Rio Branco and an Interesting Flea Treatment


I was laughing in wonder as I watched these guys treat a mother dog and her two puppies for fleas. It probably wasn’t something to laugh at but it just seemed so bizarre. They used a two liter coke bottle filled with the blackest used motor oil and poured it all over these poor dogs. From branco to preto with just a little oil.

They said it works very well to treat flees and the dogs seemed to enjoy the oil massage. The oil was rubbed into the fur and the dogs that were once white and brown were now completely black. What happens when they start to lick the oil off?


I indulged in a little personal care as well with my first professional straight razor shave and a haircut. After looking at some of the pictures of myself I figured some grooming was in order. I headed down to the praça, or park area, and walked into a barber shop filled with old men. It wasn’t easy trying to explain in broken Portuguese what I wanted but it worked out well.

The shave took almost 45 minutes and my face was prepped with cachaça before being lathered up. The alcohol was so strong my eyes were watering and I started to choke and gag at the nauseating booze smell. But when it was finished I had the best shave of my life and nice trim of my grown out buzz cut. I felt like a million Reais (which is about 600,000 US right now).


Rio Branco is a large enough city where I could find some very necessary parts for my bike once again. After all the wear and tear and 2000 miles across the continent I had to replace the bottom bracket (for you bike enthusiasts I had to buy a whole new Shimano Alivio crankset since they didn’t sell a new bearing set separately for the Ultegra components, bummer) and a bearing set for my headtube. Both were completely smooshed and crumbling apart when I removed them. At this point I have replaced nearly the entire drive train of the bike.

I visited the market area with enormous trees and bamboo shoots providing cover overhead. I like to see all the herbal remedies from Amazonian plants in hand labeled bottles. I saw one that contained a crushed green powder in a 500 mL plastic soda bottle with a handwritten “Viagra” label on it and nothing more. No thanks.


While enjoying a beer at a bar next to my hotel I watched a man grab a goiaba from the gutter, cut it open, and squeeze the juice into a plastic cup of cachaça. I imagined it tasted pretty good. Shortly there after his friend came in with a plastic bag full of uncooked hot dogs and sausages. He handed them out to any takers. Uncooked hot dogs aren’t a big deal but sausages? I was offered some but politely declined.


The other night I was speaking with some Brazilian men staying in the same hotel as me on business. They took me out for some Brazilian cuisine I had yet to indulge in. In a broth was boiled ox tail, shrimp, rice, and an Amazonian plant that made your mouth numb after eating it. The ox tail was very tasty and tender.

While we ate under a thatched street side hut it poured rain as it has everyday, sometimes all day long. The streets looked like rapids it was so heavy at one point. If you had an inflatable tube you could float down the gutter. This made me think of the road ahead in Peru.


14 Responses to “Rio Branco and an Interesting Flea Treatment”
  1. 2000 miles, no big deal. Checking your site is part of my morning routine now, keep it up Doug.

    by Adam
    on 06. Nov, 2009

  2. 2000 MILES! I love it man! Nice work. Glad to see you got yourself cleaned up – even though we all know you’ll need another shave in about an hour. Enjoy some down time before the homestretch! Stay tough!

    by Yost
    on 06. Nov, 2009

  3. You look great! Much better than that poor oil soaked puppy….

    by amy gunz
    on 06. Nov, 2009

  4. Indeed, you look very sharp. Alos it seems you are less skinny. The rain’s gonna make it tough until you get to the mountains, but I’m sure you’ll get through all right!

    by sara
    on 06. Nov, 2009

  5. Doug, I hit a killer headwind today coming up Holland st on the way home from work. I was discouraged and I wanted to give up. Then I thought of you. I took a deep breath and got it together. I shifted that 3 speed tranny into granny low and pushed it for what seemed like sheer minutes! I finally crested the hill. Success! I bet you’ll have a similar feeling when you reach the Pacific.

    by Joel
    on 07. Nov, 2009

  6. 2000 miles is a pretty good warm up for such a large hill climb! You are certainly putting yourself to the test. Great job!

    by Erek
    on 07. Nov, 2009

  7. Glad to see that you are able to get repairs/maintenance on your bike in the big city, as I imagined this expedition to be one long slog through the wilderness. Certainly an eye opener to see the communities built up in an area that seems so remote to the outsider.

    Great to read about the local color and cultural experience, as it is always a treat to pluck local produce from the trees as an indulgence. I empathis with you on the interest in local/native medicinals, as there was a lot of interesting things on the shelves in Japan, but wasn’t quite sure what they really did with the language barrier.

    by Ken
    on 09. Nov, 2009

  8. Hi There!!! My name is Danielle and I live in Roraima, Brazil. I was in Palmyra Temple on Oct 22nd and guess who I met: your sister, Carol Coleman !! She told me about your trip and your encounter with the Onça. You were definetly protected by angels because it was hunting for sure. There was no reason for it to just walk by and go into the jungle. You were on its territory and you were supposed to be “Dinner” for it. I’m glad I could meet your sister while visiting Palmyra. She’s a very sweet person. It was also great to hear about your adventure in my country. It’s a pity you won’t ride through my State. Next time you talk to her, please tell her the Brazillian girl sent her a hug. Good luck and take care!!!

    by Danielle Souza
    on 10. Nov, 2009

  9. thanks for the comment.. Carol is my mom, not Doug’s Sis! I’m Doug’s Girlfriend. Anyway, the Puma encounter going the way it did was surely a miracle indeed.

    by sara
    on 10. Nov, 2009

  10. Friend of Yost’s here in Houston. Your blog is my favorite of alltime man.. What an inspiration you are to us all! keep on truckin’ !

    by bryan
    on 10. Nov, 2009

  11. I want you to know 21 fourth graders are rooting for you to safely finish and return home. My class keeps track of your progress on the map, and they frequently ask me on a weekly basis to show them how far you’ve come. I laugh almost every time because they say, “Wow, Look! He’s almost across all of Africa!” I guess I have to re teach the world map. “Pioneer” was a vocabulary word last week and, and one boy said, “Hey isn’t that guy who rides the bike a pioneer?”

    Keep your head up, you’re almost there! Can’t wait to buy you a beer, or many, when you return.

    by Anne McLaughlin
    on 11. Nov, 2009

  12. Doug, each morning, you make my cubicle seem more and more boring! Keep it up!

    by Josh Lent
    on 11. Nov, 2009

  13. Doug, I honestly thought you were crazy biking up Italy Hill almost 15 years ago, but this takes it to a level way, way, way off the charts. You are a warrior! Congrats on your accomplishments so far. Beth and I are doing are best to keep up with you without internet at the house (you’re website is great). If you run into problems, please let me know. I’m in a shop full of burly welders rooting for you. It may take us a while to figure out where the Amazon is, but we’ve got your back. Stay strong and good luck!

    by Nate Loesch
    on 11. Nov, 2009

  14. Ops, I’m sorry Sara! I got it wrong! Anyway, tell your mom I said Hi.

    by Danielle Souza
    on 19. Nov, 2009

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