Day 243 – Santa Tereza Do Oeste to Salto, Brazil

Day 243 – Santa Tereza do Oeste to Salto, Brazil      04/21/11      Mileage: 559

Today it was all business laying down miles towards Sao Paulo. It rained on and off most of the morning so it was hard to make good time. Like the other day he roads were very slick in spots and the back end of the bike broke loose again in a corner. The paper map and the GPS map were fighting all morning as well so I had to stop at each junction to find the right road. I was pulled over at the side a traffic circle looking at the map when another rider on a DL650 V-Strom pulled up. As it turns out he was on his way home which was on the way to Sao Paulo, so he offered to lead the way. It was great having a local out in front and for the first time in a long time I didn’t have to worry about navigating….I could just ride and enjoy the scenery.

 Me and my Brazilian guide….

The rain also stopped and the roads dried out making it easier to keep the pace up. After a few hours we arrived in Cornelio Procopio where he showed me the downtown and their Christ the Redeemer statue which also had a great view of the surrounding countryside.

A view of downtown Cornelio Procopio….

He showed me the way back to the highway, I thanked him for his guiding services and I was back on the road. At dusk I started looking for a hotel but the only accommodations along the road were no-tell-motels. I of course have no problem staying in them and I stopped into several, but none would give me a room for the entire night except one but they wanted too much money. So, I pressed on in the dark but didn’t pass a proper roadside hotel for almost another 2 hours. Well, at least tomorrow it will be a short ride to meet up with my friend Sabine in Morungaba tomorrow!

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Day 242 – Iguacu Falls and Itaipu Dam, Brazil

Day 242 – Iguacu Falls and Itaipu Dam, Brazil      04/20/11      Mileage: 191

Nice breakfast, packed the bike, blah, blah… I’ll skip right to the good stuff. The Parque Nacional Do Iguacu Falls was one of the first pins I put in my map of must see places when I began planning this trip, and I was going to pick that one off today.  The park is a little touristy, but they did a nice job with it and it doesn’t seem cheesy at all. You can’t ride or take your car into the park……the only way to get to the falls is to take the shuttle buses.

There are over 275 individual waterfalls spanning several kilometers along a horseshoe shaped gorge and rang in size from a small stream to the size of Niagara Falls! It is simply impossible to wrap your head or camera lens around the scale of the scene. Here are the pics…

The trail along the gorge to view the falls is over a kilometer long and it’s impossible to get all of the falls in one picture…can’t be done!

Views up and down the gorge….

These cute little guys were roaming around everywhere…

Lost in translation….

The falls also divide Brazil and Argentina….and you can see the flag of Argentina at above the observation platform across the gorge.

So with that checked off my life list, I had just enough time to also tour the enormous Itaipu Dam which is about 15 miles away. The dam was a joint project with neighboring Paraguay on the Parana. River which divides the two countries and is the largest operating hydroelectric plant on earth. Even though Brazil is 20 times the size of Paraguay in every way, they share everything 50/50 right down the middle…from the power it generates to the workforce which is half Brazilian and half Paraguayan…1500 workers each. The size of the dam is almost as hard to imagine as Iguacu Falls. It’s almost 8 kilometers long (5 miles) and provides 90% of the power used in all of Uruguay and 19% in Brazil.

This is the giant spillway…..and of course the pictures just do not do it justice…..it is enormous!

The size just doesn’t come across in the pictures, but it’s as tall as a 68 story building…and 5 miles long end to end!

Those big pipes are 10 meters (33 feet) across, and just 2 of them (there are 20 all together!) can carry the entire flow of Iguacu Falls!

A view of the giant spillway from above…

After finishing the tour I made my way back to Santa Tereza Do Oeste to the same hotel I stayed at last night. Tomorrow will be all business laying down miles to get to Sao Paulo by Friday afternoon where I have a hot Brazilian chick waiting for me. My friend Sabine is flying down from the US to spend time with me and her family over Easter…it will be great to see a familiar face! It’s too bad her husband and also one of my best friends, Johnny O (a wild man on his KTM 625 SXC) couldn’t make it down.

Ooops…Day 238 never got published…but it’s up now…

Ooops…Day 238 never got published…but it’s up now if you want to go back and read it. I am currently in Santa Tereza Do Oeste, Brazil….heading for Sao Paulo soon!

Cheers,

-Lenny

Day 241 – Maravilha to Santa Tereza Do Oeste, Brazil

Day 241 – Maravilha to Santa Tereza Do Oeste, Brazil      04/19/11       Mileage: 199

I lingered this morning to enjoy my sweet digs, use the wifi, and get my $35 worth of the very nice breakfast.

The Maravilha Park Hotel….very nice for $35 USD….

Complete with a regulation soccer field and sand volleyball court…

I had to do some financial reshuffling also as I haven’t found a bank ATM yet that likes my card. The weather was clear and warm and the road north was also great fun twisting and turning over rolling hills.

Odd town sign at the entrance to Maravilha…

I was trying to make time to make up for my late start so I didn’t stop to take many pictures. It also started raining for the last 2 hours of riding and again the roads got very slick.

Darkness caught up to me about 90 miles from my destination…Iguacu Falls. That will have to wait for tomorrow morning, and another one off the life list…

Day 240 – Sao Sepe to Maravilha, Brazil

Day 240 – Sao Sepe to Maravilha, Brazil     04/18/11     Mileage: 285

I awoke to the sound of diesel engines which is of course no surprise as I was camping in a truck stop. Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em….so I packed up the bike and split.

It was raining on and off and the road, while paved, was very slippery in spots and it caught me off guard the first few times the bike got loose on me. The rear end broke loose and fishtailed when I was braking for a speed bump and another time simply by down-shifting. Granted I’m on knobby tires with high air pressure to survive the highway speeds, but I was used to that….this was different. What I finally figured out is that most of the side roads are not paved, and the dirt…this reddish brown clay…gets dragged onto the paved road by other vehicles. It was this reddish brown clay that was making the roads slick in the rain, but it was hard to see.

Taking a break and drying off a bit…

I stopped several times for gas and to dry off a bit, and the bike seems to garner a bit of attention again like Central America. Several people asked me questions, but I couldn’t answer of course as the extent of my Portuguese amounts to 3 words…oi, which means hi, obrigado, which means thank you, and caipirinha, which means 2 oz’s of cachaca or vodka, 2 muddled limes and sugar, shaken on the rocks….which is only handy if you’re thirsty and in search of a hangover. If they spoke a little Spanish then I was able to get some points across. But compared to my Portuguese, in Spanish I’m virtually a cunning linguist. I jest of course, as Helena and Gustavo’s sons, age 5 and 3, regularly trounced my Spanish and had to speak to me in English. They are being raised bilingual…how great is that! So anyway, I arrived in Maravilha and saw a nice hotel set back off the side of the road. Chilled and soaked, I decided to just ask even though it looked out of my budget. It was actually only $35 USD…above my budget but within reach for one night….and breakfast and all the wifi I could use was included. It also had a well stocked bar…enough said. After settling in I adjourned to the bar for a beer and burger. Most beer down here is available in liter size, and like all beer the first one goes down fast. The second liter sometimes takes a you bit longer and sometimes…..the last bit gets a little warmish for optimum consumption. Well, this hotel has a solution in the form of a liter size beer cozy. Perfect!

They also march to their own drum in the hamburger department. I ordered the hamburger completo…which usually means lettuce, tomato, cheese…etc. Well, this burger completo was very completo! It had the lettuce, tomato, onions, cheese, bacon, mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup….I’m with it so far…ham also….OK…a fried egg….hmm…sure why not. But they strayed from the reservation with layer of peas and corn.

Fried egg…..

…peas and corn.

Don’t get me wrong, I still mowed that thing down like Rosie O’Donnell at a Krispy Cream buffet, but it was a little odd.

 Bloated….from the burger or the beers, I’m not sure which…I wallowed back to my room to sleep it off…

Day 239 – Valizas, Uruguay to Sao Sepe, Brazil

Day 239 – Valizas, Uruguay to Sao Sepe, Brazil      04/17/11      Mileage: 396

The wind howled all night as my campsite was only 100 yards from the ocean. The clouds looked ominous as I was packing up and it started to rain just as I was finishing.

Packed and ready to hit the road…

The sleepy bohemian town of Valizas, Uruguay

I rode for maybe 5 miles before the skies opened up with torrent of rain, wind and lightning. I was soaked in minutes but I pressed on towards the Brazil border. I stopped for gas after 40 or so miles and waited a while to see if it would let up, but it only got worse and the skies look dark and angry in every direction. So, I pressed on as waiting there any longer was only delaying the inevitable it seemed. I haven’t seen rain this steady and hard since northern Guatemala, and I know this for a fact because like then the bike started sputtering from all the water soaking the electrics. Luckily I rolled right into the Uruguay border post a short time later with the hope of drying both me and the bike out while I processed out of the country. For once I was in no rush at all and wouldn’t you know I was processed out in under 2 minutes…go figgure. I hung around for a while anyway, but begrudgingly put on my helmet and set off for the Brazil side of the border. In between in no mans land is the town of Chuy (Chui in Portuguese), which is one big duty free zone. There was also a hotel with a garage and I was mighty tempted at the prospect of getting warm and dry, but decided to keep going. The Brazil side of the border was easy, straightforward and didn’t cost anything for the bike(the Brazil visa I got back in Buenos Aires cost $145). So that done I was off and riding north along the coast of Brazil…country number 18!

The road was boring and straight and not close enough to see the ocean to provide a view. The rain did finally let up and after getting gas in Quinta, my route turned inland across some rolling hills with nice twists and turns which made for some good riding. What’s not so good was the price of gas in Brazil so far…$7.60 per gallon! Might I add that this is also a BIG country and it will take A LOT of gas to cross it…so much for the budget. Towards the end of the day the sun finally came out and I was able to dry out a bit.

At dusk I was looking for a place to bush camp, but the only place I could find was a grassy spot on the side of a truck stop. Oh well…good enough for truckers…good enough for a smelly biker…

Day 238 – Montevideo to Valizas, Uruguay

Day 238 – Montevideo to Valizas, Uruguay      04/16/11      Mileage: 216

I was up relatively early and worked on the blog over breakfast. I had one last look around town before packing the bike and heading east out of town.

I took the road that ran along the waterfront and it was quite a nice ride. There was a great pedestrian walkway and bike path that ran along the beach that must have stretched for some 15 miles at least.

My first stop for today was the beach town and resort of Punta del Este, perhaps one of the most famous in South America.

I rode around taking in the sights and boy was there a lot of money in that town…you could almost swear you were in Miami Beach.

One of these bikes is not like the others….

I had a quick lunch and then continued east along the coast heading for Cabo Polonio National Park. When I arrived I was disappointed to find out that the only way to get into the park was on a 4×4 tour…I couldn’t ride or even walk in myself. I’m not big on the group tour thing so I split and continued up the coast. It was getting late so I decided to find somewhere to camp and found it in the little bohemian town of Valizas. It had a little hippie colony vibe to it and seemed like a pretty tranquilo place. Tomorrow I’ll have a better look around and then it’s on to Brazil!