Posted on May 25, 2013 by jason
So, you’ve driven all the way up the Brazilian coast to Belem and run out of road, did you? Now, what?
1) put the vehicle on a cargo boat from Belem to Macapa. Cost is about $500 USD for the vehicle. You cost extra. It’s only a 2 day trip, and you’ll probably get to see some interesting stuff on the way as you weave around Ilha de Marajó and cross the Amazon. From Macapa, you can drive 600 km to Oiapoque and exit Brazil into French Guiana. But, there’s a catch.
The bridge that crosses the Oiapoque River was completed two years ago, but it’s still not open. Fortunately, there’s a guy with a boat that charges $300 USD for the 10 minute trip across the river. Convenient. If you don’t mind paying for that boat ride, then you’ll probably love French Guiana… it’s expensive. Still, you’re driving from Brazil into France, so that’s kinda cool.
We considered this option, but the problem for us would be that the Guianas would be a dead end. Sure, we could visit Suriname and Guayana too, but from the Guianas, all roads lead back into Brazil. We would not be able to re-enter Brazil due to the expiration of our Brazilian visas. We would have to wait 6 months, get a new visa, and then re-enter. This didn’t sound like a good plan. We could also ship directly from Cayanne to Europe, but I couldn’t get anyone to give me a quote. We could definitely ship from Suriname to the Netherlands (again, no quote). But, we’re not sure that’s the next continent.
2) Ship from Belem directly to some other country. As the bus has been continuously deteriorating and general travel exhaustion has taken a permanent hold on us, this was looking like a preferred option. Ship the car and take a break.
The ‘problem’ seemed to be that exiting Brazil from a port is a major hassle and an exorbitant expense. Lengthy port inspections, unpredictable customs, and a requirement to use a shipping broker seem to be the reasons that the associated costs slowly add. For us, it might make more financial sense to just sell the vehicle rather than ship it. But, again, nobody would talk to us. Maybe if we had a few million kilos of coconuts they would be interested.
3) Up the Amazon to Manaus. This is a 6 day (or so) trip. There are a few cargo options for about $450 USD for the vehicle. You would travel separately on a different boat or fly. There are many passenger boats to choose from. We did find one boat that holds 8 vehicles, has a few passenger cabins, and a big hammock space. The vehicle transport is $550 USD and a cabin with 4 bunks and A/C is $350 USD. The San Marinho II. It leaves every two weeks.
We decided this option was going to work. We could travel with the vehicle, see the Amazon up close, then drive 1000 km north to make a quick exit into Venezuela before our visas expire. Then, Angel Falls and who knows what else. We’ll sleep off the road weariness on the boat. Resting from too much travel with more travel? It’s so crazy it just might work.
Posted on May 21, 2013 by jason
From the park, we headed our for another long day of driving. The bus is still sputtering and I think the issue is now the the distributor itself. When I watch the timing mark with a light, the advance seems to go backwards before forward. And, it’s inconsistent. I’ve lubricated it, but nothing changes. I’ll try to pick up a ‘real’ VW distributor while still in Brazil and ditch the 009 if I can. At full throttle, it’s fine.
We made it to São Luis in the pouring rain and headed straight for the ferry terminal. São Luis seems okay based on what we’ve read, but others have told us to avoid it. We didn’t have any major reason to visit, so the ferry across the Baia de São Marcos was the plan.
There was a huge line of cars and most of them had tickets. It took us a while to figure out the system, but the system is… you can’t buy tickets. So, we waited in the ‘no ticket’ line. And, waited.
We missed the next two ferrys, but made some friends in line. The 3rd ferry arrived about 4 hours later and we were the last one allowed on.
The ferry knocks 250 km off your route if you are going to Belem. We recommend buying a ticket in advance (somewhere) or getting there early!
After the boat, we headed to Alcântara for a peaceful night’s sleep.
The Portuguese, French and Dutch all took turns wiping out the indigenous population here in the 17th century. Then, duked it out among themselves. This town boomed during the cotton and sugar rushes and became a big slave-trading center to support the industry. Later, when Brazil outlawed slavery, the town collapsed when all the barons left with all the cash.
Today, it’s pretty much just fishing and tourism. It’s an interesting place with crumbling colonial architecture and old mansions being overtaken by the jungle. One of the major landmarks here is it’s well-preserved whipping post. Prominently located in it’s original location - in front of the Catholic church.
Posted on May 12, 2013 by jason
Posted on May 10, 2013 by jason
From Canoa Quebrada, we drove 200 km to Cumbuco. We had originally planned a day in Fortaleza, but after meandering through town, we just didn’t feel compelled to stop. Supposedly, they have the ‘tallest waterslide in the world‘. 14 stories. It costs a fortune.
Bode has been talking smack about Insano for at least a year. We’ve been down a few big waterslides before and he’s definitely ready and able. But, some time over the past few months, he has developed a sense of fear that previously didn’t exist. He still talks a good game, but now stops to think before leaping. Not a bad thing, but a definite change has occurred.
From there, it was another 260 km to Jijoca de Jericoacoara. The town isn’t much to look at, but the lake here is amazing. Lagoa Paraíso.
We found a campsite – maybe the last one before the Amazon – on the shore of the lake and next to a watermelon patch. We were quite pleased.
Did we mention that the lake is amazing? Crystal clear and white sand bottom. And, hammocks in the water. Seriously. From now on… hammocks in the water.
Considering the ideal location, we were surprised to be alone. We met one of the neighbors from a across the street- a bit drunk from a day’s sail on the lake – who giggled uncontrollably while demonstrating how to steal a melancia. But, then he had a change of heart and tried to pawn it off on us. Not wanting to get caught green-handled, we declined. We already had one in the bus.
We also had our own acerola tree. For tasty juice, you don’t need a juicer – just press the fruit between two identical cups and add some sugar to taste. Good stuff.
Posted on May 9, 2013 by jason
From San Miguel de Gostoso, we made the fairly uninteresting drive along the back roads toward Areia Branca. Other than a quick beach stop at the beginning, there weren’t many highlights. Lots of lowland muddy salt flats and a pretty ugly salt industry. And, the farther we get into Ceará state, the more animals we see in the road – mainly goats and donkeys – and they are everywhere. A little unusual compared to the southern states.
Someone had recommended Areia Branca to us – I can’t remember who. We’re still not sure why. We arrived at night, and for us, this was just a one-nighter at Praia de Upanema. The next day, we hopped on another ferry across the Rio Mossoró and kept cruising.
From there, it was another long day’s drive to Canoa Quebrada. More animals all over the road and lot’s of empty towns.
Canoa is a pleasant touristy town in the dunes. The thing to do here – like many places along this coastline – is to hire a bugeiro and hit the dunes. I have a hard time paying somebody to drive me around in an old VW, so for us, this was a place to eat lots of camarão and wander the quiet streets at night.
Posted on May 6, 2013 by jason
It turns our that there is an absolutely fabulous great beach boondock about 8 km from São Miguel do Gostoso. Who knew?
If you’re coming through, we highly recommend stopping. GPS: S5.10414 W35.69927
…and Bode came face to face with a bode.
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