Açaí, river pirates, Cobras and the evangelist.

 

The early morning mist was rising from the river, I could hear the faint chatter of the dock workers and church bells in the distance, while the dawn chorus of a multitude of birds and insects floated in from the far side of the river.
As myself, Jose (my guide) and his young wife stood at the docks at Ponta De Pedros, the evangelist restaurant owner unexpectedly turned up on his bike. We were about to cross the river by boat, and he said a prayer for us. It was a bit of a surreal way to start Boxing Day.

I had planned my route with military precision – rivers, jungle, fazendas, more jungle and more rivers, almost in a straight line. But of course things never go to plan…

When I met a very kind and helpful English-speaking ex-Columbian (who by the way is the spitting image of my dad’s favourite singer Nat King Cole) who ran a restaurant with his Brazilian wife, he decided it was far to dangerous for me to go alone as I was planning, and decided to help me organise the next section. Apparently river pirates and paranoid fazenda owners seem to be more of a problem here than any other dangers I was told about, so re-routing and persuading a guide to traverse to the next city with me cost me a big chunk of time and money. The whole thing got to be monotonous. Every evening at the port restaurant different people told me stories of giant anaconda, cobras, (as the locals call all venomous snakes here), river pirates and trigger-happy fazenda owners, all just waiting round the corner for a nice juicy walker. People kept insisting that ‘nobody goes into the jungle here’. I think people love to tell stories and make things out to be more dangerous than they really are, and the phrase “fear of the unknown” springs to mind. Nonethless, six days later than planned, I eventually got moving again.

On route to Muana we stayed at a fazenda and also with a family who made a living from producing açaí. We were given shelter, local food, coffee and good company. I washed in the river and drank açaí, sleeping under the starry night sky and taking freshwater from the rivers with no health problems. Luckily I didn’t need to use the toilet during the night at the fazenda, when no doubt I would have stumbled barefoot and half asleep through the darkness to go. The father of the family found a large snake in front of the toilet early in the morning, (I think it was a pit viper – see photo below). He swiftly killed it with a machete, and the whole family were talking about it, saying it was unusual that it entered the house.

On route we also followed a newly-installed power line that cut through the jungle into Muana. It was a hard slog, climbing over and under the cut forest, but Jose didn’t want to walk in the jungle. I thought it would have been easier.

I don’t want to paint a bad picture of Marajó – like most places in this world there are always going to be a few bad apples, but most people are fine, and there are some amazing places to visit.

I have managed to get some great video footage over the last few weeks so a video to follow soon on this blog post.

A happy and peaceful 2016 and new trip around the sun on spaceship earth to all who read this.

 

2015-12-26 19.01.16 (2)

Family on a fazenda on Marajó, cooking fish and rice especially for their unexpected adventurous guests.

.

.

2015-12-25 11.57.15 (1)

Columbian guy Nelson chatting to my guide Jose at his community

.

.

2015-12-27 14.05.51 (1)Freshly picked açaí berries ready to be stoned and crushed, ready drink the same day.

.

.

2015-12-27 07.51.17 (1)

Jose on his father’s horse for part of the journey

.

.

DSC00016

This thirsty, parched ground of Marajó will soon be under half a metre of water with the oncoming rainy season.

.

.

IMG_3107

Jose holding the cobra found in the toilet area.

.

.


4 comments on ‘Açaí, river pirates, Cobras and the evangelist.’:

  1. Clive Maguire

    Way to go, Pete! Loved the video, and you look like you’re well on your way now. Well done, and look forward to more stories, pics and videos in due course. Success for 2016 – take care.

    Reply
  2. ian

    good luck pete

    Reply

Leave a comment