We have come to the conclusion…… Brazil is one huge country!!!
After leaving beautiful Pipa Beach, we headed south to Olinda - a small suburb of Recife that has many historic Colonial buildings. After a long days drive we arrived after dark (again) and attempted to locate the listed campsite. An hour later we arrived to find that it was no longer a campsite but a private residence so had to book into an amazing old house which was beautiful (but over priced). Lodzi was parked in a secure garage and the next morning we headed for the LandRota garage in Recife to have the oil leak checked.
Replacement of leaking O-ring and oil retainers and the car would be ready the next day. We can not emphasis enough how friendly all the staff at the garage were (they all found Lodzi fascinating). They helped us book into a nice hotel overlooking the beach in Recife and kept us informed all the time. We had our first "meal by weight" dinner - a buffet where you help yourself and you pay by kilo! Cool idea!
Recife is the first city we have come across in Brazil where every third person speaks English - a welcome change. Although when we extended our 1 month visa and car import permit it was a long, long day of running from office to office.
After picking up Lodzi first thing Saturday morning we were back on the road south. Just North of Salvador we headed west for about 250k's to a National Park called Chapada Diamantina. As you can see from the photos, we spent the day trekking from waterfall to waterfall and swimming at every opportunity. The area is absolutely stunning and we both loved it. The dilemma then started on taking a "short cut" south on a dirt road for 75k's or heading back the 250k's to join the motorway back down to Rio……we took the short cut.
A bone shattering, arse destroying 3.5 hrs later travelling on a mixture of sand, granite and corrugations we had completed the 75k's only to find the asphalt road was worse! The consolation was the spectacular scenery.
Two days of driving had us positioned to arrive in Rio de Janeiro on the Thursday lunchtime. (We just missed Jen and Atul as this was the day they left Rio for Ecuador - sorry guys!) About 150k's out of Rio on a main "motorway" we came across or first traffic jam caused by 10k's of road that were in the worst condition we have come across. It was hilarious but did take us nearly an hour as we were behind about 30 trucks. Needless to say - the passenger side tyres are starting to show small mouthfuls of rubber missing!!
It had started raining the day before we arrived in Rio and continued when we were there - for the first whole day hence our trouser attire on Copacabana!
After booking into a hostel in Copacabana, we had the most awesome "All you can Eat" buffet dinner which unfortunately left us the next day with somewhat dodgy tums. James spending half an hour in the rainforest, on our trek to the first stage of the Sugar Loaf mountain climb, in the bushes. Fortunately there were no other trekkers!! A couple of Imodium and we were right as rain.
Although the rain stopped the clouds remained so our pics are not as on all the postcards but still stunning. In the car park at the base of Sugar Loaf we noticed a kitted out Landy and met with the owners - the Dupuis family. A truly awe inspiring french couple - On their SECOND trip round the world - this time with a 3 year old daughter and an 18 month old son! Their website - www.familledupuis.com
So no excuses due to kids from all you families now!! (After a long chat we are now considering extending our tour timetable!)
The next day we drove Lodzi up the Corcovado and managed to get a photo right below "Christo". Again we were in cloud and so decided to make a move and head east.
The next stop was National Park Itatiaia on the road between Rio and Sao Paulo. A beautiful recluse in the hills surrounded by rainforest. After paying entry at the gate we were over our daily budget so skipped camping in the campsite and opted for a beautiful spot next to a waterfall. As we were the only people around it was superb. The following morning we took a cheeky skinny dip in an ice cold pool below a waterfall.
The following two days of driving took us through completely different scenery as we meandered through massive farm lands where the air and everything around seemed much cleaner.
A notable stop was at a State Park managed by Apanicido and Elania, who welcomed us into their home and we spent an evening conversing in sign language and very broken Portuguese. Very amusing.
On arrival in Foz de Iguacu we checked into a beautiful hostel campsite and spent the next gloriously sunny day walking around Iguacu Falls on the Brazilian side. The falls is a U shaped Cataract that has a string of connected falls covering about 2 km in all. The other side is Argentina.
Although VERY touristy the falls are simply amazing as you can see from the photos. In fact the photos do not do the real thing justice. The final stop in Brazil was a "World Famous" Bird park which we both thoroughly enjoyed, James the parrots and Kerry has become a huge Toucan fan!
The crossing into Argentina was a welcome surprise - through both posts in half an hour with all the correct paperwork completed - BLISS! And now that is two countries down. Brazil is again a beautiful country although it did have a lot of strange smells!! The people we encountered were very friendly but we have decided that their national sport should be "staring"!!
We have managed to cause a collision of two motorcycles because the one was watching us and not the guy in front and we have had a guy fall out his hammock!! We will now be back to talking Spanish, but I'm sure we will be mixing in what Portuguese we picked up.
We hope all is well, take care.
James and Kerry