Day 273 – 275 – Belem, Brazil

Day 273 – 275 – Belem, Brazil      05/21-23/11       Mileage: Local miles

John and I both had some maintenance to do on the bikes, so that was both our plans this morning. I tightened my chain and did what could be the last oil change for this trip….a sure sign that the inevitable end to this journey is on the horizon.

We did eventually meet up with Ian and he had been in town for a few days already. He met a local rider named Alex who not only owns a motorcycle shop in Belem but is also a local motorcycle club president. Alex was helping with local information and showing Ian around town…and later that night the four of us went out on the bikes for dinner.

L to R: Ian, John, Alex and me…

He showed us a great local joint that he said was “good and cheap”…and that it was. So, with the money we saved Alex took us to a strip club to pursue the local talent….and this was the kind of place that you could also make a purchase.  😉  (sorry guys, no pics)   The next day was spent running errands and tracking down information on the routes out of Belem as well as exploring the option to take a boat up the Amazon to Manaus, which in the end we all decided to do. We got a good deal for the three of us (and our bikes) to take a boat from Belem all the way to Manaus in the heart of the Amazon. That night Alex took us to a hopping outdoor club on a pier overlooking the river.

The place was freakin jumping and everyone was dancing and partying in the tropical heat….language barrier….what language barrier!?

Ian is loving the scene….

…..and so is John!

The next day John and I walked down to check out the boat and scope out the logistics of getting our bikes onboard.

That’s our boat at the end of the pier…the Ciudad de Santarem II…

When we got there we watched them offloading a pick-up….that was a tight fit…

They sell refreshing cold coconuts on the street which they open for you with a machette….check out the skills in the video below…

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That night we met Alex and some of his motorcycle club buddies again and they took us out to another “cheap and good” dinner.

Alex (center) and 2 of his motorcycle club buddies…

So, thanks Alex for all the great info and the locals tour of Belem!

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Day 272 – Bom Jardim to Belem, Brazil

Day 272 – Bom Jardim to Belem, Brazil      05/20/11       Mileage: 322

John and I had just over 300 miles to get to Belem, so after a nice breakfast that was included with the rooms, we continued up the BR316 north.

We sheltered our bikes in storage area behind the hotel…

John and his Yamaha TT600…

The skies were threatening all morning but we managed to stay dry. We planned to have a nice lunch at a churrascaria (a Brazilian steakhouse) which are generally plentiful along the road and in particular at gas stations and truck stops. Luckily we found exactly what we were looking for at exactly the moment it started to rain. As soon as we pulled the bikes up to the pumps under the shelter of the roof, it began to pour….perfect timing for sure. We filled the bikes and filled ourselves with meat at the churrascaria….different cuts of steak, chicken, ribs, tongue…the works! It was still pouring outside so we were in no rush to leave, and being a fixed price all you can eat….we just kept eating…meat. Eventually the rain ended along with our appetites, so we continued up the road to Belem.

All the rivers we crossed were very high…..this one has flooded the local soccer field…

John’s friend Ian whom I also met back in Buenos Aires was already in Belem, so we were going to try and hook up with him. We found the hotel easy enough but they didn’t have any more room in their garage and Ian was not around, so we found another hotel around the corner that had room in their garage for the bikes. After stowing the bikes and gear we went down to the waterfront for dinner and a few beers.

They served beer in these towers….almost like having your own personal beer tap….sweet!

The “working girls” were doing a good business at the waterfront and a few of them seemed particularly keen on selling their services to me and John….which could be taken as a compliment I guess…but probably not…. 😛

Day271 – Tutoia to Bom Jardim, Brazil

Day271 – Tutoia to Bom Jardim, Brazil      05/19/11      Mileage: 365

My plan for today was to make it over to the town of Barreirinhas which is the gateway to another place that is supposed to have some spectacular beaches, dunes and scenery.

My hotel in Tutoia…

The road there from Tutoia was partly paved, but in the town of Pauliuno Neves it turned to all sand with many deep water holes to cross. I pressed on for 2 or 3 kilometers but the water holes and sand were only getting deeper. I passed a local on a moto and he said it only got worse from here. He also said he had a friend with a lifted 4×4 Land Cruiser and he could possible take me and the bike across, but I didn’t like the idea of the bike being bounced around in the back of a truck for 2-3 hours of hard off roading. So in the end I was forced to backtrack towards Tutoia and then ride south and west before the road turned north towards Belem…looks like Barreirinhas will have to wait for next time.

Crossing a small bridge in Pauliuno Neves….

At least now I was free to make the run to Belem so I turned up the pace and made use of the good road surface.

For an hour I was transported to the American Midwest complete with a John Deere harvester. Nothing runs like a Deere…except maybe a KLR….   😉

Late in the afternoon I came around a truck and saw up ahead the silhouette of another adventure bike….the first one I’ve seen since Valerii and I split up way back in Argentina…some 5 weeks and 6,000 miles ago. I pulled up alongside and saw it was John….one of the guys from the UK that I met back at Dakar Motos in Buenos Aires!

It always amazes me when I bump into another rider again thousands of miles later….it’s a small world. We pulled over and caught up on our travels for the last few weeks. John was also heading for Belem so we decided to ride together. We rode for another hour or two and found a hotel for the night in the tiny town of Bom Jardim.

I bed for sleeping…and 3 for my crap….

While we were unpacking the bikes there was a little group of kids that were asking us questions and wanting to take pictures with us. They also invited us to play soccer with them so after getting settled we went across the street to their tiny soccer field….which amounted to little more than some grass and dirt wedged between the road and a ditch. John and I joined in one on each team making a three on three…two kids and one, errr, “elder” kid to a side.

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It was great fun for sure and the two old men didn’t embarrass themselves too much. We thanked them for the invite, had a shower and then went out for a few ice cold beers….a great way to end another day on the road north.

Day 270 – Jijoca de Jericoacoara to Tutoia, Brazil

Day 270 – Jijoca de Jericoacoara to Tutoia, Brazil      05/18/11      Mileage: 238

After another breakfast for one, I packed the bike and started towards the beach town of Jericoacoara which is supposed to be a remote tranquilo town nestled in the sand dunes right on the ocean. I was stopped in the way in to town last night and was told that I needed a guide to get there. A guide, I don’t need no stinking guide.  😉 

So off I went sans guide…and the road started out paved and well marked, then turned to cobbles, then dirt and then to deep sugar sand…which sucks the big fat one on a loaded adventure bike. It is work…hard work…and at times the sand was so deep I couldn’t ride the bike…but had to run next to it while working the clutch and throttle while balancing the 500+ lbs worth of motorcycle….in the blazing hot sun. And trust me, running in deep sand in motorcycle boots is a freakin workout…holding the bike up or not!

Also, in the sand and dunes there were many tracks leading in every direction, so I was constantly trying to find the right one.

Bit of a water crossing here….gun it and go!

Some would dead-end in a lagoon or just run out into open dunes…but I did eventually find my way to Jericoacoara.

Jericoacoara is little more than a collection of houses and a few small pousadas…but a super chill and laid back place. Plus…you can ride right onto the beach…how cool is that!

I rode for miles down the beach and at times it was surreal with the sun and clouds reflecting off of the wet sand. Here’s the video…

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At one point I stopped and was going to take a picture, but as soon as I got off the bike I realized it was sinking like quicksand…so I hopped back on and gassed it! Another 30 seconds and it would have been sitting on the skid plate buried up to the axles…not good! After my fill of beach riding I made my way out a different route across the dunes and again had to run next to the bike in the deep sugar sand. In the video below, the bridge had many missing and loose boards which you can hear slapping around….so I nailed the throttle across to the other side…

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Once back in Jijoca de Jericoacoara I got gas, found a place to wash the salt off of the bike, aired the tires back up to road pressure, lubed the chain and hit the road west along the coast.

One more great Brazilian sunset on the road north….

I ended up in the town of Tutoia where I found a room, a margarita pizza and a shitload of beer. That was definitely one of the more memorable days of the trip!

Day 269 – Fortaleza to Jijoca de Jericoacoara, Brazil

Day 269 – Fortaleza to Jijoca de Jericoacoara, Brazil      05/17/11      Mileage: 236

Regular routine this morning…breakfast, wifi and then hit the road. It was only a little over 200 miles to Jericoacoara which was the next place on my list to check out. Getting out of Fortaleza through the traffic in the blazing sun was hot and sweaty affair I was glad to put behind me once the road opened up. The Aerostitch Darien Jacket and pants that I wear are well armored and tough as nails, but no one will ever say they are well ventilated or very comfortable in hot weather.

Some unexpected mountain scenery that was quite nice!

The road though soon turned to shit…choc full of huge pot holes and sandy dirt sections. Worse yet were the trucks that were swerving clear across the road both ways to avoid the monster pot holes. Several times they swerved into my lane and only noticed me at the last second and swerved back as I went diving to the right. I had a few of those close calls and this went on for a 100 miles….nerve racking.

Here’s one of those monster pot holes….

Get back in your lane!

Next was a dog that wandered on the road…I was on the brakes hard and swerved right only to have the dog change directions into my path again. It was only luck that it turned away at the last second oblivious to its near demise….and possibly mine. Towards the end of the day I was dodging pot holes again and riding west into the sun at dusk…when at the last second I saw a grey car with no lights on in my lane. I swerved onto the shoulder at the last second and they continued by seemingly unaware of my presence. The driver must have been drunk as that is the only way to explain it. To top it off both times today the gas station attendant overfilled my tank spilling gas on the hot engine and exhaust…I was afraid the bike was going to go up in flames. It was just one of those days on the road that just I’m glad I survived and is over with.

At least I did make it to Jijoca de Jericoacoara (the town right before Jericoacoara) and it ended well with beer and pizza….

Day 268 – Itaja to Fortaleza, Brazil

Day 268 – Itaja to Fortaleza, Brazil      05/16/11       Mileage: 227

This morning I worked on the blog a bit before packing the bike and heading down the road. It was a pretty flat ass boring rip up the coast up the BR304 to Fortaleza…Brazil’s 5th largest city.

These are some nice resorts on the coast just south of Fortaleza…

I picked my way through the city maze down to the beach and found a room 1 block off the beach for only triple my budget…not bad by Brazil prices.

Actually, I find Brazil is definitely a bit less expensive in the north compared to the south, and you can find reasonable accommodations and food if you really look.

This was the view from my motel…pretty good…

So after a quick hose off I changed into my shorts and made a b-line for the beach….and promptly got a beer of course.

I lingered long enough to take in a stellar sunset as well as a few more beers and a caipirinha just for good measure.

Day 267 – Olinda to Itaja, Brazil

Day 267 – Olinda to Itaja, Brazil      05/15/11      Mileage: 287

It poured all night and was still pouring went I went down to breakfast. I took my time eating as there was of course little point in rushing. The rain did lighten up a bit, so the decision was to walk around Fortaleza in the rain or to ride in the rain…so I chose to ride, packed the bike and split for the BR101 north. My thought was to ride out from under the rain into better weather to enjoy somewhere else up the coast, but that never happened. It pretty much rained the entire day riding until finally at around 3:30 I found some drier weather.

A ball, a few sticks for goals, some friends…and you have a soccer match on the beach….

I whipped up the pace on the dry roads to make some miles and ended up in a roadside truck stop near Itaja.

The hotel did have wifi and a churrascaria right next door which was handy! So after my fill of beef, beer and wifi…I called it a night….