Skating in Brazil

18 april - 9 may 2003

Composition, Text and Photo's : Jan Feijes copyright, January 2004

Preparations and getting there
Opening the door at too many feet ? Of course there a lot of reasons why one should go to Brazil. A very good reason for me was that a good friend of mine was getting married over there. After some short thinking a holiday was planned around the wedding, and of course: the skates were brought along. Such a big beautifull country should have some asphalt waiting to be skated on.
Early in the moring we left from Schiphol airport to Sao Paulo. And had a small party on the plane celebrating the last bachelors days of the groom.
Plane Party

Driving around Sao Paulo
Upon arriving we rented a car over there and thought about doing a small tour in the vincinity of Sao Paulo, Rio and such cities. On the map they do look quite close to one another. In the normal practice distancese of more than 1000 km are more than common. You also shouldn't be surprised when you see a roadsign saying xxxx 2450 km's. Somthing incomprehensible for a guy from the netherlands who is at least 4 countries further when he has driven such a distance.
Not surprisingly we didn't reach all the places we have planned to visit. Brasil is just a bit bigger than you think. We visited a lot of pitoresk places with beautifull old houses, and most of all, old roads which was not at all a good place to skate. But which such a scenery you can come up with enough other things wich do compensate that loss.

Sao Paulo and ..
After the "small" tour we returned to Sao Paulo (now actually it is Alpaville, a "suburb" of Sao Paulo). Were checked into our comfortable hotel and had the wedding of Dolf and Ale. It was everything a man and woman could wish, and at least two of them got exactly what they wanted: each other, to have and to hold ... We had a great party where new ties were bound, and new friendships were formed.
The next day, at some decent time a plane was waiting for us to take us to Salvador .
Dolf and Ale returning to the party

Along the coast
Salvador consist of an old city center, which attracts all the tourists and where you can watch colonial houses. And it consists of a newer center where are fewer tourists and all the bad things which come with the tourists (like beggars). Furthermore it gives there asphalt, loads of it running along the coastline. In Salvador it also became clear to us that the national sport (after football of course) is walking. People were waling along the shoure. Some fast, some parading. And we were skating over there.
When you get to a city along the coast you will generally see that on sunday the road along the coast is made car free to do better things like skating, walking or just being there. You can enjoy a coconut while you are skating along the coast.
It is like skating the Brazilian way.
After Salvador we left for Maceio by night bus.

Maceio is just a city along the coast, not known for anything. And this makes it such a nice place. It is just there, a nice relaxing city where you can skate along the shoreline lie on the beach or just enjoy yourself in one of its bars ... anywhere.
After driving to the north we ended up in Recife and Olinda . In Recife we enjoyed also a wonderfull stretch of asphalt along the coast of Recife.
Down here we also met the local skate scene: there was a half pipe on the beach where some people were fooling around. Still skating is still a sport waiting to be discovered. During the weekends you might see a skate or two. During the weekday, skaters are really a rare seen species. But nevertheless very welcome.

National theatre The capital of Brasil is a place not to miss. Not for the skate, not for the person who loves to walk around in an open air exhibition of modern architecture. We arrived there in the morning on the airport of Brasilia. Pretty soon we were offering us a tour through the city. In triumph we held our skates high : "we have our own transportation !". After a short bus ride we were in the city center strapping on our skates. There were moments when I felt like a little kid in a city filled with candy houses. There were so many places I wanted to skate to, see and all. Luckily the plane left late that night.
Metropolitan Cathedral 'Nossa Senhora Aparecida'
We started with a downhill around the national opera. And then along the big axis to the Cathedral. Again a downhill to the lower entrance of the cathedral. Of course you are not allowed to skate in the cathedral. So we took the skates off and explored the Cathedral on socks. This walking on your socks over the cold marble floor gives even a greater sensation of how small this skater is in comparison to this Cathedral. After this deep experience we fooled around on the parking places of the several office buildings. Then it was off to the parliament building.
After a short downhill we were skating over the marble floors running just in front of the offices where all the people were working.
Brasilia is quite a good city to skate in. The pavement pretty ok, and the rightmost lane is for slower traffic, including skaters. During the weekends, the city is a nice and quiet place to skate in.
Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge
But in the airplane I've read about a new bridge which was opened in the vincinity of Brasilia. So we asked a taxi to drop us over there to skate the Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge. The bridge is a nice one, it consists of three arcs, standing in the São Francisco River. The road itself seems to float between those arches above the water. It was also the perfect spot to watch the sun setting over Brasilia. After this experience we took the bus back to Brasilia. And after a Caipirinha it was off to Manaus to feed the piranhas.

Rainforest and going back
After all the impressions in Brasilia we took some time to live like tarzan, hunt for crocodiles. We found out that it can rain pretty intensense in the rain forest. But there are wonderfull things to see over there. And to take a canoe and paddle your way between the giant tree-trunks to go out spotting for monkeys aligators and birds. Okay it would be nicer if there was an asphalt track trough the forest so a decent skater could roll his/her way through. But somehow I don't think that will work or is at all appropriate. To take things even further, sometimes I think being there as a tourist is not at all appropriate, because even I see the signs of the disappearance of the rainforest.
Brazil is a huge country. Just place it over the map of europe, and you can see that Europe fits in more than once. Brazil has also a lot of sides. And a lot of nice places to skate. During this trip I've flown zig-zag through the country, hoping to see a lot of things. The only thing I've noticed now that there a lot of things I still have to see.

Useful links

Patinadores de Brasilia, Nightskating Brasilia
Planet Roller of Rio
Night skating in Brazil (Thx Kathie Fry)
TAM airlines of Brazil (KLM FD programme)
Hotels in Brazil
All sorts of info of Brazil

Remarks ? Mail me!

© 2003