For those of you who are subscribers I accidentally published this post before it was finished. So if you got two emails in your inbox ignore that first email and just click above where it says “The Homestretch, Ubajara to Amazonia” to view the post.
It appears that the music option in my last post was experiencing some technical difficulties. I think I have it fixed now. So if you want to listen to some REALLY Brazilian music while you read this post, click below (Mas Que Nada by Jorge Ben, 1963):
(This Post Covers February 20th – March 1st)
So again, I’m going to let the photos do most of the talking here. We Left Parque Nacional Ubajara and headed to Parque Nacional Jericoacoara, of course with some detours, and adventures on the way:
During this stretch of highway I had the first and only real mechanical issues with Coco, and when it rains it pours so to speak. First the throttle was getting stuck at full speed, then the muffler turned red hot and looked like it was going to explode, the the car kept stalling (found out later was a problem with the carbuerator), the starter was failing on us, and the car would loose power when we got above 60kmph. Ill spare the details but all this happened and was resolved within two days and caused lots of headaches. One nice thing that came from it all was a guy who saw us on stalled on the road and pulled over to help, he ended up spending the entire afternoon (about 4 hours) with us taking us from place to place helping us get the car fixed, driving me to parts stores, offered to let us take a shower at his house (His nice way of saying that we looked like dirtballs), and he did it all just to be nice. These acts of kindness by strangers when you travel are always the most memorable. So if you ever see a traveler lost or struggling with a problem give them a hand, they will remember you the rest of their life.
Parque Nacional Jericoacoara is a small national park on the coast full of sand dunes and crystal clear lagoons. We hired a dune buggy to drive us around to explore the park (its the only way to see all the spots).
Next stop was Parque Nacional dos Lençóis for more dunes and lagoons. We got kindof stuck in some random tiny town because our map said there was a road that led to the park from that town. There was a road…this one:
Needless to say, Coco is a tough chica and even a good swimmer but she was not in shape to make this treck. So we had to wait in this tiny town till a Land Cruiser was leaving that could take us to the park. While waiting around in the town we ran into our Italian friends again, the couple who drove from Los Angeles to Argentina, seems they were following us, or we were following them. I drank a bad coconut and got a good old case of travelers food poisoning. That made for an interesting night camping out in Coco. So it was on shaky legs and a topsy turvy stomache that I made the trip to he park, but this was my payoff:
From there we continued north to São Luís along crappy roads full of pot-holes and….
One night we were looking for a place to park the car and sleep. We had a tip from a couchsurfer to check out some beach but on the way we saw a sign for another beach, not on the map, that pointed down a tiny dirt road. We were already in a very rural area and so this little dirt road would take us WAY off the beaten path. Here’s a little video of the adventure that ensued:
It was a challenge but Coco pulled through (we had to get out twice to push or put stuff under the tires). But in the end we made it and the payoff was having a beautiful beach all to ourselves. This is where we parked and slept:
Next stop was Sao Luis, a small city with cobblestone colonial streets and plenty of colonial houses and buildings all falling slowly and steadily into decay in a charming sort of way. In Sao Luis the Coco Kids split up to go their own ways. Francesco had to catch a flight to Italy and I think it was just an unsaid mutual agreement that Anna and I would be better off going our own ways. This all suited me just fine.
I was supposed to stay with a couchsurfer named Hamon. On my way to meet him it was POURING torrential rains and I was following Ecowapi’s directions when it led me up a steep hill in a favela. Well I got to the top of the hill to find that it was a dead end. So I started carefully backing Coco down the hill when WHAM!!! Everything on the dashboard comes flying at my face and I find myself looking out the winshield at the grey wet sky above. I had only been about 6 inches from the end of the asphalt which then dropped off steeply into a ditch. Well with the rains pouring down like they were the asphalt just gave way and this was the result:
So there I was in a favela in the pouring rain with Coco in takeoff position. Luckily the rain eventually stopped and the sun came out (along with all the neighbors). Of course this gringo and his flying car was the spectacle of the neghborhood but the people were SUPER cool. At one point I probably had about 10 people trying to come up with solutions and offering their help. This along with about a dozen neighborhood kids who left their cartoons in favor of the spectacle I had created. In the end a towtruck came and rescued Coco and aside from the 100 Reales that it cost me to get her out it was a worthwhile adventure, spending 3 hours hanging out with the people and kids of the favela. Some photos of my entourage:
So I finally did meet up with Hamon who I spent the next couple days with. He works in film and animating and is half Hindu and Half Brazilian. He offered to host me at his uncles “farm” about 30 minutes outside of the city. His uncle Marihno is an eccentric artist who lives on this “art farm” where he has a very simple brick house open to the elements with a wood-burning stove and an outdoor toilet patrolled by baby turtles. This is all surrounded by jungly plants and fruit trees with trails leading to random “art installations”. Marihno is also part of an Ayahuasca Community that shares a the farm with him. Ayahuasca is an Amazonian plant that is a powerful halluginagen and is used in spiritual rituals. Spending time with Hamon and Uncle Marihno was an interesting detour from my preceeding adventures. They are both a little quirky in their own pleasant way and I was fond of them both.
As Carnival was right around the corner the city was abuzz with pre-carnival concerts and parades and parties. Hamon and I headed to the Historic Center to check out the scene and who do I run into, now for the third time in about 4 weeks…The Italians! So we ended up having lunch with them and then joining a carnival “Bloco” which is basically a band playing music who march through the streets followed by a bunch of costumed drunks.
From Sao Luis the homestretch to Belem was a welcomed solo drive. Nice to have some time to myself to reflect on the previous months adventures in Coco before arriving at my final destination, Amazona…where Coco could proceed no further.
To see more photos click here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/59170494@N05/sets/72157626374759244/