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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…)

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…)