In this post…
If this is the first post you read on this series, I recommend you take a look at the introduction post published on the 28th of February 2018. That post explains what the Faith’s Way is, my reasons for doing it and provides information that might be useful to you, if you decide you want to do it too.
As explained in the introduction post, I broke the entire journey into 21 stages, as per the official map of the Caminho. There will be 1 video for each stage of the journey, so the blog post for this day contains two videos. One covering the journey between Cravinhos and São Simão and the other between São Simão and Santa Rosa de Viterbo.
You can download the official map of the Caminho from the website of the Friends of the Caminho Association. From there you can also download a list of credentialed accommodations for your journey. Most places in that list are simple family owned pilgrims’ hostels. Some in very rural locations (farms) others in more urban areas. Some establishments are hotels. Family owned Pilgrims’ hostels along the way have usually a set value that includes the meals as well, typically dinner and breakfast, but all hotels listed there will also offer a reduced pilgrim’s rate provided you present them your pilgrim’s credentials.
- Distance traveled from Cravinhos to Santa Rosa de Viterbo: 59.02 Km
- Total duration of this journey: 6h 40m
- Total moving time: 4h 57m
- Overnight location at the end of the journey:
- Total expenses on this day: R$ 92.50
- Food: R$ 17.50 (dinner at a local restaurant)
- Accommodation: R$ 75.00 (Breakfast incl)
- Total Elevation Gain on this track: 658m
- Average Speed: 8.9 Km/h
- Max Speed achieved: 45.2 Km/h
- Average Heart Rate: 132 bpm
- Max. Heart Rate: 158 bpm
- Calories burned: 2,815 CAL
- Click here to see the Garmin Connect page for this activity
A good night of sleep was all it took to recover from the exposure to sun, the dust and sand and the mistakes of the previous day. The breakfast table at the hotel had plenty of the most important things to sustain me for the entire day (among others ham, cheese, scrambled eggs, variety of jam and bread, fruit and cereal).
I had washed the clothes of the day before in the bathroom and they were all dry. The hotel has a backyard where I was able to also wash the bike with a hose and add some oil to the chain. Pilgrims in a hurry to get to their destination, perhaps would have to wake up very early in the morning to accomplish all these tasks before leaving, but fortunately that was not my case. I woke up around 8:00 am and only left the hotel at around 10:30am.
After leaving the hotel the challenge was to get back on track and I did not see any yellow arrows pointing the direction from the hotel. The plan was to ride back to town and continue from the point I had made my mistake the day before, but well before the town centre I rode by the other hotel in the official list of accommodations, the Girassol Hotel, right before the petrol station I stopped to ask for directions.
I never cease to be impressed by how easy it is to make friends in Brazil. At the petrol station I met fellow pilgrim João Candosim who pointed me to the yellow arrow some 100m after the petrol station and later became a Facebook friend.
If you watch the video of the prior stage and the one for this stage, you’ll see that from a certain point the images should become familiar as I followed the same route all the way to the “Frango Assado” petrol station at the edge of the Anhangüera Motorway (SP-330).
A note of advice, especially for pilgrims on bicycles, is to be aware of the stray dogs as you leave town. They all came running to me barking a lot, but I believe none of them had the intention of attacking me. They were just letting me know that this was their territory. I dismounted the bike and looked at them without fear and they soon calmed down.
I did a quick pit-stop to get some cold water at the same petrol station I asked for direction the day before and met a couple of “bicigrinos” (bicycle pilgrims) like me who were also planning to ride to Aparecida from that point. They had left from Ribeirão Preto that morning and were riding on the motorway (which in Brazil is allowed) despite being on full suspension mountain bikes, which would be ideal for the dirt tracks of the Caminho. There is no right or wrong. Each person’s pilgrimage is their own.
After the petrol station I continued on the dirt track and few kilometres later I got the a place with a small statue of our lady. Was a nice and well preserved place, ideal for some rest, water and a little prayer. I also replaced the gimbal batteries and to my bad luck forgot the spare batteries there. They were later found by fellow pilgrims, but sending them back to me was not economically viable.
I was replacing the gimbal batteries after each 90 min of use, which was enough time for the batteries to charge inside my handlebar bag were I was carrying a big 25,000 mAh power bank. Having lost the spare batteries meant that for the rest of the journey I would have to stop using the gimbal, while the only remaining batteries were charging (charge times varied from between 45 min to 1h). I continued recording the journey with the GoPro without the gimbal while the batteries were charging, but this meant a huge increase in the shakiness of the images, which you’ll probably notice in the video.
A good portion of this dirt track was along the motorway and there were some interesting views along the way, including the view of burned fields which are unfortunately common this time of the year due to high temperatures, lack of rain and other less natural reasons.
Up to the point where I crossed under the motorway there were significant less sand and dust than the day before (firmer ground), but after that point the tracks become very sandy and dusty again, to the point that, if you are on a bike, you’ll probably have to dismount and push quite often. In this stage you’ll have to ride or walk on a state highway (SP-253) for a few kilometres before continuing on a dirt track along the paved road. I felt safe on that road as it has a nicely flat and wide hard shoulder to ride on and most drivers were opening a distance between me and their cars as they crossed.
Just before arriving in São Simão you’ll have to cross railway tracks and I waited so long taking pictures that by the time I was ready to cross them I had to with for the incoming cargo train to pass, which took several minutes as it was a very long train.
The town of São Simão is small and the yellow arrows were close to each other, practically eliminating the possibility of getting lost. Before arriving at the São Simão Hotel, the one option for accommodation on the official guide and the place where you can get your pilgrim’s credential stamped, I stopped to talk to a couple of gents that were washing some cars and asked if I could throw some water on the bike to get rid of the dust. They asked me where I was coming from and where I was going to. They had heard of the Caminho da Fé, but neither one of them knew that the yellow arrows were in their town were there to guide the pilgrims to Aparecida do Norte. Now they know 🙂
The São Simão Hotel was a welcoming place. Got my pilgrim’s credentials stamped and filled my water bottles with cold water. They also offered me some fruit, but I declined.
As I left the São Simão Hotel I did a small detour to visit the grandmother of a fellow pilgrim who I got to know through the Facebook group of the Friends of the Caminho Association. Once I explained who I was and why I was there, Mrs Vera Burin and her daughter Angelica welcomed me, a stranger, almost as if I was a member of the family. This is one of the most amazing aspect of the Brazilian culture. The ability to trust and welcome strangers. A bit like how the Irish view them, “a stranger is just a friend that you’ve never met before“. The difference between Brazil and Ireland, however, are the obvious dangers due to the high level of criminality, mainly in big cities. Yet, people still trust and help each other. I like to leave my sincere “thank you” not only to Mrs Ver and her daughter Angelica, but also to her grandson, André who told me about them and asked me to go say “Hi”. Unfortunately I was a bit of in a hurry at the time and had to decline their invitation for coffee, but it was wonderful to have met them.
As a pilgrim, however, I’ve been the receiver of other people’s generosity in other occasions too and every time this has happened it strengthen my belief that most people in the world are good and that the good in the world by far outweigh the bad. Perhaps it is because there is so much good that we have difficulty in eliminating the bad in our societies.
As the batteries of the gimbal were still charging in the handlebar bag I decided to place the camera in the waterproof casing and mount it on the handlebar. That increased the level of shakiness a lot, so in later recordings, when the use of the gimbal was not possible I started to mount the camera on the helmet as I believed the shaking would not bad as bad on my head as it was on the handlebar. The difference was not significant though. I also tried to use the gimbal more on rougher surfaces, so when I was riding on paved roads I’ve often stopped using the gimbal and put the batteries to charge instead.
Leaving the town of São Simão you will walk or ride for about 3 Km on the SP-253 highway. The hard shoulder on this road wasn’t as wide as before São Simão, but the drivers appeared to be respecting a healthy distance between them and my bike. Care is however advised.
After about 3 Km on the SP-253 you turn left crossing over the road to get back to dirt roads again and a considerable amount of sand and dust. By that time the gimbal batteries were fully charged and I was able to mount the camera on the chest mount again.
At some points the dirt road becomes quite narrow and some of these roads had a much higher level of traffic than the previous dirt roads I had to ride on. As cars and trucks passed me they lifted a lot of fine dust which made breathing harder than usual due to my asthma. A lot of coughing at some points on this road (some highlighted on the video). Also pushing the bike was necessary in quite a few portions of this track as the sand was simply too deep to even attempt to ride (no traction at all). In spite of this, there were also some beautiful portions of this track among pine trees and forest which offered some shade and helped protect from the sun a little.
As you approach Santa Rosa de Viterbo you’ll re-join the SP-253 again, which makes it worth noting that for those who don’t want to follow the “official” Caminho way, the journey will be a lot shorter and quicker if you stick to the road. It may be also more dangerous to cycle or walk on the road though, so that will be a decision you’ll often will have to make if you want to comfort of paved roads against the challenges of cycling off-road. As you arrive in the outskirts of Santa Rosa de Viterbo you’ll be happy to know that there is a 1.5 km segregated bike lane alongside the road right into the town which makes cycling a lot safer.
The Malim Hotel is the only place listed in the official accommodation guide. The guide indicates there are two options of accommodation in the hotel: A R$ 60.00 option and a R$ 85.00 option, but I believe the guide was a bit out-of-date, perhaps due to inflation or price rises. It is always a good option to call ahead and ask what the going rate is if you want to avoid any surprises. I paid R$ 75.00 for a small room with a private bathroom, but no air-con or TV. Fancier rooms will cost you about R$ 90.00.
Finding the hotel is easy. You just have to stick to the main street and the hotel will be on the left hand side.
The hotel has a bike rack on the back which is protected, but you need to be able to lock the bike in place as staff will not be looking out for your bike. It felt like a safe place to me, but I locked the bike and removed anything of value from it anyway. On the back there is also a hose and a place for you to wash your bike, if you need to.
After a good shower and some rest I left the hotel on foot and walked for about 10 min to a restaurant called Issagawa Neto & Cia that was recommended by the hotel’s reception. There weren’t many open places to eat at that time and the town is quite small. You’ll have to option of set 3 course meals for as little as R$ 17.50 with a soft drink and the food is tasty and plentiful. You will leave with your bellies full.
Went back to the hotel, browsed the web a little and checked email. The Hotel has free WiFi and the signal was good in the room I was in.
Although there were a few mosquitos in the room I was able to sleep very well. Always good if you can take a can of odourless repellent with you. In some places mosquitos may be an issue especially in hot nights and rural areas. That’s how my second day ended.
Click on any picture for full detail
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