One would think that after such a bizarre and nutty day, the next day couldn't possibly compare. But if you thought that - you'd be wrong.
We woke up pretty early in the Love Motel and quickly got ready and headed home. After all, we still didn't have any reservations and after the previous day, really just wanted to relax in a familiar environment. Most Brazilian hotels come with breakfast - cafe da manha. It's usually a buffet with fruit, breakfast breads, juices, coffees, and some hot items. But of course - the Love Motel didn't serve breakfast - not when you're charging by the hour.
We got in the car and headed north. We left so early that nothing was open - and really the road was pretty rural - it's not like you're going to run into a McDonalds. I was mainly hoping for a gas station store to be open. The gas station stores in Brazil can get pretty elaborate. But - it was still too early.
We made another attempt to take the coast road - I had vague hopes to drive for a while, find a nice beach to run around and play a bit, and then get back in the car. I always have such high hopes . . .
The coast road takes you through many small towns. They're great fun to drive through and are very interesting. But since the road goes through the center of town, there are also lots and lots of speedbumps - or lombadas. These speedbumps can be quite large and our little car would often scrape along the top as we went over. The speedbumps sometimes are painted yellow, and sometimes the paint as faded. Then the speedbump becomes a big surprise. There can be signs indicating that a lombada is coming and sometimes there are no signs. And sometimes there's a sign, and no lombada. Suffice it to say, our entire family became involved in trying to spot the lombadas and let K. know in plenty of time.
Signage was also an issue. Often we came to forks in the road where the signs had arrows pointing the various ways. Usually the signs pointed to local beaches, and then beaches further ahead. Rarely did they give broader directions - like "This way to the North Highway". Also - being close to the ocean, the signs were often faded and barely legible. It made finding our way home very interesting. Luckily, Brazilians are very nice and very helpful - always making sure we were headed in the right direction.
Eventually, we switched drivers and I was the one constantly shifted and scraping over the lombadas. I kept looking for the signs for the ferry - I figured we'd have to get to it at some point taking the coast road. Eventually, we noticed small boats with cars on them going across the water. As I drove through the town, I figured the road would turn off towards the ferry. But at the logical point, the road curved away from the water and a new sign stated that "The company was not responsible for anything that occurred on the road". Huh? Thought it was odd, but then thought maybe my Portuguese just wasn't good enough. Either way - we proceeded along this road.
This new road was better paved and had no lombadas. We drove through farmland and sugar cane fields as we headed inland. Again, there were sugar cane fields in various stages of harvest. I thought - perhaps the sugar cane company has made their own road around the ferry - through the farmland. Since there were other cars traveling the same direction, I wasn't too concerned.
Then - the nice paved road became covered with dirt. At first we thought it was due to the recent harvest and some rain - mud sweeping over the road. But then the paved part completely ended and it was just a dirt / mud road. We were about 30 minutes down this road and with the other cars traveling with us we thought it must just be a not-yet-paved spot. But then the road got worse. Our little beater car wasn't designed for four wheeling. We were about to turn around and retrace our steps, but first I pulled over and asked another car if we were on the right road. He said - "Oh yes - it's all fine. Just follow me." So we did.
The road got progressively worse and with the recent rains, we were worried when we had to drive up hills that were somewhat steep - we didn't want to start sliding backwards. Eventually, we started to see housing on a hilltop nearby. We figured we were coming to the town and the paved roads would start up soon.
As we got closer to the town, the road rose up so that we were driving along a ridge with sunken farmland on either side. The road was pretty narrow, but ok. I saw a large flatbed truck filled with people coming towards us from the town. Luckily there was enough room for us to pull to the side for the truck to pass. When the truck passed, we saw the rest of the road in to town.
The reason the road was higher was because you had to cross a river before you got to town. The river was spanned by a wooden bridge that appeared ancient and was at least the length of two flatbed trucks. The wood for the bridge was worn in many places - so much so that a second set of wooden planks had been placed perpendicular to the original planks - forming a track to make sure your wheels drove on. I just kept telling myself that the big truck had just made it over - our little car should be OK. K. got the special windshield breaking tool ready in case the bridge collapsed and we ended up in the river. I hung back, wanting to let the guy I was following clear the bridge before we drove onto it. But he stopped halfway over and motioned for us to come along. So we did.
We got to the other side, and finally hit paved road! Our guide drove us up the hill through the humbler neighborhoods of this town, and then back down to the highway. He pulled over and made sure we knew where to head next. What a great guy!
The rest of the way home wasn't as eventful. We drove through some more towns and past some gorgeous beaches - but by now, we were truly exhausted. We just wanted to get home and rest.