Even though we are only getting to see the southern tip or tail of Brasil as we make our way from Paraguay around to Uruguay via the Brazilian coast, it still takes a few semi-long days to complete the circuit. Brasil is big….as in really big. We ride south from Floripa (as the locals call it) toward Porto Allegre but stop along the way to see the coast and to break up the drive.
The highway south from Floripa is a busy two-lanes-each-way route but somewhere before Tubarao it narrows to a two-lane road which means lots more trucks and condensed traffic. Another two lanes is in the works for more than a hundred miles. We make it as far as Tramandai and then duck out to the shore and find a small local hotel with a garage for the night. Some sort of bug attacks Brian for the night, poor guy, but we keep moving the next day.
Then on as far as Cassino near Rio Grande the next day to tee ourselves up for a border crossing into Uruguay the next day. That last 100-150 miles of road proved an interesting one. The road was empty and stretched out straight in front of us for miles. After about 20 miles Brian pulled over to report that the gas station icon on the gps had evaporated. And since it looked like the only one for more than 100 miles, we didn’t have enough gas to make the border or next station. At least so we thought. So our early morning quickly dissolved into a U-turn and a shit day. We doubled back to Rio Grande, filled up, and hit the westerly road again.
The road bisected large pastures and crop fields. Cattle grazed and miles passed by in a blur. But just as I was settled into a comfortable purr, something caught the corner of my eye as we rode alongside a river. At first I thought it was a steer or maybe a large boar. I pulled over to take a closer look and caught sight of a pair of giant Capybaras sunning themselves on a sandy island in the river. As I looked back I saw nearly two dozen of them on the banks a couple of hundred meters behind me.
I’ve wrestled calves for branding before, and know these things weigh at least 100 pounds each. I had no idea they could get that big! Apparently they cross the road a lot too, making me very glad we don’t ride at night.
Two hours after our fueling, we arrive at Chuy, the border town between Brazil and Uruguay.
Most borders have a small border town on each side of the border and we (incorrectly) thought Chuy was the Brazil side. We needed some Uruguay money, which we would normally get on the Uruguay side of the border, so we hold off until crossing both sets of offices before looking for an ATM. Little did we know that Chuy was a little different…and the only town was in no man’s land and we have to cross the border back to get to Uruguayan money. Since we have already double backed a piece today, we decided to keep moving forward.
Prepared or not…welcome to Uruguay! This is the 20th country of our trip.