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.
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.