We have met an abundance of kindness and generosity in our travels through coastal southern Brasil! If you are thinking of taking a bike vacation, you have found it!
An amazing place to ride: safe, beautiful, great roads with help at every turn.
yesterday, a woman yelled at us while we were cycling the streets of Rio de Janeiro that ‘they’ would steal our bikes, we were crazy to be riding. We had decided to spend our last night in Brasil at a hostel in the city, but had not preplanned it on the GPS and did not have WiFi to search options, so were doing it the old-fashioned way, by asking people and riding around.
With our newly acquired Portuguese, we asked where to find a good place to sleep and were recommended to head to the Santa Teresa neighborhood. Once we got to the district, we stopped and people approached us wanting to help and they directed us to the Posada [Guest House] area. Once there, we stopped again, and more kind people approached us to help, one woman insisted on helping us by leading us to a near pub to inquire the name of the best in the area and then directed us.
We followed the direction up a steep cobbled street to a gate with no name, and found inside the most beautiful, relaxing hostel Nic and I have ever stayed in! Even Claire worthy, at a reasonable rate, quiet and peaceful in the centre of Rio.
Who was that woman who yelled ‘they’ would cause us harm? They, the people of Brasil, have been more kind to us then we have experienced in our home countries!!
Many a time during the past couple weeks, Nic and I have found home. A place we could see ourselves staying. We have wanted to spend more time to get to know places and new dear friends, but always we must head out ‘on the road again…’ Never knowing what is next.
Sao Paulo was really special. This is a great city to travel with bikes. Nic and I had no difficulty navigating the city roads by bike and there is a lot of diversity, culture and history to explore, which is best seen from the seat of a push bike!
On the first day we rode with children, parents, teachers and friends of Lumiar school. [One of the BEST educational methodologies in practice], more on this in another post with video. We also rode with two very special groups:
The Bike Angles, a group of volunteers that help new cyclists feel comfortable on the road. They pair experienced riders with novices to assist them in finding safe routes to work or school or engage in the fun of riding!
Saia na Noite are a group of dedicated women, led by Teresa who for the past 25 years have been empowering women and fostering their independence through the bicycle. The name translates to ‘Get off in the Night’ as I am sure they do, the companionship and connection in the group is strong and beautiful!
Following this ride, our gorgeous hostess Rachel Schein (check out her blog) took us on a ride through the city to a few of her favorite bike shops. One, Cicli Vila served us fine expresso, pressed grape juice and fixed a few things on our bikes, along with taking off a pair of cleats from their shoes to give me! Another bike shop, had the DJ going and had delicious complementary vino, with a bicycle on the label!! Rachel is a star, along with organising everything for our arrival, she raised funds through our ride for World Bicycle Relief. She will be able to send at least one bike to a young girl in a rural village to help her attend school in Tanzania. Rachel’s ultimate goal is to set up a similar program to assist children in rural Brazilian villages to attend school by providing them bicycles. If you would like to be involved in this inspirational initative please get in touch and we will connect you.
We also got to see our friend from Australia, Jacqui Hocking!
The following day in Sao Paulo, we rode with 4 other bicycle groups and friends, a total group of about 40 riders and different the 40 we rode with the day before. We cycled over 100km to Santos, which took the group near 11 hours, considering all the bikes were MTB or street bikes.
The ride was an incredible experience, the group of cyclists were among the most lively bunch I have ever ridden with. So jubilant, and cheerful, singing and shouting as we rode through stunning green hills. Who knew?
Brasil’s heartbeat, the BIGGEST city in the Southern hemisphere is home to a wealth of cyclists and fantastic riding.
We were sad to leave, but oh, how beautiful and different all the places we cycled through next were!!! Ilhabela, Itamumbuca, wow! Both these places we could have easily stayed a week. Ilhabela is a paradise that locals are campaigning to protect. The nearby coastal port is sanctioned as an entry for all goods from China which will increase ships from 4 a day to 24 a day. These ships bring other waters with them that are dumped into the local waters affecting the natural biodiversity along with the pollutants and waste that come with them.
Itamumbuca is a tiny very friendly surf village, warm and inviting, and surprisingly home to the most delicious italian pasta!!
All this paradise is not without challenge. Nic and I are still navigating the how of meeting daily needs. Finding enough to eat, finding a place to sleep, finding a connection to communicate. I’m learning that it takes more time than anticipated find a place to camp, set up, take down, find food, find WiFi, clean ourselves, get water, wash our clothes … etc., these little things are easy enough from a house, but can become major obstacles living on a bicycle.
I’m positive that in time, we will find a rhythm, but the thing about never knowing we will be next is both exciting and a driving force pushing us further. We have loved every day in Brasil, so how can we leave? Well, because we are headed to Senegal! Then Mauritania! Places wer know very little about, so are looking forward to experiencing.
Ready? Lets go!