Salvador – Feira

The part for my bike, which was sent overnight delivery on the Tuesday, arrived on the Saturday morning. While there was no rush from Pablo or his family for me to leave, I wanted to get back on the road and start going somewhere. The downtime had given me time to work on the website and come up with the new design, which is still a work in progress. The Awesome People widget at the bottom of the page is thanks to help from Dave at Tired of I.T!. It’ll take a while to get it filled with all the people from the trip. I’m trying to get a way to automate it, but Dave is currently very under the weather with a bad bout of malaria so in no state to work on something like that.

I was up by 5, as I’d wanted to try to avoid the heat, but it took until 7 for it to slow down to a drizzle so I could finally leave. It stayed overcast and drizzly for most of the day, and other than the joy of being back on the bike it wasn’t too memorable. I spent a good amount of time trying to find the perfect position for my seat, slightly harder than with a normal seat because there’s more to consider, and accidentally rode for a while with it not straight which lead to a light bruising. Good thing to learn early on.

Having rarely had any punctures in my time since arriving in South America, I got one within 40km of Salvador. Thankfully it happened near a small property where the owner let me fix it under the awning, out of the rain. I didn’t notice it then, but when I got to Feira and met Jorge, my Warmshowers host, I saw that my front tyre was splitting. It had a good few km on it, and maybe I should have given it a better looking over at home, but I’d picked up a spare tyre so it wasn’t too big an issue. As long as the other one didn’t go in the next few months then I’d be fine. As a believer in riding things to destruction (see my history with merino wool clothing and how holey it gets before being disposed of) I used Seth’s tyre-boot for about the 5th time, and some duct tape, and hoped that it’d hold it.

Feira is a city of 500,000, but it’s industrial and not particularly interesting. It was the first city to start the tradition of an out-of-season carnival, mainly because there was no way they were going to compete with Salvador, and it had just finished when I got there. I stayed with Jorge, an Argentinian with 32 years in Brazil, and the highlight was definitely on the night of my day off when he had his weekly Monday wine & barbeque night where 7 of his friends came over for dinner.

Feira – Posto do Caminheiros 2 – Posto JK – Lençois
From Feira my next goal was to get to Lençois, a cute, touristy town in Chapada Diamantina. The ride up was fairly unexciting, with the main interest being how the landscape started to get a bit more interesting as I got towards the foothills. Both nights between Feira and Lençois were spent in petrol stations, and I got very different receptions in them.

At the first, Posto do Caminheiros 2, I was immediately befriended by the workers who were interested by some excitement in their normal 6am-10pm shift. The guy who washed trucks told me that for example that day he had just had 2 trucks to wash in his 16 hours. Sure, each truck takes about 2 hours (up to 4 for the ridiculously big ones) but that’s a lot of sitting round doing nothing. They gave me a token for the showers, which would otherwise have cost 3 reals ($1.50), in what seems to be a trend as the free showers seem to have been replaced with ones demanding tokens. It’s possibly being on the main route connecting Salvador and Brasilia but I hope it doesn’t stay that way for the rest of the country.

In the other, Posto JK, everything else got on with their job and didn’t talk to me. The showers were 5 reals, so I was planning on a sink wash. The only downside was that there wasn’t a sink in the toilets, it was a communal one right by the dining area, which wouldn’t have worked so well. Some might want to not read the rest of this paragraph. I could, and probably should, have used my folding bowl that I carry round, but that slipped my mind and I went with the option of finding the cleanest toilet – which seemed to have been cleaned recently – flushing it a couple of times and then dipping my washcloth in. Maybe I could have paid the 5 reals.

The area around Chapada was unseasonably cloudy, rainy season was meant to have ended a month earlier, and it made me certain that I didn’t want to be in the Andes during the rainy season. I’d seen beautiful photos of the area, but when I was there the peaks were shrouded in clouds and it wasn’t until I arrived in the city of Lençois and saw the colonial city that I’ve grown very used to that it became pretty.

I’d been in touch with some people on Couchsurfing and met a guy called Leo, he worked at a Pousada whose owner – Ronaldo – had spent 11 years in the UK. I was invited to stay at the place, which would mean I could spend a few days there getting to see some of the local beauty, and speaking with people who know British English, as there was also a Londoner called Nick living there.