Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Curitibanos, Santa Catarina, Mile 276 November 21, 2010

Greetings from the town of Curitibanos, a place of similar size to Caçador.  Today is Sunday.  On a beautiful sunny Saturday morning, I rode out of Caçador, and headed east to the town of Lebon Regis, where I planned to turn south and come on to Curitibanos.  Guess what I found?  Hills!  What joy.  Over two and a half hours, I climbed up and down endlessly, while advancing about 15 miles.  Then, because I obviously was not miserable enough, it decided to rain, heavily.  Luckily for me, I had enough warning to stop the bike, and pull out my windbreaker, and get it on over my camelback, thus protecting camera, phone, passport, wallet, etc.  The rest of me got absolutely soaked.  The rain did not make the hills go away, and I slogged on another 11 miles, including one decline where I think, had it not been raining and forcing me to ride the brakes, that I could have got up over 50MPH.  I eventually, about 2PM, got into Lebon Regis, which is well and truly the armpit of the world.  The town has about three streets going north and south, and five going east and west.  I found the one and only hotel, paid R$20 (and you get what you pay for.), and went to my room, and wished I hadn´t.  It looked like a jail cell, with just enough space for a thin single bed, and a shower.  I almost walked out, but it was raining so bad that I just did not want to deal with getting drowned for four or so more hours on the road. 

I stripped of my clothes, and took a shower, and discovered a problem.  My shoes, socks, and riding gloves were absolutely drenched.  The socks and gloves were still wet this morning, I finally bungeed the bloves onto a saddle bag, so they could sit in the sun and dry a while.  The one good thing to the stop in Lebon Regis is the restuarant I discovered next to the hotel, where I had the best lasagna I have had in a good while.  That almost made up for the lousy sleeping conditions.  This lasagna comes on top of Friday night´s dinner in Caçador, where I had what was probably the best pizza I have ever had in Brazil.  Dinner on Friday was funny, because the waiter asked me if I was Argentine (I denied it, again), and when I told him I was American, he opined that ¨Obama is a jackass.¨  No argument from me on that one, but he is, after all, OUR jackass, so, not wanting to run him down in front of foreigners, I asked the waiter´s opinion on Brazilian president-elect Dilma, and learned that she is well and truly the mother of all jackasses, and was probably holding conclave with Hugo Chavez right this instant, plotting to turn Brazil into a communist hell-hole.  The southern states in Brazil all voted for Jose Serra in the recent elections, and they do not seem happy with the result...Next time I am asked if I am Argentine, I am going to say I am Uruguayan, and see what results that brings.  I will probably be told that Mujica is a jackass (and no argument from me on that one, either.)

Today dawned bright and beautiful, although even if it had been pouring, I was going to get out of Regis Lebon.  Half a mile from the hotel, on the east side of the town, I stopped and bought a couple of Cokes and two bottles of water.  I then rode another mile and a half or so on SC-302, before coming to the cut-off for (I think, my map is not with me) SC-457, and a sign which announced that it was 52 kilometers to Curitibanos.  Finally, the hilliness seems to be easing up some, and at one point I descended as low as 2,750 feet.  It was also a lot warmer, and very sunny.  SC-457 is not as good a road as SC-302, there is no shoulder at all, and occasional holes in the pavement.  However, I did not care, as there is also just about zero traffic.  I was passed by cars from time to time, as well as the (very) occasional truck, but had no problems whatsoever.  I also, in the entire 32 odd mile stretch I was on this highway, encountered not a single store selling anything.  Since I was boogying right along, this was no big deal, but had this stretch been as hilly as the area around Caçador, I would have run out of stuff to drink, and that would not have been good at all.  The countryside itself was beautiful; this area is the breadbasket of Brazil, and there were endless fields of who-knows-what growing to the horizon, interspersed with lots of cows, and the occasional ¨milk co-operative¨.  Occasionally, I would pass onion fields, and the smell was impressive.  About four miles out of Curitibanos, I rounded a curve and got a view of the entire city, sitting in a valley below the highway.  Very impressive.  Curitibanos itself is shut up tighter than a clam; not much goes on, to put it mildly, in small towns in Brazil on Sundays.  I rode through town and found a ¨bar¨, which is really a lunch counter, open, where I got a ten ounce bottle of Coke for three times what a 12 oz bottle would cost in Mexico, and the owner kindly pointed me to what he said was the best hotel in town.  It is certainly an improvement over last night, and they are letting me, again, use the internet for free.

Tomorrow, or maybe Tuesday, depending on the weather, I move on to Lages, 55 miles further south.  Hopefully the road will not be hilly, but I plan to take extra bottles of water just in case.

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