Saturday, 7 January 2012
THE HEART OF THE AMAZON
Well, surprise-surprise! Here I am in Brasil again, in the city of Manaus in the heart of the Amazon jungle. After crossing the border from Venezuela I had to keep pushing forward through the stifling tropical humidity over everlasting stretches of rolling hills and wetland jungle. I hardly noticed that Xmas and New Year came and went while I was in that surreal world. (Oh yes, a belated Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to you all). (Thanks to my sister Olga for the money she sent - meaning for me to buy a new camera for Xmas - however, I´m using that money for survival, along with the other funds she keeps sending me). I had also become extremely exhausted from carrying on for such a long time without taking some sort of a recovery break. Camping in this region also means sleeping in a pool of sweat every night. The frequent rain showers during the day are welcome though. In the town of Bao Vista I camped in a truck-yard frequented by various (other) down-and-outs. At 5 AM a group of pimps and prostitutes were taking their drugs behind my tent, and I also met another cyclist there (the dope-smoking Junior and his mascot dog Beatrice; I think he has more luggage on his bike than what I have!). In Vila Do Equador I was shown to the community centre where it would be no problem for me to camp, but the place turned out to be a rather interesting shelter for the homeless with nobody particularly in charge. As the name of the village indicates, it should be close to the equator and I kept asking where the line is (they all said it runs straight through the village). The following day I crossed the Equator 18 km South of town. In the Waimiri Indigenous territory I arrived at their admin camp after dark - and although they are very strict about allowing outsiders to stay in the area, they let me camp there. The next morning they even gave me breakfast, and I could take pic´s of the wild mackaws and parrots hanging about the kitchen door for scraps of food. The previous day I´d spotted a group of the tribespeople along the road, the men carrying spears and none of the bunch wearing much in the line of clothes (probably the reason for signs along the road prohibiting photography). Oh yes, I´ve also crossed the Equator again, for the 4th time. Well, I´ve eventually made it to the city of Manaus at the confluence of the Rio Negro and the Rio Madeira, officially forming the start of the mighty Amazon river. In case you were wondering what I came to do here, I´ve met up with Leana and her sister Amanda who took a boat up the river from the coast where they have been cycling. (Now, thanks to them, I´m sharing a hotel room with the 2 of them - my first room since Ecuador). Amanda returns home next week, so perhaps Leana will cycle back North with me from here. A big problem which I did have in the last 3 days or so, is that the parts on my bike all gave in (not surprisingly - chain, rear and front gear cogs, and so forth). So, for about 3 days before Manaus I was free-wheeling down the hills, and pushing the bike on the uphills. Fortunately Amanda does not need her bike right now because she is returning home, so thankfully I´ve scavanged whatever I could from her bike for the time being. Daily distances cycled since crossing the border into Brasil have been:- Half-Way camp 109 km; Bao Vista 111 km; Moura 58 km; Caracarai 86 km; Fishwater Camp 27 km; Nova Paraiso 100 km; Nova Colina 79 km; Vila Do Equador 55 km; Terrano Waimiri 123 km; Nova Jerusalem 80 km; Batia 50 km; Nova Parada 49 km; Paraiso Nova Vida 58 km; and Manaus 45 km. The total distance which I´ve cycled thus far in South America is 21 899 km, and the total so far on this yourney is 88 386 km.