July 14, 2010 GMT
Curitiba& Floripa,Brazil

We spent the night in our ridiculously oversized private room, complete with Jacuzzi bath and power shower-with hot water, and after our breakfast of Dolce de Leche on toast and chocolate cake (I liked my breakfasts here!) we rode out and into Brasil proper.We noticed immediately the difference between Brazil and the other South American countries we had visited.
There were far less jalopies on the road, and no more grazing cows or wandering horses by the side of the pavement. The roads were in pretty poor shape, yet there was a tollbooth almost every 150kms.
Everything cost us double. Gas for the bike, the room in the hostel, bread, cigarettes, water, everything. This might have to be a quick in and out job.
We were aiming for Curitiba, for no other reason that it looked to be a good stopping off point before we continued to Florianopolis, further south along the coast. We arrived, found us a little hotel, and settled in.
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Curitiba

We strolled around the city as the sun went down, and were once again surprised at how much daylight we were loosing, 6 weeks before, in Ushuaia, we had daylight until 11.30pm, now it was dark by 6. It took some getting used to.
We lay in bed that night, and by stealing an unsecured wifi signal from an unsuspecting neighbour, I was able to check my e.mails. I had a friend in Brazil. We had competed together in my past life back in London at several cocktail competitions, had mutual friends, but had never really hung out before. I knew he lived near our current position, but couldn’t quite remember where. I searched through my e.mails until I found the one I was looking for, from Myles.
I nudged Jacquie, reading her book next to me;” he’s here” I blurted out.
“Who” was Jacquie’s only option for a response, and she took it.
I reminded her that I had mentioned I had a friend from London who had married a Brazilian and moved to Brazil, “Well, he lives right here, in Curitiba.”
I sent Myles a message, and the next day he came round to our hotel, gave me directions to his shop, and took Jacquie on the bus to our rendez-vous.
I had just retrieved Garth from the parking, and was on my way to Myles’ shop, when another Harley pulled up beside me. The rider shouted something to me in rapid Spanish; to which I replied, in my best “I have no idea what you are talking about” tone; “What?”
The rider wanted to know where I was from, and where the bike was from, and what I was doing in Curitiba- to be honest, there wasn’t much there for the tourist. I gave the standard responses, and answered all the usual questions, and when I had finished, the rider told me I would have to follow him to the Harley store. It was Saturday morning, and every Saturday morning, the local riders met at the store for coffee and doughnuts and a good chinwag.
I tried to explain that I had to meet Jacquie, but he would have none of it, and had a ready rebuke to all of my objections. I followed him to the store and was introduced to his pals, and to Fabian, the PR man of the store. He asked me more questions and took a few pictures of the bike, before running off to get me a Dealer T-shirt, compliments of the management. Now that was worth getting it in the neck from Jacquie.
I made my excuses and rushed off to find Jacquie and Myles.
I arrived at Myles’ about a half hour after he had, Jacquie had guessed what had happened, and wasn’t at all surprised at my tardiness. I explained that I had been press ganged, and Jacquie and Myles smiled at me knowingly.
Opposite Myles’ bicycle shop was a car wash, and I deemed it was high time for Garth to take a bath.
I took him over there and was told he would be seen to in about half an hour. We watched as he was sprayed with water, then soap, then a bright pink liquid that tightened our throats with its noxious fumes. An hour later and I was picking him up. Garth was gleaming. The black of the engine was black again, not brown, the chrome shone brightly, and the paintwork dazzled. Then I looked a little closer. The bike had been stripped of much of its varnish. Sure, all the dirt had been removed, but so too had much of the paint on the inside of the fairing, where the gauges and radio were. The decal along the centre of the gas tank was lifting off, as were the graphics along the side. Well, we won’t be doing that again, will we now.
We returned with Myles to his flat and met his wife, Susi, and their little boy Axel.
Myles and Susi really welcomed us into their home, they showed us around the city, fed us and gave us the use of their washing machine, which we merrily filled with pretty much every item of clothing we owned.
It was lovely being back in a home environment; we even got a taste of home when Myles pulled out his DVD collection, containing the whole of “Gavin and Stacey”, a British comedy that Jacquie and I were most partial to.
They took us to a Plaza in the city centre that was also the location for classic car owners meet as well as a Harley owner s’ get-together. We had a look around at the cars and then made our way through he narrow streets jammed with market stalls and street food vendors.
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We spent a few days relaxing and recovering at Myles’ place, before heading out for a weekend break to Florianopolis, a semi-detached island a few hours south from Curitiba.
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Our first peek at the beach in Florianopolis, hurrah!

We stayed in a surfer hostel at the southern tip of the island, and spent our days lying on the beach, watching more movies, and walking into the “town” centre. It was liberating, invigorating and revitalising, being back on the beach.
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I spent a day alone with Garth exploring the island while Jacquie relaxed on the quiet beach outside our hostel

It dawned on me that I am more of a beach guy than a city guy. I’m more into white sand than spangley malls, more into turquoise water than ancient architecture. I could have happily stayed weeks in Florianopolis. Our little corner of the island offered a gorgeous stretch of beach that was almost always for our sole use, and the pace slowed way down. We read, chatted and chilled. It was just what the doctor had ordered, and we headed back to Curitiba feeling refreshed and ready to move on.
We went to stay one more night with Susi and Myles, but our stay was unexpectedly extended.
The morning after we arrived back at their house, I woke to find my right leg seemingly locked. I couldn’t straighten my leg at all, and could barely get out of the bed. I hobbled about for a day, but when the leg showed no sign of improving, we set off for the hospital. My leg was locked in “riding position”, that is to say a 90-degree bend at the knee. Susi’s brother is a taxi driver, so, after several failed attempts at straightening the leg, we piled into his cab and drove over to the hospital. Before long, I was wheeled in for an X-ray. A few minutes later, a young Doctor was explaining something to me in perfect English, about my tendon getting locked in a “familiar” position. I had developed “50,000-mile" leg. Over the next week, I was injected 3 times with a bright pink liquid by one of Susi’s neighbours, who happened to also be a nurse.
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After chasing me round the living room for a while, I was captured, subdued, and injected. I hate injections. I was reminded of Nicaragua, where I had been prescribed a course of injections to cure a rash, and on entering the Pharmacy, I was asked to step behind the counter where the pharmacist deftly injected me in the butt, in a shop full of customers.

Posted by Dan Shell at July 14, 2010 03:53 PM GMT
 


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