The last couple of days have been so dangerous to my life and limb I thought I'd do a quick blog warning other travellers about the perils of driving or cycling in South America. And of course I can only talk here about Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.
Let me start with my experiences of Peru. Peruvians I soon realised will drive on any part of the road that is clear of sand, pot holes vehicles or other obstructions. If this means that they are driving on the wrong side of the road will then thats just , really no problem. Throw in that they will pay little attention to traffic lights and you'd think you'd have a recipe for ultra carnage. But as long as I kept my eyes open for cars overtaking at me and for cars and trucks cutting corners I really felt reasonably safe. In fact going down hills trucks and others I found overly cautious to the point of pissing me off. In these instances you'd find me overtaking two trucks at once and way hanging out all over the place.
When I got to Bolivia things really didn't change greatly except that the trucks (and cars where there were any) were more regularly broken down or suffering some other terminal illness. Vehicles parked up with grease stained Bolivians lying under them. Drivers were even more carefull as the roads were atrocious and breakdowns were expensive so best avoided. I saw tyres we would send to the tip being put on trucks because the tyre being replaced was in a thousand pieces all over the road.
Now, roll on Brazil!!!
Well F... me. From the moment I crossed the border I immediately noticed two things. The first was the fact that the roadside verges weren't strewn with litter as they had been in Peru and Bolivia. (in fact for the first couple of days I figured they must be employing poor Bolivians to clear up). But no Brazilians drop less litter. On a par with NZ. I think actually they're better here.
The second thing I noticed was how fast they drive. And for the last few days I have been on a road that has a shoulder of a metre but its been so rough I couldn't ride on it. So I have been dicing with death as mianiac truck drivers overtake each other as traffic comes the other way. Car drivers pay no regard to speed limits or road conditions. They just drive flat out in VWs that I'm sure were never designed to travel at the speeds they are doing! All they care about is avoiding all the people overtaking coming towards them. And as I say if they have to hit the road shoulder its all over as its tyre shredding rough.
Put NZ drivers or boy racers out there on drugs and you've got Brazilian drivers. I honestly couldn't live here as I'd be too scared to travel anywhere. I dont know what the road toll is but its got to be way up there.
For the next few days I am on SP300. Thank God it's a dual carriageway like a motorway with a good shoulder and the two flows of traffic are separated. Its the sort of road I usually avoid as you see nothing of the countryside and the road looks like every other highway around the world. Some of my competitors in the global race have chosen a lot of these roads as you can do high kms on them. They're welcome to them. But for the next few days I will rejoice at not worrying what is about to attack me from behind. I will just smoothly click off some kms and put my brain in neutral.
I rolled into my intended location tonight reasonably calm after a traffic free day on the motorway. 160kms done and about 40mins of daylight left to find a Hotel. Don't you just hate it when the toffs at an up market Hotel tell you they haven't got any rooms just because they see you pull up on a bicycle. That's what happened to me and I was pissed and would have told the little scum pots what I thought of them if I knew the language. The pressures on around here because it gets dark so quickly. Anyway after not telling the little plicks what i thought of them I jumped on trusty Mercian (that is probably worth more than their car) and kept riding around until I found the Grande Hotel, that is not at all grande but does have everything I need and a slow WiFi connection.
So I will post this if I'm lucky. But if there are spelling errors its because the pc is too slow to spell check. The sacrifices we have to make.