One Too Many Hills and First Night in the Hammock

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A steep long climb welcomed me back to the road the morning I left Anapu. After an hour or so I couldn´t believe my eyes…nearly flat road all the way to the horizon. I sat back and cruised at over 10mph for the first half of the day. I had my first flat tire of the trip and broke both my tire levers fixing it. I sleepy teenager on a motorcycle pulled over to watch me get frustrated over the mess.

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I took a picture in front of one of my arch enemies of this trip… a fazenda! The road was empty and I figured with such a flat road I would make good time for the day, no rush.

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By noon I made it to a small town I planned to spend the night in. However, I actually felt pretty good and decided I´d try for Altamira 60km away. If the road continued to be flat I could make it my dark.

Straight off the ferry the road climbed. Then it rolled and twisted and climbed and dropped. The heat increased to demoralizing highs by late in the afternoon (it gets hotter until the sun goes down) and I was now paying for too many hours on the bike. My body crashed quickly.

Soon I realized there was no way I´d make Altamira that day. I was in the middle of more fazenda country and couldn´t muster the strength to climb another hill. My water was gone and the temperature on my watch, while still on my wrist, read 107F. I don´t know if my wrist was cooling the watch temp down to 107 or increasing it to that level but does it matter? I was being fried.

I dropped the bike by the side of the road and walked 100m to some shade. I laid there and just thought “I give up.” I didn´t know what to do anymore, I was going to cook and dry out like a dead cow on the side of the road.

I laid there until my watch read 100F and I felt I could stand. I pushed my bike for about 45min thinking my goose was cooked until I came to a house. Around here they store their water in these blue 500 gallon plastic tubs that are up on a platform. I don´t know where they get the water to put in them but the one I came upon this day had a leak and water was dripping down.

I dropped my bike in front of the gate, let myself in and stumbled straight under the falling water. It was the most relief I have ever felt. The owener came out and I told him I needed water, that I was too hot, and so he had his wife bring out some cold drinking water.

He told me Altamira was still over 40km away and there was nothing in between. I tried to chit-chat awhile to see if he´d offer me a stay but it didn´t happen. On my way out I stood under the falling water once more.

I the took 2L of cold drinking water he had given me and pushed my bike about 10 minutes up the next hill. There was a small patch of woods next to a fazenda fence and I decided this is where the road ends for me today. There was enough cover from the road so as not to be seen and I took my chances with the fazenda rancher. Once darkness fell I knew it would be very difficult to see my hammock.

The night was interesting to say the least. As soon (I mean almost to the minute) that the sun went down every living thing imagineable starting making as much noise as it could. It was louder than a city street at rush hour, loud as a crowd of people, loud as my squeaky mangled bike. I thought I´d get about 4 minutes of sleep that night. However, after about 2 hours it quited down to just the crickets.

I laid in the hammock and sweat…for a long time. Night is 12 hours down here and it doesn´t cool off much until maybe 1-2am. At about 2:30 or so I woke up to a breeze flapping my rain fly and footsteps! I was next to a fazenda and the cattle had come to sleep fairly close to my tent but it wasn´t them. These footsteps were in the leaves, right next to me, and whatever it was sounded about my size!

I turned my headlamp on and shined it in the direction of the noise, which was only 20ft away or so…but the steps didn´t even hesitate. “Holy Shit,” I thought as I struggled out of my hammock (for those who have seen the set up this is a tangled mess to get out of) and stood in this small patch of jungle stark naked except for my bright blue rubber flip flops I bought the day before. I had been reading about Bushmasters and Jaguars for months, this was really happening. I held my machete out with my heart practically pumping out of my ears. I tired to see what was there but my headlamp just reflected off every vine, tree trunk, leaf, and branch directly in front of me. I couldn´t see a thing!

I looked down and noticed ants, hundreds, crawling all over my feet and legs but I couldn´t feel them with all the adrenaline and ignored that issue. Then I heard the footsteps directly behind me.

By this time I had found my high powered Streamlight tactical flashlight. I swivled around, machete in one hand and flashlight in the other with my headlamp on as well and my flip flops. About 10 yards away there it was….the size of a racoon. It was some sort of small tree dwelling animal gathering goiaba or something. As soon as I hit it with the high powered light it scurried. I had conquered my first jungle beast!

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I went back to sleep and didn´t wake up till sunrise.

8 Responses to “One Too Many Hills and First Night in the Hammock”
  1. Damn!

    by Aunt Janie
    on 04. Oct, 2009

  2. Great pictures. Is that my pillow?

    by Mom
    on 04. Oct, 2009

  3. Iai porra, vai incara………

    by idario
    on 05. Oct, 2009

  4. Interesting to hear about the cacophany and the lingering heat of the jungle, like a first hand Joseph Conrad narrative.

    A little suprised that such a small mammel made that much noise walking along the jungle floor, but eels looked 4 times as big while snorkleling in shallow water as they actually were.

    by Ken
    on 06. Oct, 2009

  5. long days, long nights … this adventure is even more epic than i could have imagined. great writing doug, stick with it!

    by jamie
    on 06. Oct, 2009

  6. Great pic Doug! You look like a warrior who is ready to fight with anything. Keep up!

    by Ying
    on 08. Oct, 2009

  7. Great post and pics colonel kurtz!

    by mike
    on 12. Oct, 2009

  8. It is indeed. For its weight and packability I have decided it is worth hanging onto!

    by doug
    on 27. Oct, 2009

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