March 8th, 2020
After the Muriqui monkey reserve, we had crossed into the coastal state of Espirito Santo and spent the night at a gas station where the first order of business was to wash Tigger after all those clay roads. There was a hose right beside where we parked and using a bucket and a mop, Doug washed Tigger while Fran cleaned our shoes and mats and other small muddy things.
The gas station attendants kindly let us plug into an outlet in the nearby bathroom which was great as again in all this overcast weather, we’d not topped our batteries in two days.
Sunday we awoke to grey skies once more……starting to be a never ending saga of them – in six years of travelling this is the most consecutive wet weather we’ve experienced.
Today our destination is the State Park of Itaūnas in the northeast corner of the coastal state of Espirito Santo. The park is known for its 30 m / 98.5′ high dunes and for turtle releases. The last 40 km / 25 mi of the drive were dirt road but thankfully not red clay so not as slippery but the recent rains had left it wet. We arrived at Conceiçao de Barro to discover a different road to this town that was in fact paved (so we’ll take that one back to the main highway) and the rest of the road to Itaūnas was dirt with large sections under construction.
This town is like a little hippie town with dirt roads and cute shacks and restaurants. We parked on the town square which is a park with playground equipment and a soccer field, lots of benches and shade trees. We found an outlet in a tree and were able to plug in and best of all, it was free. We walked over to the state park headquarters; we wanted information on the dunes and the possibility of turtle viewing. There was no one there but you could wander the exhibits.
We walked across the bridge into the park and saw the trail to the dunes – it was about 700 m long and part boardwalk and part dirt/sand.
We were disappointed to find that although the dunes are large, they are most covered in vegetation so not as beautiful looking in our eyes.
The beach itself was not great and it’s a long way to walk there from our rig with all the stuff we bring the beach (chairs, umbrella, etc.). We went back to Tigger stopping for some Açai.
Then we checked out the bakery across the road from where we parked and picked up a few things for a light dinner.
Next morning we returned to the park office and were told Project Tamar no longer releases turtles here and that we were welcome to wander the beach ourselves and try our luck. Yeah right!
We decided it was time to leave and made our way back to the BR101 along the dirt road and went northward to the small town of Nova Vicosa where we’d read on iOverlander there was a nice beach campground with full services.
We arrived at Camping Doce Mar in the early afternoon and saw there was just one Brazilian motor home there and one tent. The campground is rather large and there are cabins to rent as well. We parked up next to a large shade cover so we’d have a place to sit outside when the inevitable rain came. Before the day was out the other motor home had left and it was very quiet for two nights.
We spent the next morning doing chores and that was a mistake because the weather was decent at that time with the sun popping out. By early afternoon after brunch, it began to rain off and on.
After two nights and as the beach was nice but not great, we pushed on in the hopes of finding a better one. The beach here is very narrow at high tide and the water was not that clear although that could have been caused by all the recent rain.
Driving northward we saw this really interesting looking mountain/hill:
We thought it was Monte Pascual but later learned it was not so no idea what they call this.
We read that Praia do Espelho was one of the top beaches in Brazil so that was our next hope of a good beach. It was a long drive and the last 24 km were dirt/mud and we arrived mid afternoon. We walked the beach which was nicer than Nova Vicosa but still rather narrow although it had a lot of palm trees and restaurants.
We returned to Tigger to change and grab our books to sit at a restaurant for the afternoon. Well it turned out things were all shutting down around three with some places reopening for dinner later so we went back to Tigger and sat in the parking area with a view of the ocean (but not the beach as it the beach is accessed via a long set of dirt stairs).
We read until it began raining again and that went on all night on and off. We did not have a good night despite the quiet as by 3:30 two roosters began crowing and the rain had come down sufficiently that we had to close most of the windows. As power was not offered here we could not use our AC and by morning our batteries had again decreased to 76%. Although the sun did come out for a bit we decided to pack up and leave as then the sky turned black and we hit the dirt road just as the torrential rain began. Phew!
So we drove back down the 24 km / 14 mi of dirt road in the rain.
Enroute, a motorcyclist kept pointing at our back tire. Doug got out and because we couldn’t understand him, he got off his motorcycle and pointed out a bulge on the back tire. This is one of brand new tires we just bought in Sao Paulo 3000 km / 2000 miles ago!!!
And turned right into the tourist town of Troncosa where we knew there was a beach parking lot that allowed overlanders. Upon arrival the rain had stopped and we came upon a large Brazilian motor home and he looked like he had a power connection!
Doug spoke with him and he’d found a power point and allowed us to plug into his rig so the batteries were able to increase much faster. We walked into town around noon to find a place to eat and it began raining again.
We found a cool little indoor/outdoor restaurant for a good lunch. The sun came out while we were eating and we got back to Tigger quite hot and sweaty dying for a swim.
Upon arriving, the fellow we were plugged into said he’d had to unplug us as a dog had made his way under Tigger and shocked himself. This happens often when we are plugged in if the rig is wet when there is no ground at the outlet. The parking attendant told us about this as well. By this time the batteries had reached 92% so we weren’t too worried. We had stopped at a full service campground in town that we could move to if we wanted to tomorrow but it’s 2.5 km from the beach so too far for our liking.
The weather has improved a bit these past few days in that we are getting actual sunny breaks but the rain keeps rearing up even if only for two minutes but sometimes for a few hours. It’s on the hot side with high humidity but we know it can get worse.
We enjoyed a swim and an outdoor shower at the nearby restaurant before dark. Our nice neighbour plugged us back in after dark.
Next day we decided to make our way north further. Leaving early meant we had a good chance to get some miles behind us. But first, we had to attend to that tire. We drove out of town to a gas station hoping to find an open “borracharia” but, of course, it began raining once again and as they always work outdoors, help was probably out of the question. Doug aired up the tires for the highway anyway and we drove out to the main highway, the BR101 once again. Along the way the sun popped out again and we came across a borracharia and pulled in.
They were able to remove the “bubbled tire”, take the spare off the front and put it on the rim of the damaged tire, and put the extra tire we had on the back of the truck onto the rim for the spare.
We hit the road once again and had a long driving day up the Marau Peninsula to the town of Taipu de Fore. This is a place known for beaches, snorkeling in tidal pools and for being quite laid back – there are not even any paved roads – which of course, meant we had to air down again and travel about 70 km on dirt/sand roads with thousands of pot holes but no rain!
We made it there in the late afternoon but had issues find a camping spot as many things were closed for the season already. We did find a parking lot that was supposed to have bathrooms, showers and power but no one was around. A young man suggested we park there and plug into the building next door (a closed restaurant) so seeing how it was SO hot and we knew Tigger would be very hot inside after all that driving, we did just that. We unplugged early the next morning so as not to cause any issues and did try and find a way to leave some money but no place seemed like a good place to leave money hanging around…..
We wanted to snorkel today but low tide was not until 1 and we had a bunch of laundry to do. There’s a small town 8 km / 5 mi up the road at the tip of the peninsula that has a laundromat, so to kill time, we drove up there – sloooooowly as this part of the road had even more potholes and arrived ten minutes before it opened. They are a more of an industrial laundry for all the hotels but in front they have two sets of self-serve machines so we took both and got it all done in about 90 minutes. We wandered around town while the machines did their thing with on and off rain and sun. Barra Grande is a cute town with a few pedestrian only streets full of shops, hotels and restaurants.
We drove back to our parking lot and the attendant was there today and told us to park in a different lot a little bit up the road as he already had some cars in that lot. We got changed and headed to the beach, hopefully for the afternoon but of course, you never know for sure when the rain will kick in. We sat at some beach lounge chairs in front of a restaurant with a small table and a large umbrella. We ordered some diet cokes but didn’t have lunch there as it was pricy.
The tide continued to go out and around 12:30 Fran took Doug’s snorkel mask (we put her’s, as well as our snorkels and fins, into storage after we got to Colombia as down here are not many opportunities to snorkel and it wasn’t worth carrying them around taking up valuable space) out to see if it was worth renting gear so that both of us could go out.
The tidal pools were down the beach a ways and you can see the fish right away when you walk in the water but it’s not spectacular. You can see the short reefs – mostly rock with some dead coral on them and even more fish but again, not out of this world. Fran stayed about a half hour but it was exhausting with no fins and having to hold her breath in order to go under. Wasn’t worth Doug going in as we’ve experienced so much better snorkeling in our lives.
The tidal pools poking out of the water were kinda neat though.
We ordered some Nutella coconut tapioca from a beach vendor for a snack and then around 2 pm we began to see a few people leaving and the wind was picking up. There was a huge black cloud headed towards the beach and it was time to get out of there. The weather predictions, as in many places, were off but the locals seems to know when the sky is going to open up and it did just as we reached Tigger.
So now it’s decision time: we could stay the night and move back to the spot we were in last night but we didn’t know when all the cars would leave and there was no possibility of power where we were now OR do we head back 43 km / 26 mi down the dirt road to the highway to a campsite at a marina another 30 km / 20 mi after that? It seemed like we had enough time, so we changed quickly and hit the road. The sun came out once again about three quarters of an hour down the road and stayed out but who knew what was happening at the beach.
When we reached the highway, lucky for us there was a borracharia to air our tires back up quickly and headed north Camamu – unfortunately, there was some bit jet ski race today and they would not let us camp as there was no room for Tigger. So now what? There was a campground another 80 km / 50 mi north but it’s now getting late in the afternoon. Sunset here at 13º below the equator is 5:51 and it’s dark by 6:30. The GPS said we’d get there at 5:38 BUT it does not take into account how much you have to slow down for all the towns this highway goes through and the countless number of topes (speed bumps). It was after six when we reached Valença and get this: 150 m / 492′ from where we wanted to go, the road was under construction and impassable! We had to back up a few blocks in the dark, in a sketchy neighbourhood, with cars parked on the street haphazardly and get back out on the highway to approach the place from the north side. Fran got out while Doug backed up and she stayed right beside the passenger door directing him on the left side. We got out only to find too many cars blocking the next entry point! We found the owner of one of the pick up trucks and after he moved, we were able to reach this municipal sports/campsite and got in – all we needed was for it to be closed and that would have been the cherry on top of that afternoon’s drive.
This is a full service campground and it’s not busy this weekend. There are many sport fields and an Olympic size pool. We had a quiet night with only one neighbour – a local couple in a tent.
Sunday morning, we decided to spend the better part of the day getting chores down (there are always things that need fixing and cleaning after lots of dirt road).
SIDEBAR: The Coronavirus – we know it’s out there and that people in the US and Canada are going toilet paper hoarding etc. Here in Latin America, in particular Brazil, there are currently 77 cases with no deaths as well. The President came back from a meeting with Trump and tested negative but NO ONE is panicking or hoarding – most people cannot afford to anyway.
Monday we awoke to clear skies that went grey quite quickly (again), it rained for about ten minutes and then it was mostly sunny the rest of the day. The longest we’ve gone without rain happened yesterday which was about 20 hours – from yesterday late morning until early this morning. So we hope that’s a good sign as often it’s like twenty minutes lately!
We walked into the city of Valença today. Here’s the roadwork that stopped us on Saturday night:
It was quite humid but for the most part sunny. There is a river which divides the city and lots of businesses – this city is about 90,000 people so not that small. We walked along the river to the third bridge, crossed and returned along the other side before crossing again.
We did some shopping – Doug needed clothes – and a few small items like screws, another power adapter, a padlock and then some fruit to bring back. By this time it was nearly noon, we were hot, sticky and hungry.
We spent the afternoon at the campground (with AC in Tigger!) and Tuesday we did a few small chores before enjoying the pool.
We’ve decided to head to Salvador tomorrow.