Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650 ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

Oct 1, 2002.-- Brazil:  Celebrating 1 year in South America

Credit to the Coast to Salvador

-- Story by Erin --

Wednesday, Sept. 18th: Time to leave Rio.   Elcino meets us with his bike in the morning before we leave and escorts us out of town. We ride over the bridge and get one last view, a different perspective of Rio, before we leave. Not far out of town we spot a Carrefour, like a Wal-Mart with a grocery store back in the states. We stop to pick up some things and spend quite a while there! We finally get on the road and get to the beach resort area of Buzios sometime around sunset. We decide Buzios is too expensive (which everyone told us before we got there) and ride to the next town of Raza where there is supposed to be camping. The ride along the coast is very windy and dark clouds appear to be moving in. We finally find the camping place, which also has cabanas. The difference in price for camping and a room is only $1.50US so we opt for the room. They have a kitchen that we could use so we cooked ourselves a homecooked meal for the first time in months.

The next day was still windy and drizzling with rain. We decide to move further along up the coast and end up in Guarapari. The drive all day is through one little dull-looking resort town to the next. Maybe it was the weather, but nothing inspired us to stay and hang out for a few days. Guarapari was a nice enough place, but full of people and tall apartment buildings all along the beach. We managed to find an adequate hotel room for the night for $30 reais and plot our course for the next day.

Friday, Sept. 20th: It was another fairly uninspiring drive which took us inland a bit. There were some interesting views of the coffee plantations but way too much traffic on the roads to enjoy the scenery. Early afternoon we find a big Honda dealer in Linares and the mechanics there help us to replace a few lost screws and get new spark plugs for us. All that for just $3US! Finally, later that afternoon we arrive in the seaside town of Conceicao da Barra, paradise as we had envisioned it! It is a small village with nice little pousadas on the beach, and a long beautiful beach. We immediately find a great little place on the beach for $30 reais (or $10US) including breakfast. The little restaurant on the beach next to the pousada specializes in strong and cheap caipirinhas and very good fish dishes done Bahian style (African-originated cooking from the next state north of here). We get drunk (literally) on two drinks each and feast on a huge fish stew. There is also a full moon to make the whole atmosphere complete for a romantic evening walk on the beach.

The next morning we sleep off our caipirinha hangovers and enjoy a big breakfast of tropical fruits and cakes. We don our swimsuits and go down to the beach for a relaxing morning.

Sunday, is a gray day so we decide to head further north to a beach town called Trancoso. Our German friends Steffi and Alex stayed here for several weeks while waiting for some parts to arrive, and they considered it paradise. We arrive late in the day to find a quaint and compact little village on a hill, stretching down to the beach area below with several upscale pousadas (guesthouses/hotels). We head for the beach area first to see if we can find a reasonably priced place to stay, within walking distance of the beach (didn’t really think we’d find an economical pousada on the beach!). In the last 10 years this little village has grown a huge reputation for being laid-back and beautiful, so now it’s full of foreign and local tourists alike. The price has also grown proportionately to its popularity. After checking out several US$30+ hotels, we find a new pousada just 50 meters from the beach, run by a lovely Argentine couple, Adrian and Estela. Last year, they had sold their home in Buenos Aires, packed up their 3 young girls and headed for this place to start their little pousada and a new, better way of life. They had opened their pousada, called Som do Mar (meaning sound of the sea) just last week and were eager to start having guests. As it turned out we were there second set of guests. Their first guests were two girls from New York! Looks like they’ve got the US covered already!

For the next 4 days we enjoyed life the slow way in this little beach community. Adrian brought us a wonderful breakfast each day, made fresh by his wife with different breads, cakes, tropical fruit and fresh fruit juice, ham, cheese, and of course fresh brewed coffee. After lounging in the big hammock outside our 2nd floor room for most of the morning and watching the waves break we would either go to the beach or explore the nearby community of Porto Seguro. In the evenings, the town center of Trancoso is lit up with little shops and restaurants with outdoor tables. We would either have dinner in town (and make the walk back in near complete darkness) or Estella would make us a wonderful meal, complete with the famous Argentine flan for dessert (Chris’ favorite).

This area has quite a history. It is the sight of the first landing of the Portuguese in 1500 and therefore has some historic buildings and churches to be proud of. Both Trancoso and Porto Seguro have a unique historic town center with houses lined up and connected to each other in one long row. Each house is painted a different, bright color to differentiate it from its neighbors. Both town centers are built up high on a hill with good views out to sea. Trancoso’s town center is called the Quadrado, actually shaped more like a long rectangle, with houses on opposite sides of a great lawn, big old trees with horses and donkeys roaming the lawn eating the grass, and an old scenic church (early 1600’s) at the sea-side end of the rectangle. Behind the old church is a big green space leading out to a beautiful lookout point.

Porto Seguro is bigger and was popular before Trancoso and Arraial nearby (both have better beaches than Porto), and therefore has a busier feel about it. Many tourists stay in Porto and visit Trancoso for the day. We were glad we did it the other way around! We checked it out on one rainy afternoon, taking a bus to Arraial and a 5 minute ferry across the river to Porto. After touring most of the town, we ran into two other foreign travelers outside the bus terminal, who we ended up swapping 4 books with (we were both desperate for new novels in English!)

Thursday, September 26: The rain just won’t go away it seems. We decide to leave our little paradise and our nice pousada owners and new friends and head north again. The ride was beautiful, taking us through lush, green tropical forests. This area is poor though and you can see it in the run down little towns, and the people running out in the road, desperate to sell you anything from potted plants, to endangered species! Yes, we did actually pass two young men trying to sell a Lion monkey and an exotic parrot at the intersection of one town.

Chris programmed the GPS’s for the coastal town of Itacare, about 250 kms south of Salvador, but the rain made us change our plans. Rather we went a bit further north, kept inland on the main BR-101 highway most of the way and only turned toward the sea at Camamu, where we stayed for the night. Camamu is not a beach/resort town but it does have a very scenic little port with schooners of varying sizes and colors docked and waiting to take tourists to the local hot spots.

 Friday, Sept. 27: Before we depart Camamu, a nice gentleman named Wilson comes over to us while we are packing the bikes and asks us where we are headed.  Turns out he is a Biologist, originally from Salvador but now working on a project in Sao Paulo.  He is here on a researching trip trying to find a boat maker.  He is in the market to have a 60 foot schooner built.  Interesting guy.   The ride up the coast towards Salvador is very scenic, through rolling green hills and through small fishing villages. We cross a bridge to get onto the island of Itaparica, and then catch a 45 minute ferry boat to Salvador from there. Once we get onto the ferry it seems that the sky opens up with rain. The seas are pretty rough and we have to stand in the rain next to our bikes to keep them from tumbling over. Waves crash over the side of the boat and drench the cars on either side. Luckily we are positioned in the middle and are partially covered on the sides and top by the Captains Bridge.

We arrive in Salvador, Brazil’s 3rd largest city, at about 2pm and its still pouring down with rain. We have an idea of where we want to go but the flooded streets and our obscured vision make riding very difficult. To make matters more complicated, Salvador is laid out in two sections, the Upper and Lower City, and finding the correct road to the Upper City is also a challenge.  Luckily the hotel we are looking for is not far. It is a particular hotel called Caramuru, listed in our guidebook as having safe parking. Turns out to be a good place, economical and indeed has safe, covered parking. The rains continue in Salvador for the next one and a half days, and I mean really rains. The streets are flooded and it’s difficult to get around. We spend our time walking around the historic district of the city with all its fine architecture and quaint cobblestoned streets, and in the local shopping centers looking for odds and ends. Finally in the afternoon of Sunday, the weather breaks and we take a nice long ride along the ocean road. Salvador has some very scenic beaches with big rocks and coral reefs nearby. It makes for tranquil, clear waters near the beach, which are good for bathing. Sunday afternoon and all the local men are on the beach as well are playing soccer (football to the rest of the world!)

September 28th:  We landed in South America (Buenos Aires) 1 year ago from New Zealand.  During this time we've visited 6 countries, learned 2 languages (sort of), past 100,000kms on the trip, and covered over 20,000 miles/32,000kms just on this continent.

Now its Monday, back to getting some work done, like adjusting Chris' valves, purchasing new back tires, and writing this story.  The computer screen has a long crack running down the center from an accident back in June and is now widening into a dark patch.  Time to send it back to Sharp for a replacement, so off it goes tomorrow.   It will be back to the internet cafes for us for awhile!


The old Jesuit church in the center of the Quadrado.


Evening walk along the beach in Trancoso


The great breakfast!


Serious hammock time


Salvador: Elevator from upper to lower city
cost is US$0.03 round trip



View to Barra Lighthouse

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