With two useless shocks, leaking fork seals, broken swingarm bearings, and a leaky transmission; the possibilities of going further into Brazil was growing dim, but you just have to keep fixing and rolling. After a few visits to different shops with Renato, we finally located the bearings and the oil seal. The problem was that we couldn’t find the right bearings as the original bearings had built-in rubber dust caps and the ones we found didn’t. Since Renato taught a machining course at the Curitiba University, we headed to the university machine shop and we built our own. Taking off the old bearing races turned out to be a time consuming job without a welder, but nothing that a turret head milling machine couldn’t handle. Finally, we cut two aluminum caps for the bearings and it actually turned out better than the original ones.
Curitiba is a nice city, with a very cool climate. Compared to the rest of Brazil, Curitiba is rather a cold place and when the rest of South Americans were in short sleeves and shorts, we bundled up with everything we had. We had a great time with Patricia and Renato and as much as they tried to teach us some basic Portuguese, I’m afraid I’ll never be able to pronounce a word correctly. Portuguese is an easy language to read but as soon as they speak it, all hopes go out of the window. From their apartment in the middle of downtown Curitiba, you could see a large flock of Herons that had made the tall trees of the city their permanent home. It was fascinating watching the giant birds, maneuver in the air so gracefully. Three feet tall with wing span of 5 feet, Great Egrets were almost driven to extinction at the end of the 19th century so that their feathers could decorate ladies’ hats, but they’ve bounced back in numbers and now they rightfully shit on hat of others.
We visited a local fair and a cool classic car show while there and passed time drinking Chimarrão (Brazilian version of Mate) and coco water. In good company, the time flies by and by the weekend, the bike was back on the road and we had to head north again. We were all set to head out on Friday but a sudden invitation back to Renato’s friend’s Farm was too good to resist. If I thought that the first festivity was the best that Brazil could offer, I was in for a surprise. Back at the farm, we ate and drank to a level which will be hard to beat, even by South American standards. As it turned out, Anderson also made homemade liquors so a tasting session was in order. All in all, when I tried to put on my motorcycle pants on Sunday, I couldn’t button it up, no matter how hard I tried. I must have gained at least 10lb since entering Brazil. We said our farewell to our gracious friends and they sent us away with beautiful local woodwork gifts and Chimarrão for the road.
We headed north along the Atlantic coast for the coastal city of Santos in São Paulo State. Traffic started to get heavier as we got closer to São Paulo and it came to a halt 50 miles outside of the city. With 12 million souls in the city limit alone, São Paulo spreads out seemingly to no end and sheds its population on weekends to the nearby beaches. Those who have money go north or south, and the rest go straight for the beaches of Santos. Covering the last 50 miles to Santos became a Nintendo game of lane splitting between rows of cars with less than 5 inch clearance on each side.
We arrived in Santos around 8pm and found the city unnerving. With a long stretch of beaches, giant buildings, rival gangs, drunks, and drug dealers; Santos mirrors Miami in every sense except the language. Santos is a city that you could very well be killed for a nice pair of shoes if in a wrong place at a wrong time. As unnerving the city was, the people we met were extremely helpful and hospitable. Our couchsurfing host was a guy named Valmique and he bent backward and forward to make us comfortable. He arranged for the bike to be parked inside the garage, we chained it down and unloaded every piece of gear and hauled them up to his apartment on the 12th floor, and then we went to his friend’s house for a little party. It was at Shirley’s house that I remembered that it was my birthday so we doubly celebrated it. We had a great time in Santos, thanks to our new friends and we stayed another day. Lat day on the way down to the garage, a naked drunk guy walked in the elevator and rode down with us 12 floors in complete silence while staring at us. It was definitely time to leave Santos for a less happening city. Stay tuned.