BEAM ME DOWN, SCOTTY

This week's random co-ordinates chosen by the computer are: 12 38' S 45 52' W

FIRST REACTION

Pass the Perrier, please.

COUNTRY AND REGION

The state of Bahia, near the inland Brazilian town of Barreiras.

NATURE OF THE TERRAIN

Uninhabited and arid badlands with rock and cactus. The Bahian sertao is subject to frequent droughts, often with no rain for years. No wonder it has one of the lowest population densities in north-east Brazil.

ALTITUDE

500 metres.

NEAREST SETTLEMENT

The town of Barreiras is fairly close. Head east to the River Grande and follow it to the Barreiras, which lies on the river's eastern bank.

POSSIBLE HAZARDS

Sunstroke and, if you run out of purified water, gastro-enteritis, typhoid, cholera and dysentery. Chances are you will be sleeping in an adobe hut. If so, there is the risk of Chagas's disease, which is carried in the faeces of beetles living in the cracks of adobe walls. The beetle bites and then defecates; if you itch and rub in the faeces you will contract the disease. It is incurable and can lead to heart and kidney problems.

USEFUL LANGUAGES

Portuguese.

TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER

President Fernando Henrique Cardoso came to office in 1995.

LIKELY WEATHER CONDITIONS

It may be the southern winter but the north-east of Brazil is far too hotto have a winter.

REASONS FOR HANGING AROUND

The oldest inhabited prehistoric site found in Brazil, in the next state of Piaui. The Parque Nacional de Sete Cidades has eroded rock formations with prehistoric rock paintings. Salvador, the capital city of Bahia, is the oldest city in Brazil, and formerly Brazil's main slave port.

GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THERE

A road leads to the city of Salvador and its airport is 20km north-east.

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