From the fires and horse battles of Ruropolis I headed further west into more hills. I think the most memorable part of my journey will be the endless hills of the TransAm. I passed a hunter during the day with the creature that had woken me in a naked frenzy many nights earlier. He had bagged two and called them Pacas. In the photo we see the white underbelly of one, both were beheaded.
Between Ruropolis and Itaituba was about 100 miles of straight up and down. I had the beginning of a sore throat and runny nose but made 60 miles in nearly 8 hours. The road had some fairly pristine scenery in the beginning that eventually decayed into one of the longest construction sites I have ever seen.
Towards the end of the day I was into this construction area of the TransAm (BR-230). There is an effort to greatly improve a North-South route to connect the ports of Itaituba and Santerem with some of Brazil´s more southerly areas and the good produced there. The work is well under way with the TransAm tripling in width through this area, drainage pipes are being dug in, and some actual principles of civil engineering are taking place by reducing the ups and downs of the highway.
I duck into a patch of jungle, hide my bike close to the road under some palm fronds, and head into a secluded spot for the night. I cooked some Brazilian brand Ramen noodles with a can of Vienna sausage that I hacked open with my machete…who needs a can opener? Immediately there are bees crawling all over the opened food, but they don´t seem interested in stinging me.
Ahhh, a campfire in the jungle. To help you understand what this is like imagine cooking stirfry in a sauna. It sucks. So does eating piping hot food in this climate. I probably sweat much more water out from cooking and eating than I take in from my soup. I drank two liters from my Platypus bag and still barely urinate. This is probably a large part of my weight loss.
I´m only woken once in the night by footsteps in the leaves but am fairly confident it´s nothing dangerous. I got out of the hammock to try and take a picture of the beasts in action but couldn´t see a thing. Overall a decent night out and quite comfortable in the hammock, except for the heat.
The “hello” gesture, or rather gesture for nearly anything in Brazil, is the thumbs up. I kind of dig it, old men walk by and just give you a thumbs up out of the blue as if to say, “Keep on keepin´on.” I gave this night a thumbs up dressed in my fashion catastrophy.
The morning I left my campsite I resumed the march of death through the construction. I made some of my slowest progress to date averaging about 6mph. The surface of the road was very rough for a bicycle from the construction vehicles and the traffic was heavy with Big Rigs bringing in what looked like topsoil to cover the dust. They also trucked in water to spray the soil before packing it down with the waffle like roller machine. Also, I was nearly run off the road then given the finger by a moto-taxi. Not a fun day to be a cyclist in Brazil.
The construction reached all the way to Itaituba, or the ferry that crosses the Tapajos river. I will rest for at least a few days in Itaituba. After 17 days of cycling with one rest day I have a fatigue in my legs that I have never felt before. My morale was also drained from the endless construction mess.