October 6 and October 7, Sao Paulo, Brazil
The South American tour was organized by Ayres Adventures, a truly first class motorcycle tour company. In past years we always organized our own tours, but it is very time-consuming, and that would have been particularly true for South America, where there is nothing like a European Union to make border crossings easier. And now we’re in a hurry: we want to be on the road as much as we can while still in (relatively) good shape physically. No time for organizing. In addition, getting our own bikes to South America in one piece would have been another daunting challenge. So we joined a tour planned by Ayres. The motorcycles they provide were identical to our own bikes so it seemed tailor-made for us. We had some concerns about touring with others since we are so used to wandering wherever the two of us please. However, there was no obligation to ride together as long as we showed up at the designated hotel by dinnertime, and in fact the other eight participants turned out to be pleasant fellow travellers. The three Ayres guides—all very experienced motorcyclists—bent over backwards to please everyone.
A direct flight with Air Canada brought us efficiently to Brazil. The exit from São Paulo airport provided a good omen—palm trees. We’ve left the cold behind in Canada.
We stayed in the outskirts of São Paulo for a couple of days before riding out. We wandered around on foot, acclimatizing ourselves to Brazil. Across from our hotel, the entrance to an outside shopping mall.
Who needs an enclosed mall when the annual average temperature is 21°C (69°F)?
Brightly coloured flowering trees are abundant in this part of Brazil.
And brightly coloured ladies.
Young Brazilian with the ever-present cell phone.
Hordes of motorcycle messengers weave in and out of the heavy traffic. Apparently they get run over with regularity.
Looking south-west over the outskirts of São Paulo from our hotel balcony. The Brazilian hotels were equipped with the civilized bidet. When is North America going to wake up?
The food in Brazil is wonderful—a meat-lover’s paradise. We stumbled across this restaurant, and assumed it was a buffet. It was indeed a wonderful buffet, with salads and pastas and sushi and other delicacies.
But it turned out to be a whole lot more—a classic Brazilian rodizio. First you help yourself to the buffet and then the waiters arrive at your table with enormous skewers of meat. They slice some off according to your wishes.
You signal to the waiter with the green coaster—Sim, por favor (Yes, please)—if you want some of that particular cut, and with the red coaster— Não, obrigado (No, thanks)—if you don’t. The other mat translates the various beef cuts for the tourists. Throughout the meals, they bring out dozens of skewers with different cuts of meat, and it is advisable to go easy at first, as the best sometimes appear last.
The next day we met the rest of the group of motorcyclists and our three guides—Mauricio, Tony and João. The restaurant that the two of us had stumbled on by sheer chance the night before turned out to be the one planned for the whole group that night. So Brian and Madeleine had a fabulous rodizio two nights in a row.
The waiters were charming and attentive. They remembered the two of us from the night before, and knew we had been impressed. They likely concluded that we had brought a dozen friends back.
The sign outside the restaurant: The Silver Calf Barbecue. That’s Antarctica beer that they serve. The pale sign at the bottom invites one to come and enjoy a delicious feijoada on Saturdays. Unfortunately we left the city before we had an opportunity to try this scrumptious meat and black bean stew, a national Brazilian dish.
A group of young Brazilians on the street leading to the toll-free route into central São Paulo.
We ran into lots of smiles in Brazil.