Friday, September 19, 2008

At the Copa, Copacabana...

Few. Done some miles in the last few days then (up to 7000km now), and got a bit wet and soggy in the process, but thanks to the sub-tropical conditions, not too cold, which is a relief.
So, where were we? I think we´d just driven from Foz do Iguaçu in Brasil, 700km or so to Curitiba in one day, which was a good thing to have done as it was all pretty dull country we had to cross, and we wanted to get it out of the way and get somewhere more interesting. We had wanted to stop in a place just short of Curitiba, but, true to form, the Brasilian sign posts were sadly lacking and we couldn´t find where we were looking for. The whole road network here is pretty random, actually. There are plenty of signs, but as far as I can tell, no-one takes any notice of them if they are highway code signs, and the ones telling you which town or exit you need are mostly right at the exit, so you have almost no time to take them. I think someone in the local council went on holiday to a country with road signs, thought they looked nice and suggested them for Brasil, without explaining to the population at large that they actually meant something. They seem to be more for decoration than anything else. Speed limits are ignored or taken to be a minimum, unless you are driving a truck, in which case the limit is as fast as your truck will go (about 10km/h up hill, and 120km/h down hill). And as for the (no) overtaking ones...well, perhaps they misunderstand them and assume they are an invitation instead of a suggestion not to do so.
So, Curitiba it was; a large city, and we had no real idea of where to stay or how to find it, so in the end we stayed at what turned out to be a ´Love Hotel´where the local couples who still live with their families can go for some quiet time. Not so quiet for us, unfortunately, but it was only for one night.
Next day was off to Morretes, a small town, very Portugese-y, near a UNESCO park of Atlantic Coastal rainforest, which is apparently quite rare. We had a day to wander about there as it was so close to Curitiba and we got there nice and early, and the next day we went up to the park to camp.
This was my first refusal at a road for the trip, as we were heading into the park. We´d just passed the ranger station and signed in, and the road got just plain silly, with steepness and lumpyness which hasn´t come out in the photos or the video, but I´ll try to post both in the next couple of days when the rain starts again. Anyhow, Rich made it up, not with out some difficulty, and I figured that even if I made it to the top in one piece, I´d be fairly likely to fall off on the way down, so I went back to the ranger station, left the bike there and hiked what I needed back up the 4 or 5km track through the jungle to meet rich at the camp site. I enjoyed it far more that way, as I didn´t have the stress of trying to steer the bike, and was able to make the most of the jungle, and I´m glad I made the effort as the camp site was amazing and we were able to walk up mountian too. I say walk, it was as much of a vertical climb as a walk, with steel hoops drilled into the rock face in places to climb up, and lengths of rope and chain to hold on to as you walk 1960´s Batman-stlye up the side of a rockface. It was so ridiculously dangerous that there is no way it could ever have been allowed anywhere other than the depths of a remote rainforest in Brazil, but it was more than worth the effort, given the views at the top - and we didn´t even do the big mountain because we didn´t have time. Maybe on the way back we can stop in again and knock the bastard off, as Ed Hilary once said.
Anyhoo, after that we were off to Antonino, a little fishing town just down the road, and while it was a lovely spot, it marked the start of the rain for us. After only two days of rain in nearly 5 weeks, we were about to make up for lost time.
We spent the next few days coninuing to ride north up the east coast of Brasil, stopping at Iguape, Ubatuba, Itacuruça (where a man who looked like a shaved bear insisted on taking us out for `one beer´which turned out to be at possibly the seediest bar in Brasil. Still, when huge scary shaved bears offer to buy you beer, its very hard to refuse...) and finally Copacobana in Rio, with only one rainfree day which was spent in Iguape instead of making ground, and unfortunately seeing almost nothing of the stunning coastline we were following. We could see enough of the mist-shrouded bays and hills to know just how beautiful it is, and we will follow the same road south in a few days, so will hopefully be able to stop off and properly appreciate it then. In the meantime, we are going to spend a few days in Rio, or nearby at least, soaking up the sun if it comes out, and not riding the bikes for a bit. With a bit of luck, if rain does stop play, I´ll be able to get some video on line and finish organising my photos - which, incidentally, I have put on the map on Flickr, so if you haven´t already, check that out.
So, for now, I´m, off to meet a girl. Her name is Lola, she was a showgirl....

1 comment:

James said...

Hi Steve, James here from Seville. Really enjoying reading your blog and putting it together with Ric's emails to get a good feel of how you are doing. Your writing is really entertaining and it makes me wish I was out there too (though it might be hard carrying both Leo and Alma on my back...). Take care and keep having lots of fun, James