I reached Porto Seguro, where, by chance, there was a Bike Show - I was warmly welcomed as Star Guest - even though I did confess that I had no idea it was all taking place. I was in search of camping space - but was honoured to be given a bed in one of the organiser`s houses - I think they were appalled that their star guest would be camping.
The highlight was the presentation ceremony late on Saturday night when I was called up on stage - somewhat carried away with the occasion I waved my trophy above my head, reminiscent of an Oscar ceremony and launched into a thank you speech in my still faltering Portuguese - once everyone had got over the shock that a woman had won the furthest-travelled trophy I received a round of applause and cheers.
Seeing Rio by bike was great - can`t go wrong if I just follow the beach roads up and down the city I thought - hmmmm, that was until Sunday when all of those beach roads become one way, which led to a few tricky moments.
After a few days of tyre searching and beach life at Copacabana and Ipanema, where the people were very impressed with Thelma, and I quickly got into the local habit of just parking anywhere on the pavement - though it's a bit of a different prospect when it's a BMW trying to discreetly trundle along the pavement as opposed to the 125cc bikes that the locals ride.
The tyre search was frustrating at times because to begin with I felt like I was invisible in the bike shops - they just don't seem to expect women to be actually wanting to buy anything so they would look around me and through me for a `real` customer. Also the word for tyre is pneu - exactly!!! Just how do you pronounce it? - well it sounds like PNAYO which for some reason just doesn't want to roll naturally off my English tongue, so I would then appear tongue-tied as I attempted to explain why I was there. Eventually proving successful and in possession of a Michelin I was able to leave town saying goodbye to the comforts of my friend's flat overlooking Ipanema Beach. Looking ahead to days on the road and camping again.
I was down to my final jaffa cake, I'd had four hours of Portuguese lessons (though the Brazillians still have a good snigger at my feeble attempts at their language), I had watched the Grand Prix on the telly - while quarter of a million locals trooped through the pouring rain to go and watch it in person at the course nearby and, most importantly ThelmaŽs gearbox seal was installed -
-- time to leave Sao Paulo
A farewell from the BMW garage who have been great and their many customers, I havenŽt seen so many BMW bikes since I was at the BMF Show in England last May.
I made it to Rio just in time to meet Lew, Achi and Punky (Horizons Celebs!) before they left for the States. I got a photo of Punky perched on my tankbag as if he is riding with me.
I am staying in what feels like the lap of luxury - a friend's flat overlooking Ipanema Beach. The sun is shining and life feels good - it's great to be back on the road again, even if that currently means daily battles with the mad traffic of Rio- I generally tag along behind a bike courier as they frantically weave and dodge between the cars, buses and trucks. Little realising they have got a big BMW right behind them. I get a good reaction as people notice my map on the topbox and give me a big smile and a thumbs-up - at that point they then realise that I am a woman on a bike and their eyes almost pop out of their heads; I take full advantage and make use of the space they have created and whizz on ahead.
I have just had a fantastic month with my sister Abi and my nephew Claudio (aged 5 and my biggest fan). They arrived from England armed with family-sized bags of Salt and Vinegar Chipsticks and also 96 Jaffa Cakes (English biscuits) - a welcome taste from home.
So this BLOG entry is not about biking really as we took to the buses - it has made me appreciate travelling by bike all the more now -16 hours on a bus and I was pleading to be let off.
I felt as if we were lucky to get out of Sao Paulo at all as I ended up having to go to the Police Station to make a statement about the storage garage -I had got VERY angry with them when we came to leave and they were insisting that I had to pay storage charges -after they were the ones who had broken my throttle cable which had meant I was stuck there for an extra two days.
The garage guy who had grabbed my keys to prevent me leaving got so scared at my angry reaction that he ran to get the police for his own protection. The police decided that I was in the right and I was allowed to leave.
We have been snorkelling off the coast, exploring Rio and headed westwards to the Pantanal to go animal spotting. We came face to face with a 2 metre long anaconda and then went after alligators with a lasso -in actual fact the "lasso" was my washing line but it proved useful and our guide caught an alligator in the river with it.
I am currently back in Sao Paulo, having said goodbye to Abi and Claudio, it is time for a return to solo travelling.
Now all I need to do is get my gearbox seal fitted -Hello BMW Sao Paulo ~ IŽll be round there first thing in the morning.
I have had no gearbox seal for five months now and Thelma has been sporting a "stylish" 30cm long yellow plastic snorkel on the Final Drive Breather hole, a feature that has been much commented upon by fellow bike travellers IŽve met.
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