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31. Jul, 2012

Going back to the start

Going back to the start

The taxi driver eyed me quizzically. We were heading towards Rio de Janeiro Airport for our flight home and he didn’t seem to believe my English/Portuguese account of our 14-month, cycle ride around South America. Suddenly, a look of recognition washed over his face as he said, ‘You were on TV’.

He wasn’t the only one to recognise us after our appearance on Brazilian national TV which showed us returning to the start point of our trip on Ipanema Beach. We were spotted on the metro and congratulated by a passing motorist in the centre of town, an odd feeling but an amusing three minutes of fame. (more…)

23. Jul, 2012

The end of the road

The end of the road

So here we are, quite literally at the end of the road for our cycle tour of South America. Not for the first time, we’re in a seedy, Brazilian hotel sat on a plastic mattress preparing to cook our tomato sauce and pasta supper. We’re one block back from the ferry terminal in Niteroi, the city on the opposite of the bay from Rio de Janeiro. Tomorrow morning we’ll take a boat across the water and then pedal 15km along cycle lanes to the point on Ipanema Beach where we started our adventure 14 months and 12 days ago.

My emotions are all over the place. I’d expected to be excited by the first sight of the city which holds such significance to us, but as we headed towards the coast this afternoon I held my breath at each curved mountain we saw, desperate for there not to be a recognisable monument perched on top. Of course, it finally appeared; a tiny, white figure, arms aloft in the city haze watching over the people below. (more…)

13. Jul, 2012

Too much temptation: cycling Salvador to Vitoria

Too much temptation: cycling Salvador to Vitoria

From having little to see whilst cycling through Brazil’s interior, we’ve been spoilt for choice riding down the coast from Salvador to Vitoria. Almost every 40km there is a perfect beach that needs exploring and we’ve found the temptation to stop has been too strong. It’s meant that our progress towards Rio de Janeiro has been slow, but we’re too busy enjoying ourselves and testing the local cocktails to worry.

It all started when Paddy discovered that instead of leaving Salvador the same way we’d cycled in we could take a catamaran along the coast to the island of Morro do Sao Paulo, a popular tourist spot known for its beaches and sandy streets. After we’d recovered from the choppy, two-hour crossing we settled into a pousada that it would take several days to drag ourselves away from. The hot, fried cheese sold by vendors pushing improvised wheelbarrows along the sand was too delicious to leave, and it’s never a good idea to cycle the day after drinking a caiparinha or two. (more…)

02. Jul, 2012

20,000km the stats

20,000km the stats

We reached 20,000km just south of Salvador on the Brazilian coast. Idyllic sounding, it was actually the rainiest day of our cycle trip around South America so far, and we only stopped for a few minutes to celebrate before getting back in the saddle for a day thinking about moments from the road.

It seems a long time since we marked 10,000km in the Sechuara Desert, Peru. Since then we’ve climbed many a long, steep road through the Andes in Ecuador and Colombia; explored the lost world of the Gran Sabana in Venezuela; traversed the oft-forgotten Guyanas, three countries unique and removed from the continent they sit in; and, now, we find ourselves back in Brazil, crossing this huge country where our journey started and, very shortly, will finish too. (more…)

23. Jun, 2012

The two sides of Brazil: cycling from Xique Xique to Salvador

The two sides of Brazil: cycling from Xique Xique to Salvador

Salvador epitomises everything you might imagine about Brazil; sandy beaches packed with bikini-clad sunbathers, high-rise apartments reaching to bright blue skies and picturesque, colonial squares buzzing to the beat of samba. The city mesmerised us, but half of the wonder was feeling we’d arrived in a different country to the one we had cycled through to get there.

Wanting to avoid the major highway into the city, we had weaved our way from Xique Xique along minor roads, dirt tracks and through cobble-stoned villages to reach the Ilhla de Itaparica across the bay from Salvador. Pedalling towards the port at Vera Cruz where we would catch a boat into the city, we dodged a horse out for a stroll on the high street, a sight so common it didn’t draw a stare. (more…)