Greetings from the little beach town of Arroio do Sal, which is about 20 miles south of Torres. Today I encountered some absolutely monstrous headwinds, in the 20 to 25 MPH range, coming straight out of the south. As I was heading south, it felt like someone was pushing my against my chest, which sure slowed everything down.
I headed out of Torres, went about a mile and a half east, then turned south on to RS-389, known as the ¨Estrada do Mar¨ (Coast Highway). Immediately, the wind hit me. Almost three hours (and one Coke and three bottles of water) later, I had only moved 20 miles, and was faced with a choice: Either take the cut-off for Arroio do Sal, or continue on another 20 miles to Capao da Canoa, a slightly larger resort. I decided to bin it, and cut into Arroio do Sal. The 20 miles on 389 were quite pretty, off to my right (west), I could see the coast range (known as the ¨Brazilian Escarpment¨ that I had descended out of a few days ago. To my left were fields; 389 is far enough inland that the ocean was out of sight.
Once I got off of 389, I rode a couple of miles into town, found half a dozen hotels, five of which had signs saying that they would open for the season in mid December, and was very happy to discover that the sixth was open. I got a room, locked my bicycle to a pole in the garage, and, on my way back through the office with my clothes and things, discovered Zero Hora!, the principal Porto Alegre newspaper that is my favorite of all Brazilian papers. Zero, as it is known, is so right wing it makes Limbaugh and friends look like wimpy flip-floppers. I appropriated it, and as I was basically exhausted from fighting the wind, lay on the sofa in my room for an hour reading it. It had an interesting, and long, article on the WikiLeaks situation; apparently the Brazilian government has been cooperating a LOT more than they have admitted to, and the reason that ¨no terrorists have been operating in Brazil¨ is that every time the Policia Federal nabs, say, a Hezbollah operator in the triple border region, they charge him with drug trafficking or something, and do not classify it as terrorism. This lets the government say one thing for public consumption and do something very different. Whether this will cause any problems for the government or not remains to be seen; Lula is out of office next month anyway.
The newspaper situation in Brazil is interesting. Unlike in the US, basically every State in Brazil has one and only one big city, which is the capital. Porto Alegre and environs, for example, is at least ten times the size of Pelotas, RS´s second largest city. Ditto Florianopolis for Lages in Santa Catarina. (In Uruguay, it is even more stark, Montevideo is about 15 times the size of Uruguay´s second city, Salto.) The capital city´s main newspaper then becomes the principal newspaper in all the state. So, in the first days of my trip, I encountered O Diario do Povo, from Curitiba, Parana, everywhere. As soon as I crossed the border into Santa Catarina, O Diario disappeared, and was replaced with Diario Catarinense (DC), from Florianopolis. Once in Torres yesterday, DC disappeared, and Zero made its appearence. When I get to Uruguay, two or three Montevideo papers (principally El Pais) will be available throughout the country, and the Brazilian papers will disappear. (However, in Punta del Este, it will be easier to find, and cheaper to buy, La Nacion or Clarin from Buenos Aires, to the immense disgust of the indigeneous Uruguayan population.)
Once done reading the paper, I went walking along the beach for a while, and almost got my face sandblasted off by the wind. So much for that. I then went to a cafeteria and ordered beef with rice and french fries, and got a HUGE bowl of rice, another of fries, and a large piece of meat, all for less then ten bucks. I am now going to go back to the hotel and see if I can borrow a bucket, hose and a towel and wash off my bicycle, two weeks of travel have left it pretty dirty.
Tomorrow´s weather forecast calls for 10 to 20 MPH winds blowing east to west, and since I will be going south and west, this should help to get a little farther than I did today.