Jan 3 2007

Brasilia, Brazil

Tommorrowland!

It was just a few weeks ago that I was camping in a native village in the middle of the Atlantic Forest. And not too much later, I found myself in the middle of Brasília, the high-tech capitol of Brasil. There couldn’t have been more of a contrast. In the village, life stopped when the sun went down as there was no electricity. In Brasilia, night was when life just got started.
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Jan 1 2007

Back in the USA

Back In The USA

Well, I made it back to the USA. Six days of driving to Santos, Brazil, then sixteen days sitting on a beach getting Harold’s shipping organized. I then took a few days to explore Sao Paulo, then a week to check out Brasilia, and another week to visit the Amazon. That got me back in the States on the 12th of December, just in time for the Christmas/New Year’s season.

But I have twenty minutes to not break my New Year’s resolution: “Write In My Blog More.” So here it is, my first blog entry of the year. There are, of course, a few entries outstanding (Brasilia and the Amazon), and a stack of photos from to share. And with all the holiday activities, I really haven’t had the proper time to reflect on 2006 – my year of travel.

Short and sweet summary:

I’ve made it back safe and sound. No crazy diseases (that I know of). Harold’s kicking it Sao Paulo, waiting for the ship to take him home. I’m staying with my mom and helping out around the ol’ house for a month or so. Will be traveling to Houston to pick up Harold middle of next month. After that? Gainful employment.

While it sounds like procrastination, I’m going to put off posting the remaining entries until tomorrow. What it actually is is an attempt to break this big “End-Of-Trip-What’s-Next” post into more manageable bits. Trying to summarize a year and a half‘s worth of traveling is just a bit bigger task than I’ve wanted to tackle. That leaves me to work on my Brasilia entry- my first destination on my own in South America. Hard to believe it’s been a month since I’ve been there.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!


Nov 3 2006

Joao Pessoa, Brasil

Self-Portrait
The beginning of the end.

Here it is, the beginning of the end. We have decided to head back to Sao Paulo to ship our vehicles back to the United States. This will entail a six day driving spree through the inland route and back to the big city. Our turn around point? João Pessoa, the easternmost point in the Americas. Okay, it’s not the Amazon, but it is still pretty cool. Until I took this trip, I didn’t realize how far EAST South America goes. Take a look at a map. The easternmost point of the Americas is more east than Florida, more east than Newfoundland, and more east than the southern tip of Greenland. It’s almost due south of Iceland, for gosh sakes. At that point, Africa was just 1800 miles away, only 200 miles farther away than Sao Paulo, our final destination. Pretty crazy!
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Nov 1 2006

Olinda, Brazil

Covenant
Old City

We are steadily moving north and trying to locate a port from which to ship. It’s looking more and more like we’ll be heading out of Sao Paulo, about 1000 miles to the south. Until we are sure, we are shooting for Joao Passoa, a city at the easternmost point of the Americas. One stop along the way, the very historical city of Receife and its neighbor Olinda. Interesting story with these two towns. Olinda was settled by the Portuguese in 1535 and was one of that country’s first settlements. Unfortunately, the Dutch showed up a few decades later, didn’t like the location of the hillside town and torched it. Very rude. The Dutch then used their dike building skills to build a new port city a few kilometers down the coast, Recefie. It was the old city of Olinda that I wanted to visit.
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Oct 31 2006

Bad News

Trip To Be Cut Short, News at 11!

If you haven’t yet heard, it looks like we’re going to be cutting our trip short, or at least changing the itinerary. Due to political considerations in Venezuela, we’re not going to exit through that country, and instead we’re going to ship our vehicles out of Brazil. In particular, the Chavez administration is charging huge export fees for anything heading back to the States. That, and the anticipated “lubrication” make it financially undesirable. We’d also be arriving around the time of elections, a time of predictable instability. Being Americans driving flashy American vehicles, our guide decided that we didn’t need to expose ourselves to those kind of situations. And so he called the trip.

We are still going to head north in Brazil for a few more days, hitting the cities of Recefie and Joao Passoa, the easternmost point of the Americas. After that, we turn back and head to a port, either Salvador, Rio or Sao Paulo. The other option is to drive back across the continent and ship from Arica in northern Chile. In any case, Harold is never going to see the Amazon and I’m not going to drive across the equator on this trip.

How do I feel? Disappointed, that’s for sure. Okay, the main goal of my trip, to complete a drive from Alaska to Argentina is done. With that alone, I have a great sense of accomplishment. And in that light, Brazil was kinda an add-on – a bonus. And I have been traveling for about a year now, staying in one place for a few weeks at the most. Four months of that have been in foreign countries where I don’t know the language (that well). I’ve spent more money than I thought I would (big surprise) and I still haven’t figured out how to get more. The pace of this guided tour is also taxing, as it never quite syncs with what I want to do. Sometimes, we race through an area, other times, we sit in a place far too long. And mentally, I’m ready for a break and am thinking about taking the first flight back to the states as soon as Harold is tucked into to a ship. Order myself a nice lager beer in English and give my brain a break, maybe even get a job. (Did I just say I needed a break from vacation? I guess I have traveled long enough.)

On the other hand, I DID write “Arctic to Amazon 2006″ on the side of my camper (still has a good ring to it). It seems silly to be all the way down here in South America and miss one of the wonders of the natural world. Ending the trip on a “failure” is not what I had in mind. The option is to take a flight to the Amazon city of Manaus from whatever port we ship from and see the river from there. It would be a wonderful gem with which to finish this trip.

So, here I am, thousands of miles from the States, and no clear way to get back.

Now that’s what I call “F-U-N”!


Oct 30 2006

Salvador, Brazil

Old Mansions in Salvador
Not One of my Better Ideas

[ed: This post deals with adult subjects and should probably not be read by anyone.]

Salvador, Brazil – capitol of the state of Bahaia. Spicy food, capoera, arts and crafts markets galore. Okay, not one of the SAFEST places on the whole trip. Our guide used one of his connections to allow us to camp INSIDE the police academy near the Cathedral do Bomfim. Not really available for public parking. But as I will soon get to, our guide earned every single dollar of his fee by camping here.

We did get in rather early that afternoon, after driving through the “lock your doors and don’t stop at the stoplights unless you want to get mugged” section of town, so there was still time to see some of the town. So that afternoon, the group struck out to explore the historic city of Salvador.

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Oct 28 2006

Beaches, Beaches, Jungle?

Steamy Jungle Trail
Jesse Does National Geographic

Brazil is littered with little beach communities and we just finished up a 16 day stint of seeing them. I hope you’ll understand why my blog is so far behind – it’s hard to get up and go to a stuffy Internet cafe and write. Sit on the sand or sit on a hard chair? Ocean waves or CRT rays? Surfing the waves or surfing the ‘net? I’ll let you decide.

But I will admit, there is something like too much of a good thing. I am a mountain/hills/forest kind of guy. I eventually have gotten tired of picking sand out of odd places, my tools all rusting and the beer, while plentiful and cheap, isn’t all that great. Forget all these lagers, I need a nice Ale.

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