BR319 Day 4: DELIVERANCE – Amazonas, Brazil


This morning feels different. We have a few rays of sunshine coming through the clouds, the grass and trees are still wet with dew, we have water from the well, a scrumptious breakfast of veg-on-veg instant noodles simmering in the camping pot… As we consume our breakfast, Şeker-Kız-Candy excitedly nibbles away on some salt-crackers we feed her. It almost feels like something of a home, something of a family, going on here. Me being delusional I guess. A multitude of bird calls and insect sounds brings the air to a pleasant vibration. I think I’d like to stay here longer. Except that we don’t have enough food.


Our departure from camp 3 turns out to be more difficult than any other. We check and load the bike up, give Şeker-Kız-Candy a loving pat goodbye. Within our short one-night stay here we’ve really befriended this dog and leaving her behind here all alone is turning out to be hard.


With heavy hearts (not like we don’t already have enough load on the bike) we head off down the road, but she follows us. The road is still moist and we’re therefore not able to speed up to much more than a jogging pace, so she’s having no trouble keeping up. Ebru tries to indicate to her to stay behind, but this poor dog obviously prefers company and is convinced we’re now together on this mission into the unknown – wherever it may lead us. She follows us over road and bridges for a couple of kilometres, until we finally hit a piece of road solid enough for us to accelerate out of sight. Heart-wrenching.


Well, from here the journey goes on, sluggishly, hot and humid! Though the sky is mostly overcast, we have plenty of penetration from the rays of the sun and it boils us in our suits. But nothing we’re not used to by now.


You’d expect that the heat given off by this solar radiation would have dried up the track for us. but unfortunately at this point the ground is so saturated with water that it’d take at least a day of good sunshine to harden out, I recon. Some places are deceivingly dry on the surface, but just below the water creates a soft bed of mush to slide around in. So on we plod…


The day gets hotter and in keeping with the tradition of days past, the track gets steadily worse as we get closer to the Amazon river. We’re both pretty tired and pissed off by now. After coming to terms with the initial shock of the reality of our situation, we switched into a different mental rhythm, one that would keep us tough, focused, persistent, not allowing us to give in to the pressure and resign in wait of the vultures. Keeping this focus has been very important as there’s not much space out here for errors nor low spirits. But now, after four days, we’re tired and turning each corner to find yet more brown road ahead of us is becoming hard to bear.


We have some nice pieces of asphalt here and there, but the muddy sections are therefore all the more challenging. Deep mud, metres across, no footholds… just terrible!


We start to encounter occasional signs of civilization. Every now and again a rickety wooden sign-board naming a fazenda, or a barb wire fence. We’re not quite out of the woods yet, but we’re getting closer and it’s encouraging.


Sometime about 11:00 I drop the bike again, coming off a bridge. Because of the need to avoid falling, as well as circumventing protruding nails on the wooden path, I’m crossing bridges really slowly and, the bike being very heavy, this doesn’t give me much natural magic to hold the bike upright. There’s a little drop off the end-board of the bridge and as my front wheel comes down I lose balance as the weight shifts forward. Oh well – another hour or so lost. Anyway it’s just about midday-park-under-a-shady-leaf-and-drink-some-water time!


I notice as we ride, that my back is burning. I take my shirt off and have a look: I’ve kept a money belt slung around my shoulder underneath my T-shirt, to keep it out of sight, and it seems that with all of the sweat, salt and rubbing it’s caused a lovely rash between my shoulder blades. One of the bonuses of off-the-beaten-track adventure…


Now and again we pass farm houses – simple constructions of wooden boards on stilts, high off the ground. I cannot see why they need those stilts right now, but I suppose with some heavy rains out here, this whole landscape might be a whole lot different. Maybe it’s just for the wild cats.


Further ahead it all gets really nasty. Ebru walking half the way, not wasting the energy to climb back on the saddle for the short distance to the next puddle. She’s treading mud and building crossings where possible. I’m going completely off-road where I can, trying to find some hard ground in the shrubbery instead of slushing through this awful mud!



Crossing one deep mud-rut, the back tyre gets stuck and doesn’t make it out the other side. I’ve got some precarious foot-hold and luckily I haven’t dropped the bike, but it’s bad. Carefully I try to rock the bike back and forth, accelerate to climb out of this mess, but the slush is deep and soft and I can hardly keep balance.


While I do this, Ebru gets up behind the bike and tries to aid by pushing the bike forward. I accelerate and the wheel turns, but I’m not getting out. It almost seems to me I hear Ebru try to say something, but it’s muffled under the sound of the motor. I stop the engine and turn to look at her. She’s standing there in shock, covered in mud from toe to head! Red-brown clay mud running down her face, her shirt, her trousers… mud on her hair, her lips, her eye lashes…. I guess as the wheel splattered it all up at her she tried to shout, but then kept her mouth and eyes shut to avoid the dirt getting in.

Ebru’s a royal mess! I mean this is probably the most memorable mess I’ll ever see her in. I have a fleeting thought of “I MUST get a photo of this!” but I know for sure she’d kill me if I ask for the camera. But then I also know she’ll so have wanted that photo to be taken, later when we’re looking back at all this… Too risky! I love my life 😉

Ebru’s in a bit of shock. Following the two seconds it takes her to realize she’s still alive, I see her shoulders sag as she breaks down and starts to cry. I’m stuck holding up the bike, my feet desperately trying to keep grip in this slush-pit and I can’t even get off and help. It’s a horrible situation.


Soon Ebru’s gathered herself together and washed off the dirt with water, and we’re ready to move on. Somehow, in my anger, I have managed to rock the bike back and forth and with some power from the engine, brought the back tyre out of the rut. Thank f–k for that!


The road winds on.. At some time around two or three in the afternoon we hit some lovely streaks of tarmac, weaving narrowly between trees and bush. Some are hundreds of metres long and uninterrupted. We glide over it, savouring the smoothness, the effortlessness of the ride, the cool breeze blowing in our faces. Lots of beautiful fat lizards in splendid colours lying here, sun bathing on the hot tar. Once, on a downhill, we spot what must be a wild cat, pitch black with a long bushy tail, on the road in front of us. It moves off into the bushes as we approach.



Then eventually we open up on to a tar road as wide as a six-lane highway, and I know we’ve just about made it. It’s an awesome feeling – we’re cruising along, solo, on this massive road surrounded only by dry grass and jungle. We don’t even have to indicate to change lanes.


Then another narrow stretch, then an abandoned petrol station, and very soon after: houses. A whole handful of them. We’ve made it!


We ride out to where the road ends on a steep slope into a wide river. A ferry awaits, but we will take that another day. For now, we’ve reached civilization – the village of San Sebastian de Igapo Acu, and we’re going to get some rest!


After I stop the bike, Ebru gets off the back, walks over on to the grassy slope and vomits. She’s been through an ordeal and having made it through must have been overwhelming. The handful of local folks sitting under the tree look at her in surprised amusement, but then one man approaches her with a cup of dark cane sugar drink with ice.


Our BR319 journey hasn’t finished yet, but we’ve made it through the most dangerous part – 400 kilometres of Amazonian desert, without access to any human services.


As we get familiar with some of the people, unload our motorcycle and move into our room at the pousada at the river, we start to acclimatize and take in the tranquility of the place. It’s a small village, we see only about 20 wooden houses, there’s a large river with a ferry, a number of boats and rafts parked up at its edge, a couple of people washing clothes or tending to their boats. A number of young children play about, dragging toy trucks behind them on a string, or riding along on a tricycle. A few men and women sit lazily under the large trees near the pousada, smiling and talking at a relaxed pace. Looks like we might enjoy it here.