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13. Jun, 2012

The butcher’s boat: Cycling and boating from Sao Raimundo to Xique Xique

The butcher’s boat: Cycling and boating from Sao Raimundo to Xique Xique

I thought Paddy might have an embolism. We had just cycled 11km to Passagem, the fifth time we’d covered the route in the past three days, and the boat he’d finally found to take us across the reservoir had disappeared. Stood on a shore of rocky sand, with pigs and dogs sniffing through the rubbish, it seemed like it might be time to throw the towel in, turn around and start pedalling like crazy to make up the time we’d spent waiting around for a boat.

Our plan had been genius, we thought. Brazil, unlike other countries in South America, has an expansive road network and we had a choice of routes to get to Salvador on the coast. After the town of Sao Raimundo we had 100km to Remanso on the shores of Lago Sobrahinho, a huge reservoir created 40 years ago from the damming of two rivers. (more…)

08. Jun, 2012

Mad dogs and Englishmen: Teresina to Sao Raimundo Nonato

Mad dogs and Englishmen: Teresina to Sao Raimundo Nonato

We were surprised to learn that Brazil’s full name is the United States of Brazil and that like in their North American counterpart, the USA, the states can almost be considered countries themselves. Using that analogy, our latest section took place in Piaui, the Brazilian equivalent of Nevada, with incredible heat, impressive rock formations and cacti.

Piaui’s capital city, Teresina, is the hottest state capital in Brazil. Fortunately, there was very little to see there, aside from a scenic lookout on a new bridge, so we were able to use the time to relax, do bike maintenance and wash our salt-ingrained clothes. (more…)

28. May, 2012

Spot the dead donkey: Belem to Teresina

Spot the dead donkey: Belem to Teresina

Back on the bikes after an extended break, we were anticipating an easy 900km across northern Brazil from Belem to Teresina. What we found, however, was undulating terrain, roads in bad condition, heavy traffic and strong winds along a dull, monotonous road, with only assorted roadkill to take our minds of the pedalling. This is an area full of friendly people though who brightened up our long days on the road.

Having reached Macapa on the north shore of the Amazon River, we booked onto a passenger ferry for a 30 hour crossing to Belem. We had treated ourselves to a tiny, private cabin, rather than hanging up our hammocks, and on seeing the boat were glad we had. The hammock space was crowded with people lay head to toe with each other. (more…)

02. May, 2012

Adventures in the Amazon: Cayenne to Macapa

Adventures in the Amazon: Cayenne to Macapa

We were anticipating a tough leg, having read accounts of cyclists riding from Cayenne to Macapa, but just how hard we could never have imagined beforehand. The ride to the Brazilian border from French Guyana’s capital, through endless hills, heat and rain was difficult enough, but it was just a warm up for the three-day slog along the dirt road to Calcoene. At the end of the road though, we were rewarded with our first sight of the Amazon River, a special moment on our trip.

Cayenne was the quietest capital of our journey and we enjoyed the chance to relax. A walk along the beaches to the east of the city rewarded us with the astonishing sight of a turtle laying her eggs in the middle of the day, and we watched her mesmerised. (more…)

01. Apr, 2012

The Brazilian diversion: Pacaraima to Bonfim

The Brazilian diversion: Pacaraima to Bonfim

After over eight months pedalling about in Spanish-speaking South America, we rode our bikes back into Brazil. As there is no road link between Venezuela and Guyana, we had little option but to head south to the city of Boa Vista before heading northeast toward the first of the continent’s trio of lesser-known nations, Guyana.

At the border, between getting our respective exit and entry stamps, there were dozens of Brazilian vehicles in long queues waiting for the delivery of Chavez’s ultra-cheap gasoline to the final Venezuelan gas station. It seems that the despite being over 230km to the nearest sizeable settlement, it is still worth people’s while to spend a day visiting Venezuela to fill up their tank for next to nothing. (more…)