Crossing of the Swiss Northeastern

Red Sea and Garanhuns are towns located in the area of the Mata de Alagoas and in the rugged Pernambuco. Both are differentiated from other cities northeastern by cold weather and low temperatures, mainly in winter, and are known as the “Swiss” Alagoas and Pernambuco. There are the famous winter festivals in July, with various musical attractions, cultural events and gastronomy. Our pedal also made a bridge for good advice, already in the hinterland of Pernambuco, where we close a triangle with the three microclimates of the northeastern region: The Sertão, the rugged and the Mata.
Red Sea is one of the tallest towns of Alagoas, 650 m above sea level. By possessing countless species of Gravatá, a type of tree that in autumn drops its red coloring sheets on the ground and in the waters of lakes, received this evocative name. It also has features of the European region, with a saw climate and numerous mineral water sources. Your temperature has reached 10 °c.
We were accommodated in two local farms, close to the city, and from there we started our pedal. The secret to the success of the pedal is to wake up early and leave with the sunrise, to enjoy a milder temperature and avoid a little the sun, which is fairly strong from the 10 h 30 min until the afternoon.
On the first day we made a direct and strong pull with small stopovers to win about 98 km to GARANHUNS (850 m altitude), where we stay overnight. Then we follow more 55 km to good advice (700 m altitude), already in the hinterland of Pernambuco, and on the last day we follow back to the Red Sea, in more 75 km by another strand of the way, in a total approximate of 230 km pedaled in three days.
In this rustic scenery, with lush views of the northeastern interior, we could witness closely all the profusion of colours and contrasts in the region. At the same time, we go to rescue some values that we sometimes lose or do not perceive in everyday life of our day, with this closest contact with the rural environment, when we approach people, history and local context, experiencing in situ all the essence of a life that has its normal, simple, calm and hurried flow Typical of the interior. We also feel much more complete, as the northeastern we are.
Our group “The dinosaurs” has already held this course twice, and this year we have received other guests to join us in this difficult crossing. We usually do with a support car because the locals are well wilderness with high temperatures.
Although the two towns have mild climates, the rest of the route is extremely hot, as in all the rugged and hinterland northeastern Brazil. The red/Garanhuns stretch is practically rising, reaching around 2,100 m of altimetry, which is already quite high in terms of Brazil, so imagine in the northeast, where its cities are more at sea level.
We felt like a real roller coaster with constant risings and descents, and always rewards the incredible visuals of the place. In the first passage, we pedaled by small roads bordering vegetation typical of the region’s biome, such as Gravatás, Cactus, Ingazeiras and many areas where the slabs and rocks Afloravam in the landscape. It is easy to note also the religiosity and faith of the people of the interior with the view of numerous churches, white chapels and images scattered through the curves of the paths.
Cities and stories
During the course we have made some strategic pauses for rest, snacks and especially to meet small towns and villages loaded with interesting stories and cultural wealth, although they are mostly so lacking and abandoned by our legislators.
Initially Margeamos the Paraíba River, passing through the village of San Francisco, which is on the banks of this river. That’s where he is buried Frei Damian de Bozzano, who lived in the village his last years and asked to be buried there.
It was in this village that also occurred one of the most shocking crimes in the beginning of the 50 years, and that, sadly, reflects much of the kind of policy that is practiced in the interior northeastern until the present day. This came from the arrival in 1937 by Antônio Fernandes Amorim, the Franciscan Beato, as he was known. In his life of true monk, he slept on treadmills and fed on what they brought to him. It was gradually developing the village, which was a hotbed of prostitution and all sorts of addictions, turning it into a place of prayer, faith and pilgrimages. On July 30, 1954, around the age of 18, a defect in the power cord of the religious house had darkened the residence, and Franciscan was assassinated when he switched a lamp.
The truth is that he quickly transformed into a charismatic religious leader, to the point of awakening interests in the politicians of the surrounding municipalities, who sought his support in seeking votes. As that year was election for deputies, Blessed gave his support to the candidacy of the candidate’s son-in-law who would be governor of Alagoas that year. It was his big mistake, that aroused a strong political jealousy in opponents, who came to see him as extraordinary arrebanhador of votes.
José Calcutta, the executor of the crime, was detained and arrested. From there, creating already alibis, without quoting names and causing mysteries and doubts to conceal the truth about the commanders, left to today the unknown about the death of the Franciscan.
When he died, Franciscan had already delivered the village to the Capuchin friars, and the provincial, at the time, Friar Octavian, was belonging to the friars of the province of Lucca, in Italy, order to which he belonged to Friar Damian. So much that today the village is commanded by Frei Fernando Rossi, who accompanied Frei Damian over approximately 50 years.
Another city that we passed still in Alagoas, near the village, was “Quebrangulo”, where the great writer Alagoano Graciliano Ramos was born. We were able to admire its simple and unpretentious architecture, typical of the interior Northeastern, with its sets of houses conjugated with cheerful and contrasting colours. The city is also on the banks of the Paraíba River and has the origin of its strange name in the leader of the fugitive blacks who settled there, when the final collapse of Quilombo dos Palmares in Alagoas. Some remnants of Palmares took refuge in the region, Quebrangulo was the name of the leader of the Fugitive blacks.
We had, still in the city, the surprise of the visit of the former mayor, who told us facts and interesting stories about the same, suggesting that we were to know one of the major Atlantic rainforest biomes of Alagoas in that region, the reserve of “Serra carved”, including waterfall baths. We went towards the reserve, but a detour from the route at that time could delay us in our goals, since there was still a good distance to go. We decided to continue on our itinerary and leave for a next time this visit, which we deem it interesting to meet.
We followed by dirt and some singletracks, already feeling the effect of the sun, which at that time was pretty strong. Our lunch parade was in the city of Lagoa do Ouro, already in Pernambuco, that has its name linked to the color of its sands, which shine, especially the stronger the sun. I believe that some mineral produces this luminous and golden effect, well visible in the arid soil of its roads, which is where we began our last stretch of pedal to Garanhuns The Swiss Pernambuco, arriving around 4:00 p.m.
All the passage we did during the day was overland roads, however, in this final stretch, we traveled about 4 km of track (with little movement) having the escort of the car support as an accident protection. We suffered greatly in the total of the course with the heat and the endless climbs, but after intense physical activity like that we did, nothing like a good bath to take out fatigue, a decent meal to replenish the calories and a deserved rest to recompose from wear.
After staying overnight in the “City of Flowers”, we met her by bicycle, following for good advice, city marking the beginning of the hinterland Pernambuco. His name is because of the construction of the monumental College of Our Lady of the Good Council. This was the first Educandário for female education in the northeast. It is celebrated the phrase of its founder, Capuchin friar Caetano de Messina: “Raising a girl, educates herself a mother; Raising a mother, becomes a society. ”
We continue pedaling to win over 1,050 m from Altimetry by the municipality that is inserted mostly in the plateau of Bansod, with mild and wavy relief. In the south, part of the area is inserted into the country depression, and its native vegetation is composed of caatinga with small stretches of forest.
Good advice is known at the time of Cangaço, by owning one of the largest leaders Sertanejos in the northeast, Colonel José a Papacaça (formerly name of the region). It was in his domains that he took refuge, seeking protection, the young Virgulino Ferreira da Silva and his brethren, when the death of his birth givers in Alagoas, becoming the dreadful Cangaceiro “lantern”.
After a well-country breakfast, already finishing our path, we followed by closing the triangle, direct to the Red Sea, in Alagoas, in more 75 km of trails, via Serra do Chora (the name says everything). Galgamos 1,500 m from altimetry in our last climb, which ended with a delightful bushing of goat, typical backcountry dish, to guarantee the sustança necessary to replenish the calories lost by the effort detached in the final live.
On all these days of pedal, we had the opportunity to know more deeply our region. And nothing better than doing this cycling, which has the ability to put us in a direct and intimate contact with the rich local culture. In this way, we have revalued our roots and these people so abandoned and suffered from the interior, although it is so hardworking and always present in the preservation of their customs, beliefs and traditions. Despite the wear, the rises, the by and, above all, the scorching heat of the hinterland, as in a real greenhouse effect, it is not yet this time that “the dinosaurs” were extinct. On the contrary, after meeting the two Swiss Northeastern, we proceed to a pedal of approximately 15 days in the true Swiss European.
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