Saturday, 14 May 2011
CUTTING ACROSS BRASIL
If Brasil was a cake that one could cut across, then the baker must have messed up the icing - it is very hilly! Since leaving Leana behind in Rio De Janeiro, I´ve cycled 1700 k´s West for 19 days on the trot. Yesterday afternoon on Friday the 13th I dragged my depleted self into the city of Campo Grande, and I´m now taking a break in the Hostel Campo Grande. Only once along the way did I book into a room (on day 4 I went into the town of Barbacena in search of a supermarket, bike shop, and internet cafe - the cheap hotel where I stayed laid out the best breakfast ever!). Other than that I camped mostly at truck stops (called Posto´s here) - road transport is huge in Brasil, and the big truck stops are all over the show. Often I was not the only camper there, as all sorts of trucker hangers-on and traveling salesmen string up hammocks and even pitch tents at the popular places. One leather-goods salesman was obviously the cautious type, and carried his rack of belts and wallets everywhere with him - even into the toilets. One hears of people being referred to as `Trailer-Park Trash`, so I shouldn´t be surprised If anybody calls me `Truck-Stop Trash`. The first week since Rio it rained almost continuously, and twice I camped in front of restaurants under the verandah, and once in a covered car-wash bay (when I stuck my head out of the tent in the morning, there was a que of cars waiting for me to move). From Rio I climbed steeply up the forested mountains to the highlands of Petropolis, and for the next ten days or so I cycled up and down big hills covered by coffee plantations and grazing cattle. The lakes in the Rio Grande around the Furnas Depression are very scenic, but the continuous hills tend to detract from the view. Later I dropped down to a lower altitude where the hills were covered in endless sugar cane plantations. After a motorcycle escort across the busy and narrow 4 km causeway over the Rio Parana (with a big Hydro-electric plant in it), the hills were covered in plantation forests and cattle ranches (the bunch in picture came marching to the fence for a closer look at me - while other herds have run for their lives without me even stopping!) Along the way there are surprisingly many large towns/cities, which are only marked by small dots on the map. Campo Grande itself is larger than I´d expected and is the springboard to the Pantanal wetlands area (a big tourist attraction), which I´ll be moving through on my way West. I´ve already spotted some big colourful Macaws, and the road-kill seems to indicate that I´m not alone! Daily distances cycled since Rio have been:- Petropolis 81 km; Tres Rios 75 km; Ewbank Da Camara 80 km; Barbacena 61 km; Sao Jao Del Rei 80 km; Lavras 90 km; Formiga 101 km; Capitolio 96 km; Itau De Minas 84 km; Altinopolis 85 km; Jaboticabal 129 km; Borborema 95 km; Guaranta 62 km; Coroados 100 km; Guaracai 109 km; Tres Lagoas 93 km; Agua Clara 115 km; Ribas Do Rio Pardo 100 km; and Campo Grande 99 km. The total distance in South America so far is 10 342 km, and the total distance I´ve cycled on this trip is 76 829 km.