Thursday, July 18, 2013

Peru-Brazil 2013 – Day 31 – The road trip starts

Nothing like starting a new adventure! In a way is like having a third vacation, and we are ready for it. I have felt great from my dehydration, and by taking my medicine faithfully plan to avoid a second visit to the colorful health care system of Brazil. We landed in Rio de Janeiro to a beautiful, balmy morning, and the plane gave us a beautiful birds-eye view of the city with its many bays and valleys. We are going to like it here!

The car rental was relatively smooth, except that the workers seemed to have forgotten that their outfit, Unidas, had been created by the merger of National and Alamo. So it took a few confused phone calls to figure out that yes, we were at the right place. They were also kind of amazed to have two international clients coming to disturb the peace of their morning routine. Once our credentials had been duly validated we were quickly attended, and in 15 minutes were the proud “owners” of a silver VW Fox, which Annie immediately dubbed The Silver Bullet. We were ready to jump into 9 am Rio traffic (a task only for the stout of heart) when a Good Samaritan came to our rescue (I am glad to acknowledge that Brazil has more than an average amount of good Samaritans). He was also renting a car, and in five minutes he would be heading out of the city toward Sao Paolo. He could lead us out of the maze if we cared to wait for him. We did wait, and he took us out of the city without a hitch. Thank you Lord for the good people of Brazil!

The more we saw of Rio the more we liked it. It has so many small bays that it is difficult to describe, but the combination of the indented shoreline, the old churches atop hills, and the affluent new and poor old gives it the comfortable look of an old port city anxious to welcome the tourist.

Our goal in the next two days is to reach Foz the Iguaçú, 1500 km away, so we tried to do good time by looking out of the window a lot and stopping not too often. They have a speed limit of 110 km here, and our Good Samaritan warned us that they have many checkpoints with cameras waiting to catch the speeder. The problem is that once you approach a speed check point they mess with your mind, by dropping the speed limit to 80 all of a sudden. Do you know how hard it is to drop from 110 to 80 in a long-distance trip? I suspect that somewhere out there there is a pretty picture of yours truly, wanted for being a speed felon.

Crossing Sao Paolo was my big fear. Located at 400 km of Rio, it is the largest metropolis of Brazil, and we were planning on crossing it at 3 pm. Imagine going from San Francisco to San Diego, and having to cross Los Angeles at 3 pm! Well, our good luck held, and we successfully navigated the maze of freeways and surface streets without getting snagged. It is a big, Los Angeles-like city, but we were glad to put it behind us by 4:30. I had planned to drive until 6 pm, and we would have followed the plan perfectly, but 100 km from Sao Paolo we crossed a chain of mountains and that was pure torture. Big trucks were crawling up the slopes (and going even slower on the downhill) and even with my best Mexican reckless driving it was 6:30 pm by the time we were down. At 7:30 pm we reached the town of Registro, where we hurriedly booked a hotel, ate a quick (but very tasty) pizza, and zonked out for the night.

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