Brazil / Places We Go

The Sugar Cane Fields of Brazil

The sugar cane fields of Brazil are an interesting place. They can stretch out, unbroken for tens of miles and it is extremely easy to get lost in them. Naturally, when Team Boers and Team Ames were based in Lagoa Azeda, we opted to check them out:

Alagoas sugar cane fields

The only real gaps in the sugar cane fields come from towns or these small canyons that intersect the hilltops where the cane is grown:

Alagoas sugar cane fields

Alagoas sugar cane fields

The first step in harvesting the sugar cane is the seemingly illogical act of setting fire to it. This serves multiple purposes. First of all, it gets rid of all the nasties in the sugar cane such as the poisonous snakes, the aggressive rats and the razor-sharp cane leaves. Secondly, it makes the sugar cane more efficient to transport since it is the stalks where the sugar is located and without the leaves, more cane can be transported at a time:

Alagoas sugar cane fields

Burned cane that has been cut down and is ready to be collected:

Alagoas sugar cane fields

In an effort to preserve social stability, the Brazilian government dictates that the sugar cane be cut by hand (thus guaranteeing employment for the restless, uneducated men in the surrounding villages and towns). Therefore, tens of thousands of young men armed with machetes descend on the fields every day for the back-breaking work of slashing through the sugar cane.

There is no such restriction on collecting the cane though. Below is the type of machine that scoops the cut sugar cane up in bundles and dumps them into trucks for transport to a sugar mill:

Alagoas sugar cane fields

It probably is not recommended to go smashing through mud pits such as the one below in a finely-tuned, high-performance Italian racing machine such as we had in our possession, but we don’t like to backtrack and one must work with what they have, right? And, I have to say that despite the excess of power, the automobile performed like a champion:

Alagoas sugar cane fields

Below are two of the trucks used for transporting the cut sugar cane to a sugar mill for processing and refining… On these roads they are not exactly easy to pass:

Alagoas sugar cane fields

Make a wrong turn – or twenty – as we did and you’ll find yourself bouncing down an unmaintained dirt track like this to an ambiguous destination:

Alagoas sugar cane fields

However, we did eventually make it home to Lagoa Azeda after stumbling across Lake Jequia, with both us and our automobile intact. I think the highlight of the experience for me was the fact that we conducted this expedition in a tiny, powerless Fiat that was soon mockingly dubbed the Fiatrrari.

Hey, it was all we could rent…

Below, Brandon and Amanda pose proudly in front of the ugly Fiatrrari:

Brandon and Amanda Boers posing next to the mighty Fiatrarri

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