunately we hadn’t drawn money and had anticipated to be camping in the bigger town of Urubici.  Wild camping was not an option and we found ourselves at a Pousada hoping they would accept credit card.  Nope, all we had was 30 reals on us (R120) and the room was 100 Reals.  Oh dear…but after a few minutes the lady came out and told us we could stay in a room in her house for the night but there would be no dinner or breakfast for us.  Absolutely no problem! We just needed to get out of the rain! The smell of freshly made chocolate brownie (made by her 3 teenage children) poured out of the family home, and it was easy to relax and attempt to talk to the family.  In true Brazilian hospitality style, we were invited for a family dinner around the kitchen table, and after a good nights sleep were given breakfast in the morning! We couldn’t thank her and her family enough for helping us out!
Another down pour

mud and clay
The sun was bright the next morning and we decided to see if the pass had dried up a little for us to travel the way we wanted to.  Luck was on our side, and the amazingly beautiful drive up was breath-taking and thankfully the mud was relatively dry! We continued to a few other sights suggested in the area, and loved the off road riding through the countryside.  Back on the BR282 we realised how travelling on a Sunday can make a big difference as there were nowhere near as many trucks as before! We pushed on and as the sun started to set we looked for somewhere to camp.  It was hard to find a place off the main road that would be sheltered enough to wild camp, so we landed up at a place called Pica –Pau Verde.  The owner was such a character and we had a fantastic evening chatting to him around the dinner table in his ‘rodeo house’ enjoying the “colonial” (as he put it) wines, Parma ham and salame. He definitely has one of the best ‘man-caves’ or wine cellars we have seen and we wish we had got a picture of it! Drying salame, homemade cachaca (cane liquor), wines from all over as well as his own wine making equipment, horse riding equipment…just never ending gadget things!

Serra Do Corvo Branco

Morro De Igreja Pedra Furada

The next morning breakfast was another treat, after which we jumped onto their quad bikes and were taken to the “ecological sanctuary” on the property where he recently had a ceremony to bless the place.   Then to the museum of the farm from when his father used work the land to see some blasts from the past equipment.

Back onto the BR282 to Soa Migual D’Oeste we were happy that again there were not too many trucks on the road making it easy to navigate around the many potholes and lumps and bumps made from the trucks.  Then we were hit with another downpour and poor visibility, coupled with water filled potholes made the ride rather interesting.  

Teen, Jo and Fracisco

We decided to stay in town for the night and left pretty early the next morning.  This drive was not great as the trucks were out in full force on a single laned road with lots of roadworks with stop/gos and stretches of ruined tar.  We were relieved to hit the last 100km to Foz on a double lane highway and back to the bikers hostel. Today we gave the bikes some tlc , oil change and clean up and stocked up for the next leg of the adventure. Tomorrow off to Paraguay.