Thursday, March 3, 2011

Salvador to Rio de Janeiro. 1,300 miles.

After leaving Praia do Forte and Salvador, we spent the night at a posto in Gandu before getting to our first beach stop at a praia just south of Ilheus, about 240 mile from Salvador. Ilheus is known for its beaches and being the growing region for 95 percent of Brazil’s cocoa production. Got to love that! Looking at the enormous banana plantations that we passed through, we surmised they also heavily contribute to that crop production also. In addition we passed vineyards although most of the wine from Brazil comes from the Valle do Sao Francisco region. We found a large campground with quite a few tent campers and were able to park facing the ocean. They also have 110 power available and water. We decide to stay two days and after putting up the awning, took Winston to the water. This is open water so plenty of wave action for Tom to boogie board. Winston has a couple of resident dogs to play with and I want to catch up on my computer work (blogs, book etc) and finish our taxes, so we can efile at the next internet cafĂ©. No better place to complete that task than listening to the ocean and smelling the sea air. After another night at a posto, we want to get back to the coast. It’s Saturday and my birthday. On the way we stop off at the many roadside stands offering wood carvings made by the local artisans and from a variety of Brazilian hardwoods. We bought a large platter that had attractive grain patterns and a trivet. As we drove we went through massive eucalyptus forests that are planted, cultivated and cut. After another stop at the grocery store, it was time to find a beach spot. We followed the coast road to the small town of Alcobaca and were able to park by the ocean. Tom barbequed hamburgers and corn and we ate watching the moon rise over the Atlantic, toasting my birthday with a bottle of Brazilian Syrah. Simple and perfect. Sunday, found us on the road again getting ever closer to Rio. We were again driving through eucalyptus plantations and the people were working even on a Sunday as we passed huge logging trucks. After driving through the large port town of Vitoria, we once again took the coast road from BR101 through the small towns of Anchietta and Piuma to the small beach of Barra do Sahy. We had hoped to park at a campground there that we had seen advertised but arriving realized it was too small with lots of trees and suitable only for tent camping. But there were plenty of parking spots on the beach so we took one that had coconut palms for shade overlooking the ocean and was the ideal spot to finish the day by playing in the sand with Winston. Monday and it is driving again. This is granite and marble territory. We see huge mining operations in the mountains where the granite is carved into about 8 by 10 foot blocks and trucked down the mountain to a cutting and polishing facility. After that process, it is again loaded onto trucks for distribution, most of it worldwide, some to the States. We pass through the town of Campos Dos Goitacazes which is the last large city before Rio. It is one of our longest drive days yet, as we take the coast road to Quissama and finally at darkness find the beach at Praia de Joao Francisco. We have driven over 280 miles and we are tired but on the way we had stopped at a fishmonger and purchased some lobster tails and freshly caught tuna. We can freeze the lobster for a later date but want to eat the tuna immediately. Tom seared it and prepared a wasabi sauce to go with it. That and some tomatoes that we had purchased at a farmers stand were the gourmet dinner tonight at the casa. Tuesday and finally Rio. It is with great excitement that we study the map and plot our way through the city to a campground that we had read about. The book is a few years old now and we hope it still exists. But first we need to negotiate the city traffic. As we cross the huge bridge that spans the Bay of Guanabara, it is cloudy and a little smoggy but that can’t dampen our enthusiasm as we spy Sugar Loaf Mountain and Rio’s trademark statue of Christ the Redeemer, atop a mountain, arms spread wide to encompass the city and its people. On the ocean side there are cargo ships and tankers as far as the eye can see, waiting to come into port. Then we descend and become one of the hoards of vehicles trying to maneuver through the city streets. After getting lost, twice and asking directions we made it to the campground. It still exists. It is small but we manage to get the motor home to a shady spot under some trees where we can plug into electricity and water. There is some cabin-style housing and it looks like some people live here permanently. There are also 3 dogs that are more than a little territorial and they bark and growl at Winston. Time to try out some of the lessons from watching Cesar, the Dog Whisperer. I put Winston on a long leash and armed with a broom, in case things go badly and a pocketful of treats, go outside. The lead alpha dog growls and comes closer. I crouch down and in my friendliest voice tell him he’s a good dog and introduce Winston, at the same time putting a small treat into each of my hands. I hold one to Winston and one to the dog. He sniffs and takes the treat. I then repeat it bringing both dogs closer together. The growling has stopped. I try to pet him but he’s nervous and tries to nip at me. I make myself big and tell him No! I remind him he’s a good dog and he takes more treats. He sniffs Winston, Winston wags his tail. At least now he is tolerating Winston and I leave them, watching from a little way off in case things take a turn for the worse, as they become acquainted. I prepare Winston’s evening meal and a little dry food for the other dog. The other two have retreated and are watching from the main house. As Winston eats, I offer the dry food and it is immediately gobbled up. I get a tail wag so attempt to pet him again. He flinches but lets me pet his head and ears. I don’t think he is shown much affection, poor thing. As I go into the RV, he is lying with Winston and the two are playing a little. I remind myself to give Winston and extra dose of Frontline. Tom has leveled the RV and got the power going. He gets a couple of beers and we toast each other. We have made it. We have driven more than 4,000 miles in the 5 weeks we have been in Brazil and travelled another 1,000 or so down the Amazon but we are here. We will play tourist for the next few days as there are several places we want to see but for now, the RV and ourselves are in a safe place and Winston has a new, best friend.

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