Day 79 – Londrina to Fazenda Mato Dentro

Quick post – no internet here – morning spent getting Gui a new tire
then driving the entire afternoon (300 miles) to get to Campinas and
then to the farm where Dudu (another cousin) was waiting for us ๐Ÿ™‚
Now doing some churrasco (barbecue) and drinking some beer ๐Ÿ™‚
Tomorrow day 80 and Sao Paulo!!!!

Day 78 – Fazenda Barbacena to Londrina

Great day – visit to Usina Vale do Ivai in the morning – sugar and alcohol production plant – always learn something new when I go there.
It’s one of the most self sufficient industries I know of:
– Sugar cane by itself is a renewable source of energy
– The fibers of the sugar cane are burnt to produce enough electricity for the entire plant + surplus to sell back to the grid
– The soot from the burnt fibers is spread on the soil as a fertilizer
– The unused/old yeast is used as an additive to livestock feed
– The “vinhaca” – a bi-product of the fermentation process is used as a fertilizer as well
– The yeast-cream is bought from breweries around the country to produce more dried yeast, which comes with 6 alcohol by the way, for “free”
– The residue from the sugar process is sent back into the alcoholย plant to extract even more sugar
– The water used to wash and cool is always filtered and could be bottled for drinking
… and the list goes on…
In any case… after the visit we had lunch at the farm, had a nap and headed towards Londrina – only an hour and a half away.
There we met Otto and Guilherme who rode their motorcycles (BMS 1200GS and a BMW 800S) from Sao Paulo to meet with us.
Later on we went to another cousin’s house – Adriana Carioba – to have some beers then dinner.
Very pleasant dinner at a Japanese place in town.
All drunk from Saque now going to bed ๐Ÿ™‚

Day 77 – Foz de Iguacu to Fazenda Barbacena

Short but exciting post!
At my family’s farm in Parana, 450km northeast of Foz de Iguacu, +/- 1000km west of Sao Paulo next to a small town called Sao Pedro do Ivai.
This is where I spent most of my childhood vacations and have many fond memories of.
Very cool to arrive here by motorcycle, especially coming from so farย away.
It all looks great, smells wonderful, and tastes amazing. We had some chicken with orange sauce along with wild rice and beans and salad. All local produce and by default “organic”.ย 

Maybe that’s why I always found the organic concept strange – it was always something so common and taken for granted when I grew up.
Lucky me. Very lucky me for having such conscious grandparents and parents raising us with the best possible in terms of health and education.

Day 76 – Foz de Iguacu

All day tourist day ๐Ÿ™‚
Tour bus picked us up at 9:10am and took us to Iguacu Falls – very cool walk along the pathways and very impressive the size, noise and amount of water of the falls.
Amazingly few Brazilians – most Argentineans and Europeans… interesting… well… not so surprising – I’ve lived in Brazil most of my life and never even thought of coming here to see this!
After the falls we stopped at a buffet style restaurant where we ate a bit – well – more like a lot – feijoada, cupim, farofa, guarana, suco de acerola and all the Brazilian food I missed quite a bit!
The afternoon was dedicated to Itaipu – the largest hydroelectric power plant in the world in terms of megawatts produced.
It’s a “joint” project of Brazil and Paraguay but the story goes that Brazil basically paid for it… Paraguay pays it’s share now with electricity.
Paraguay uses only 7% of the energy produced, selling the remainder 43% back to Brazil. This 7% supplies 90% of Paraguay’s needs.
Brazil in turn utilizes 93% of the energy produced supplying 20% of our energy needs!! Crazy.
Apparently the new Paraguayan president wants to increase the price at which they sell the electricity to us. According to the deal signed back in 1973 the price cannot be readjusted until 2025. This has been causing some friction between the two countries along with a land reform the Paraguayan president promised the people before being elected. A good chunk of land in Paraguay is owned and run by Brazilian farmers. The people are now protesting against this Brazilian position and demanding that the Brazilians leave their country and land… uff…
Back in the hotel waiting for the torrential rains to go by and then go out into the city again.
Tomorrow we’ll be back on the bikes riding to Sao Pedro do Ivai – Fazenda Barbacena!!

From Motorcycle NY to SP

TED Talks

Some of the TED Talks I liked in no particular order…ย 

Heard 79 of them these past two days riding… still in ย 2006 ๐Ÿ™‚

Day 75 – Posadas to Foz de Iguacu

BRASIL!! We have arrived!!
Easy day of riding, some more turns than yesterday thankfully and a little bit more mountainous terrain but not that much ๐Ÿ™‚
We arrived in Puerto Iguacu and stopped for lunch and some tips as to where to stay – Brazilian or Argentinean side.
We got an irrefutable offer from Alejandro – a good rate a Hotel Suica and a free tour of the falls and Itaipu tomorrow!
The border crossing was one of the easiest and fastest ones we’ve done so far – we both got 40 days to stay in Brazil – I came in with my Italian passport thinking it would give me some advantage over coming in with my Brazilian one – effectively I would not have been allowed to come into the country with a used motor-vehicle!
We found the hotel after some running around, called our folks, and jumped into the pool… very nice ๐Ÿ™‚
Now going out to check the town out and celebrate our arrival in Brazil!

Day 74 – Presidente Roque Saenz Pena to Posadas

Hum… straight roads… very green… very humid and hot… lots of Brazilian trucks on the road.
Presidente Roque Saenz Pena is a cute little town with a few restaurants and quite a few people cruising along the roads – nothing compared to Salta, which has a vibrant street which is shut off to cars and people just walk up and down two large blocks filled with bars (boliches) and restaurants.
Posadas also has a lot going on at night at the Avenida Constanera – an avenue that runs along the river where people drive up and down on their cars and motorcycles to see and to be seen. The bars and restaurants along the avenue are all packed with people and the avenue is lined up with parked cars with their back door open blasting music to the ears of the crowds around them.
It seems like everywhere you go, no matter what country you are in, how “remote” it is in your head, you always find people doing all of the same things… going out, socializing, mingling, and trying to have a good time…
Getting closer and closer to Brazil now… Foz de Iguacu tomorrow!

Day 73 – Salta to Presidente Roque Saenz Pena

Long day but AOK!
Woke up at 8 to get some breakfast and go change my tires and balance my wheels.
Turned out to be a long process that lasted till around noon but everyone was very nice, curious and impressed by the trip.
In the pictures you can see the missing counter weights, the chewed up and the good side of the tire and some other pics ๐Ÿ™‚
Back on the road with new tires and balanced wheels we left Salta after saying thanks to Alberto from Division 2 Ruedas and buying some chain lube for my bike.
We did about 600km today on a very straight and boring road – very humid as well.
We stopped a few times for gas and for breaks… tried to get food in this one town but everything was closed – Saturday + siesta time!
All throughout the day I listened to the TED Talks Podcasts instead of music – VERY cool – made time actually go by faster it seemed – well – depending on what speaker that is ๐Ÿ™‚ Very interesting projects, people, lectures and topics!
We arrived in Sans Pena at night and found a descent hotel to stay in…
Tomorrow the ride should be a little bit more interesting in terms of scenery and towns.
Right on schedule for our arrival in Sao Paulo around the 19th…

From Motorcycle NY to SP

Day 72 – San Pedro de Atacama to Salta

Wow – what a day – yes another one of those!
Breakfast, bike packing and gas routine in the morning. Last night we had dinner with Steve and a friend of his – a girl from Hong Kong who has been traveling through South America for the past 6 months alone! Great dinner and conversation.
Ran into two the Brazilian motorcyclists we had met at Valle de La Luna while we were looking for the gas station in San Pedro this morning – cool guys – they were going to the Pacific to check it out… we were heading towards the Atlantic ๐Ÿ˜‰
We did our Chilean exit at San Pedro in no time and we were on our way.
The road was pretty incredible – we went up and up and up – gently though – up to 4800 meters – got quite chilly but bearable.
My wheel wobble would come and go – I guess the rubber would wear down and the wheel would stabilize for a little while but then it would get unbalanced again – very annoying and very unsettling on the turns – the whole bike would be loose and did not feel very stable.
But we kept on trucking…
The Argentinean border was about 1 hour and half away from San Pedro and took a little longer just because there were quite a few people there at the same time but went through smoothly.
The descent from Suques into Purmamarca was quite nice – lots of incredibly tight turns. By that time I guess I got used to the wobbly bike and enjoyed it a little more but still definitely not at my full potential.
We stopped at a nice little hotel by the road where we had a quick sandwich. I asked at the hotel’s reception if they knew of any motorcycle stores or repair shops in San Salvador de Jujuy or in Salta. An Argentinean guest immediately jumped to help me calling a friend of his who gave him the phone number of the owner of a motorcycle store in Jujuy who in turn said that he had tires for my bike AND balance the wheels!
I was ecstatic… but did not last very long because once we got to Jujuy we found out that not only they did not have the tires, they told me that the only motorcycle wheel balancing machine was in Buenos Aires – and that there was only ONE there!
I think that was one of the lowest points of this trip – my tire was down to the bone – I could probably only drive on it for another day before it literally would rip apart – and even if I got new tires, without balancing the wheel, I would wear it down in another 6 days I think. I was miserable. I even started contemplating putting the bike on a truck and sending it to Brazil.
But there was still hope… Salta is a larger city so I asked the guys to find a tire in Salta for me… they did!! Not the exact same tire but it should do. And to balance the wheel I would go to a car mechanic and have him create some kind of an adapter to fit the bike’s wheel on the car wheel machine…
Off we went to Salta – only 70km away but took us almost 2 hours – we got some back road which was beautiful but my bad mood prevented me from enjoying it…
But then again it all changed when we got to Division 2 Ruedas in Salta! The not only had my tires but they knew of a guy in town who would balance my wheels!!
What a relief!!!
And what a great hotel we found for a great price! Now all showered and ready for some dinner!