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.
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.
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.