Brazil: Ancient Rhythms, Modern Moves

Text: Irene Wouters • Photography: Irene Wouters

Dust clouds rise from the rhythmically stOmping feet of dozens of Brazilian Indians during a ritual campfire, in stark contrast to the sea of skyscrapers that makes up the monstrous metropolis surrounding them. Brazil is gigantic and, to the majority who travel here from more developed parts of the globe, difficult to comprehend in all its contradictions and diversity. One aspect is clear, however: with the Amazon Rainforest, nearly 5,000 miles of pristine coastline, and the 220-plus waterfalls of Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil’s natural beauty is unbeatable. The country leaves an indelible print on the retina of all who experience it. 

Long Shot in the Dark

You can park your motorcycles here and hire a jeep to go to Jeri.” 

Astonished, I stare at the boy. Is he joking? Why wouldn’t we be able to ride the last 30 miles to Jericoacoara on our KTMs? As if anticipating my question, the boy answers it before I have time to speak: the sand is too deep for our motorcycles and there’s no road. Only local guides know the route, he says, and without a guide we will certainly get lost. Not even for an instant will I consider leaving our bikes behind. Besides, what will it cost to rent a jeep? But the boy is relentless. He keeps insisting that we will get lost and that we at least need a guide. He has convinced Lia, so I give in as well and we hire him. We deflate our tires at the gas station in preparation for the sandy track ahead, and set off.

Sweat pours down my back, caused more by my anxiety than by the tropical heat of northeastern Brazil. The effects of both have already begun taking a toll, but the end is nowhere in sight. For Lia it is too difficult, and she changes places with our guide on the back of another motorcycle. Meanwhile, he weaves around like a fool and only just manages to keep her bike upright. Which is more than I can say, because there I go! It’s more falling off than falling down. I try to stop the bike from toppling but can’t hold the heavy weight, and I get stuck with my foot pinned under a pannier. Luckily, Lia and the boy are quickly there to lift my KTM up. We continue on, but still I keep sliding through the sand like an aimless mop. This ride is absolute hell! If we keep going this way it will take forever to reach Jericoacoara. Our guide sees that I keep having trouble and we exchange motorcycles. I’m now riding Lia’s bike, which is slightly less packed than mine and lighter on the sand. It’s just this little bit of difference that keeps me going and keeps me from falling off again. At least for now. 

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the March/April 2019 back issue.