The Diamantinas

I rode into the town of Diamantina in the middle of a miserable day, filled with low lying clouds and sudden downpours.  With my view of the hills obscured by the clouds and the rain damping my urge to wander about them, I decided to explore the town after finding a place to stay.  This simple task was made considerably more complicated by the large flat stones used to pave the towns ridiculously steep streets.  I’m sure there are all sorts of good reasons for using them, however providing decent traction in the rain for a heavy motorbike is certainly not one of them.  This, combined with South Americas obsession with one-way streets, made navigating the town and checking various hotels a bit more of a workout than I’d expected.  So, after find a place and changing out of my rain soaked outer gear and sweat soaked inner gear, I was out for a wander.

One thing I’ve got to give colonial Brazil, they really knew how to build quaint towns.

It had started to dry up when I was taking these pics, but you can imagine what those smooth rocks on such steep streets were like to ride on while the rain was coming down.

They had just wrapped up with Carnival, so while the town was busy, it was clean-up busy.  Some places were open, but they were more focused on getting things back to normal after the craziness than serving a lone tourist.  They weren’t rude or anything, just otherwise occupied.  So, having discovered my slight geographical error, I decided to only spend one night and get myself on the road to the next Diamantina.

The next day started out bright and sunny, giving me wonderful views to match the twisty riding as a rode back up North.

It didn’t last and not for the first time I wondered about why I seem to spend so much time soaked to the bone in ‘arid’ or ‘semi-arid’ regions.  Talent I guess.

Ah well, at least this time the passing rain was dramatic.  Beautiful skies filled with puffy white clouds that would occasionally reveal themselves to be rain and lightning spewing monsters.  It was less than pleasant when they caught you, but watching these predators of the skies blend in and then strike a small hill without warning was more than enough reason for a break to watch it happen.

So, I finished the day damp, but invigorated and ready for any early start to make the park fairly early.

I’d decided to stay in Lençóis, the colonial town just outside of the park and the gateway to hikes into the park- not that I was planning any serious hikes, just a couple of good day hikes or something.  However, once again, I’d managed to arrive with the weather and most of the trails were closed as the river/stream crossings were flooded.

This river is normally fordable in places…

So, instead of spitting out my dummy, I decided to take a day to ride the ‘roads’ around the partially abandoned town Igatu.  The maze of tracks left over from the areas prosperous past were kept in rideable condition by the 4X4 tours, but not enough to encourage self-drive types.  Almost perfect, though I was once again seriously questioning my tyre choice…

I then spent the night at a cool riverside posada trying to turn into an eco-hotel.  I don’t know where the ‘eco’ came in, but it was comfy and perfectly located for hitting the trails.

The next day I finally hit Lençóis…  And did I mention they did quaint well here?

The place is the jumping off point for all the hikes into the park, but a quick ask around confirmed what I had heard before- the majority of trails were too wet and the low clouds were blocking enough of the views that even the open trails weren’t worth the effort since they’re unmarked and pretty much require a guide.  But, while hiking might have been out, spending a pleasant day and evening in town was certainly in.  It was filled with a pleasant mix of guides and trekkers waiting for the weather to clear along with a tasty mix of restaurants and bars happy to fill their (and my) empty time and bellies.

Next morning brought a break in the weather, but I just wasn’t in the mood to hang around and see if it would stick.  I’d have plenty of other chances to hike and if I always spent my time waiting for the weather to clear I wouldn’t have made it out of Canada yet!

So, with the town showing me it’s Sunday best, I headed out.

And found some excellent consolation prize views to cheer me up!

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