Thursday, April 2, 2015

We Arrive in Brasil

My bike clicked over the 40,000 k mark on the way to Reconquista which makes it 11,000 km since I left Santiago some weeks back. Reconquista is the home of Graciela, an Argentinian, who accompanied us on the Patagonia tour of 2009. I arrived soaking wet after following a thunderstorm for most of the afternoon. It was good to see her again after all these years and by now my fellow riding companions had arrived so it was a bit like old times. The next few days were devoted to bike maintenance, local rides and family events.
Our group followed the Parana River north until we reached a Argentina and Paraguay joint venture hydro project. The hydro company has a free tour of the project which we took the following day. That afternoon we had a slight hiccup when both BM's ran out of fuel when the promised gas station did not materialise and as a consequence we stopped short of our expected destination of Puerto Iguazu. We had this notion that in one day we would see the Argentinian side of the falls along with the Brazilian side. Well, that didn't work. The Argentinian side was so spectacular we spent virtually the whole day at the site. The falls are truly spectacular and cover such a large area that there is a small train to assist you getting around. We ended up staying the night in Puerto Iguazu. For Robin, Dianne and Colin this will be their last night in Argentina for this trip. I return to Argentina in a couple of weeks. The next day we crossed into Brazil.
After a full day at the falls yesterday we decided that viewing them from the Brazilian side would not add much to the experience so after sorting out some new currency we moved on. Not before I got moved on by the Police for parking on the footpath outside the bank. It was a hot and sweaty ride to our nights accommodation. In Argentina and Chile we had been staying in Cabanas, a sort of family unit cabin - something like a motel without being a motel. In Brazil we saw none of these so we looked for a motel. Hmm! motels here have another meaning and use so in the dark we settled on a hotel at $95 NZ per room. For our first night in Brazil we went out for and excellent meal and beer, all for the princely sum of $21.
Brazil is as different to Argentina as chalk is to cheese. The sidewalk surface in our town is not full of pedestrian traps like broken tiles, holes, step ups or step downs, dog shit, litter and other unpleasant stuff. And there are no stray dogs. We thought we were in heaven. After a hearty breakfast (the first in ages) we set out to do the 600 plus kilometres to Mauricio's place. Other than for the heat and humidity the ride should have been a doddle since the toll roads are excellent. Did I mention BMW - ah yes that bloody BMW. It died. Terminal this time. We left it 400km from our destination and I doubled Colin to Mauricio's house. The necessary part was found and the bike recovered a few days later. We spent Saturday with Mauricio and Jucelia, their children and Mauricio's parents.
The next day we took a flight to Rio.
Sunset over the Parana River

The damned big dam

Mate (an Argentinian drink) in its raw form

Dianne, Don and Colin at Iguazu falls

The birds are getting more colourful

Iguazu Falls

Pesky little critters looking for food.

We stand in Argentina, left is Paraguay and right is Brazil

Wreaked cars at a Police station in Brazil

Family and friends at lunch

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