Kidney Splitting 105 Degrees in the Shade


After leaving the town of 50km I headed south to Tucurui with about 1L of fluids…bad idea. I have found that my perception of the conditions I´d be facing in the Amazon have been quite off. This has truly been a desert journey to this point.

I passed through more fazendas this past two days with a brief glimpse at some real jungle. The road tends to be much more manageable when there is growth close by. There´s less dust and more shade, yet still I´ve seen very little water to cool off in.


As a matter of fact in the past week I´ve seen swimmable water on four occasions. The first was day one, the Amazon itself. Then two passes of the Tocantis river, and a clear looking runoff I rinsed in that I think has given me a skin rash. The rest has been drying cess pools filled with cattle filth and could barely be considered liquid.

I arrived in Tucurui which is the home of a giant hydro-electric dam. It was built in the 70´s with a little help from Agent Orange to help defoliate the jungle for its construction. While I was here there was a protest going on involving campers:

The occupation of the worksite has been organized by local residents who have been suffering since the construction of the dam 25 years ago and still today fight for the respect of their rights and proper living conditions in the region. Link.

Finally someplace to swim, the Tucurui dam of the Tocantins.

Finally someplace to swim, the Tucurui dam of the Tocantins.

I headed out a little late today and straight up a 6-7% grade for over an hour. I drank 2 liters of coke before I reached the top. From there it was some decent rolling jungle hills again until of course in early afternoon I hit more fazenda. The heat was absolutely beastly (105 in the shade, not sure what the humidity was) and there were trucks every few minutes kicking up dust that just hung in the air. Yet still nowhere to take a dip.

It is not fun wearing that in the heat but the dust is worse.

It is not fun wearing that in the heat but the dust is worse.

I now realize for the time being I have to change my plan. I can´t depend on camping, I can´t depend on water, I have to be ready to ride self contained until somewhere outside the fazendas. I prepared for a rainforest. I have water proof gear, a machete, a hammock for camping. I should have been preparing for absoulte waterless dust. I know it´s called the dry season but where are the rivers?

I arrived in Novo Repartimento and the true begining of the TransAmazonica for me. It is a dusty town (aren´t they all) that truly does look like a set from an old west movie, with internet access. I drifted in covered in dust with my bandana over my face in true cowboy style. After a few minutes some guys gathered around and I got one to take a picture.


Tomorrow I expect more of the same but once it does rain this dust will most likely become impassable mud.

13 Responses to “Kidney Splitting 105 Degrees in the Shade”
  1. the first pic with a broad smile! hopefully you’ll see a little rain soon, but not a crazy downpour. time will tell i guess…

    keep taking care of yourself, and best of luck on the next leg!

    by sara
    on 29. Sep, 2009

  2. You are doing great. There is no way that you won’t fit in with all that dust…. Keep it up.
    Your Friend,

    by Idario
    on 29. Sep, 2009

  3. Doug, We’ve always been a little behind…remember, we don’t even have t.v.! Just read all of these entries today. They are fantastic! Great job of conveying the details of this amazing quest. We’ll keep watching for more. (Glad to see you brought a bandana for the inevitable dust.)

    by Eddie/Kathy
    on 29. Sep, 2009

  4. You’re witness to the devastation of the Amazon. It’ll get greener as you go. I’m not a bicyclist, but I’m captivated by the places you are visiting. Good luck and stay safe.

    by Ernesto
    on 29. Sep, 2009

  5. Doug,
    This really beats the hell out of riding to Exeter from Hampton with Mike and Josh. It looks like an amazing time. Be safe, and have fun.

    by Bill Lord
    on 29. Sep, 2009

  6. Dougy… Who would have thought the amazon would be Dry and Dusty???? what the heck! I have a feeling that is only going to be the beginning of the surprises.

    Very cool pics… keep safe and good luck with the next stretch.


    by John Gunzelmann
    on 29. Sep, 2009

  7. Hello Nephew–We are all cheering you on here in NY. Looking forward to the upcoming miles. Love Aunt Mary and Uncle Ed

    by m. gunzelmann
    on 30. Sep, 2009

  8. nice updates doug. don’t mess around with the heat too much. I know it’s even worse there, but I have made myself sick pushing it in the heat/humidity of austin a couple times.

    by John K.
    on 30. Sep, 2009

  9. You are a warrior!

    by Ivan Jenkins
    on 30. Sep, 2009

  10. Stay tough brother!

    by Yost
    on 01. Oct, 2009

  11. I saw this big blonde horse standing on a mound of earth the other day in the middle of nowhere…I hadn´t see a soul in hours. It was starring down right at me. The first thing that came to my mind was… Ivan.

    by doug
    on 27. Oct, 2009

  12. The other day after 77 miles and 9 hours of riding I was 300 meters shy of the ferry I needed to get on, my stopping point for the day. I could see it ahead, but was so hot I needed to stop in the shade of a tree before moving on. The heat here is a different animal than I have ever experienced. In a word…heavy.

    by doug
    on 27. Oct, 2009

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