I packed my gear up from my first night out in the bush and took my sweet time pedaling the last kilometers to Altamira located on the Xingu river. After 9 straight days of cycling I was tired, almost 15lbs lighter, and needed food and rest.
After getting to Altamira and seeing the sights I made a fairly efficient stop at the post office to mail home some last items I won´t be needing and began looking for a welder.
The guys pictured above are awesome. Aluminum is not a common material to weld. There are welders on nearly every block down here but once they saw that my cracked rear rack was aluminum they said no, no, no. But these guys I found gave it their all. They called my bike “very fragile” which it is compared to the steel tanks they ride around here. They cut some scrap metal to length, hammered, pushed, pull, jammed, and scratched my bike and parts around until a solution was had.
The one on the right was in charge but luckily I didn´t completely let him have his way. I told him my bike frame was also aluminum (it´s in fact steel) and that it wouldn´t weld. He started scratching the paint off and banging it with metal insisting he could weld bars directly from my frame to supports he placed in the rack! I kept saying “Te Bom” trying to keep him from ruining my nice mountain bike in the process of securing my frame.
At any rate the rack was fixed, the guys were cool, and didn´t even let me pay them for their time, effort, and materials.
I also replaced my broken kickstand at a bike shop and the kid their starting oiling every joint and bolt. I looked away for a second and he was oiling my disc brake pads! He must have thought they were somthing else, as I haven´t seen another bike with disc brakes down here. Even the motorbikes have dual drum brakes. I nearly tackled him while tryy to say that these are disc brakes, no oil. I quickly dapped the oil away with my shirt. This could have spelled big trouble for my stopping ability for a long time to come but luckily they were still working well.
I spent much of the day washing myself of the rust colored dust. It stains everything. My clothes look exactly the same after a cycle through a real washing machine. My finger nails and toe nails look like I had henna dye all over them. Even my eyelashes and lids have a rust colored tinge like eyeliner. I can´t seem to scrub them clean. I wonder what my lungs look like.
The SAT phone has been working well and I made a few calls while at a bar by the river (you need a wide open sky to use it). I was next to a family of obvious native indian decent. The Xingu are a tribe in this area that still retain some of their heritage. While this family had strongly unique features and skin tone they had complete western clothing and haircuts. I think they found the American on his big phone with his feet up having a beer amusing.
I also have been eating as much as I can these rest days. I go for cookies, pints of ice cream, the beef/rice/chicken/pork/beans from the churrascaria, and the street vendor´s X-Tudo, my favorite.
What the hell is an X-Tudo you ask? Well, it is grilled in the back of a truck on a hot plate, served in parks and street side at dusk, and consists of:
- fried egg
- 2 hot dogs
- slice of fried ham
- fried potatoe shavings
- hot sauce
- on a bun!
As a matter of fact I am going to go look for one now!