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I got here Macapá on the afternoon of the 18th, it’s now the 3rd of January. That’s 16 days of hanging out at Wilson’s house. I’ve got to go to a Brazilian Christmas work-do, which started at 7pm. We turned up after 10pm, and weren’t the last to arrive as one couple turned up around 11:30.

There was also a trip back to Porto Grande to go to Gloria’s high school graduation. I’d had a stomachache and generally feeling lethargic in the morning, and that evening during the ceremony I was shivering even though it was still in the 20s. Even though I didn’t have a temperature, it was bad enough that Wilson, Tania, Socorro and Jelson took me to the hospital to get blood tests for malaria and dengue. The actual test to see if you have dengue takes a week, which is how long it lasts for, so what they do is look at your platelet level and if that’s low then it’s an indication. Both tests came back just fine, and 24 hours later I was feeling all good again. One really cool thing is that it’s free to go to the hospital in Brazil, so my lack of health insurance didn’t matter.

I also passed Christmas and New Year at Wilson’s house. Dinner on Christmas Eve is more important in Brazil than Christmas Day, so all day long we were preparing food for the dinner. I was put on sous chef duties which meant cutting things up to a very exact size, and peeling olives. Socorro’s family arrived at around 10:30, and I’d been told that family members would be coming to. At 11:50 it seemed like it would be a small Christmas, but between 11:55 and 11:58 about 20 people piled through the door. At midnight, everyone walked round hugging each other and saying “feliz natal” before the champagne was opened. They’d done Secret Santa to give out presents, and instead of just giving them out they gave clues to who their present was for.

New Years was similar, with more last-minute family arrivals just before midnight. There was also another cyclist in town. Martin, from Germany, was on a trip from Recife to wherever he ended up, and was staying with Wilson’s friend Ricardo. He had come from the route that I was planning on taking, so gave me some advice and pointed out places where I’d have problems, like a 40km stretch of deep sand that’s only passable in a jeep. I’d say his blog, but he doesn’t have one, or a Facebook page, preferring to use email. I think that’s valiant in a way, because it’s true that Facebook does make communication less personalised, as does something like this blog, but I’d never be able to stay in touch with as many people as I can thanks to current technology – even though it might not feel like it when I don’t update the blog for a couple of weeks!

It’s now the evening of the 3rd, and I think I will leave Macapá tomorrow. Wilson and his family are more than happy for me to stay longer, suggesting I stay for another week, but I’m eager to see more of Brazil. Life in Macapá has been enjoyable, and relaxing. I’ve been playing with Renan, Wilson & Tania’s 6-year-old son, eating delicious food, helping Wilson with his English and learning Portuguese.

I think from here I’ll take a boat across the Amazon, to Belém, and then follow the coast to the towns of São Luis, Fortaleza, Natal, Recife and Salvador. The problem with this is that as well as being rather hot, in the 35-40c range, there’s also meant to be a very strong headwind at least until Natal. I’ll see how things go, but there’s a chance I might catch a lift to avoid some parts when I get tired of fighting the wind.

As far as important dates this year, April 6th is my granny’s 80th birthday – so I expect to hop back to the UK. I was thinking I might fly from Salvador, at the beginning of March, to Portugal and then ride home, but I also might fly from Rio directly back to England. Who knows. As well as that, I might have a couple of friends visiting me in the summer, but we’ll see how that develops.

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