[Blog #65] An Overnight Bicycle Trip | Vila Capilha | Brazil
Bringing back the joy of writing in 2021 with new adventures in sight!
Undoubtedly, the year 2020 challenged human beings to a level of anxiety and fear, of questioning our wild existence in this world. A year to search for answers to deep inner-self questions. However, life is like a bicycle that we need to keep on moving to avoid falling. 2021 is here, and so are new adventures.
Today better than yesterday; tomorrow better than today.
With this spirit, I've decided to shake the dust out of my vagabonding carcass. As I finish Patagonian Utopia―a book I've been focussed on lately―, I'll take the time to bring the blogs back to life with new journeys. So, without losing a second, let's do it!
On todays post I'll share an overnight bicycle trip to visit a humble village named Praia da Capilha, in southern Brazil.
To recover from the on-and-off quarantine of 2020, I've decided to enroll in a bit of a bicycle challenge. The idea: cycle 1600 km in December. You know, to put an end to that disastrous year. For regular cyclists, 1600 in a month is a generous amount. But I progressed throughout the month. With three days left before the 31st of December―and to the end of that tenuous challenge―my mom approached as I stretched in our front yard.
"How's the challenge going," she asked.
"Tough," I lammented, "three days to go. I still need 220."
In three days, 220 meant 73 per day. I knew well-enough I could achieve such a milestone. But...
"Ah, you are close then," she noted.
"Yeah... it's just that I'm bored of cycling in the same routes."
That day I found the strength to overcome boredom and cycled some 55 km in under two hours and something. Because of the La Niña phenomenon that cools down the Pacific ocean, our days had been awful, with 30 knots north-east gusts. I'd need to do something different if I wanted to cover the last 150 kilometers.
The last time I camped was back in February, before the Covid-19 pandemic. I wanted to have one last night in a tent before a fresh start in 2021. With two days for the New Year Eve, options were limited. I knew of a neighboring district that seemed suitable for a peaceful overnight. To the plans we go.
Praia da Capilha or Vila Capilha lays on the east bank of Lagoa Mirim. The vila is 82km from where I'm living, in Praia do Cassino. An overnight trip would cover the last 150 km, together with a great chance to spend time by myself. Wind forecast seemed dreamy: strong tailwinds on the way to the vila followed by a change in direction during the evening, which granted me another tailwind the next morning to return home. Perfect. I lost no seconds to gather the basic camping equipment.
- Basic Tools
- Tent, sleeping bag and mattress
- Extra shorts and shirt
- Towel, don't forget the towel!
I left just about the early sun rays, at 0700 o'clock. There was not a single cloud in sight. If I didn't want to suffer the consequences of a scorching sun, I'd need to hurry. After an hour and 25 kilometers later, I stopped in a friend's mercearía to drink a soda in preparation for the next 56 kilometers. Legs felt great, energized. I continued at a pace of around 25 km/h. The 10 o'clock whiff from hell forced a strategic stop in a shade below a cluster of eucalyptus trees. Hot air came into the lungs; it was hard to breathe. I ate passoquinha and bananinha. Water neared the end. Cellphone rang.
"Where are you now?" mom asked.
"Twenty to go," I answered, "it's way too hot, I had to stop."
I reached the vila after batling the hellish asphalt for nearly 3 hours and a half. The birds were quiet. Tree branches barely moved. Sweat poured down my forehead. I drank yet another soda at the gas station before moving into the vila to find the old Capilha (Chapel), whose construction gives the vila its name.
I meandered the principal street in search of the chapel―by principal, I mean a sandy street of absent pavement. The vila is humble. The community lives basically from fishing, rice planting, pastures, pine and eucalyptus monocultures, and cattle. Tourism has also helped pushing the economy more lately, for I observed several rental chalets and a generous-sized RV ground.
I found the Nossa Senhora da Conceição Chapel atop a hill. This is one of the oldest known buildings in southern Brazil. The first building, erected in 1785, was called by the Spaniards "Capela de São Pedro." In fact, the exact date is subject of controversy, because in 1777 the Treaty of Santo Ildefonso defined the region as "no man's land", that is, it was forbidden the occupation, encampments, or displacement of troops in that place. A known fact is that the current chapel was rebuilt in 1844 by Captain Faustino Corrêa, a famous farmer in the region, thus, after the region became an official part of Brazil (1821).
An old man received me in his campground right in front of the chapel. Idiomar showed me a garage-like space where I'd be protected. The heat was soul-punishing at around 1200 o'clock, so I sat below the eucalyptus and used the time for some chattering while drinking a milkshake.
"It's way too hot, isn't it?" I started.
"Uff," Idiomar breathed, "there's no wind, rain is coming. When it's like that I can guarantee something is coming."
"So I've heard," I said. "I checked yesterday. Wind will change later today. I'd better go for a swim soon."
But it was hellish hot even below the shade, so I decided to take a nap before going to the lagoon that was a couple hundred meters away. I must've stayed in the water for an hour or so. I observed heavy storm clouds forming to the south; wind began to howl. Before things got sketchy I took photos of the old chapel.
The gusts changed according to plan, ravaging from the south-east with intense force, enough to shake the palm and eucalyptus trees. With nothing much to do in such awful weather, I reserved to eat and go to sleep early at around 2000 o'clock. I wanted to return home in under three hours and a half, which meant covering the 82 kilometers at an average of 25-30 km/h. With the south-east wind pushing me from behind it should be possible.
At around 0700 I was ready to go.
"You are going already," said Idiomar. "I thought you'd stay until later." He was sitting below the shade drinking is Mate tea. The wind felt terrible; lagoon was wavy.
"Naw," I said, "I wanna be home early and gotta take advantage of this wind."
So I hit the road. Speed averaged 30-32 km/h. Landscape looked fantastic amid green soy bean and rice fields.
I got home way before noon. Mom, dog, and cat awaited. I'd completed the challenge. 1600 kilometers in a month; 500 in a week. In the end I can't complain about 2020. It's been a tough year for everyone, yet, I felt good, strong.
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~Love ya all
Disclaimer: The author of this post is a convict broke backpacker, who has travelled more than 10.000 km hitchhiking and more than 5.000 km cycling. Following him may cause severe problems of wanderlust and inquietud. You've been warned.