Road Trip

9 Mar

I could have stayed in Itacare longer, surfed a few more times and had some amazing falafal, but I couldn´t miss the chance to drive down the coast.

I was nervous at first, sitting passenger to two strangers who would take me past South America’s infamously aggressive drivers in the middle of the night. I sat cautiously with an eye on the speedometer, quietly assessing their every move. But they blew me away and happened to be some of the most cautious drivers I’ve seen in some time. We sped away from Itacare into the unknown, happy and excited. It didn’t take long for us to get lost though and I’m glad I was driving with women, who were much more inclined to continually ask for directions, like the time we pulled into a police station, where the cops looked like they belonged more to a basketball team than a police force.

Everywhere we went people seemed amused and concerned that we were driving through the night. The girls said the reactions were even more interesting when they didn’t have a guy with them. We went along past truck stops and small towns, horses, bats, and stray dogs, bulls and cows and water buffalo, and the occasional wanderer on the side of the road. I kept Gwen company all night and she got us to Tronosco in no time. I had a good time chatting and the ride felt smooth and quick.

It was about 4 am when we arrived.

We decided to sleep in the car instead of parting with one night´s rent and we were a most unusual sight for the locals, especially since we parked right in the center of town.


The guide book had painted Tronosco it as a tranquil ocean side town perched on a cliff. But we weren´t really impressed. So after a brief stop to try Acai (a fruit grown in the Amazon and crushed into a bowl sprinkled with granola), we were on our way again, this time on dirt roads.

This time it was my turn to drive and luckily the girls did not object. I was cautious, but wanted to have my fun on the dirt road and I was surprised when they both kept quiet after some of my turns. I dropped a few hints about my driving history in the interest of full disclosure, but I decided not to go into all of the details. Hey a few speeding tickets never hurt anyone…

We pulled into a beach touted as one of the top 10 beaches in Brazil. It’s hard to say exactly what a top 10 beach is supposed to look like but we liked what we saw. We had seen a number of beautiful beaches by this point and we tried hard not to seem jaded.




The highlights were the colorful boats, clear calm waves, and a feeling of remoteness and isolation – this was not an easy beach to get to. It was also incredibly swanky. Pillow lined wooden chairs filled the beach as well as totem poles and restaurants. We split a meal that was pricey, but delicious, and the view over the beach made it worth it.

I also tried some rock climbing using flip flops and just one hand.

I wanted to get a shot of the beach from above and tried climbing the side of a cliff with my camera in hand. I got pretty high up but suddenly realized I would have to get down as well. Kind of like a cat perched up high on a tree, I spent more than a few minutes trying to figure out how I would get down – and trying to conceal my fear by occasionally snapping a picture of the beach. This way I looked like I was a photograph, not someone who was afraid to come down.

Yup, still afraid of heights…

Afterwards we headed out to an island with no cars and no electricity. We would have to leave our stuff in the car and take a small row boat to gain acess.


The island was really chill but we decided we were in the mood for a big city.

So after a nap and a sunset, we decided to drive through the night again. 5 hours of sleep in the last 36.

The directions were fairly easy and I had a good bearing of where we were in relation to the ocean. As long as I kept going South, I figured it would work out.

With no threat of cops and radar detectors, it was the most liberating, fun ride I´d ever had.

Brazil´s major highway is a one lane snake that turns and weaves through the hilly country side, whose mud clay earth glows red, and whose unusually shaped mountains perpetually loom in the background.

The highway is also full of truckers who would rather not share the road if they could. And passing them with the threat of oncoming traffic proved both challenging, and incredibly fun.

We drove all through the night and I developed a sort of language with my lights that I could use to communicate with the truckers, thanking them when they slowed down to let us pass, and showing my displeasure when they did not.


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