Moto Arg/Brazil - Dec10/Jan11
- Sunday, December 12, 2010
First day - didn't get much sleep on the plane. After arriving decided, since it was Sunday - to go to San Telmo for the big market, and to get an Otro Mundo (strong good beer) there. Walked around taking some pix. Turns out it was Argie human rights day or something, with a big concert/protest whatever thing. Took bunches of pix. Highlight was the crew doing free hugs right as you came into the square. Gotta love the spirit there.
- Thursday, December 16, 2010
Ahhh Gecko Hostel. These guy are always great to me. Instead of the usual stuffed to the gills with backpackers, Gecko also has semi-permanent residents, like students and workers. Cheap and relatively quiet, I always seem to meet great people here. This time I met some great antique Vespistas who nearly took over the whole hostel before I got there. Had a great dinner with them.
I also met up with Melissa from DC, who had moved down here and is living with her Argie bf. She is such a sweetheart, and we had a really great chat over some fantastic armenian food.
I did do a little hostel partying on Monday, which resulted in me losing my only keys to the bike - duh. Hung out with Joel who I met last year at Che Legarto hostel, and who professes to be trying to get some money and come to Brazil. Met some other nice folks - learned how to play shithead (guess who ended up being the shithead). Everyone says they are going to Iguazu so I will prob run into them up there.
- Friday, December 17, 2010
So even though I planned on getting up early and get on the road, I got concerned about not being able to get into Brazil without the yellow fever vaccination. Apparently a bunch of people die every year in Brazil. It is mosquito born, and I am guessing I will get more than a few bites. So after packing up I got down to the office where they give the shots and certificate. Free. Gotta love that. I think people back in the US were paying line 2-300 bucks for the shot.
Rolling into Rosario, there was this scary looking roadblock thing. Burning tires, everyone turning around. Better not to investigate. I took some not so great shots going over the cable stay bridge (seems like everywhere has these now). Rosario looked a little to busy for my tastes, so I drove around it.
A cute little farming town in the middle of nowhere. Instead of my usual run-till-its-dark, I decided to quit the first day early. It is too disorienting finding a place to stay after dark. It was really hot today 100 for much of the day. Got sunburn on my hands.
Turns out the bike is not as set as I had hoped. I forgot that there were problems with the fuel system and charging system. I am only using about 25 liters (out of a 36 liter tank) before I really have to refill. Mileage is not great either.
The bigger problem is the charging system. I brought a new rotor with me, and changed it, but there are still problems. So I need to plug in every night, which means finding a place that allows me to plug in.
I am still about 10 hours riding time from the border, so I plan on (really) getting up early and get on the road.
I love this small towns. Everything is pretty cheap. Room to myself - 70 pesos (18 US), asado (barbeque all you can eat) 30 pesos (7.50). Internet - 3 pesos an hour.
- Sunday, December 19, 2010
Tierra Cognita - Really knocked out the miles yesterday. I think 600m/1000k. Arrived after dark in Puerto Iguazu with my lights barely working. Hunted around for a while before finding the Hostel (Bambu) where I stayed with Itchy and Scratchy in back in late May. Great Hostel - always a fun crowd - and broke out the Jameson to celebrate.
The celebration was due not only to making it here, but successfully avoiding getting jammed up for having neither my customs papers for the bike, or valid current Argie insurance. Either of those could have taken days and/or countless bribes to deal with. Through guile and bluster I either avoided a checkpoint or bullshitted my way through. The northern part (Obrero) finally got kinda hilly, with lush pine forests making for more cooling breezes. Really nice, fast riding.
I ran into some Argies on a F800gs riding the other way, and pumped them for info. Really helpful. They had just come back from Bahia, which is the goal for me in Brazil. Apparently there are not many checkpoints, but the cops are out with radar all the time. They also recommeded Cabo Frio - which was one of the only places with camping.
Presuming I can get my visa on Monday, and the rest of my papers, the question is - where to go first? I had planned on heading straight to Florianopolis, and then ride up the coast. The problems is that hostels are booking up for the xmas/nye week, and they are expensive as well. The F800gs Argies had basically just done the same trip. Another option is to reach higher up, maybe even cutting up to Bahia, then working down the coast. Stuff to think about...
- Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Jeez - they aren't kidding when they say rain forest. Drove through mountains and rain for 5 hours. This was HARD rain - like you can't see shit rain. I was trying for Curibita, but it was getting dark, my battery was nearly dead, and I was hypothermic. I didn't realize just how hypo-thermic till I got in the shower. Took me 30 mins of HOT HOT water, and a few belts of Jameson to start thinking clearly again.
I am staying at this Hojo-esque place (Anila) on the highway - and paying like $55 a night, which is really high for my budget. Nobody speaks much english, and my portuguese is non-existent. I seem to be getting by ok, and I tried to download rosetta stone, but they are blocking torrents somehow.
The landscape is very different from Argentina. Tons of flowers and birds, and these crazy looking pine trees. Gonna take pix when it isn't pissing on me.
- Thursday, December 23, 2010
Okay well made it to Sao Paolo. Bike ran out of juice in the port town of Santos. Not the most glamorous of spots, but found a cheap hotel where I could charge the battery. On the beach at least. Love brazil. People are great. The girls are hot and very nice. But I can't speak potuguese yet.
Tomorrow should be some of the nicest riding yet, if what people have told me is true. I hear this section of coast is absolutely stunning. My tentative plan is to go through Rio to cabo frio and camp there for Xmas.
Got stopped by the cops at a toll booth. He gave up after a while since I didn't speak Portuguese.
- Friday, December 24, 2010
I decided on Paraty cuz it looked (in lonely planet) like a good spot with a bunch of hostels, and it was just too far to get to Rio or Cabo Frio by Xmas. I wanted to be around english speakers for Xmas. Paraty is a very quaint colonial village by the sea. I rolled into town when it started raining, and saw a couple of traveler looking people. Asked them where there was a hostel, since it was really slippery getting around on the cobbles. They recommended Misty, which is just out of the main part of town, on the bay.
Met some good folks. The hostel is staffed by a bunch of Argies. Good spot. The beach situation left a lot to be desired. I kept hearing about a beach nearby, Trindade. After a couple days, I decided to check it out. There were a bunch of camping spots, and it was gorgeous there, so I packed up from Paraty, and headed to Trindade.
- Sunday, December 26, 2010
I found a good spot to camp, right in town, right on the beach. I met a couple of guys from Sao Paulo that arrived by moto as well just as I came in. Nice guys. They didn't speak any English and I didn't speak any Portuguese, but we had just a great time together for a few days.
After a couple of days, I was exploring the really sweet beach all the way at the end, where the big rock is between two beaches. I climbed up on the rock. This cool looking guy was firing up a joint, so I nosed my way in there. His name is Tosha - great guy, musician. He introduced me to Valeria, who spoke fantastic English. She had lived in California, and was just getting started in the psychology profession in Campinas.And she is pretty hot as well. We all partied together for a few days.Good times.
It was first at Trindade that I experienced the Brazilian tradition of hanging out on the beach, playing guitar, singing folk songs (which EVERYONE knows the words too). This simple custom has kept on repeating throughout Brazil, and I just love it!
- Friday, December 31, 2010
Met up with my friend Larrisa - who I had met in BA before leaving last time, in Ubatuba. Just down the road from Trindade - like an hour. Spent NYE there with her and a few of her doctor buddies. Had a CRAZY NYE, taking over the streets. Gonna load the Iphone pix and movies
- Sunday, January 2, 2011
Rio was cool. I was running out of charge by the time I hit town, so it was critical to find a place to stay before running out of juice – and being unable to start the bike again. City driving is murder on the electrics – too much stopping and starting. Lots of brake light use and restarting. A good deal of my time seems to be working out getting a full charge on the bike, camera, computer and iphone.
The hostel scene is the typical big city hostel kind of thing. Lots of Euros and Aussies, mostly kids, with some nationals mixed in. Bla Bla Bla, Party-Party-Party. It is nice to speak English for sure. However, as I discovered in Playa del Carmen – city culture is mostly about the same around the world. Yes it is great to be in a tropical place, near the beach.
- Thursday, January 6, 2011
Arraial do Cabo – lovely little beach town a few hours east of Rio. The first thing you notice about Cabo is the relentless wind. Even when it is sunny, you can see these puffs of clouds moving VERY fast overhead. Keeps is nice and cool.
Sun is finally shining yay! Good little camping spot near the beach. Found my 220 volts for charging the bike up as well. Was planning to just head north at this point, but a beautiful beach day in such a lovely spot begs for me to hang out. Was thinking of heading to Buzios, but after asking, there isn’t good camping or any nice hostels over there. Charging up the iPhone to be able to listen to my Michel Thomas Portuguese learning tapes at the beach. Supposedly I can take a water taxi at the unspoiled Ihla do cabo frio from where I am at praia dos anjos where the campground is. Gonna check it out for a bit.
Well - apparently it has been raining so much, and Cabo is such the diving destination, that all the boats were doing diving expeditions rather than taxiing. So I hung out on Praia dos Anjos. Nice enough beach that was a short walk from the campground. I was lucky enough to catch these fisherman doing a big haul onto the beach. Everyone (including all the kids) were chipping in to haul in the net. Great photos, some of the best from Brazil so far. There were like three turtles caught up in the net - one very big one. A really good camping right near the beach spot
- Saturday, January 8, 2011
I got in late to Itaunas, It is famous for it's dunes and (news to me) all night music. I was exhausted and just wanted to eat and sleep. It was around 30k from the main road, all on dirt - which was a nice diversion. I chose camping as most of the pousadas were booked up. Unfortunately, the bar next to the campground was blasting music all night long. The main quadrado (or square) was nice, lots of hippie vendors. Not many people from anywhere but Brazil. There was a stage set up in the quadrado, and the ended up playing music, some REALLY bad singing for a while, and it went on most of the night. Ear plugs weren't even working.
The dunes were very pretty, but I didn't make it down to the beach area. Looked very nice though.
- Sunday, January 9, 2011
I arrived after dark in this lovely little town near Porto segeuro in the state of Bahia. I miscalculated yesterday, and ended up on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, with not enough charge to spark anymore. After a couple of hours I found someone to charge the battery via jumper cables, still 200 k's from Trancoso. I came up to a police checkpoint as the sun was setting, and they pulled me over. I fully expected them to make me turn off the moto - which would have been game over - not enough charge to restart. The cop explained the law was you have to have your light on moto's all the time. I struggled to explain that I had enough battery to make it to Trancoso (still about 40 k's away) or have my light on, but not both. After a little chat between the cops, he said Obligado and let me go! Yay!
Trancoso is just about hippie heaven. I have yet to make it to the beach, but I needed a fix after 3 days without internet. Very richey rich brazilian crowd and hippies. Very nice vibe here. Lots of lovely ladies as well.
Need to find a place to charge the moto up to make it the 600 k to Salvador, and get to the beach.
I plugged in my battery charger, and it promptly shorted out. The poor thing had been through hell, as it had fallen off the bike and dragged behind a couple times, fitting in with the whole post-apocolyptic theme already going on with the bike.
- Monday, January 10, 2011
What a LOVELY drive along the beaches from ilheus. I was trying to shoot for Salvador, but the moto taxi I gave 30 reales to charge the battery, only gave it a nominal charge. Something got lost in translation.
The day started out rough. I was rolling out of town, and didn't see a speed bump coming up, There was a bunch of sand on the road, so when I jammed on the brakes, I started going sideways. Things got a little crazy, and the bike basically went out of control, crashing into a post in a bodega. Lucky nobody was hanging around outside, because they probably would have been crushed. I was fine, the bike a little bent (what else is new), and with some local help, got the bike up and rolling again. Such is life on the moto.
Itacare looks very pleasant. A nice little pedestrian mall area near the hostel. However, it doesn't have anything really super unique, except maybe a good off-road scene, and I am not about to take apocolypta (came up with a new name for the bike) into the sand - she is barely holding her own on the road at this stage. I am thinking of staying at a bigger hostel in Salvador, make some new travel friends to then come back to Morro do Sao Paulo or go north or something.
I think I have finally come up with my tatoo idea. A map of the world. Not sure how it will work just yet, but I have some ideas.
The drive to Salvador (around the bay) takes something like 7 hours. Apparently I can drive to where there is a ferry in 3 hours, then an hour for the ferry. Probably a LOT more interesting trip as well.
- Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I needed to get some laundry done, a new voltage tester, maybe a new battery - so it was off to Salvador. Luckily, I made the supposed 5 hour trip in 3, and caught the 6pm ferry. It sure is great riding right ahead of 500 cars. All the moto guys were suitably impressed with the bike and my adventure. Two of them were kind enough to escort me to my hostel as well.
The Che Legarto hostel was all full, so I went around the corner to a hostel which is actually better for my needs. Not too many people AND they have a place to store the bike. I was hoping to meet some new friends and head over to Morro do Sao Paulo (aka the party island), however it was probably better I did not so I could focus on logistics today. Since I arrived last night, I have been working non-stop just to get my shit together. The inefficiency of Brazil is staggering. Maybe I should do my portuguese lessons and turn my to-do list into a to-done list. The question now is do I take the sea sick express for 75 Reales or take the auto ferry (15 reales) drive the 100k to Valenca, and take the boat for 6 reales. The Valenca option may allow me to leave the bike with a mechanic there to fix the charging system. Then I REALLY would have my act together.
Today was a big logistics/work day. I got my laundry done the same day (miracle), found a bunch of stuff to fix my boots (I got my combat touring boots re-soled at a supposedly good place in DC for 50 bucks, but the heat musta undone the glue), found a battery charger (amazing little thing that somehow uses a lightbulb), found a beard trimmer (FINALLY!), found a new cheap voltage meter (so I know how low my battery is getting rather than it just dying in the middle of nowhere), as well as the perfect sized ziplock plastic pouch for my passport, license, registration and customs documents for the bike. These should all be simple things to find, but I have spent an inordinate amount of time looking for them.
The cheapo battery charger thing is really cool. I spent more on the taxi getting there than I did on the item. It was about 18 reales, or about 12 bucks. Requires a light bulb. I was so incredulous that the thing would work, I went back to the auto parts getto to look for a real charger, which I couldn't find anywhere. This might be the solution to most of my charging problems.
The document ziplock pouch was super vexing. No good ziplock plastic bags or duct tape here in Brazil, quite unbelievably. What I would do for a good roll of black Gorilla tape. Now I feel comfortable enough
- Friday, January 14, 2011
- Sunday, January 16, 2011
- Wednesday, January 19, 2011
- Friday, January 21, 2011
- Saturday, January 22, 2011
- Sunday, January 23, 2011
- Monday, January 24, 2011
- Tuesday, January 25, 2011
- Wednesday, January 26, 2011
- total distance: 2,769 miles (4.456 km)