Indians, Desert and 10,000 ants


The ride from Igarape-Miri to Cameta´ was fairly easy going. I started at dawn to beat the absolutely life zapping sun and made it to the river Tocantins where I recieved some daunting news.

As I waited for the ferry to cross the Tocantins (2 hour ride) I was surrounded by a group of curious teenagers and men. After describing to them what it was I was trying to do exactly I attempted to answer the myriad of questions. One man asked if my bike computer was for navigating by the stars!

Finally after the teenagers amused themselves with my lack of Portuguese ability (getting a kick out of saying rude things I´m sure) I asked a military police officer if he knew anything about the stretch of dirt road that would be my next leg. He said it was a good road for cycling.

However, an older man (with maybe less to prove than the tough officer) said that part of the road was desert and filled with indians, as he made a bow an arrow gesture.

Up until this point the rides have been extremely dry with water only at a few major river crossings by settlements. I have heard about the sandy roads during the dry season and was hoping the older man didn´t know what he was talking about.

I caught a small lancha (long canoe like motor boat) with one other guy that saved me waiting for the ferry for 2 more hours (every hour I asked it was two more till the boat came). The ride was cool and relaxing until my fellow passenger sat down next to me, smiled, faced the other way on the bench and relieved himself in a bucket next to me. Nice.

I strolled around the riverfront town of Cameta´and watched some kids spear fish through a hole in the concrete walkway that smelled like a sewer.


I set up in a small hotel room, layed my panniers on the ground and went to the bathroom. Not ten minutes later I noticed little ants in a line from the window to my gear. I picked up my bags and saw, if I had to guess, over 10,000 tiny little ants over everything that had a trace of sugar or food on it. I banged my stuff on the ground and they fell off like dust. I made a sweeping motion with my sandals across the floor to kill them and hung my stuff on the walls. After about 2 hours they figured out how to reach them and I gave up, they seemed harmless enough anyway.

I shopped for a machete, toilet paper, and extra bottled water for the next day. I was nervous about the road and have never heard of anyone cycling this particular stretch. It was 160 miles to the next town of any note and I predicted a fairly tough go of it.

3 Responses to “Indians, Desert and 10,000 ants”
  1. Great post! So glad to see it..

    by sara
    on 27. Sep, 2009

  2. Piss ants is what we called them in the Keys. They get on everything and it pisses you off.

    by Aunt Janie
    on 27. Sep, 2009

  3. The Amazon is loaded with insects, so be wary of what the ones in the wild will be up to compared to the civilized ones.

    Desert sounds like some tough terrain, so hope that you have water containers for those dry stretches.

    NatGeo just had a special on uncontacted tribes of Indians in the Amazon, and Brazillian efforts to establish contact – hope that they are more curious than suspicious of your passing through.

    by Ken McKlinski
    on 30. Sep, 2009

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