Henry and the Brazilians
We had sunshine just long enough for us to make a photo shoot at the Praia do Diablo our starting line. That was the last time I saw the sun. Seven days of rain. Not just drizzle; we had one 48 hour stretch where it was consistent driving rain. Pitching your tent in the rain and keeping it dry is not an easy skill. Everything we owned was drenched. Drying my gear was an impossibility and I realized that if this weather persisted I soon run out of clean dry cycling clothes.
So I gave up, each morning I would cringe as I tried to pull on my cold, wet, sandy gear, then frantically jump around for five minutes trying to warm it up. To endure such condition in the first week of a 5 month tour has certainly tested the integrity of this group. Yet they manage to grin and bear it, their spirits are high, but the cachaca (local cane spirits) might have something to do with that.
Yesterday we rode the length of Ihla Comprida, a giant sand bar island. Although it was not raining it was an over cast morning. The first 13km of the day were along a smooth paved road. When the blacktop ended there were a few km’s of rough, flooded corrugations to lead to the beach. The beach is an official road, they actually run buses on it. I waited at the beginning of the beach ride for the last of the cyclists to catch up. Sitting there I watched a fast moving frontal cloud bearing down on me. Pulling out my rain gear I was preparing for the worst. The wind accelerated to gale force, blowing right in the face of cyclists who were ahead. But the front did not bring rain, it actually blew it away. As I started riding down the 35km stretch of beach the wind subsided, then it did a u-turn and the sun came out. The next thing I knew I was riding through the surf with waves crashing through my spokes and I could not remove the giant shit eating grin from my face as I sang at the top of my lungs “I can see clearly now the rain has gone… its gonna be a bright sun shiny day”. It was the shortest stage of the tour at 54km but certainly a memorable one. Any other beach of this caliber would be developed with condos, restaurants and night clubs, but not here. This place was pristine, just a few fishermen and a joyous group of soggy cyclists. At the end of the beach we boarded the ferry to Cananeia.
Our second rest day here in Cananeia was much needed, not only to recuperate but also to dry out all our equipment. This village was one of the first ports of call for the Portuguese explorers nearly 500 years ago. In the historic centro there are still some buildings remaining from that era. There is a legend of the “Bachelor of Cananeia” who was a convict who escaped from one of the colonial ships centuries ago and proclaimed himself a king amongst the indigenous populations, no one is sure what happened to him.
But whether it’s the history that intrigues you or the fine seafood that satisfies you this is one of the hidden gems of Brazil.
Last night we had Barbeque provided by our local guides Talita and Cristiano, but today everyone is busy preparing for the next stretch of riding. Eight days to take us inland through the rolling hills and agricultural regions until we reach Foz do Iguacu, where the hundreds of cascades create the world’s most spectacular waterfall.