Iceberg Melting? – Rio Branco, Brazil


Route Capixaba, Brazil – Rio Branco, Brazil (BR317)
Distance 112Km
Travel Time 1.5 hours
Road Conditions Good asphalt but nasty potholes
Weather Hot!
Terrain Pasture land
Food and Petrol Frequent
Accommodation Hotel Los Viajantes, Rio Branco

Rio Branco strikes us as rather disappointing. It’s not particularly pleasing to the eye nor does it feel very safe.


We get in by about lunch time, stop by an ATM and then get some lunch at a central cafeteria. We check out the tourist information on the plaza opposite to see what the accommodation situation is. They recommend a list of places, all of which are expensive. They do mention there are a few cheaper hotels in a district just nearby called Rodovia, but they warn that this is area is dangerous. Great…


Well, before we actually go check in anywhere, we have another mission to accomplish involving two broken laptop screens, so we go on a wild goose chase through town, asking at various electronic appliance stores. They, as expected, only exist to sell you new items and don’t handle repairs, but we eventually pass by a small shop full of dismantled TVs and other electronic kit. They guy himself doesn’t do laptops, but he directs us to a place called UTI Laptop, which we find without problems.

Ebru stays downstairs with the bike and I go up to make inquiries. Indeed, says the owner, he has replacement screens for our models, and the charge for both would be 700BRL. This is approximately 170USD each, significantly more expensive than quoted in Puerto Maldonado in Peru. (The going rate for these in USA/Europe is 40 – 60USD!). I to and fro between Ebru outside and the dealer, requesting discount after discount, and – fortunately for us – he eventually agrees to 500BRL for both screens.


When I get the laptops to get the screens installed, it turns out that the 12.1 inch for my machine won’t fit, but at least we get Ebru’s and the cost is 250BRL. It’s not the original Toshiba-LG (LP116WH1) model we had, but it’s a generic AU Optronics (B116XW02) and it works. We get a receipt stating 3 months warranty and we thank the guy, relieved that we at least have one laptop to continue doing our website updates and keep in touch!

UPDATE: Sadly, within about two weeks the back-light of this LCD screen fails and we’re again stuck without a computer!

Soon after, we’re guided to the aforememtnioned cheap-hotels-district by a random biker named Wolfrando, whom we asked directions whilst stopped at a red light. He asks whether we’d be out in town for a drink later on, but we politely decline, thinking that we’ll probably be staying in the hotel tonight.

Hotel Los Viajantes (50BRL) looks rough from the outside and the staff don’t come across too cozy at first, but it’s got secure parking, good accommodation and a breakfast any backpacker would freak for.


At a little restaurant next door we run into a dutch cyclist, Klaus, who’s on the final stages of his trip. We have dinner together, scrumptious grilled beef with rice and salad. He tells us interesting tales of his trips through South America and others in Asia, including the rural parts of China. We’d intended to go back to the hotel afterwards but we’re all in a good mood and venture out into the streets to find a drink somewhere. Most places that look open don’t want to serve us anything, but we end up getting a few beers in one bar overlooking the river, with plenty of merry patrons sitting outside and booming Brazilian music on the boxes.


The hotel serves up an excellent breakfast buffet the next morning to get us ready for the long trip to Porto Velho. Although Rio Branco wasn’t much to write home about, at least we have a working laptop and that’s a great relief! As we’re leaving, a friendly older couple living across the road notices us and has a chat with us. They’re really excited about our trip and they give us a set of brochures and postcards, showing some of the best attractions in the surrounding provinces. It’s really sweet of them. It’s always heart-warming to meet people who are so friendly and excited and encouraging about one’s trip. Thank you!