Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Four years on the bike, and I find myself celebrating by repairing 2 punctured tubes (which by now I could probably do with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back!). Let me rather say something about Brasil, where Leana and I have been cycling Northwards along the coast for the past 2 weeks. For starters, Brasilians are a difficult bunch to describe, as there doesn't seem to be anything like a typical Brasilian. This lot comes in all shapes and sizes, they are all colours of the rainbow, they wear anything they want (sometimes hardly enough), and everyone seems to be happily doing their own thing. Some people live in fancy condo's and glittering mansions, while others live in shacks and on rubbish dumps. Streets are shared by shiny black 4X4's and horse-drawn carts (the other day I was able to help a stranded cart-man by giving him one of my spare tubes). Bicycles are popular here, for sport as well as transport to the supermarket or to work. People are generally friendly, with lots of hooting and greeting and sometimes shouting (fortunately we don't understand the language much, but some of it may be related to the popular Aguardente cane spirit - I've tried the stuff myself, only because it is dirt cheap!). When we entered the South from Uruguay the land was very flat, with a lot of lakes and rice and cattle ranching. Gradually the environment has become more tropical in nature, with forested hills and a warmer humid climate. The other night we suffered a rather heavy rain-storm which demonstrated to Leana that her tent needed some serious water-proofing treatment (fortunately I'd given my old tent the treatment in Australia already). We're struggling a bit with the Portuguese language, which we mostly confuse with the bit of Spanish which we'd picked up in the previous 3 countries (as soon as we open our mouths people here assume that we're Argentinian). In the South there was a lot of interesting colonial architecture, and we also battled head-winds most of the time (we made the most of the couple of days when the wind was in our favour). Currently we're in the historic city of Joinville, about half-way between the Uruguayan border and Rio De Janeiro. One really good thing about Brasil is that they eat a decent breakfast - bread, cheese, ham, fruit, and cake! (in comparison to the measly croissant and coffee in the previous few countries). We've camped all over the show, but thanks to Leana we have stayed in budget hotels a number of times, where breakfast has always been included. Daily distances cycled since my last report have been:- Curral Alto 90 km; Pelotas 157 km; Camaqua 133 km; Guaiba 103 km; Osorio 125 km; Capao Canoa 47 km; Torres 63 km; Ararangua 60 km; Tubarao 81 km; Imbituba 57 km; Tujucas 129 km; Barra Velha 85 km; and Joinville 57 km. The total distance I've cycled in South America so far is 7 394 km. The total distance cycled in the 4 years of this trip is 73 881 km.