Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When there´s no rain

Another early start took us from Oiapoque to Calcoene. This stretch of road is notorious for being mean, muddy, slow-going, nearing impassable. We got lucky that it has been rather dry lately (in June we are at the end of rainy season and it has already slowed).

(Mike is not yet back in the habit of putting in ear plugs every time we start off. But we get to take more breaks because of it)

(around 30 miles of paved road out of Oiapoque before hitting dirt)

(the road was in good shape at the start)

(the sky got a bit darker and brought some rain to make things more interesting)

(there were a few sections of deep mud and standing water, but luckily for us, there were only a few and each section was short. With a lot of rain, it's easy to see how those sections would be show stoppers.)

(lots of old wooden bridges in various stages of disrepair. Most did not have this much signage. Most did not have this much wood either - there were some gaping holes down to the creeks below on most. Some of the bridges are in the process of being replaced by concrete versions, but it looks like it will be a long process)

(some stretches of road had almost unavoidable potholes, the worst of it not pictured here (because Jill was hanging on tight))

(the sun came back out and we had some beautiful views)

Not knowing if we would pass much along the road, we were pleasantly surprised to see this restaurant about 60 km before Calcoene. They served us up a Brazilian feast!

(they also provided some shade to take care of some chain maintenance. Mud, slider gunk, oil, and a rock had gathered behind the front sprocket cover, causing a nasty racket now, and excessive abuse if left alone. So a good under the cover cleaning, chain check and lube and we were on our way.)

The road was paved for a stretch after the restaurant, but it was only paved in segments. The dirt segments were graded really well, so they were fast. Except for the last 15-20 km coming into Calcoene. Those were some nasty potholes.

(the road work was more obvious closer to Calcoene. Lots of partial bridges and road grading.)

We arrived at Calcoene in the early afternoon, but decided to stay put. The small, rural town has a nice feel to it. Lots of kids were out flying kites, some gave us funny looks, others wanted to talk. Outside of the pousada where we stayed a young guy on a bicycle was interested in us and our moto. He showed us where to find the pousada owner, and while we were talking to her he found a coke can to jam against his rear wheel so he could make motorcycle noises while he rode.

Attached to our pousada was a panaficadora who supplied us with all sorts of good bread based snacks – coconut bread, hot dogs wrapped in donut-like dough and served with mayonnaise (which may disgust some of you, but is really quite tasty. You are welcome to just take my word for it), and even normal bread, too. We had a relaxing evening walking around town a bit, planning an early departure to Macapá.

(the road to Macapá cut through savannah and was a good high-speed ride)

(we lucked out again and found a phenomenal lunch stop by the side of the road. You pay by weight. We each ate 3/4 kg of all sorts of good salads, meats, and beans for 10Rs each (that’s about 1.5 lbs of food for around US$5). The fresh salads with spices and seasonings that we haven’t seen in so long were a hit. And of course, the meat was great, too - we are in Brazil after all.)

(mostly, the road was in near perfect shape. Until this ugly set of potholes. It’s hard to make out in the picture, but the only building for miles around happens to be a tire repair shop (borracheria) and bar located directly in front of the worst pot holes. Prime location

(there were some tree farms along the way, not sure what they’re for. They do not serve very well as windbreaks.)

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