Against the tide

The tide was coming in rapidly. We were a about a kilometre off shore, up to our necks, crossing an estuary. My feet were sinking into the sandbed beneath me with every step, and I felt that if I stopped walking I would sink for sure. I could also see what looked like clear blue box jellyfish (Agua Viva) bobbing all around us. My guide Edilson was struggling to keep his head above water – he had the backpack strap still done up under his neck, and the buoyancy of the pack was pushing his head under. I was shouting to him “Não é seguro – voltar voltar”! it’s not safe – go back, go back! I seriously thought we were going to drown or lose all our kit, or both, and in fact as an option, going back wasn’t much better than going forward. Not a good start to the expedition!

Claudio, the guide’s 14-year-old assistant, who was carting a load of bottles of fresh water, was walking behind us. He could see me and the expression on my face, and he faltered, not knowing quite what to do… Fortunately, survival mode must have kicked in, because somehow or other Edilson kept his head above the water and made it across on foot, and Claudio and I somehow managed to swim to the other side to safely. Amazingly, they didn’t seem fazed at all, and just carried on walking bare foot.

As you’ve probably gathered by now we, were taking the coastal route.

It took me a few days of searching to find a guide. Initially I wanted to hire a fishing boat from the Pesqueiro fishing village about 14km from Soure to take me to my proposed start point, and then walk back across a little further inland.
But somehow I ended up hiring one of the fisherman as a guide – Edilson. He told me we would have to walk along the coast to the start point, as it was not possible to get there by boat, but my main concern was access to fresh water as I was told that water on the southern side of Marajo is mostly sea water at this time of year.

In the end it all worked out well. Edilson knew the area, tides and estuaries like the back of his hand. Initially I’d not much confidence in him, but as we walked I could see he knew the place very well. To cut a long story short, we met a few forest hunters about half way, they had motorbikes, and we managed to hitch a lift to an area near to the start point (at a price of course).

We put up our hammocks, and Edilson and I walked the last few kilometers to the proposed start point and took a few photos. The deserted beach was stunning.

On our return to Pesqueiro it was tough going under the tropical sun, and it was pretty scary dodging the tides again, but we saw some amazing wildlife, like the distinctive bright red Guara bird (Scarlet Ibis), and various brightly coloured birds as well as water buffalo and of course the jellyfish that locals call Agua-viva (living water). We also met a few very interesting people making a living from seasonal coast fishing, and after 3 days we were safely back in Pesqueiro. I then walked the 14km back to the little hotel in Soure, and Edilson decided he would walk with me.

This blog was obviously not written at the start location, as I have no sat-comms at the moment,  but I’ve displayed it on the map at the start point.

 

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Fisherman drying, salting and preserving the catch of the day

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A well about 100 meters inland and about 3 meters deep for perfect drinkable fresh water by the bucket load

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Buffalo cooling off in an estuary under the equatorial sun

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Edilson taking a break whilst walking 14K back to Soure with me

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Edilson and relatives at home in the small Pesqueiro fishing community

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Pan and zoom map to see more detail


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