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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Brazil was hot. The weather & the women!

Distance: 735km
Average speed: 72,3kph
Top Speed: 127kph

Distance: 2,294.8km
Average speed: 67.4kph
Top Speed: 133kph
Moving time: 32.5 hrs

Total distance: 8,094.8kms

My new Garmin GPS, with maps loaded by Dale, worked a treat. The 3hr ferry trip to Colonia in Uruguay was uneventful, although I thought I saw my old ship, “WH Resolution”, probably just an apparition.

Colonia did not surprise me, nor did it shock me, I was stunned! It was a cross between a small Mediterranean fishing town and provincial French village. Absolutely beautiful.

Riding along Ruta 1 to Montevideo, the Capital, was an eye opener. This joint is great. Extremely westernised. Much more so than Chile or Argentina.  Uruguay has just legalised Marijuana.  A very sensible approach in my opinion. We didn't feel the need to indulge. They have their act together.

From Montevideo we rode north to Brazil, a beautiful ride through magnificent farming country. More great roads and little traffic. Stayed in an expensive, shitty little hovel of a Hotel in a lovely little town.

Somewhere, we crossed into Brazil. I was looking for the border, after about 5kms, realised we were in Brazil. They have an open Border. Why did we bother getting an expensive visa when no one even knew we had crossed into their country.

We rode along a route seldom used by travellers. We like it that way. Lush rice crops turned into Sorghum crops being harvested. This ground is so good, if you stood still for a couple of days you would grow 500mm! I thought Boorowa was good. Tony Cooper, Whitey and Ron, eat your hearts out!

Further north the traffic increased. We were on the main transport route for trucks to Paraguay. Overtaking was not a problem, although a little exciting at times. Brazilians seem to be good drivers. Although the road surface was pretty chopped up, my “BMW Rooney Special's” superior suspension coped well. Her new Ohlins rear shock is marvellous, much better than the YSS shocky I used last time. These couple of days have been a fantastically pleasurable and relaxing ride. Good roads, good hotels, good food and a couple of beers at the end of the day. Pretty damned good.

In Argentina every bathroom had a Bidet. They didn't bother with them in Uruguay In Brazil we haven't found one. No great loss.

The service stations in Brazil all have good old fashioned driveway service. Like we had in Australia when I was a kid. Lindsay has a theory that all former Brazilian Miss World candidates get jobs as service station pump jockeys. A place that would be run by one Indian or Pakistani at home is run by 6 -8 Brazilians here. We keep getting told our work practises are antiquated!

Foz Do Iguazu means end of the big river in Portugese. Better known as Iguazu Falls. Last time I was here the river was in flood. Made the falls exceptionally spectacular, although we could not do any of the walks. I crossed back into Argentina for the day to walk the walks. Fantastic! Met up with 3 crazy Spanish guys. They were great fun.

We toured the Brazilian side of the falls. Had a helicopter ride, Dale and I took a wild ride up and under the falls in a gigantic rubber ducky, complete with 2 X 200hp engines. Kilometres of walks and several hundred photos. This place is the grouse. Stayed for 3 nights in an Eco Lodge in the forest.

Igauzu Falls is something everyone should see.

The local car and truck mechanic let Lindsay and I service my bike in his workshop. Went into town looking for filter oil. Motec Honda ( helped me out. Had some filter oil delivered in about 10 minutes and let me do the job in their immaculate workshop. Could have eaten my dinner off the floor. Bruno de Marco is the Man!

All brilliant. Gotta go, head north in the morning.

Another fantastic two day ride along the Paraguyan border to Bonito, including 150kms of superb gravel tracks. We tried to stay off the main highways as much as possible.

Mark asked me to try and find the elusive Brazilian. They are hard to find, those we did come across were to expensive for us!

Brazil is the home of the Speed Bump. We call them “Dong Feng Breakers”. Vehicle speed is mostly controlled by “Dong Feng Breakers”. A small village has about 3, a large town about 13. Some are painted white, some are painted yellow, some are painted white & yellow. Some have never been painted at all, they are usually black and blend in well. Most have signs. Some used to have signs, but don't anymore. Some have never had signs. Sometimes, one will pop up out on the highway, it may or may not have a sign. Occasionally the sign will say there is one, there may be three. Occasionally the sign will say there is three, there may only be one. They all have a near vertical approach and drop off. Hitting one at 90kph is interesting.

More progressive areas in Brazil have speed cameras. They are as common as “Dong Feng Breakers”. I imagine we have accumulated a considerable amount in speeding fines. Remember, with their Open Border Policy, they do not even know we are in their country. Good luck collecting any speeding fines from us!

Bonito, a holiday town for the Brazilians, is famous for being the jumping off point for the Pantenals.

Also for the crystal clear river waters absolutely crowded with fish. For a few dollars you can swim among thousands of Dorado, some up to 1 metre long. Yes, bloody thousands of the things. This is one of the most amazing things I have seen. Brazilian women don't wear to many clothes when they swim.

We had a rapid 3 hour ride north to the Pantinals. Damned hot, over 35 degrees. And humid. Probably collected a few more speeding fines along the way. Met our tour guide, Ronaldo, in a dust bowl on the side of the highway. It was another fantastic ride, 66kms along gravel, sandy, rocky tracks to the Paraguan River. As hot as hell until it rained for the last 10kms. The vehicular ferry across the river to Porto da Mango was a shit heap. Sam and Tim would love to Audit her.

The Pantinal is a rain forest, river and wetland system larger than France. About 70% is farmed, a small percentage protected by the Government. In the long distant past it was all rainforest. Our jungle lodge didn't look nearly as good as in the glossy brochure. Cold beer and decent food made up for it. Good people as well.

First night Ronaldo took us up the river in a tinny. No nav lights, no life jackets, no anchor. (and we are in a fast flowing river full of fcuking crocodiles) Where are Rex Cresswell and his boys when you need them. Caiman, in Brazil, is not a Porsche model, they are a freshwater crocodile, growing up to 3 metres, although in our area 2.7m is about as big as they get. Our spotlights picked out hundreds and hundreds of gleaming Caiman eyes. I could not believe the number and size of the fcukers. Some swam into the side of our boat. After a while we relaxed and enjoyed the spectacle.

Next morning we were told to be ready for breakfast at 0630. Ronaldo and his team thought we were extra keen as we were 1 hour early. The truth is, we are extra stupid. We finally realised the time zone had changed an hour. We had been 1 hour early for everything, for several days.

Up the river just after daylight, in the same ill equipped v/l. This time we looked for birds. We saw birds, many, many birds. All shapes, sizes and colours. Amazon Kingfishers, Jabiru. And Marsh Deer. And Capybara (freshwater pigs) plus a few hundred more Caiman. After a while it got hot, very hot. The only water to swim in was full of Crocs. Ronaldo promised us they don't eat people, so we swam. It is a little disconcerting to be swimming and see several sets of croc eyes poking above the surface less than 10 metres away. We had already waded through a muddy croc infested lake.

Just finished a big lunch, now is all quite in the camp as it is siesta time. This afternoon is Forest Walk, Monkey Watch Trek.

Plenty of Monkeys, Macaws of several different flavours, Forest Deer, and the highlight, an Armadillo. On the way back we stopped at a few waterholes. Saw so many Caiman and Capybara we were over them. It was bloody hot in the forest, I nearly melted. Capybara have 9-10 babies. This is a good idea, as the Caiman like to eat baby Capybaras.

Ronaldo had us up at 6am again, breakfast and up the river Piranha fishing. Our new mate Rick won the gold medal, he caught 5, Dale won silver, with 4. Lindsay and I were failures, only getting 2 each. I seem to remember swimming in this same muddy river yesterday.

We are showered, bikes packed and waiting to head for Bolivia this afternoon, although not until after lunch. The cook is about to serve up our freshly caught Piranha.

Ronaldo has been an excellent guide.

A fantastic finish to Brazil, about 55kms of brilliant dirt, sand and gravel tracks through the forest took us to Corumba, the Brazil/Bolivia border town. Probably rode to fast. We loved it, the bikes loved it.

Our new best Mate, Indi, (Ronaldo's friend) guided us through the Customs and Immigration in about 2 hours. It was hot. And humid. Over 40 degrees. Seldom have I been so hot. I could feel sweat running down the inside of my riding gear and pooling in my boots. Adam and I rode for days in Kazakstan and Russia at over 45 degrees. It was hot. With the humidity, this is a killer. We drank litres of water.

Finally got a Brazilian stamp in my passport, no speeding fines though!

We loved Brazil. Bring on Bolivia.


        Colonia, Uruguay
Once a lighthouse, now a cafe.  
      (Dales photo)  

  Getting ready for a "Dong Feng" breaker.
(Dale's photo)     

Igauzu Falls from the Argentinean side.


My crazy Spanish mates.


Argentinean monkey

 Brazil, Argentina in the background.


Do I look like I am having fun?
(Dale's photo)

A Coatie, on the Brazilian side.


A few of Bonito's Dorado.
(Dale's photo)

Brazil, looking into Paraguay.
(Dale's photo)
Aussie and Dutch swimmers.

Observant Caiman

Brazilian Monkeys

Forest Deer


Brave Capybara, or lazy Caiman

The great white hunter.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Chris!

    This is Víctor, one of the three crazy spanish guys yo met in Iguazu. How is it going? I has been reading your blog and photos look amazing!!

    I hope that you end your journey safe and sound and I promise to visit you in Australia!!