Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Brasil Baby

So far the landscape has been of farming and agriculture. Several times today I witnessed combines cutting the grain and filling trucks that were lined up both full and empty at granieries and fields respectively.

The palm trees might be somewhat of an indication as to the severity of the heat and humidity. I was fighting myself not to open my visor at cruising speed to ventilate my face and dry the beads of sweat off despite being smoked by some sort of large flying beetle or something every few km and usually after I just cleaned my visor.

Brasil should have been called Greenland.

I rolled out of Argentina after saying good bye to Claire and Dan and headed my way to the border of Brasil expecting trouble after jumping through hoops getting a visa. Despite my pessimistic approach the entire process was done and over within less than 10 minutes. The guy at the border spoke great english and after hanging out with Dan and Claire for the past few days as well as my time at Dakar Motors this seemed pretty normal. I rolled forward into Brasillian territory and ....BOOM...the thought occured to me that I did'nt know a single word of portugese. In the past 4 months I've become quite proficient at communicating my needs with a limited vocabulary of spanish words. Now, however, I did'nt even know how to say hello, thank you, or please!
All of a sudden my spidy senses were alerted again and I was getting lost at every cross road. Thank goodness that my "good for nothing GPS" is actually good enough to indicate when I'm going in the complete wrong direction all together. I pulled into a town about 167 km from the border for gas and to look for a bank machine to stock up on Brasillian cash called REAL. The exchange rate is .45 dollars to a Real but the merchandise and gasoline cost about what it would in Canada.
I have my eyes set on heading up the south west part of Brasil near the Paraguay border and into the north western part called the Pantanal. Here there is an expanse of wet lands that is home to exotic wildlife found nowhere else in South America. Currently it is the wet season so animals congregate on islands in great abundance and the watery land has all but discouraged development. Apparently the waters are teeming with fish, birds fly in flocks of thousands and despite poaching, alligators thrive in the 10's of thousands. The Pantanal is a 250,000 square Km wetland that is only accessable by boat or foot so I might try and check out when I head up through Cuiaba.

Today despite learning how to say thankyou and please, I had several fellows surrounding me at a gas station. Although I had no clue what the words coming out of their mouths were, I knew exactly what they were asking just by the body language and gestures the fellows were using. You see, every day I get asked the same thing, " where are you from, how long of a trip, how many Km to here, How many km total, What is the purpose of the trip, How many cyclinders, what engine displacement, travelling alone?" I was able to answer by pointing and knodding because I knew the firing sequence of questions from being asked them on a daily basis for 4 months. It was frustrating however because I was mute not knowing how to say anything more than please and thankyou.
While the guys were chatting to me I got distracted when I was adjusting the chain tension. Alas I took off out of the gas station with out tightening the adjuster bolts and while riding I heard a clunking noise as one adjustment plate was flung off the bike. I stopped to investigate but did'nt walk around the rear of the bike since every thing else seemed to be in order. At the next pit stop I just happened to notice the naked bolt hanging out the back of the bike. Thank goodness that I took welding at school, and I'm good at charades. I managed to get a guy to fabricate a new piece for me and installed it good as new...problem solved...... and now my bike has even more character.
On the road again tomorow

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