When I reached the Tapajos River and the ferry to Itaituba there was a makeshift road block and a protest taking place. Evidentially cyclists were immune from the protest and I crossed with some minor harassment from a very tactile Tranny on the ferry boat. I don´t think spandex shorts are common in rural northern Brazil and maybe I´ve been giving off the wrong impression!
*Correction: He wore semi-permanent facial paint, not tattoos. This is typical among Indians of the Amazon, usually a skilled learned by the females of the tribe.
I was polite enough but had to make it clear I wasn´t interested in sharing a beer or anything else with this man. I found it amusing if not a little annoying being as tired as I was. I´ll have to keep in mind that I must look absolulety rediculous to the average passer by. God knows I attract enough looks everytime I roll into a town.
The next part of my trip I have been looking forward to and fearing since I first started planning. It starts with 180km (or over 100 miles) of pure jungle reserve with no people, houses, farms, supplies, food, help, anything. I spoke with a truck driver who of course said there are lots of mosquitos (so far I have barely seen insects besides roaches and ants), snakes, and onças (pumas). He tells me the mosquitos start just 20km west of town but he doesn´t know why?
I have been going over my gear with a fine tooth comb making sure everything is in good repair for the next leg. I had my bike cleaned quite professionally down by the river, not knowing what I was getting into. I went looking for a hose and parked my bike to use one that I found. This was a car wash area however (unknown to me, just a hose running up from the river) and for 5 Reals (maybe 2.50-3.00$) a man cleaned every centimeter of the bike with a toothbrush. It took him over an hour but the bike has never looked better! I gave him double what he asked and was very pleased to see all the dust and grime cleared from my chain, gears, and other components.
While this was going on I walked across the street to a bar for a coke. It was 8am and for the first time I saw a truly terrrifying sight.
The bar was blasting Brazilian techno music and had two patrons, myself and the man in the corner. He was at a table with a large beer in front of him. There he sat, sullen, in the darkest corner just watching. He was an Indio with a completely tattooed face, in the traditional style of this area. He had his hair done in what might be called a “faux-hawk” back here in the states but other than that was dressed like me, tank top and shorts. Of course I didn´t take a picture, and he looked in no mood or state to oblige anyway.
The end of his nose was blacked in completely with large black circles around his eyes, giving a skull like impression. From his mouth raking back towards his ears were straight lines that looked like whiskers and on his forhead were a series of vertical and horizontal lines that made for a menacing appearance. He swaggered down the street after about an hour in the bar and I watched him the whole way.
After this stop it could be a very long time before I reach internet access again. Today I am going to shop for a spare water container even though I´ve been told there are many rivers along the way. Jacareacanga will be the next town of any stature where a great many indians live, many with a drinking problem I´m told.
I need rest and food for now so until then I am taking it easy!