A good lesson here is that Google Maps and Brazil do not get along. In fact, our original address put us somewhere in the middle of a two-lane highway.

There I was sitting at the top of a hill with a car full of people looking at what laid ahead. It was an unpaved dirt road. To be honest though, this “road” was more like a trail worn down by a few big trucks and jeeps over the years. A lady in a black Range Rover coming up the path tried to warn me but I didn’t believe her.

Our group continued and the initially rough-road soon became an intolerable mess of spine-shattering dips and teeth smashing stones. Over and over, the bottom of the Fiat came crashing into large stones. Even worse, there were multiple points where it looked and felt like the dirt was about to give out from under our car. It was truly nerve-racking and back-breaking work.

Crawling along was the only option. Fortunately my hours of sleep deprivation didn’t seem to bother me here. I was so awake from the constant ups and downs of the road, I hardly blinked an eye. About half way down, I caught up to a small car having an equally rough time. While slowing down to wait for the car to continue, our rear end almost got eaten by another furious Range Rover looking to complete his journey in record time. In true Brazilian fashion though, he swerved around us at the last second.

Slowly, the road became smoother and eventually even turned back into pavement. The hills were very steep now and I could smell the brakes and clutch smoking from the constant shifting and slowing. Then something magical happened; we saw a road sign for Paraty. Only 10km’s away it read. While we coasted into a small village we thought the worst was finally over.

SMASH!  Our little Fiat jumped about three feet off of the ground and came crashing back down in glorious style. I nearly crapped my pants. My friend and I looked at each other with horror struck on our faces. We jumped out of the car and tried to examine what had happened. Apparently a “speed bump” that was colored pavement-grey had catapulted us into next year. The little Fiat however, decided today was not its day to die. In fact, aside from the smoky brakes and a few dings on the frame (don’t tell the rental company!), it was all good. This was our initiation into what can only be described as Speed-Bumpville, Brazil.

From then on, my front-seat passenger was vigilantly scouting for speed bumps. They came nearly every quarter mile or so. Still, we sped up and slowed down, over and again on our way to our cabin… only we couldn’t find it. I mean we really couldn’t find it. We spent the next four hours searching with no luck. A good lesson here is that Google Maps and Brazil do not get along. In fact, our original address put us somewhere in the middle of a two-lane highway.

After four hours of speed bumps, ATV trail driving, and getting lost on someone’s farm, we decided to take a break on the beach. We were in Brazil after all. I was pretty tired myself so this sounded especially great. It was probably a good idea to give the little Fiat a break as well.

After some relaxation, and a quick nap on my part, we piled back into the car. Armed with some sleep and better directions, I was ready to go. Thirty minutes and many speed-bumps later, we were pulling up to our place. The outside seemed plain but inside was filled with a forest of nature. It was very zen.

We spoke with the office and found only one problem; they didn’t have our reservation. They where all booked up already! The owner walked into the room just before I was about to lose it and said he knew of a place just down the street. So with no hope left to hold on to, I walked with him down the road.

Fortunately, the guy was open and had one room left for the four of us to share. I didn’t care. None of us did. We just wanted a place to stay and rest. We needed sleep and hat’s just what we did. After pulling our little Fiat up the road, we popped open the hatch and unpacked into our new short-term home.

The next morning we started the day by visiting a gorgeous river/spring area. The owner of our cabin jumped on his motorcycle and told us to follow him in our car. Dodging potholes and slowing for some more speed bumps, we shortly reached our destination. The rest of the morning was spent swimming in an amazingly refreshing pool of water fed by some small waterfalls all strewn on a small river. This made the whole trip worth the immense effort.

It was amazing how this little Fiat had taken us from the top of a mountain, to the mouth of a river. For some reason, we were all feeling antsy though. The call of the road rang back and we decided to pack up and drive back to São Paulo. This time, we had a different route in mind…

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