May 16

The adventure begins

by in Brazil, South America

Our well-planned escape from Rio was dealt a blow just 3km in, at the end of Ipanema Beach, where the coastal road we’d recced to leave on had become one way for the morning, in the wrong direction. So we pushed our bikes the next 5km against the traffic – not quite the exit we had envisaged.

We’re four days in now and there’s been no more pushing, we’ve pedalled 300km south down the Costa Verde, past magnificent islands, pretty coves, fishing villages and over some impressive rainforest hills. It’s a rest day today, in the pretty Portuguese colonial town of Paraty, to spare our saddle sore bums (progress report on the saddles – some dimples appearing, but remain rock hard).

It’s been days of firsts. The first hill that we faced – big, lush, green hills that climb steady and slowly. We high-fived on that first one, unaware that from day two onwards we’d be climbing and descending constantly.

Our first invite to stay with people, on our very first day. Manfred, a German who’d cycled around Europe in the 1980s, spotted us heading into Santa Cruz and offered to host us for the evening. A brilliant stroke of luck as it was getting late and there was little in the way of accommodation or camping spots that we could find. As well as a generous host, he was a fountain of knowledge on Brazil, and we learnt a lot from him about the economic and development situation here.

This explained a lot why everything is so expensive here. Food, water, fuel and accommodation are not cheap, on par with UK prices. Our second night the cheapest accommodation we could find was £50 for a sparse room with a shared bathroom. A shock to our budget for sure, and an added incentive to find places to wild camp.

Paddy in our first campsiteHowever, finding places to put up a tent is easier said than done. The roads we are pedalling on are steep and cut into lush forests and swamps. Any spot that is flattened and dried out is lived on or fenced off. We did have a stroke of luck on day three, finding an abandoned football pitch close to the road, where we could pitch the tent up against the bank, out of view. It was a perfect spot, but we haven’t seen anything suitable since. Hopefully we will have more luck when we head inland.

Yesterday we had our first person stop their car, take a photo of us, wish us good luck and wave us on, which we found quite amusing. We also cycled past a first ever for us both, a Father Christmas land, abandoned, with Santa’s and reindeer falling apart, a sad sight.

We’re adapting slowly to the weather. Either hot and humid – about 28C – where we’re dreaming of cold water, and in Paddy’s case succumbing to the calls of a roadside waterfall, boggy floor and all. Or it’s bucketing down and we’re cycling in full waterproofs and hiding in bus shelters for cover. It’s better wet in the morning and hot in the afternoon we find, at least that way we dry off.

The language is problematic, the pronunciation is so different to Spanish and even with the phrase book we are struggling to be understood. So far pointing, hand gestures and a few words we have mastered seem to be doing the trick, but there is room for improvement.

So that’s a brief account of the start of our trip. It still seems a bit surreal, as if we are on two week holiday, and we think it will take a bit yet to realise it’s not. Until then we’ll just keep cycling and breaking those legs in. It’s to Santos next and then inland towards Iguazu Falls, we’ll see what that road holds.

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26 Responses to “The adventure begins”

  1. From Lizzie:

    Do you mean the saddle is getting dimples/ rock hard or your arse!! Sounds awesome, so pleased things are going so well….keeping on pedalling. xx

    Posted on 16. May, 2011 at 8:06 pm #
    • From Pedal:

      Saddles have dimples, bums are sore – any magic doctor tips for them?! xx

      Posted on 19. May, 2011 at 12:30 am #
    • From Ed:

      Fantastic going, hope the washing is clean now!! How was the footie?
      We are off to Playa del Carmen today. Chat more soon.
      Hope you’re not too sore!

      Posted on 22. May, 2011 at 2:08 pm #
      • From Pedal:

        Footie was good thanks – just putting some photos up on Flickr now. Good singers!

        Hope having a nice time in Mexico.

        Leave tomorrow for a 2 week thrust to Foz do Iguacu – bums definitely sore then!

        Posted on 23. May, 2011 at 12:28 am #
  2. From Aaldrik and Sonya:

    Hi guys,

    good to see you on the road ! And a great start too, Brazil.
    I just read about your problems finding a suitable camp spot. Did you know you can camp at any petrol station? Just ask, they’ll have a small plot of land at the back or on the side normally; there is a toilet and sometimes a shower; which means you’ll have water too and most stations are manned 24 hours, so secure. Just so you know.
    We were only denied camping at a petrol station once during our four months of cycling in Brazil. And you are right, Brazil is EXPENSIVE !
    And do use Warmshowers in the big cities, that helps a lot and you’ll meet tonnes of friendly and helpful Brazilians.
    Good luck on your trip, will follow.
    Ciao from Egypt,
    Aaldrik and Sonya

    Posted on 16. May, 2011 at 8:10 pm #
    • From Pedal:

      Hey guys

      Thanks for the tip about the petrol stations will definitely give it a go. Have used their toilets already and impressed by how clean they are. We’re finding costs are going down a lot now that we are away from Rio too, which is good.

      Thanks again and keep in touch
      Laura

      Posted on 19. May, 2011 at 12:23 am #
  3. From Ginnie Dallard:

    Hi Guys
    Massive well done for your first few days. Loved the blog too. Just think of it as multiple 2 week holidays (minus the pop home to Mum’s to get the washing done!).
    Steve’s just popped in from doing the washing up (ah the live we live hey!) and suggested (I agree) that you visit the Brazilian side of Igazu Falls first. You get a much better taster for the scale of the Argentine side & can plan your run around on that side better!!
    My advice is – try & get to the island (san martin)in the middle too!
    http://en.argentina-excepcion.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=905
    All well here & looking forward to the next update with some photos of Paddy in a squidgy bottom waterfall!!

    Take care XX

    Posted on 16. May, 2011 at 9:11 pm #
    • From Pedal:

      Hey guys

      Thanks for the tips. We reckon 3 weeks to get to Igazu with a few days off for sightseeing and resting the bums! Will look into that for sure, as hadn’t given much thought so far.

      Hope all good with you guys, love to Abi and the M&Ms xx

      Posted on 19. May, 2011 at 12:29 am #
  4. From Paddy's-daddy:

    Good work! The roads along the coast seem very bendy – hope they straighten out a bit. What are you missing Most so far?

    Posted on 16. May, 2011 at 11:31 pm #
    • From Pedal:

      Loving the name there! We’ve gone straight a bit today, which was great for covering distance. What are we most missing? Clean clothes and feeling in our bottoms!

      Posted on 19. May, 2011 at 12:27 am #
  5. From Caroline:

    Brilliant stuff, guys, you’re both amazing! Thinking of you and your bottoms (but not in a pervy way) and looking forward to the next report! Big hugs xxxxxxxxx

    Posted on 17. May, 2011 at 9:17 am #
  6. From Tom:

    Sounds awesome and somewhat inspiring. Paddy, I know Nick is thinking of your bottom in a pervy way!

    Posted on 18. May, 2011 at 8:53 am #
  7. From John:

    Great start guys!

    Can’t wait to hear about your first mudslide down to a lagoon where there’s a giant jewel and an abandoned pirate ship. They’re all over the place in South America. Or Danny DeVito and Michael Douglas were lying and my childhood is a joke…

    Sounds amazing so far, take care pitching that tent Paddy.

    Posted on 18. May, 2011 at 9:22 am #
  8. From Laurent:

    This is all very exciting! Keep pedalling. We’re all waiting for more photos and reports.
    xxxxx

    Posted on 18. May, 2011 at 9:17 pm #
  9. From Rich:

    Paddy, Will said something rude about you. Laura, thank you for keeping Paddy alive.

    Posted on 19. May, 2011 at 9:42 am #
  10. From Neil:

    Hi guys,
    Good to hear you’ve got started – keep up the good work!
    Plenty of hills on the Costa Verde – I can still see the one before Boicucanga…
    Yep, wild camping on the coast is pretty tricky, but it gets a bit easier after you head inland.
    Here’s wishing you some nice dry days,
    take care
    Neil

    Posted on 21. May, 2011 at 10:02 pm #
  11. From Sarah Forbes:

    Hello I’m a friend of Ginnie’s who has told me all about your trip which sounds absolutely amazing and very courageous!! She suggested following your blog as i’m planning a trip to SA over Christmas for about 3 weeks…and thought I might find it interesting….which I am already (will be taking notes ;-))

    So I want to wish you both good luck and hope you have an awesome adventure!!

    All the Best

    Sarah

    Posted on 28. May, 2011 at 2:32 pm #
    • From Pedal:

      Hi Sarah,
      Great to hear from you! Where are you planning to go?
      We should be in the Ecuador / Colombia area around then so if you’re in that area, we could meet up!
      Paddy

      Posted on 31. May, 2011 at 5:52 pm #
  12. From Amaya:

    You certainly are off to an adventurous start. Hoping all will go smoothly and the pushing will be kept to a minimum. Cycle safe and enjoy the freedom of the road.

    Posted on 30. May, 2011 at 2:57 pm #
  13. From Pedal:

    Thanks for comment. So sorry to hear about Eric’s bike – awful for you both. Hope that the trip cycling to Alaska restores your faith somewhat.
    All the best, Paddy

    Posted on 31. May, 2011 at 6:31 pm #
  14. From Kate:

    Aw, well done guys. Loving the pics and the blog. Hope that all your high tech equipment is holding out. What about a bit of Queen ‘Bicycle’ for the road?! Big hugs, Kate xx

    Posted on 31. May, 2011 at 8:04 pm #
    • From Pedal:

      Do you know out of all the Queen songs on my ipod that’s one I don’t have! Lovely to hear from you – hope all well. xx

      Posted on 02. Jun, 2011 at 1:16 am #
  15. From Ben Gordon:

    Fair play to you two! I’ll be following you avidly as a resident South American! I’m in Santiago so keep me posted on your ETA so I’ll join you for a few kms or perhaps just the beers!
    All the best,

    Ben

    Posted on 01. Jun, 2011 at 3:43 am #
    • From Pedal:

      Hi, thanks for following us. Will definitely let you know when we are approaching Santiago, will be great to find out the good local beer spots. At the moment think will be around that way about mid-August, but will see what happens!

      Laura

      Posted on 02. Jun, 2011 at 1:20 am #
  16. From Aunty Chris:

    Hello Both
    Don’t know what I’m doing but hope you get this. So proud of you both – and of your bums. Which are hardest – bums or saddles? Will catch up with all your adventures. Much love
    Chris

    Posted on 14. Jun, 2011 at 9:36 am #
    • From Pedal:

      Hello
      Lovely to hear from you. Hope all well with you. Saddles are definitely harder than the bums!
      Laura x

      Posted on 15. Jun, 2011 at 1:40 am #

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