Travelreport No 41, Brazil, part 2, 26.9. - 2.11.2010 Barreirinhas to Tabatinga
Barreirinhas - Sao Luis - Belem - Manaus - Tabatinga/Leticia
A tour to the N.P. Lencois, which is only accessible by 4-wheel-drive trucks via deep sand roads was a joy. In between white sand dunes, up to 40 m high, are cristal clear lakes filled with rain water. At the time of our visit, these were not deep anymore because the rainy season will only start in November. Afterwards back to the road, the peaceful and enjoyable cycling leads through bushland and many caju plantations. The peace abruptly ends with reaching the mainroad BR135. Only 55 km missing to arrive at Sao Luis, but these are hell. Terrible traffic with a lot of trucks, a bad road with none or a not ridable sideline, hot temperature and headwind. When a car hits Pius panniers, it is time to put up the tent, since it is Saturday afternoon it is never wise to be on the road, because of celebrating parties take place and alcohol is part of it.
Sao Luis is a world heritage site, but the authorities seem not to invest in restoring the old colonial houses. So the beautiful old tiled mansions are crumbling away.
Then one last night putting up the tent at a gasoline station, together with 30 women who want to visit their husbands who are sitting in jail opposite the road, was quite a different experience. The closer we get to the equator, the hotter and more humid the climate. Sweat trickles into eyes, ears and nose, and therefore we are happy to reach the Amazon after cycling 5300 km through exciting Brazil. Finally cycling into Belem was not so easy, because the largest religious event in Brazil takes place, the Cirio, with 2 mio of people following the statue of the Virgin which is carried through the streets.
Standing for the first time in our lifetime at the riverfront of the Amazonas, the river that contains 17% of all the freshwater of the world, was an exhilarating moment. The real dimensions of the amount of water we only were able to realize when travelling upstream by boat. 1100 rivers flow into the amazon which has a length of 6275km.
Manaus, during the rubber boom end of the 19th century, a rich town, shows some leftovers of that time, e.g. the famous opulent opera house, the Teatro Amazon.The harbour is interesting, because the river can rise up to 15 m in the rainy season, the docks are floating, to enable the loading of the boats at any time.
Hammocks side by side on narrow space hang up on deck on the typical double-decker Amazonasboats, this is the way to travel and sleep on the river. During these days - 14 all together from Belem to Tabatinga - we often sat on the upper deck, reading, chatting and letting the immense jungle, and from time to time a hut or a village, passing by. Very exciting to watch the many river dolphins, even pink ones can be seen. And viewing the spectacular sunsets is just fantastic. For us the two weeks on the boat were an enjoyable experience.