Before I enter Brazil my understand about the country was simple; fast developing country, facing lot of environmental challenge due to its position in Amazon basin and it industrial development and last but not on the list ‘the favelas’.
Guapore river it a physical border between Bolivia and Brazil, unlikely African border which real doesn’t mean much or show significant changes, this make lots of changes. First the language from Spanish (Castillano) to Portuguese (Brazilian).Second the currency and price while Bolivia it one of the cheap country in South America Brazil is one of the most expensive in South America. Even the faces changed.
I had good time at Curia in Guajara Marin, hang out at French missionaries, thanks to my friend Reg and Jac. Thanks to amigo de cyclist and Bantu students of Guajara Marin, all made my time in this small river town a memorable. I left Guajara cycling towards Porto Velho, the cycling in this day was good one; relatively flat road, no wind but hot and humid. In the mid day I stop for cocking in the farm house with lonely old man who keeps me busy with explanations of evangelical session on Tv.
There are few villages on the way at about 30 to 40 km, the people are so friendly wherever I ask for water I got ice cold water. The challenge of the day came when I have to find place for camp, alongside the road the forest have been cleared for farms just few km then the jungle continua. To keep the livestock out the road all the farm are fenced. I don’t have problem with Portuguese since it very close to castellan but I’m still straggling to switch to Portuguese ascent and grammar which make huge different. In this evening I end up knock in five different farms to find camping space at last one. Every house goes with it story some communication sucks, some couldn’t make up let this strange camp in their back yard, in two houses the husbands were not at home so the wives couldn’t make decision. At last I camped in front of pond which means more mosquitos, the man who lived with a wife and two doughtier he dint talk much but just simply point me to the space. He visited me later with bottle of ice cold water, bow of soup and invitation for soup, in the morning he come again with cup of coffee and bread with a story that his grandparent also were African. Before I leave I went to the house to say thanks and bye I was welcomed with the Parrot yelling something I guess ask who I was, the poor creature keep on screaming ciao as I pedal off.
From the pot hall road I join the good road coming from Rio Branco and Acre but still had relatively low traffic with big shoulder. The jungle paved road goes through several bridges with rivers like lakes. Soon after lunch the cloud which was moved with wind to several direction final start to pour. Surprise instead of putting on my rain gears I enjoy the shower; it was a hot day and rain itself hot. I realized the rain it was strong when the road turn to a river bring the logs, branches and what not. As I cycle in this basin I saw may alligator sun basking in the river banks or dam snakes are also common here. When the water slow down I pass several snakes killed with vehicles, I wonder what would happen if one rolled in my spokes while I was pedaling! The worse thing about cycling in this river road is when the huge tracks passed; they simply spread mad water to you and no way to avoid.
Hydro power project…what is the future of Amazon.
At the evening I arrive at Nova Mutum Parana, as the name suggest (nova-new) it is brand new village relocated from the jungle to give chance for massive hydro power dam. I have heard lots concerning this kind of project in the Amazon basin so I was curious to here from the affected communities and see. The hydro power in Parana, it will be among the largest in the world. It an investments of Swiss firm carried on by Belgium company (So we don’t have to think it only Brazilian government are responsible for the future of amazon).
In this village I had invitation from Nicholas who I meet in the worm shower (www.wormshower.com). He is very sanative life and cycling enthusiastic and intelligent person. He is one of the engineers in the hydro power project; later on we had very interesting conversation regarding the hydro power project, Brazil development and so on. When I arrive in this village I had to call him but since I don’t have sim card I had to find someone to help me. I pass at one of the resto-bar and some guys call me so I ask them for help. Nicholas was on his way back about 100 km driving back from Sunday ride. Brazilians are very open and social; as I was waiting for my host to arrive they install me to their part, huge cold beer…what an evening!!! These were also work in the hydro power dam, they told me a lot about the project, and they said few months ago it was the hydro power construction with high number of employee in the world. For all of the information they gave me they were very defensive any ways they were drunk a bit.
Nicholas he was less defensive, he said that hydro power had less environment impact after construction. The dam will change the eco system of the river and also it doesn’t consume huge part of the forest compare to illegal tree cutting. We both agree that such kind of project has more impact on local communities for instance Mutum Parana villagers were located to this new place compensated with new and sort of modem houses. These houses are built together in the sort of quarters, creating a urban life. These communities are forced to adapt the life which they never lived before.
There are hundreds hydro power projects in Brazil, most of these are private firm some foreign investments which do business of selling energy though still Brazil which has second largest general motor firm has to import energy from other countries.
Another big challenge Amazon face is deforestation from both illegal and legal. It is difficult to reforest most part of this jungle particular due to administration. Also Amazon soil it not such fertile but with the complex natural system it manage to survive, most of the trees takes decades to reach mature so for this reason it not ease to plant native trees. In the several farm houses they showed me the tree they try to plant but couldn’t work out so in some case they had to put industrial fertile.
Nava Mutum Parana home stay filled me with love and energy, thanks to Lili, Nicholas and Francisco. Accompanied with a family I cycled out of small town towards the capital of Randonia state Porto Velho. In this day 110 km seem to be like 50 km, it was cloud day unlikely other hot days the weather made this ride to be more ease. I had more long time for lunch after had superheating and can fish I brew coffee (apparently I’m getting addicted to good Brazilian coffee) then read two page of my boring book.
At 3 I was in the Porto Velho, this is a port city; from here to Guajara Marin the river isn’t navigable. The port is main link to another big city of Amazon state, Manaus. The road about 600km link these two city is only passable for about 3 months of the year.
In Porto Velho I had also host form Couch Surfing (www.couchsurfing.com) , Fernando my host offer more than couch, he offer a house! He loves people and enjoying cycling. I had a chance to do short presentation in Rotary Club of Rio Madeira which led to the connection of interview with local radio station. I’m now waiting for the boat to sail down the river to Manaus, the cargo and passenger boat it planned to sail on Tuesday hope the it will leave because doesn’t look like there is real schedule.