When morning came to the work camp in the Parque Nacional Da Amazonia I walked to the road with my bike. I pedalled less than 100m and had to carry it back on my shoulder and throw it in the river to clean off the mud. I´d have to hitch a ride out of the mire with the boss man and his employee, who was literally riding shotgun.
I threw my bike and baggage in the back of his highpowered pickup truck and got in the back seat. The boss was a short balding man who gave some final orders to the guys at the work camp about what needed to be done in the area. Then he placed a handful of shotgun shells on the dash and another man climbed in the passenger seat.
The men had been very nice to me since I arrived the night before and I had no real reason to believe I was in any danger. I thought that maybe they were used as some sort of blasting caps for the construction process.
We hammered down the road thrashing through the mud and fishtailing up hills. People here like to drive as fast as possible. We entered a bulldozed clearing and the man riding shotgun yelled and we skidded to a hult. Everyone jumped out of the truck, so did I, and a shotgun was pulled from behind my seat.
The boss handed the gun to his employee who ran off in a crouch. He crept around a tree and fired. Less than ten feet away I saw clumps of dirt being kicked up. He walked over and dragged the small horned deer, the only type of deer that lives in the Amazon, toward the road. It was still alive and kicking on the ground. He handed me the gun as the boss and himself clubbed it over the head with a log. The log was rotten however and just broke apart all over the place.
They lifted it by the legs and brough it to the truck were a few more whacks over the head finally put the deer down. They shoved it under my bike, getting blood all over my cranks and frame, and covered it with a tarp, using my bike to secure it down. I am thinking, “Great, I’m in a jungle reserve holding a shotgun with illegal bushmeat in front of me. I am going to be on the next episode of Locked Up Abroad.”
Later I was able to snap the image with the deer´s head shown beneath my bike wheel and frame. I don´t think they would have appreciated me taking pictures of their illegal activity.
We continued down the road and in less than 10 minutes an adolescent (~80-100lbs) spotted Onça ran across the road! It is rare to see one big cat in the Amazon, I saw two in 12 hours! Sure enough we accelerate towards it with the shotgun out the window, but luckily the cat disappeared into the jungle. These guys were going to shoot anything they saw!
Further down again there were two pheasant type birds with long tails on the side of the road. This time we just pulled up next to them and from his seat Mr. Shotgun aimed out the window less than 8ft away and bagged one of them. The second bird didn´t even move so he took aim and clipped the wing. This bird hobbled into the brush.
The boss told me to pick up bird number one and hide it under the floor mat at my feet. Mr. Shotgun retrieved the other injured bird and rubbed its belly so it would squawk. He was trying to attact a third bird in the trees on the far side of the road. He snapped the next and put this bird under my feet with the first.
Off we went through more mud. I wanted to start riding my bike and leave these gentlemen to their business. We assisted a crashed truck bogged in the mud. These poor guys had been up all night trying to free themselves until we came along. Within 30 minutes we had them out.
I have noticed that motorists on the TransAm are very willing to assist one another and other fellow travelers. I have stopped truckers going the other way to ask for water and they have been very kind. The terrain is harsh enough where I am sure anyone who frequents this road has needed the help of others before.
Eventually we reached a fazenda where the Boss gassed up his truck. I took the opportunity to untangle my bike from the deer carcass and get riding. The road was fairly dry at this point and I was ready to be on my own again.
I spent a day struggling with morale crushing hills and a serious bonk from lack of food while on the bike. Even after my rest days in Itaituba I hit the wall harder than ever before. I have a problem with eating while riding, which is essential for such long arduous rides, and 12 hours of riding just doesn´t make any sense to attempt day in day out.
I would need more rest in Jacareacanga and have to make a better effort to stay fed while on the bike. It was one of my lowest days of the trip so far.