ARAGARCAS, BRAZIL, AUGUST 26, 2009.
ARAGARCAS, BRAZIL, AUGUST 26, 2009.
A VERY EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ANDY AND BIKE AND BREAST BRAKING TRACKS.
This mission post near Itaituba used to be a orphanage and school, especially for the children that were left behind in the 1980's, when their parents got obsessed and poisoned by the gold rush. Most parents died in the mines or became drunks. This part of Brazil has more horror stories. The Transamazonica, the road we are 'riding' on, has been built in the seventies, in three years h. It is about 5500 km long and goes from east to west Brazil, about 3500 km had to be cut out through the Amazon jungle. After three years most of the workers were dead, due to diseases like yellow fever and malaria, or animals and exhaustion.
It took another 40 years to destroy big parts of the jungle, to turn it into farm land. The heart of mother earth is burning in many places, so grass can grow. Give it another few centuries and it will be dessert, maybe with some palm trees and everybody on earth will get overheated, because the Amazon is dying.
We stay another day at the mission post, to recover from aching body parts, to have an extra shower and to do the wash. All our cloths are getting in a bad condition now, the humidity causes tears in our trousers. We both have each one pair of trousers left and they are totally red from the dust.
That evening I interview Andy.
Me; 'Why do you want to ride the Transamazonica?'
Andy; 'Because there are no Mac Donald's?'
Me; 'How is it to ride the Transamazonica?'
Andy; 'Hot and long'.
Me; 'What do you think of your sidecar passenger?'
Andy; 'Oh, you mean the cook'.
End of interview!
It's the start of an evening that makes the neighbors think; 'What the hell are they doing?'. We just could not stop laughing, well it was more howling. We both ended up almost crying from laughing.
Just a fart and the howling started again. Jungle madness.
There is only one broken spoke to repair, but of course, we need to take the wheel off and 3 other spokes out to fix one. Andy is working in the shade of an enormous tree, but he is soaked from sweating. The heat is almost unbearable.
The road to Ruropolis is very bumpy, dust everywhere. Every time a truck is passing us, we don't see anything for a while.
The endless stream of butterflies has stopped. We miss them.
We put our tent up in a quarry and while sunset is happening an airplane starts the engines....the sound of chicades. It's almost impossible to hear each other. As unexpected as it starts, it stops. A big blue lizard walks by, monkeys are howling, but this night no mosquito's and it's a bit cooler. Half way the night it even gets cold and we use our sleeping bags. It's one of those magic jungle nights.
Riding the Transamazonica is not only a hot, thirsty, dusty and bumpy thing to do, you also have to be fully self sufficient, just in case something breaks. We are lucky, just 4 km out of a town called Medicilandia Andy discovers a broken bracket, the bit that carries the exhaust is broken in two. The only thing we don't carry is a welding machine. We find a place to stay and the friendly owner takes us to a garage. The mechanic and Andy are surrounded by a crowed of nosy men. The mechanic makes a great job out of it and when Andy offers him some beer money, he refuses. I give him a happy hug in front of everybody, he is very brown, but turns red and I understand his Portuguese when he says that he likes the hug. All the man are laughing.
The track gets a bit better, there is more traffic on it and we see more farm land. No more big trees and less jungle, it's less interesting for us.
Everything changes again....enormous potholes, deep red sand, bloody stones and then, totally unexpected, asphalt, just before Altamira. Like a clean diaper for a baby bum.
We take a big ferry over the river. Boys are diving from the ferry and swim with us to the other side.
Every time we stop people come to see us. It's a bit much in the burning heat and we still can't communicate very well. People here have no feelings if it's about body space, they are often standing to close to us or they will poke you to get your attention, something I can't stand. To stop it I poke back. We try to find a place for a cool drink without people, but they always turn up out of the blue.
In Anapu a lady gives us bananas, sweet little ones.
We have seen some snakes on the track, but the one in front of us is extra long and very slow. To my BIG surprise, Andy parks the sidecar, with me in it, right next to this snake. It turns his head and I am frozen, I even can't speak. I never expected Andy, my prince of darkness, to park me next to a creature like this. The snake moves on, I can speak again....Andy's replay is; 'But it's only a boa constrictor!'.
Another broken spoke. The track gets really rough now and the hills are getting steeper. Loads of bike killing corrugations. Hard work. It's my birthday, so we stop in Novo Repartimento. We find a restaurant, chickens running everywhere, but the food is fantastic. We drink to much beer and enjoy talking to each other. I am happy to be 50 now, I made it! Now I am a senior as well!
A 100 km of pretty flat track, then the bike and breast killing procedure starts again. There are so many potholes and corrugations, I get enough. Riding off road is great, but all this shaking, rattling and bumping up and down in the sidecar in this heat is not always fun......and then, there it is, about 20 km before Maraba, the black, flat, smooth, so well wanted asphalt starts. We fly now!
And the stupid thing is, we both know that soon we will miss this type of track. Asphalt is nice for a while, but it's also often boring. We will miss the jungle camping and the strong feeling of not knowing what to expect, what to deal with. The feeling of adventure.
I also realize that we have been extremely lucky by not having any proper rain. If you get rain on this track, you are fu...ed (sorry Grant). It's already hard work without rain, but with rain, we would have been still crawling around in a mud bath.
Anyway, we made it to Maraba!
After Maraba there is that beautiful asphalt and then it's back to dirt and dust. By this time I was sitting in the sidecar with a tyre around my belly. Just to get some more miles out of the old tyre. It would stay with me for another 3 days.
Than onto the BR 153, a road coming from the north, going south, full of potholes and big trucks, difficult to deal with after having been riding for months on deserted tracks and little used roads.
We contacted Andy's mum and told her that we were out of the jungle. Her reply to Andy; 'So you can put your machete away then'.
We stayed 2 nights in a hotel. Andy was very tired. We felt a bit lost, we hadn't planned the next bit of our route. We had a look on the map and decided to go to the Pantanal, a big wet area where you can see many animals. It might be a bit difficult to get there, we are not sure about the conditions of the tracks and bridges. After that we go into Paraguay.
Back on the BR 153. No places to camp, but great restaurants next to the road, where you can eat all you want for not too much money. Brazil is paradise if it's about food, no ears of a pig to eat, like in Peru. And they do loads of green stuff for me and good meat for Andy.
After days on the BR 153 we went on the BR 070, going West. A much smaller road, almost no traffic and guess what, we had rain! Lots of it. First I enjoyed the smell of it, but then it became a pain in the bum. We got very wet. In the hotel I washed illegally all our cloths and now they don't want to dry.
Posted by Maya Vermeer at August 30, 2009 04:27 PM GMT
Tomorrow we will go in the direction of the Pantanal. We are looking forwards to see the wild life.
Andy is snoring away at the moment, I am sure he wants pizza when he wakes up.