Monday, April 5, 2010

Lencois to Lencois in 5 days, Brasil

A new friend that I met along with a whole group of people that really wanted me to stay in their town to celebrate Easter with beer and food, Alas I had to keep going.
Making beef jerky the old school way, drying in the sun at the gas station.

A whole family with a few friends that fed me, and chatted to me at a gas station on Easter

Luckily for me this generous family let me pitch my tent in their dirt yard when I rolled into a beach town that wouldn't give me a room for only one night. The hotel owners insisted on a 3 night minimum and charged outrageous prices that I just could not afford. It was dark and I panicked but luckily this family took me in.

Prata do Forte, at 630am, beach deserted.

After heading out of Lencois, I have managed to cover nearly 3000km into another town called Lencois way in the north of the country adjacent to Sao Luis. On the way here I headed east towards the coast. I left the beautiful lanscape of theParque Nacional Chapa Do Dimiantina Lencois situated in the cooler mountains to make my way into the town of Parta do Forte. This town boasted fluffy white beaches and was home to a turtle release sanctuary. I arrived just before dark and found a hostel which charged a reasonable rate for a dorm room from where Id base myself.

I headed out into the streets and discovered that Prata do Forte was kind of like a walking outdoor shopping mall which had a strip of beach...but mostly restaurants and gift shops. Despite the shopping, tourists, vacation package, feel I headed out to the beach under a full moon to discover a deserted beach that was lined with palm trees. I decided that Id jump in for a swim before heading somewhere for food. The water was bathtub warm and very crystal clear. I was bobbing in the waves when I felt something tiny bump into my arm. At first I though that it was probably a small fish, stick, or what ever floating in the surf. It was then that I recalled that night fishing on a full moon was apparently great fishing because its a higher tide and fish of all sizes tend to get into a feeding frenzy. I began thinking...are these shark infested waters? Should I be out in the Atlantic ocean in the Tropic of Cancer at night when predators hunt? Should I get the hell out of the water? In my mind, I was floating chum and the best decision was to get out of the water. Talking to some folks later, I discovered that I was very dumb for getting in the water at dusk or at night because of sharks. Yeah yeah...just like grizzley bears in parks right!

Prata do Forte wasnt quite my cup of tea so I hit the road the next morning north along some tiny back road highways along the coast. I managed to make it to Capricorn, a dinky little town that looked as though it was solely supported by tourism. I pulled into a hotel called... Hotel Laguna Surf.... I thought great, Ill stay here for the night. Not so, the guy informed me that he was taking guests only for the entire easter weekend and that a one or two night only room wasnt available. The place looked kinda empty but maybe he was expecting crowds on friday and didnt want to change the sheets on good friday .....meaning hed have to work. It was getting dark now and I continued looking around town for a place to stay. I opted for riding down the highway only a kilometer or so to a sign on the road indicating a hotel. I pulled into the place and a dude laying on a couch simply looked at me like he couldnt care in the least who the heck, I was. I asked about a room and he rudely replied that It was a 3 night minimum....take it or leave it...! I broke down and said sure, ...what ever, and asked how much it would be. He replied that it was going to cost me $400 R! I typically pay $25-49 REAL per night so this was a deterring price. I told him that Id sleep on the beach for that price and he pompously replied that he hoped I enjoyed the night.

Bewildered by the,, I rolled the bike only 20 meters to some guys front yard and explained the situation and politely asked if I could pitch my tent in his dirt back yard. He replied ...of course you can! His whole family came out to talk to me so I pulled out my lap top and gave them a slide show of my trip through Brazil thus far. The family liked the photos and this allowed me to get my tent set up. The man of the house showed me to an outdoor shower under a palm tree. It couldnt have been a better place to stay. I offered to pay him $40 Real but he declined three times until I insisted because I was screwed with out his help.

I hopped on the bike and rode back into the town to find a place to eat. There was one restaurant and I ordered a spagetti dish. I asked to wash my hands and when the guy showed me to the bathroom I discovered that it smelled like urine and feces. If youve ever been into a mechanics wash room and seen the greasy black sink youll appreciate the discription of, ... when I say the sink was black! I poured the dish detergent from the plastic water bottle into my hands and rinsed them clean and tried to use only one finger to close the faucet. I sat at my table confident that my chef never washed his hands ...but that the spagetti would probably be good...and it was!

It rained for most of the night and the temperature went through cycles of a cool breeze followed by intense humidity after the rain stopped. I awoke when the sun rose and packed the bike after I hung the tent up to dry on the famlies volley ball net. I continued further north, but, more inland to avoid the tourist beaches and rude people found in and around there.

I Pulled into a desert town called Patos, about 300km east of Jaoa Pessoa. Here, just as I imagened I found very friendly people. Eddy, the hotel owners son called me on the hotel phone ( first in a long time, maybe since the states) he told me that he could speak fluent english and that anything I needed, translations etc, he would go out of his way to help. I ran down to the lobby and greeted Eduardo and we chatted about the usual stuff, where I was from ...etc.

Alas I didnt take Eddy up on his offer to party in his town to celebrate Easter and opted for the open road covering 800km which landed me in a highway side town 250km north east of Teresea (famed as the hottest city in Brasil). I travelled all day in overcast and occasional rain which thwarted my expectations of sweating buckets. I was actually feeling kinda chilly at 27 degrees which was a full 10 degrees cooler than normal. In the highway town (i'll fill in the blank when I get my map) I found the VIP Hotel. It was not my first choice for a hotel but it would have to do. The room was basic, a towel, no soap, no windows, but yes, an airconditioner. I headed across the road to a pizza place and I was greeted by very friendly staff that fed me very well and talked to be for the better part of an hour. On leaving I inquired about an internet cafe (my hotel had no connection). The guy that worked there had his apartment above the pizza joint and escorted me into his house and loaded up the computer free for me to use while he returned back to work. It was a very kind gesture that I was very grateful for. When I was finished the staff at the pizza place took their turns getting their pictures taken with me on their cell phones. I unfortunately did not have my camera with me for a picture of the event.

The town drunk happened to be a woman about my age who yelled in a rhaspy voice all night. At one point I opened the door of my room to look out to see what all the comotion was about. Alas, the bike was safe so I went back to sleep. In the morning I was fed sugar mixed with coffee and gooey white bread. I supplemented the breakfast with a piece of old pizza and hit the road to Sao Luis and then detoured to the Park Nacional Lencois do Marenhensis.

Parque Nacional Lencois Do Marenhensis is home to some amazing dunes inland of the Atlantic ocean. I took a 4x4 tour in the back of a Toyota Landcruiser out to the dunes which in the rainy season from May to August fill with crystal clear blue water in the valleys between the dunes.

While we were there the water was shallow and lacked the color but the landscape was interesting and beautiful nonetheless. Our tour group walked barefooted over the dunes for more than 6 km between dunes, along the ridges and ocassionally to swim in the warm clear water.

In the morning I will head to the ocean via a river boat to view mangroves, more dunes, bird life and other aquatic creatures native to this unique region.

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