A select few pictures from the journey through Bolivia and Brazil (July – October 2010):
My ride along the TransAmazonica emphasized how the doom and gloom news of burning precious rain forests is still on-going. The road was created to allow people to settle the Amazon and that means cutting down forests along the road to create pasture land for cattle, which Brazil happily exports to the ever growing demand for beef.
Riding the never-ending corrugations of the route north through the Bolivian pampas. It was the dry season and these pink flowering trees were the rare bits of change in color along the route.
The serenity of the place hit a positive nerve within. The calm waters surrounded by green-carpeted hills running into the ocean and the overcast weather hit a certain harmonious tone that left a lasting impression.
End of pavement, signaling the start of good riding ahead.
Having a snack of pão de queijo (cheese bun), a typical small bread of Brazil made of tapioca flour, which is common on the breakfast table. The taste is amiable because the inside is chewy and moist with a cheesy flavor. It’s very easy to get hooked on them.
The golden rays of light reflecting on the waters of the Centro Náutico da Bahia in Salvador.
Smelling some fresh chillies at Mercado Rodriguez in La Paz as I was procuring ingredients to make a chicken curry for my hosts.
My throttle cable broke near this remote house in the interior of Bahia and after explaining my situation to the family, they gladly took me in for the next few days until I could get to a big city and source the parts needed to make another throttle cable. There were no neighbors around and the remoteness was apparent at night with our Milky Way galaxy shining in full brightness.
Enjoying the green richness of the Amazon under blue skies.
Camping at a fazenda (ranch in Portuguese) along the TransAmazonica.
A view of Salvador da Bahia from the circular Forte de São Marcelo charged with the role of protecting the city from foreign attacks.
It was hard to enjoy the fact of being in the Amazon when you saw this around every corner.
The steep steps in the small fishing village of Picinguaba in southeastern Brazil. The Serra do Mar (mountains by the sea) comes right up to the beach making for hilly seaside communities.
Spending the night at a rural Bolivian’s thatched house. This was the kitchen area and they shared some of their dinner with me.
Mmmm, eating some good grub with the people of Oruro. For about $2 you get a big bowl of rice with a potato and some freeze-dehydrated potatoes (black items) and a serving of lamb or chicken in a sauce. It’s topped with a salad and comes with some hearty soup. A good meal for the chilly altiplano, the high plains in western Bolivia sitting around 3,660 m (12,000 ft).
Riding the infamous Death Road in Bolivia with local rider Alfonso. The road is cut right into the cliffs and when it rains, one can imagine the increases in danger. A new modern road has been built so regular traffic has been diverted but if your attention is diverted, the road will hug you into its fame.
A sunrise along the TransAmazonica route.
What better way to get customers to stop by then having a roller petro girl. She was handing out receipts and serving up the free coffee that’s available at most gas stations in Brazil.
The beautiful scenery of Chapada Diamantina. One can appreciate why this place has been referred to as Brazil’s Lost World.
Being covered in mud could not detract from the natural beauty of the deep river valleys of the Yungas and especially the mystical quality brought about with the rainy weather.
Smelling the sweet ocean breeze thru the Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Rainforest) along the south eastern coast of Brazil.
Blech! The mud roads turn in a dirt soup when it pours but the road is hard underneath so the riding wasn’t too difficult, but everything was covered in a fine layer of mud.
A new bridge next to the old ghostly image of a bridge. The Amazon is quite hilly and in the trough between most hills would run a river that was bridged over. Some of them were tricky with nails sticking up from the boards, but most were in good condition.
A dirt road leading into a ranch. Cacti indicating the dry climate of inner Bahia.
sanDRina enjoying a refreshing Coke. Buying gasoline in the remote town of Sucunduri in the Amazon. The gasoline in Brazil has 25% ethanol from sugarcane mixed in and that gives the fuel its red color.
His black cat checking out my boots.
The red-colored river flowing near the town of Lençóis in the foothills of Chapada Diamantina, a national park known for its numerous waterfalls and good hiking trails. The reddness in the water comes from tannins that are leached out as the water flows through a swamp or wetland. These kind of rivers are referred to as ‘blackwater’ rivers. It had the clarity of a good cup of tea.
sanDRina feeling fresh after a full suspension and engine top end rebuild as I put her through her paces along the twists and turns of the BR-101.
Ooops. The road heading north through the Bolivian pampas was quite sandy in places and I took the little side road on the left to get some relief and as I was coming back to the main sandy piste, the front wheel dug in and sanDRina laid down for a nap. She’s a beast to lift up, but someone came by within 15 minutes and helped me get her up. If not, I would’ve emptied all her contents to lighten her and then she’d rise up easily.
Being invited for a dinner of fresh fish-fry after this rancher allowed me to camp in his front lawn. There are very few towns in northern Bolivia and for security at night, I would ask a farmer or rancher if I could set up my tent next to their house and they usually invited me in for dinner.
Looking across a densely covered valley with a lone bus navigating along the narrow cliff-hugging mud roads. Life is a daily adventure in these parts.
Enjoying a frozen yogurt treat of cupuaçu, one of numerous tasty fruits of the Amazon.
Walking around the many narrow, cobble-stoned streets of São Luís, considered the finest example of colonial Portuguese architecture.
The lovely little colonial town of Olinda, known for its numerous churches and unique carnival celebrations.
The strange sunrises in the pampas of northern Bolivia. The dust in the air, kicked up by the passing traffic, creates a haze that allows the whole sun to be visible long after it has risen.
Riding the beautiful coastal highway of BR-101, the Translitorânea, which traverses almost the entire coast of Brazil covering about 4,600 kms (2,875 mi). This is between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Aaah, a vista without burning jungle in sight. This is close to the small national park of the Amazon, which seems to be just lineated on a map with no enforcement to actually protect this natural oasis.
Soaking under a small waterfall in Chapada Diamantina and enjoying a natural massage thanks to gravity and some agua. The water was refreshing as the day warmed up.
In the historical centro of São Luis, a coastal city in northern Brazil known for its reggae culture and colonial architecture. Catching a street performance of Tambor de Crioula, an Afro-Brazilian dance where the rhythmic drums (tambors) and chanting vocals were encouraging women to swirl and gyrate into the energy and seduce the beats.
Driftwood along the beach near Picinguaba in southeastern Brazil, near Rio.
Doing some major servicing on sanDRina in São Paulo at the Street Fighters motorcycle boutique. This is Rogerio, a KTM and Honda certified mechanic rebuilding my rear suspension. Nothing was really wrong with the bike, but with 35,000 kms (22,000 mi) at this point, some parts were showing wear.
Queuing for four hours after waiting four days for the fuel trucks to arrive in Rurrenabaque in northern Bolivia. Moments like this ring home the message of our fossil fuel dependent way of living currently, which we will have to outgrow for a sustainable future.
Apparently I setup my next camp in these piglets’ favorite spot to sleep so after I was done, they came back and reclaimed their spot.
Hellooooooo. Have you seen my keys? :p Looking over the edge of the Death Road in Bolivia.
Riding in the wet Yungas region to the east of La Paz and climbing down in elevation.
Crossing Lake Titicaca that straddles the border between Peru and Bolivia in the Andes. It is a sacred site of the Incas and still holds its power as it is the highest-largest lake in the world at 3,800 m (12,460 ft). The water is the deepest of blues and runs to the horizon, meeting snow peaked mountains.
sanDRina mingling with the local fauna (beef) of the Bolivian pampas (savanna).
A view of Bianca’s kitchen from the platter of baklava that she was serving for desert after the chicken curry dinner that I prepared for her circle of journalist friends in São Paulo.
Taking a canoe from Guayaramerin, in northern Bolivia across Rio Guapore to Guajara-mirim in Brazil to access the mighty Amazon.
Staying the night at this man’s house in the middle of the jungle. Sebastian told me how he was given incentives and land by the government to come out here and settle it.
A truly sad sight. I stopped and reflected on the damage Man can do to his own home. This is my planet as it is everyone else’s and it’s only our short-sightedness that perpetuates these actions. There’s signs of hope though with the World Bank stating at the UN Convention of BioDiversity that all nations will be economically held accountable for the damage done to their natural ecosystems since the Amazon doesn’t belong just to Brazil, but to every human being.
Riding the famed TransAmazonica Highway that cuts across the Amazon jungle in Brazil. The route traverses across numerous rivers and tributaries and ferries are a way of life here. Waiting for a ferry across Rio Madeira, the biggest tributary in the world, emptying into the Amazon River. In the rainy season, the river rises a staggering 15 m (50 ft).
Enjoying the dedicated motorcycle lanes around São Paulo. Cars are not allowed to stray into this lane and it felt great to be buzzing by rows of stopped cars as bikes take up much less space on the road.
The dust haze continued across the dry season in the Amazon, producing these wonderful sun rises.
A green tree snake at the Butantan Institute in São Paulo, renowned for the production of vaccines and antivenoms and is a leading research facility in venomous animals.
Enjoying fresh sashimi in the fishing hamlet of Picinguaba, minutes after it was cut from the fish and hours after it was caught from the sea. Talk about fresh. A bit of soy sauce and it was heavenly.
Out on a day ride with the local riding crew from TouringColombia.net’s Medellin Chapter. At El Peñón de Guatapé, a large monolithic granite rock, rising 200 m (656 ft) above the ground.
The desert at Reserva Nacional de Paracas, south of Lima, Peru.
Iglesia de San Antonio in Cali, Colombia.
Hatunrumiyoc street, known for its huge Inca stones that make up the foundation of most buildings in Cusco as the Spanish found it convenient to do so. The city was constructed in the 12th century by the first Inca king, Manco Capac on direction from Inti, the sun god, to find the navel of the Earth by seeing where the ground would swallow his staff and there he founded the city that would be the capital of the Inca Empire.
The wave crashing and releasing its energy against the land, propelling me forward at Reserva Nacional de Paracas, Peru.
Ripe lemons at Helmut’s house in Andahuaylillas, Peru where I spent a few days sorting out a mechanical break down.
Rushing waterfalls and volcanic rocks making for interesting riding in the Peruvian Andes.
Meeting up with a German couple in Peru who’ve been riding around the world since 2007. We rode together for a few days.
The handsome cathedral in the central Parque Caldas in Popayán, Colombia. All the buildings in Popayán are white.
Sunset on the hike down from Machu Picchu. Besides the ruins, the location is well worth the effort to get here.
Speaking at a school in Bagua Grande, Peru about India and my trip. They were quite excited and kept peppering me with questions about the food, culture and history. They even asked me to sing the national anthem of India and in return, I asked them to sing Peru’s national anthem 🙂
Climbing up into the Andes in southern Colombia, near Pasto.
Dancing in Plaza Bolívar in Cartagena’s old town, under the statue of El Libertador, Simón Bolívar who is credited with kicking the Spanish out of South America and bringing independence to present day Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela in the early 19th century.
Passing by mineral rich mountains and like-wise, turquoised lakes. Their stillness reflecting the riches in the peaks.
Fresh grilled pig at the market in Otavalo, Ecuador.
Volcan Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador at 6,268 m (20,565 ft) and the road peaked at 4,300 m (14,100 ft). Its peak is the furthest point on the Earth’s surface from its center due to the bulge at the Equator from the planet’s spin (think of a spinning ballerina).
Sunset at Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas. Since it was discovered only in 1911, it escaped damage from the Spanish colonialists and still has many mysteries to be solved.
Sunset in Cusco, the once capital of the Inca Empire and the longest continuously inhabited city in South America.
The main cathedral in Quito, Ecuador where there’s a painting of the last supper with cuy (guinea pig) as the main course. Quito was the first city to be inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1978.
Exiting Parque Nacional Huascaran and enjoying the sunset ride back to Caraz, Peru.
The numerous tunnels in the Canon del Pato, Peru.
Gold artifacts of the Zenú people at the Gold Museum in Cartagena, Colombia.
Riding the beautiful back roads of northern Peru and enjoying the Andes, rising and falling over mountain ranges.
Panorama of Laguna Quilotoa, a crater lake which formed after a violent eruption in 1280 of Volcan Quilotoa. It sits at a height of 3,900 m (12,800 ft), is about 3 kms (1.8 mi) around and 250 m (820 ft) deep. The clouds and conditions were constantly changing.
sanDRina blending in with the lush setting in a valley at around 3,050 m (10,000 ft) in southern Ecuador.
The colorful potatoes of the Andes. Did you know there are over 4,000 kinds of potatoes?
The wall at the fortress of Kuelap near Chachapoyas, Peru, built around 1,000 AD.
Stunning sunset lighting in the main plaza of Celendin, a colonial outpost in northern Peru.
A grand fresco by the entrance of the cathedral in Huari, Peru depicting a gruesome Hell and encouraging all sinners to repent before entering the house of god.
The cliffs at Miraflores in Lima, where the strong ocean wind against the raised cliffs provides for some great paragliding.
Traveling down the PanAmerican Highway.
On Jaime’s fetching classic Vespa scooter in Medellin, Colombia.
A chocolate booth at the annual confectionery festival in Cuenca, Ecudaor. Everything looked so good. I sampled a variety of sweets and chocolates.
At the summit in Parque Nacional Huascaran where the snowline starts at 5,000 m (16,400 ft).
Alpacas, a relative of the llama and this variety with the cool dreads is called Suri.
Enjoying a meal on a farm outside Cusco, where I stayed thru CouchSurfing.com and helped build a bed for the community project.
Parque Nacional Cajas near Cuenca, Ecuador, known for its misty peaks and chilly lakes. Can you see the figure of the Virgin Mary in the rocks?
From the summit at 4,835 m (15,860 ft) dropping down in spirals all the way to the coast in Lima, Peru. Lots of mining activity going on with mineral rich mountains.
Riding thru the Canon del Pato and enjoying the geologic stories on display. Heading to Hauraz, Peru.