I first arrived in Rio de Janeiro seven years ago and I didn’t speak a word of Portuguese.
I’d been listening to Vinicius de Moraes a lot at home in England, and really wanted to work out what was being said in all those old songs. I never took a class and instead sat on Ipanema beach trying to translate the newspaper and frequenting dive bars to practice.
Unfortunately, the Portuguese Blog wasn’t around back then as it would have been a neat resource. After a few months the little phrase book I carried could finally be left at home. The next few years of my life were spent split between Brazil and England, with Brazil always on my mind. Learning Portuguese has its difficulties, as readers of this blog will already know, but the doors it opens are infinite.
In early September 2012 I am returning to Brazil with my friend Aaron Chervenak and attempting to become the first people ever to complete a ‘human-powered’ voyage from north to south across the nation. We will walk, paddle and pedal from the country’s most northern point at Caburaí, to its southern extreme at Chuí, covering a distance of over 9000km (5500miles). It will take us around 15 months. It’s an expedition that has never been attempted, not even with the use of motorized transport.
Our aim is to create an unprecedented portrait of Brazil and the Brazilians, through photography and film – sharing our stories with you all along the way, mixing the drama of our personal endurance challenge with this unique insight into Brazil’s people, cultures and natural environments.
We’ll be visiting indigenous territories, luxury penthouses, deforested ranch lands, pristine rainforest, industrial ports, deserted beaches, fishing villages and huge metropolises.
The hike begins from the state of Roraima in the frontier region with Venezuela and Guyana. Then we canoe down the Rio Branco, Rio Negro and on to the main body of the Amazon river, paddling it all the way to Belém at the Atlantic Ocean.
The journey then continues on foot with a push south along the coast. This coastal route is far longer than cutting a direct southern path but more rewarding. There will be detours inland as and when the site of coconut palm beaches becomes monotonous! This includes travelling inland across the barren Caatinga scrubland before meeting the coast again at Recife. From there the march continues along the tropical coastline to Rio de Janeiro. The final phase will be cycled across southern Brazil to the Uruguayan border.
Here are a selection of photos past journeys in Brazil and you can check out our previous adventures in the Brazilian Amazonian in our short film South at the 28th Spring.
We’ll be posting video, photos and stories and we’d love for you to follow our progress.