Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Across the mouth of the Amazon

We arrived in Santana a few hours before our scheduled 4pm departure, we even got there before the boat did.

(waiting to be loaded onto the Almirante del Mar)

The tickets we bought from Marcio a couple of days ago needed to be traded in to the actual boat company for our boarding documents. When the guy at the counter saw the bike, he balked at the 200Rs we had paid, stating that a bike like ours should be 600Rs. I started arguing against that real quick, but the helper from Marcio's company and 2 of the young women taking tickets told me not to worry. the helper then went down to talk to the captain. He got it worked out so the bike was considered 1 m of freight, costing 200Rs, as agreed. Then we just kept waiting for our chance to load.


(after 1-2 hours of pulling cargo out from every nook and cranny on that boat, we finally rolled the TA right onto the deck, squeezing her past the water fountain, and lashed her to a poll on the aft deck. 3 other Honda 125/250's made the journey too. Thankfully, we didn't have to try to get the bike down into the cargo hold. That would not be fun, but some others have had to do it. We'll see what happens on future boats...)

In the meantime, we had already loaded all of our luggage and tied up our hammock to claim space. Since this boat was a "short" one - it only takes about 28 hours to go directly across the mouth of the Amazon - we decided to just get hammock space instead of a private cabin to store all of our stuff. And surprisingly, when it's not on the bike (and we're not wearing the bulky riding gear) we have a ton of stuff.

(Jill getting comfy in our hammock. While we do have a double hammock, it does not provide for the best night's sleep when there are actually 2 people in it)

(leaving Santana)

(sunset over Santana/Macapa)

(sunrise over the Amazon from our hammock)

(there were a lot of small houses along the banks, all with dugout canoes paddling towards our boat...)

(...some passengers throw care packages of food and clothes to the families along the way...)

(...going for the pick up)

We arrived in Belem in the evening, around 8 or 9pm. Our boat docked beside another river boat, meaning that we had to pass through it to get onto land. That was fine for us with the luggage, but a nightmare for the bike. The closer boat sat really low in the water, so the ramp up to the dock was fairly steep. Worse yet, it came too close to the ceiling of the lower deck for the TA to pass through. So we rearranged the huge plank a bit and gave it a shot. It was unsettling. I was on a separate walkway to the left, pushing on the handlebars while trying not to push the walkway sideways. We had to dip the motorcycle low to each side to get the mirrors through. And the guy in the back was not pushing up that incline like he should have been so it came down to whatever I could do on the bars (which was not enough from that angle) and a boat hand pulling the forks from the front. That guy most certainly saved the day.

(what you can't see here is how much fun Mike and 3 other Brazilians are having while unloading the TA)

We tried to get out of the dock neighborhood but meandered our way through some seedy streets until we found a major avenue.  Then we were on our way to Jill's family's place.  Us, and a few thousand of our closest friends apparently.  Traffic was intense.  Buses were all over the place, swerving quicker and more violently than most we've seen.  Tons of small motos, taxis with no headlights, you name it.  And it was dark and rainy.  Even though we try to avoid it, we still get stuck traveling at some inopportune times.  At least we didn't have far to go.  Even so, the 14 km took us almost 2 hours.  Part of that was getting lost, but not much.   And once we did arrive at where we thought we were supposed to go, there was some confusion because we were staying with Jill's uncle at a different address.  But the confusion settled out after a bit of time and we were happy to be in Belem with family.

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