Day 289 Vista Alegre, Brazil to Santa Elena, Venezuela

Day 289 Vista Alegre, Brazil to Santa Elena, Venezuela      06/06/11      Mileage: 237

It poured overnight which did not bode well for us as we still had to get across the river. John and I walked 1 block down to the water’s edge and indeed the water had risen at least 2-3 feet from where it was last night. The tienda in which we had dinner last night now had 2 feet of water in it. Several motor canoes had come right up the street so I asked one of the owners if he would be willing to take 3 motorcycles across the river. He agreed and after negotiating a price we had a plan!

Me negotiating with the boat owner…

So, after packing the bikes we rode down the street to where our motor canoe was waiting. We discussed a plan and agreed that John and I would go across first with our bikes, then Ian would come across with his bikes and the gear.

John’s TT and my KLR ready to set sail…

I have to admit it was a bit nerve racking crossing the boiling and swollen river in the rickety underpowered boat. If the boat went over you could kiss the bikes goodbye…not to mention having to literally swim for your life.

Luckily, we made it across OK and I was relieved to have the bikes on dry land. The GPS said it was 2.5 miles across the flooded river that normally is only maybe 100 yards across! We knew we were witnessing an unusually high flood when even the locals, police and fire department were all turning up to see the flood and take pictures.

Our bikes back on dry land with the local police department standing by…

Ian showed up with his bike and the gear about an hour later…and after repacking the bikes we hit the road north towards Venezuela.

Wrestling Ian’s XTZ660 out of the canoe…

Two hours later I had a close encounter with a vulture, and sadly the poor guy didn’t make it. I really felt bad and I hope that doesn’t bring me bad karma.

After riding in the rain for a while we finally arrived at the Venezuela border.

It was around 4:30 in the afternoon and we were told that we needed to buy insurance in Santa Elena wound 10 miles into Venezuela, then return to the border to process the paperwork. Well, we arrived at the insurance place at 4:50pm….and of course they close at 5pm and did not have time to process our insurance. Crap, so, we got a room in town and the insurance and border formalities will have to wait until tomorrow. But for now, we’re all hungry and thirsty for some ice cold beers…..some things never change!

Day 288 Manaus to Vista Alegre, Brazil

Day 288 Manaus to Vista Alegre, Brazil       06/05/11       Mileage: 398

John, Ian and I planned on getting an early start, but you know how that goes. Either way it was nice to be back on the bikes and rolling north with 2 new friends. The first half of the day was uneventful with mile upon mile of dense jungle lining the roadside.

Leaving Manaus…..Caracas, Venezuela….2,250 kilometers to go…

Ian and his Yamaha XTZ660…

Ian with me in his rear view mirror…

Brazil doesn’t make a big deal about the equator…and this graffiti filled monument is all that marks its location. I flew right by and didn’t even see it. Either way…I was back in the northern hemisphere for the first time in 6 months…

We ran into some rain, but nothing too bad….but we did notice that all the rivers were high though, so there has definitely been a lot of rain here lately.

A quick rest stop and map check…

Shortly after we came upon a roadblock where the police said the road was closed due to flooding 10 miles ahead and that we could not proceed. He didn’t know when it would be open…could be days or even weeks! We talked our way past by saying we wanted to go take pictures and have a look for ourselves.

When we got there the road was indeed flooded for at least half a mile….but the locals said it was only knee-deep the whole way across. Score! We can ride that no problem, so we started across.

All was fine until my bike stalled shortly after getting through a deep spot. John was kind enough to walk back and help me push the bike the rest of the way across.

Once on dry land the bike fired up and we were on our way. A few miles down the road we came upon another section, though thankfully not as long or as deep…but again my bike stalled. WTF!

Fortunately, as soon as the bike was back on dry land it fired up….still pretty aggravating though. Back on the road we were pushing hard to make it to Caracarai where we knew there was some food and shelter.

But, right at dusk we were stopped cold in our tracks by a very flooded Rio Branco.

The bikes stopped dead in their tracks by the flooding Rio Branco

Undeterred at first, John and I got off the bikes and started walking across to see how deep and how far the water was. Several hundred yards into thigh deep water…at night, we came to two revelations….one, we still couldn’t see dry land on the other side and two, wouldn’t this be a perfect spot for a big angry caiman to attack two big tasty (if not smelly) bikers? Errrr, should have thought that one through a little more before plunging right into water. Ummmm, first one back to shore get’s to live to see tomorrow!

John and I returning from our little river walk…

Safely back on dry land we discussed our options, which ended up being pitching our tents in one of the locals yards nearby. After getting out of our wet riding gear we went in search of some dinner and found a little tienda that was open. The selection was meager, but a tin of canned meat surprise and some crackers will do just fine. The woman working the tienda was also kind enough to heat up the canned meat on here stove in back. Oh, and she had cold beer…so all is right with the world.

Tin of canned meat and crackers, $4. Six rounds of beer, $22. Dinner in the Amazon jungle with your riding buddies after a great day on the bikes….priceless.

Tomorrow….we have to figure out how to get across that flooded river.

Day 286 – 287 Manaus, Brazil

Day 286 – 287 Manaus, Brazil      06/03-04/11      Mileage: o

The last two days I spent mostly running errands, getting chores done, catching up on email and shaking off a mean hangover. I did spend one afternoon walking around town and did make it a point to see the Teatro Amazones (a grand theater from Manaus’s heyday during the rubber boom) which is an impressive building for sure.


John had to track down an electrical problem with his TT600….fortunatly he’s an electrician in the UK…so he found it pronto…

It’s been two weeks since I’ve done any real riding and tomorrow I’m looking forward to getting back on the bike!

Day 285 – Amazon Jungle Day 2

Day 285 – Amazon Jungle Day 2        06/02/11       Mileage: o

We were up shortly after 6am and we all slept surprisingly well….all except for Ian that is. It seems there was a malfunction of sorts with his mosquito net on his hammock, because the mosquitoes used his back for a pin cushion. Poor bastard.

Morning everyone….

Here’s a closer look on how the shelter was built…pretty cool…

Packing up camp…

In case you’re wondering what 200 mosquito bites look like….now you know…

After packing up camp we headed back to the natives house for breakfast in our trusty wooden canoe…after we bailed it out of course.

Next on the agenda was a short jungle trek with Antonio pointing out many interesting things about the Amazon jungle. He pointed out trees and plants that were used for everything from medicines for different ailments to poisons for blow darts and even a particular ant that hunters would smear on themselves to mask their scent while hunting.

That is one %#$&% big spider!

He pointed out some monkey’s but they were too high up to get a picture of. After a few hours we arrived back at the canoe and started making our way back towards the base camp. Along the way Antonio spotted a sloth high up in the trees along the river. With a branch Antonio tried to get him to come down…but then with a splash the sloth fell from the tree into the river. Amazingly it just started swimming back towards the trees….who knew sloths could swim?! Antonio picked him up out of the water and we all had a closer look.

 He’s a shy fellow for sure and looked ready for a nap despite being roused from his perch. How Antonio saw him up in the tree in beyond me….all I can say is Antonio is the real deal when it comes to jungle guides. Back at base camp we unloaded the canoe and had another nice lunch and were entertained again by the “house” monkey.

We all relaxed for a while as well but soon it was time to head back to Manaus the same way we arrived….first on the small boat back to the van to another boat across the main Amazon River to a car to take us back to town. All in all, it was an amazing experience that I’m glad I didn’t miss. Later that night Ian, John and I ate and drank our body weight in pizza and beer…a nice little capper on two very memorable days in the Amazon. Bucket of beer…yep, that’s for us, gracias…

More posts coming soon!

Sorry for the long delay between pots, but I’ve been on the road and haven’t had time to write or post. I’m currently in western Venezuela and will be crossing back into Colombia soon. More posts are on the way!


Day 284 – Amazon Jungle Day 1

Day 284 – Amazon Jungle Day 1       06/01/11       Mileage: o

Today was day one of a two day trip into the Amazon Jungle and it began when our car picked us up to take us down to the docks where we would catch the first of 3 boats.

The fish in the lower right are piranha!

The first boat took us across to the south bank of the Amazon River. Along the way we crossed the “Meeting of the Waters” which is where the black water of the Rio Negro and muddy brown water of the Rio Solimões come together and run parallel for a few miles before mixing together.

Here is a shot from a plane which is much more clear….

Next was a 40 minute van ride to catch boat number two which would take us to the outfitter base camp on a small tributary of the Amazon.

L to R: John, Ian and our guide Antonio

At the base camp we had nice lunch and were entertained by a small monkey that had us all laughing.



Piranha…it’s whats for lunch…

After letting lunch settle for a bit we packed boat number three….a motorized canoe…which would take us deeper yet into the jungle.

Machette…check, tarp shelter….check, bug spray…check…….crapload of beer…..check!

In addition to John, Ian and myself, we were joined by a lovely couple from the UK and a young guy from Holland.

Our guides name was Antonio whom we had met the day before while booking the trip. He grew up in the mountains of southern Guyana and speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and two local Indian dialects…amazing. So with the boat packed we headed deeper into the jungle.

After cruising along a small river we entered the flooded forest while Antonio pointed things out to us along the way…including several large spiders which were kind of hard to miss!

Just in case you missed it…that is one big spider!

Once back in more open water we came upon a pod of river dolphins that were all around the canoe…amazing.

Continuing on we headed back into another flooded forest, this time to do some piranha fishing!



OK, so they are not very big, but I guess if you were surrounded by 500 of them all taking a bite out of you, you might be in some trouble! Did I mention that our wooden canoe had a leak and we had to continually bail it out…yep. So after amateur angler hour was over, we went out in search of a place to setup camp for the night. We went deeper into the bush down a small stream, then a smaller stream until Antonio found a suitable site which we began clearing by hand and with machetes.

We then helped him construct our shelter which we made from several cut tree trunks and blue tarp.

 Next we hung the hammocks under the shelter and covered them with the all important mosquito net….as we are square in the middle of the malaria zone.

After camp was set we got back into the canoe and went to a native’s house where we had dinner and some great conversation.

With our bellies full it was back to the canoe, but before heading back to camp Antonio took us looking for caiman…the Amazon’s answer to an alligator! They can apparently grow up to 15 feet….much larger than the canoe, so lucky for us the one he caught was just a 7-9 month old little guy.

 Those who wanted to hold him got their chance, but then it was time to let him go before his little chirps for help were answered by mommy! Once back in camp we built a fire and had some nice ice cold beers before retiring to our hammocks….now this is the life…..

Day 283 – Manaus, Brazil

Day 283 – Manaus, Brazil       05/31/11       Mileage: 0

This morning we pulled the bikes off the boat which was a piece of cake because we were tied to a floating pier the exact same height as the boat cargo deck….sweet.

Bikes and bananas were the only thing left on the cargo deck in the morning…

We found a place to stash them for a few hours while we walked around Manaus to get the lay of the land and find a place to stay.

First order of business….some breakfast at a street food stand….

We also rand some errands which included a stop in the pharmacy where we had a funny exchange with the gals behind the counter.

When you are trying to describe to someone that you have a bad case of the shits in a foreign language, laughter is going to be the inevitable result!

John taking the prescribed remedy…

The two very helpful pharmacists…

This guy had a, ummm, unique seat cover on his bike.

After settling on a private room in the Manaus hostel, we went back to collect the bikes and relocate them to a French School across the street from the hostel that was kind enough to let us leave the bikes in their gated parking lot.

Nos motos à l’Ecole de français, oui

That night we had a low key street stand dinner and all caught up on our email and wifi. Tomorrow we’re off on a two day jungle excursion which should be a great experience!

Day 282 – Amazon Riverboat Day 7

Day 282 – Amazon Riverboat Day 7         05/30/11       Mileage: 0

Today I did more writing and enjoyed the passing scenery on what would be the last day out on the Amazon River. Though certainly very far from posh, it’s been a relaxing and memorable boat trip.

John and I talked to this guy who worked on the boat and he was a total crack-up! All he could talk about was banging chicks and although I know almost no Portuguese, some words come across loud and clear!   😉

Yet another stunning sunset over the Amazon River….

We pulled into Manaus late in the evening and were allowed to stay one more night on the boat.

Although late at night, the dock in Manaus was a frenzy of activity….

Tomorrow we’ll have to get the bikes off the boat, find someplace to stay in Manaus and hopefully have a look around town.

Day 281 – Amazon Riverboat Day 6

Day 281 – Amazon Riverboat Day 6      05/29/11       Mileage: 0

Today I buckled down and sequestered myself in the cabin for most of the day to catch up on the writing for the blog which was now over 10 days behind. I left the door open so I could see the river passing by and took some time to walk the decks.

At night John, Ian and I did our best to lighten the ships hold of excess beer and had a great conversation with a Brazilian girl from Sau Paulo. Tomorrow we arrive in Manaus in the heart of the Amazon…

Day 280 – Santarem, Brazil and Amazon Riverboat Day 5

Day 280 – Santarem, Brazil and Amazon Riverboat Day 5      05/28/11      Mileage: 0

The boat got a late start from port which seems to be the norm, but if you’re in a rush this is not the way to go anyway.

Sunrise on the Amazon River….

Looking back at Santarem as we head upriver….

I spent the day mostly reading my guide book on the far north of Brazil and Venezuela, studying the maps and getting a rough plan for a route back to Colombia. Ironically, it was Ian’s birthday today so I’m not the only one to have a birthday on the boat! In the late afternoon I started chatting with 2 local gals from Manaus.

They didn’t speak any English but they seemed to somehow understand my terrible Spanish, so between that and some sign language we managed a conversation while they taught me some Portuguese. Learning a new language can be fun after all….  😉

Parting shot:  Another great sunset over the Amazon River….

Day 279 – Amazon Riverboat Day 4 to Santarem, Brazil

Day 279 – Amazon Riverboat Day 4 to Santarem, Brazil      05/27/11       Mileage: 0

This morning we docked in Santarem which marks the halfway point of the trip up the Amazon River, and we had to change boats to go the rest of the way to Manaus.

Pulling into Santarem….

There was a boat leaving in two hours which would not afford us any time to see Santarem, so we decided to catch another boat that was leaving tomorrow which would give us more time to explore Santarem and a nice river beach town nearby called Alter do Chao.

This is our next boat…the Ciudad de Santarem I….an old wooden boat….

The first priority was to get the bikes transferred to the boat leaving tomorrow which fortunately was docked next to ours, so that turned out to be a pretty easy affair.

The bikes strapped in on the Santarem I for their next ride up river…

Next we transferred our gear over and once that was all secured we wandered out along the waterfront for some lunch and to pick up a few items.

Here was me and Ian’s cabin on the Santarem I…and being a wood boat with no windows in the cabin, it was musty in their…

Lunch at a local food stand…

After all that was done we hired a taxi to take us to Alter do Chao about 30 minutes away. Upon arrival we saw that the water was so high that most of the beautiful sand beaches were underwater…but that’s what you get for visiting the Amazon in the rainy season.

Those thatched roofs normally have tables, chairs and ice cold beer under them…..but not today….

Undeterred, we hired a boat to take us out to the last sliver of beach with a bar that was still high and dry and knocked back a few beers.

 The cost of the taxi was pretty steep, so we decided to take the bus back which was an easy if not bouncy ride back to Santarem. John wasn’t feeling too good so he went straight back to the boat while Ian and I went for some dinner. We wandered around but didn’t see anything appealing until we saw an older woman with a street food stand in front of her house. It smelled good, looked good and it sure tasted good.

After we knocked back a few beers at a small street café before heading back to the boat…or, at least where the boat was! Crap….were the %$%$@# is the boat?! Some guys on the dock waved us toward the other end of the port, so we walked there…then walked to the other end….but no boat. WTF!? So we asked again were told all the way down the end of another port 2 kilometers away.

Finally found the boat…

Well, it was freakin’ hard to find and it took us 2 hours of walking, but we did eventually find the boat. Tomorrow we continue up the river deeper into the Amazon towards Manaus.

Day 278 – Amazon Riverboat Day 3

Day 278 – Amazon Riverboat Day 3       05/26/11        Mileage: 0

The scenery was again great and it seemed there was always something new or interesting to look at as you watch the world float by.

This is the view from the sink to brush your teeth….

Not all the bathrooms on the boat were as “nice” as ours. Notice the large bug on the wall on the left side of the picture….

We docked in a small river town of Almeirim to offload some cargo of vegetables and beer….work that is done entirely by hand.

We also bought some tasty fried pastels from the food venders that come down to the docks on bikes to meet the boat.

Back underway it was more great scenery along the river which I could and did watch for hours.

Here’s how most people travel the river boats….in hammocks….

Wonder where that road goes??

It was also my birthday today and the irony is, it was my father birthday yesterday and my parents are on a cruise in Alaska….so he celebrated his birthday on a boat in Alaska and I’m celebrating mine on a boat in the middle of the Amazon…although I can guarantee his accommodations are a bit nicer! John had snuck off the boat earlier while we were docked and tracked down a cake which was extremely thoughtful! So the highlight of the day, or night as it were, was having happy birthday sung to me in Portuguese by some Brazilians on the boat….here’s the video….



After cutting and sharing the cake with the other passengers, I made up some capirinha’s with the limes we bought earlier and we washed them down with several beers. Unfortunately once the cachaca started flowing everyone forgot about the cameras…so no more pics….oh well! We laughed and had a boatload of fun…excuse the pun…and that was definitely one of the most memorable birthdays I’ve ever had….

Day 277 – Amazon Riverboat Day

Day 277 – Amazon Riverboat Day 2      05/25/11      Mileage: 0

Today was our first full day on the river and now that it’s daylight I could have a good look around the boat and the river. I’ll let the pictures do the talking….

Here are the bikes on the cargo deck….with the banana’s, limes, produce, motor oil and everything else….

Ian and I split a cabine…..sure isn’t Royal Caribbean!

The river is incredibly wide in some spots and very narrow in others as it splinters in to several parts around the islands.

The boat runs close to the shore when it runs up river so the kids that live in remote villages often paddle out to meet the boat…

This kid was using a kayak paddle…the only one I saw during the whole trip…..brite kid!

This boat doesn’t look like it’s gonna’ make it!

Locals with food or wares to sell will also paddle out to the boat and use a small hook to hook onto the boat, then get climb on and sell what they can and then unhook and paddle away….

Ian, John and I had a nice dinner on the top deck…nothing fancy mind you, but the setting was superb…

And to cap off a great day we were treated to a great sunset over the Amazon River….

Day 276 – Belem and Amazon Riverboat Day 1

Day 276 – Belem and Amazon Riverboat Day 1      05/24/11       Mileage: Local miles

After packing the bikes and checking out we headed to the port to hopefully get the bikes loaded onto the boat that will take the three of us up the Amazon River to Manaus. We have to load the bikes when the river tide is high so the dock and the boat cargo deck are close enough together….if the water is too low it’s very difficult or impossible to do. The dock is a chaotic place and with the language barrier it’s hard to get accurate answers. We are again told a different time and to come back in 4 hours….frustrating. So instead we headed for Alex’s motorcycle shop called Moto Mania a few kilometers away….something we were going to do anyway.

We hung around the shop for a while and did a little work on John’s bike to stop an oil leak. With that done we said goodbye and thanks to Alex who has been a great host and made our stay in Belem infinitely more enjoyable and fun. On the way back we grabbed a quick burger and then it was back to the dock. Riding out on the dock into the chaotic scene, people were waving at me but I wasn’t quite getting what they wanted (read ignoring what they wanted)… I continued riding slowly up the pier and pulled off to the side near the boat. Well, a fellow in a black shirt with a gun comes storming up the pier yelling and seems to be pretty upset with me. After we “exchanged” some words he stormed off back down the pier. A dock worker standing nearby pointed at the guy and said he was military police, then made the universal sign for a gun with his hand and pointed it at me and said bang. He was trying to say that that guy could or would shoot me. Oh well, what’s done is done….and right now getting the bikes on the boat was the number one concern.

The tide of the river was still not exactly right after all that and the boat cargo deck was some 4 ft. lower than the dock. A ramp wouldn’t work because the bikes were too tall now to clear the opening into the boat.

The only way now was to hand the bikes down which was something we were trying to avoid, as it requires hiring dock hands which adds a layer of BS to the process. At first they wanted more than 30 Reals for each bike, so we told them it was too much and started to load the bikes ourselves…and in the end we did get some help and paid only 5 Reals per bike….which is what Alex said was a fair rate.

In this video, we loaded Ian’s Yamaha Tenere first followed by my KLR….



Once the bikes were onboard and safely stowed for the trip up river, we stashed our bags and went to the top deck to see about some beers….which we enjoyed while taking in the frenzy of activity on the docks and the now darkened skyline of the city.

She was checking our tickets…high heals in a cargo hold, sure why not!

Those carts are stacked with cases of beer…at least we won’t run out!

 Looking back at the city lights of Belem…

Shortly after 11pm…almost 5 hours late, our boat, the Ciudad de Santarem II, pushed away from the dock and headed up river…we were finally on our way up the Amazon…

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…



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!

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.



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…



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…



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.