Santa crus and the love motel

Rio de Janeiro Travel Blog

 › entry 26 of 86 › view all entries

Leaving central Rio by bike is easy. Some 20 km of biketracks along beach after beach through hightly guarded luxuy neighborghoods. As the beach gets more natural and the steep cliffs almost touch the sea it is like riding through a festival with people enjoying sun, music and beer everywhere. Our aim is to go south all the way to uruguay. This is mostly nice beaches and mountains but unfortunately there are also some tricky cities to navigate through. On the beach we meet Mattheus, a fellow cyclist who knew the area well. As we enquired about santa cruz one of the tricky cities ahead, he gave us a sceptical look;

`We don´t really go there...It´s not so good!´ But we had to go there in order to get further down the coast, we insisted `Well as long as you stick only to the main road you´ll be fine´ hm...

Stress started al little earlier than expected when 1 Hour later i found myself sweating, like i was in a shower, unable to move either way, as i had clumsily miscalcullated the width of my panniers and gotten stuck between two cars. I knocked on the car window: ´Please move!`i tried in my best sign language. He wasn´t happy but moved and left me to pick my way through the tightes traffic jam ever. And we weren´t even in santa cruz yet. this was just a popular beach! As we finally came through on the other side we were faced with a mountain with a nearly vertical road leading up it. At this point i truely feelt like shit! I never sweated so much in my life and the curse of being a juniuor nurse is that you know enough to scare you senseless but not quite enough to talk yourself out of it.  We have crossed from African dry season `winter?´ into Brazilian summer. Its always around 35 degrees c and excelptionally humid! With a massive hill to climb and a huge slumcity ahead of us this really wasn´t much fun at all....

But we pushed on and on and eventually reached the outskirts of santa cruz. For all the advice about staying on the main road we took a wrong turmn straight away.A concerned woman wasn´t happy at all with us riding through the city. `Stay on the right street!`She keept interupting her husband as he tried to tell us which one was the rigth street.

Santa cruz itself  actually joins up with Rio de Janeiro. It runs behind the hills and is well hidden from the luxurylives of the fortunate ones. `We don´t go there´as Mattheus said.  It´s not all favellas but it it´s quite ramshakle with favella like buildings stacked on top of eachother. The main road is not easy to follow as it winds itself through the messy city but we managed and had no problems. People mostly turm out to be nicer than you think from homely saftey! (Or the beach in our case...) A huge friendly guy lifted my whole bike up over his waist as i again miscalculated the width and got stuck between some pillars with my panniers.

That night in the next town we ended up in something called the `love motel`, something of a brazilian institution apparently. These very tidy hotels are everywhere and in this town happened to be the only option. We didn´t make the conection to the name and were somewhat surprised to find our room was covered in mirrors, had a dim pink light, a menue featuring crutchless pants and pants with dildos etc, a condom layed out and only porn and dodgy brazilian soaps on the telly. But it also had cheap beer. Needless to say you rent the room by the hour. 12 hours for us.

 That night our first tropical thunderstorm hit us. Massive lightening lasting forever, torrential rains and deafening thunder. We were very cosy watching it from our pink love motel, but i knew that this was the country were i had to accept being trapped in the tent through some really violent whether with nothing to do but to wait it out. 

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