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Into BRAZIL and on to The Parque Nacional dos Aparados da Serra

Written on: Wednesday December 12th, 2007

I was up an packed early at 8.30, a short while later I was at the border and it took them over an hour to stamp my passport and give me the new temporary import document for the bike. I really don't think the guy could have been any slower. I was really patient for the first 59 minutes, then once it went over an hour I started to get a pretty annoyed but remained quiet. I had it in mind to cover about 450 miles today, I was heading into Brazil and really wanted to get to the hotel I had reserved. Once the sloth like ogre passed me the document I hit the road...
The road and county side seemed much like Uruguay and so it should be as Fernaldo had told me that the land all the way up to Porto Alegre was all previously Uruguayan but over a 100 years ago the Brazilians just took it.. Look your actually learning something! As I cruised along at a respectable 110 I was constantly being passed out by lots and lots of Powerful Harley´s, there had been some sort of meeting in Punta Del Este over the weekend. After a quick stop for lunch I headed on and it seemed to be getting hotter and hotter. It was coming to 4 in the afternoon now and I was really starting to feel really tired.. I decided to pull in for a bit and just lay down on the ground, I was starting to come to the realisation that I was not going to make in time and I didn't want to be driving in the dark in Brazil. Across the road was a small veg patch and a house, I decided to ask could I camp behind their house and I was told it wasn't his land, well I guessed that was what he said. After a while of me trying to speak Spanish and him looking confused I set up my tent on an empty space in the middle of his veg patch meters from the roadside. I was really glad when he offered my a huge plastic sheet to cover over the bike and soon I was all set up and cooking up some of the reserve soup. I had covered about 260 miles which was still quiet good. Thinking about it again 450 miles is over 700ks which is probably a bit ambitious... but where would I be without a little of that.
I set off early the next morning feeling refreshed and covered the rest of the miles until the turn off for the town near the Parque Nacional dos Aparados da Serra, a national park with great canyons. Once off the long straight albeit bumpy and potholed main road I thought I was in Thailand or Asia somewhere, rice paddies everywhere and Banana plants and High dramatic mountains a welcome break from the flat terrain of the Uruguayan roads. The final 42ks of the road were dirt and rocks and once I was about 15k´s in I really got the hang of it, speeded right up and really really enjoyed riding the bike. This is what it was all about, not the long straight main roads but this, the adrenaline and anticipation and nerves all bundled together. I was loving it.
I made a little video and stuck it on Youtube, a first for me ( http://youtube.com/watch?v=3YgcfmkER38 ) It´s a bit long as I had to set it up myself but you can get a real feel for the terrain, fast forward to 2mins10 if u like.
When I reached the hotel I started to look for a guide to arrange exploring the canyon´s, but I was actually on top of the plateau now and from this town, Cambara Du Sul you could only see down into them. So I had to go back to the start of the dirt road to the bigger town to go into the canyon´s, stupid Lonely Planet! I would have been pissed of if I had not had so much fun on the dirt roads. That night it rained all night and I woke up to a grey cloudy sky. Nevertheless I decided to go further down another dirt road to the Fortaleza viewpoint. The dirt roads were now a bit of a mess, muddy and with lots of puddles although they were quite manageable as I had left all my gear in the Hotel. I was 2rd´s of the way down the 20k track when I decided to go back there simply wouldn't have been any view to see.
I packed all my stuff back at the hotel and made my way back down the road that yesterday, had been a complete pleasure. It was now allot more effort and required more concentration and patience. Any of the bikers I have asked about what happens if you drop your bike have all said ¨It is not if, but When?¨ Well this day was my time! It was not a particularly steep part of the track but it had a slight slant toward the ditch and I found myself slowly heading toward the side of the road with no way to alter my course. It was a slowish crash but it made some clatter. A bit shaken I tried to pick up the bike but the gradient of the ditch and the weight of the fully loaded bike made this impossible. I had started to unpack the soft luggage when a car appeared and stopped. he started to go towards the bike but I had another use for him, I gave him the camera and posed beside the fallen bike! Once the bike was up and it started OK he went on his way and I packed the bike again. Im getting better and faster at this, but it really is a pain in the hole. It was a good while later when I dropped the bike for the second time, same problem, gradual sloping towards the ditch. I was able to pick it up this time and off I went. The clouds seemed to descend on parts of the road and at points I could only see 5 meters in front of me. Still no one used there headlights! Once settled and showered in my new hotel I arranged for the guide the next days trek into Cânion Itaimbezinho, the highlight of this National park.
The next morning all the clouds were gone and we were blessed with perfect weather. At 8.30 I met the other hikers made up of a group of trekkers from the Brazilian mountaineering association ranging from 25 to 125, well naa.., he was late 70´s, a really nice guy and full of life and two Americans siblings, Mia and Jonah. Delighted to be able to talk English to someone I absolutely waffled the ears off them.. The trek was five and a half k´s into the canyon jumping and walking across rocks and then back out the way we came. We had to cross the river at the bottom many times and once you got your shoes completely wet it was nice not caring anymore. We had fun sliding down natural waterslides and showering under the waterfalls on our way. It is an epic and beautiful place. On the way back I was delighted that we got to see a tarantula in the wild, well that's what I´d call it but it is actually called a Caranguejeira. I mean I´d only ever seen them in cages before and there he was just plodding about the long grass. After a shower and a feed I spent much of the evening ´interneting´.
Day two I went on another trek with the Brazilians to the top of a mountain called Pedro Blanca. When does a hill become a mountain?... Anyway thanks to one of the guys GPS thingy´s I can tell you that it was 700 meters high and the base was at 200 metres. There was a great view of the surrounding countryside and again today we saw another ´tarantula´/ Caranguejeira just walking about at the top of the mountain.
Day three of trekking the weather was good again and I headed back up to the top of the Plateau alone on my bike to get to the top of Cânion Fortaleza and to walk along the top of Cânion Itaimbezinho. It was great to see Cânion Itaimbezinho from the top although it was a different part of it than I had walked two days ago. Im really so glad I went back to Fortaleza as it was a really different Canyon to Itaimbezinho and as you can see in the photo album a really dramatic view. The steep canyon walls cut abruptly into the High mountain plateau. This was an absolutely great but tiring day with lots of walking and 130k´s of dirt roads. This time in perfect condition and without any of my luggage the bike handled like a dream! If my knees are anything to go by the suspension or fork seals might go any day.(Naaa)
I had so much fun again that I think when I get back to Ireland I may have to take up MotorCross (Which I'm sure will be much to my mothers delight)...
In other news.... I mean: Meanwhile on Peadar's trip!..
He has been waiting in Paysandu for his his parts and he has unfortunately had to go to on a 5 hr bus ride to free them from customs as the value of the goods was stated at just over 50 US Dollars and he should have to pay 400 US Dollars tax on them but I think he managed to pay a small bribe instead... and of course on the more hilarious but painful side. Accidents-wise this week Peadar has mostly been putting his hands into the overhead fan in his hotel. Which has resulted in bandaged fingers and quiet a bit of bloodloss ; ) He said they were ridicolously low!
I think he is now on the road to meet up with me.


From MarkC on Dec 16th, 2007

wow man, excellent journey.. the last few blogs were a fascinating read. the photos are superb.. it looks amazing. the birds are stunning... just like you said!!

From MarkC on Dec 16th, 2007

youtube comments not orkin for some reason.. so will paste it here >>> holy cows!! the helmet cam is a great idea. you should do more of that. especially coming up to border checkpoints etc... maybe tape it to the bike too, over the headlight.

From flood on Dec 20th, 2007

brilliant stuff man, the wildlife looks deadly as well and what an epic view. The video on youtube ( helmet cam) is cool too, the terrain looks like its gettin a lot tougher

From Des on Dec 28th, 2007

right thats it Motorcross bikes when you get back Deal