August 02, 2006 GMT
(7) Brasil: North of Rio

Hoteis OK had been our home in Rio. The staff became our friends. We were their only Canadian customers...their only English speaking patrons. We were their first and only moto customers. They all extended a personal welcome when we returned. They all extended a personal goodbye when we left.

Eduardo, the bellman was studying English. He surprised me the first morning of our return with a "Good morning Robert." I clapped him on the back in congratulations. When I left, he stepped forward, extended his hand and said, "Have a good trip." He had been practising that one. I pumped his hand vigorously, fired the twin and with my best "Royal Wave" I departed.

I would miss them all, from the attendants at the parking lot to the entire staff and manager of the Hoteis OK. I especially wanted to say goodbye to Paulo but he was on days off.

Rio was simmering in the 35C heat. The smog descended like a thick fog. You could feel it. You could see it. You could taste it. It blanketed everything for a sixty mile radius. It parted as the bike moved through it and folded closed behind us.

Four lanes merged into one. The traffic snarled. The bike cooked and I baked. Finally I was through it. The humid 35 C air felt cool at 100 kmph. I moved out of Rio, across the ponte (bridge), through the suburbs and slums and out into the country. The road swung inland cutting through yet another variation on the scenery theme.


The tropical, densely treed landscape south of Rio gave way to nude hills and nude beaches further unlikely combination but one much to my liking.

I missed my turn...or not. I donīt know. I didnīt see the intersection but the road swung coastal. Maybe the map was wrong. It didnīt matter. It was going in the same general direction...north.

I chased it to the sea. It followed a rige and then a valley. We crossed through sugar cane fields with their putrid stench...a cross between rotting meat and some other horrible, undefinable smell.

The heavy truck traffic ground the road into ruts. Hundreds of trucks rolled along at a snailīs pace forming a seemingly unending train to infinity. The thermometer climbed to 39 C. I stopped to refuel and cool down. The line-up plodded by as I rested. All of my hard work wasted.

I turned off of the main road and headed for the coast again, this time with purpose. Immediately I could feel the cooling effect. The thermometer plunged 5 degrees Celcius in as many kilometers.

Marataizes was my home...a small fishing village come tourist had a beach. While scouring the fish stalls I met Alfredo. He was a career fisherman with a sense of humour to match.


"Where are you from," he asked.
A brief pause, and then he announced "Iīm from Brasil."
"No way," I kibitzed. "Brasil!!"
"Yes," he nodded, and we both laughed.

The daily catch was in and he busied himself gutting and skinning fish and splitting fish heads for soup. His well worn cutting block was a testament to years of faithful service. His cutting knife, honed into a crescent moon shape told the same story.


Marataizes was a two horse town, but five of them were hitched out front of Maria Mariaīs saloon and cafe. Their owners had ridden into town for a few beers, that evening.

Further north of Rio the population thinned out and the country opened up before me. Broad expanses of sugar cane fields and coffee fincas stretched to the horizon. A more basic lifestyle became evident. People had less and lived with less. There was a sense of poorness. The prosperity of the industrial south disappeared. The traffic thinned out and the roads became better.

Eucylaptis tree farming was happening on a massive scale. Ready to harvest in only seven years the perfectly straight rows of trees were easily removed. Triple trailer semis hauled them to the nearest mill where they were reduced to cellulose and then exported to Europe for further and final processing.

As is typical of countries that have neither the monetary resources nor the technology, foreign countries provide the sevice but at a high cost. Brasil gets a few jobs for planting and harvesting, a little technology and a few more jobs for the first stage of production. The raw product is then shipped overseas for secondary and tertiary processing with the higher technology and additional jobs. The high mark-up that goes with the finished product is kept by the technology provider.

Brasil gets a little, the European multi-national in this case, gets a lot. The pretense of industry is there without the real benefit. The money is in the finished product not the feedstock. A few jobs are created, a few officials at the top get kick-backs for "Inking the Deal" and little changes for the common man. The cycle of poverty, unemployment and under-education continues unabated. It cannot be broken. There is no trickle-down. It is fully and completely top-end loaded. It provides the political pretense of industry and growth without benefit, but with the evils of corruption and graft. It is a cycle that cannot be broken for that is the mantle that foreign investment works under...that is the fuel for the World Engine. There is only the spectre of aid as the raping and pillaging continues into the 21st Century.

Until the disease of corruption is removed, the concept of foreign aid and industry is wasted. Africa is living proof of proof of the trillions upon trillions of dollars in aid and investment that have all but been Pissed into the Black Hole of Corruption. Heaven help us all when the raping and pillaging stops for lack to places to ruin.

Posted by Robert Bielesch at August 02, 2006 12:17 AM GMT

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

See all events


Latvia to Australia, an inspirational 5 month journey full of unexpected adventures!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!