October 2, 2004 - Indiginous Brazilians

This was our third day on the BZ277 highway heading west through the Brazilian countryside. We were determined and did achieve our first 100 mile day (usually no big deal) in spite of the unspeakable hills.

Another issue is laundry. They don’t seem to have any laundry-mats in Brazil. The hotels won’t wash clothes overnight. We wash them when we shower at the end of the day, and hanging them up to dry overnight.

We started out a little late after unsuccessfully searching for a bank that would accept my ATM card. The sun was out, no wind and it seemed for the first few miles only moderate hills.

The highway is paved, but the occasional towns along the side have mostly dirt roads and few cars. There’s not much traffic out here, just hills and farms.

As the day wore on it got overcast. 72km/60 miles into the dame came to an indigenous peoples reservation. The surrounding area became much more wooded, with smaller farming plots visible through the trees vs. the much larger cultivated areas before.

Along the side of the road were numerous ‘stands’ with groups of Indians selling their hand crafts. The lady waving at me to stop below is the mother. The husband is in the white shirt laying by the road. The other six people are their children.

This is a family enterprise. They shave off slivers of wood from branches, weave them into the trinkets and baskets, imbedding them with flowers and feathers. When I stopped the kids and I just looked at each other. They don’t talk or smile much.

Like the native Indians in North America and Australia, the South American Indians are currently just a tiny fraction of their overall population when the Europeans arrived 500 years ago. However, unlike the aborigines in Australia, the Brazilian Indians seem to keep nice homes and gardens.

Eduardo was thoughtful. He stopped at one of the stands and bought us two of the decorated stick/charm things. The one he gave Dalton had a complete dead bird attached to the end. Dalton is considering kissing it here.

We never thought we would make 100 miles today, but we pushed on into dusk to get to Guaraniacu, our destination city. I took off and “never say die” Dalton Cox kept pushing on. We made it. Unfortunately, Guaraniacu was off to the side of the road, up a steep hill, and had only one dive hotel.

We packed the bikes and drove up the 277 another 30 miles to Cascavel and found a nice hotel along the main road. By the time we checked in it was dark and raining. Some mountain bikers were coming back from a ride and stopped to say hi.

At least we got to see something different today. We plan on coming back tomorrow to pick up where we left off.

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