A Big Thanks to Resu the Pig Farmer

dscn0484

I´ve made 160 miles since leaving Jacare´and had a very interesting stop over midway. In this section of the TransAm it is very sparcely populated and a smiling face is a welcome sight, especially after an afternoon bogged in torrential rains.

In the past week I have crossed my thousand mile mark, changed time zones, and crossed from the state of Para´to the state of Amazônas. The state of Para´ is roughly the size of France, Germany, and Italy put together, as stated by my German predecessor who cycled this route 10 years ago.

Since leaving Itaituba´ I´ve encountered rain everyday. The TransAm never ceases to throw another road block at me. I once read that the jungle either accepts you or rejects you. I can undoubtedly say that the jungle is trying to reject me, but I´m not going to crack just yet.

Towards the end of my slog a few days ago I was ambling along trying to find a campsite. I was covered in the cement like mud, my chain kept binding on itself, and a hamstring injury I had developed that day was pulling pretty badly. I later realized my ACE bandage had also caused some very deep chaffing…quite nasty.

I stopped by a small river to clean up before heading into the jungle for the night when I looked to my left and saw that I wasn´t alone. In a small shack there was a man sitting at his table, leaning out his “window” smiling. I set my bike down in the road (no one was going to be coming by) and walked over.

He came to the gate, which was his door, and we both kind of chuckled. He immediately invited me in for coffee and some farinha biscuits he made. I briefly told him my story and then we sat and just watched the pigs run around.

Eventually it started to rain again and he told me to bring my bike in from the road. I asked if it was ok if I camped in the yard and he said of course,  I could set my hammock up in the front kitchen area, where the chickens and rooster fed, which seemed a million times better than the ant infested jungle!

Facts about Resu:

  • Not much for conversation
  • 35 years old
  • Pig farmer
  • Owns 40 pigs, a few chickens, and a rooster
  • Works the farm alone
  • Land is owned by a fazenda operator
  • Has 5 brothers and one sister
  • Grew up in the state of Rondonia, only been there, his farm, and point inbetween
  • Doesn´t drink (something about getting hit in the face once)
  • Wants to find a wife in 2 years when he´s done farming
  • Smiles alot

Like I said, Resu is fairly quiet. The night went by with me thinking for 20 minutes of enough words to compose a coherent question and asking it, even if I knew the answer already. We listened to his tiny shortwave radio to the news out of the capitol, Brasilia, two time zones east. He had no electricity so the light was two candles set up on either side of the shack.

For dinner he reheated some rice, beans, and beef scraps that had probably been reheated many nights in a row. The stove was a block of cement with a ditch in the middle atop a wooden bench. Like most bachelors the cleaning process was a quick rinse and wipe down before using the plates and utensils. Worked for me. To be honest it all tasted very good.

Next the bathroom was calling. Resu literally didn´t have a pot to piss in, as the saying goes. It´s very humbling to meet someone so kind and giving that has so little. I felt like a jackass with my fancy gear sitting in the corner. Anyway, any hole behind the shack functioned as the bathroom, and the river was the shower of course.

I often reflect on what kind of runoff I have bathed in over the weeks… I try not to think too hard though.

Resu had a rifle hanging on the wall and I asked what he hunted. The jungle was back about 500 meters on either side of the road and he hunted there for wild boar, pacas, and viadu (the little red Amazonian deer), amongst other small game.

Eventually it was a suitable bedtime (8pm) which was comforting because I had exhausted my Portuguese vocabulary. The idea of roosters calling at dawn is a complete misconception by the way. Resu´s rooster likes to start his day at 3:30am. That´s a good two hours before first light! No one can sleep in on a farm… or sleep much at all.

In the morning Resu made more coffee and fried some more farinha biscuits. I idled longer than usual as I figured he was making the breakfast for the special guest, but I was anxious to get a move on.

When I did say thank you and start to pack up he asked if I wanted to stay longer, have more coffee, biscuits, etc. I felt bad, this guy must very rarely see anybody.

dscn0483

The cycling was more of the same… heat, rough road, hills, mud, dust. Suffering overall. Sometimes I wonder if it was wise to tackle so many firsts at once: first cycling tour, first time to Brazil, first time trekking in the jungle, first time traveling alone, first time away from home for so long. It´s all a learning process though and I don´t mind learning more than one thing at a time.

14 Responses to “A Big Thanks to Resu the Pig Farmer”
  1. Another great post Doug. I always look forward to hearing about your adventure. Good luck, Bill

    by Bill Lord
    on 22. Oct, 2009

  2. Doug, Resu looks like a very nice person. It is so unbelievable that these very poor people are so kind and generous to an outsider. You make a good representive of the USofA.

    by Mom
    on 22. Oct, 2009

  3. What a great story! You’ve met so many amazing folks on this ride.

    by Becky
    on 23. Oct, 2009

  4. Hey Doug, Hang in there. Some days will be harder than others. I could really resonate to this post, as it brings up many old Peace Corps memories… a man who has so little wanting to share what he had with you, the difficulty when you don’t know the language well enough to chat beyond 8pm, the roosters waking you, the self-consciousness of having your “fancy gear”. But your physical challenge is beyond ANYTHING I can imagine!! 1000 miles so far!!

    by kathy
    on 23. Oct, 2009

  5. Great post Doug. If you keep going at it the jungle will eventually relent and accept you as one of its own.

    Keep it up and good luck.

    by JGIll
    on 23. Oct, 2009

  6. Your stories are incredible! I look forward to reading..

    Best of luck! Stay strong!

    by Matt Yost
    on 23. Oct, 2009

  7. I read the following lines this morning:

    From Joshua Slocum’s “Sailing Alone Around the World”:

    When I came to a Samoan village, the chief did not ask the price of gin, or say “How much will you pay for a Roast pig?” but “DOLLAR DOLLAR DOLLAR” said he; “White man knows only DOLLAR.” “The Tapo has prepared ava; let us drink and rejoice!”

    by Ed
    on 23. Oct, 2009

  8. Merci Resu, remind me, we’ll send him a red cap. Keep up the good work Doug

    by Adam
    on 23. Oct, 2009

  9. Doug – you guys have matching outfits!!!! Same flip flops and everything. I can’t believe how much Portugese you must have learned so far to be able to share so much information – it’s really inspiring how well you communicate!

    by amy gunz
    on 23. Oct, 2009

  10. Glad to hear that you are making a favorable impression on the people you have encountered, as they have extended hospitality and social connections despite the language barrier,

    Was just at the Boston Explorers Club last night and I passed along the site info to the coordinators there. The speaker was rasing funds for an overflight of the north pole to entrpenual research, and a quote was read from Two Against The Ice regarding the funding of expeditions that I will have to share with you on your return.

    Definitly taking a Alpine rather than Everest apporach to this, so hope that hamstring doesn’t slow you down and you have the time for it to mend up at some point.

    by Ken
    on 24. Oct, 2009

  11. Ken that is awesome. When I get back you have to take me to an Explorer´s Club meeting. I´ve always wanted to check that out.

    by doug
    on 27. Oct, 2009

  12. … and a speedo!

    by doug
    on 27. Oct, 2009

  13. We are all so grateful to Resu for being there for you…I feel like I’m hooked on a reality show…God Bless

    by JONI
    on 28. Oct, 2009

  14. abercrombie ? fitch

    by ???? ??
    on 24. Aug, 2013

Leave a Reply