Water world

Apologies for the lack of blog posts. I still have no satellite communications and I only occasionally get access to wi-fi when I arrive in towns or cities. Even when I do have access, most of the time it’s so slow I can’t even upload a photo. I can tweet from the Delorme Inreach from anywhere, so most updates can be seen on my Twitter feed in the panel on the left. I am also working on another video and will add it to this post soon, so keep checking back!

Well, it’s been another action-packed last few weeks for me and my current guide Edson Lima. We finally arrived in Piria on Sunday evening after a tough seven-day trek. Both of us were slightly dehydrated, hungry and thirsty as we approached the city, teasing ourselves thinking about drinking loads of ice-cold Coca Cola or beer with chunks of fizzing ice. On our arrival, we had a group of about 20 curious adults and children following us. They immediately went and purchased ice-cold Coca Cola original then watched amused at us guzzling down the drinks.

Before we set off from Sao Miguel I persuaded Edson to accompany me on the route I had originally planned. I had to convince several people that the route was okay, as they all told me it was impossible to cross directly to Piria from Sao Miguel, and that I would have to get a boat 25km up-river to a different starting point. This would have had me gaining longitude without manually traversing it, and would have defeated the object of what I’m trying to achieve, so I tried to explain to them I had to walk and swim the whole route. I showed them the route on Google Earth but they still thought I was crazy and that it was totally impossible. After a previous guide talked me out of traversing my planned route, and after incurring a huge penalty in terms of time and money, I was determined to prove to myself it was possible.

I first had to swim to the start point, 2.5km upstream and across the river, but it wasn’t too difficult as the river is tidal and I timed it as the tide was entering. This was the first of around 20 crossings, major and minor, although the matted reeds and tangled giant palm trees and tree growth ether side of the rivers was the most difficult to traverse. At times we were sinking deep into the root-infested mud with every step, climbing over huge recently-fallen trees with the onset of the rainy season. But that was compensated for when we reached higher ground away from the rivers. In places i think it was untouched forest, with a high canopy. This meant that at ground level it was easier to traverse, and there was that awe-inspiring feeling of being in a special tranquil place.

I did manage to lose my Silva compass in one swamp, when I got caught up on a branch during a torrential rainstorm. The rainfall was deafening and the tidal waters were rushing into the forest. Edson was way ahead of me, hurrying to get out of the jungle before nightfall, so I reached over my back with the machete and cut the cord, and my precious compass disappeared forever below the murky water. There have been many amusing incidents and interesting events over the last month – too many to blog about. What stands out most to me so far I guess is the hospitality of the people. All the river communities we came across, invited us into their houses to have dinner and a chat and sleep there.

I am now preparing for the trek to Breves, and then on to Gurupa, a gruelling 136km crossing of the unknown! Edson has helped me find a new guide in Piria as he needs to return to Soure. He wanted to continue walking with me but has other commitments, so I’m saying farewell to Edson today, as he has a two-day journey back to Soure and Pesqueiro. Apart from his addiction to Facebook & Whats-App, he’s been absolutely brilliant company and helped me a great deal with my Portuguese and with organising a few interesting trips outside of the walk. We got on very well and trusted each other, and he loved explaining my expedition and talking about the journey to other people we came into contact with. We hope to team up again for a few weeks walk when i reach Santarem. He has never been in a plane before, so I said I would pay for the flight from Belem.

The logistics for the walk are awkward, moving spare gear forward, getting guides back home, and accessing towns with suitable banks. Now i need to return yet again to Belem to renew my visa. Apparently it’s the only place in Pará apart from Macapá where I can do so.

I’m aware that I have spent more time on Marajó than I originally planned, so I need to return to Piria ASAP to get moving, focus on the walk, and try not to get sidetracked too much. Marajó has been an overwhelming experience and immersion into a different culture. It’s amazing how people and animals have adapted to living on and being surrounded by all that water. Marajó really is a water world.

Listen to the thousands of Frogs in the community of Sao Miguel here

 

A bit more info on Marajó for those interested.
Large parts of the Marajó are flooded during the rainy season because of higher water levels of the Amazon River along the coast and heavy rainfall in the interior. Marajó is almost entirely flat and during the rainy season much of the island turns into a large lake.

The island was the site of an advanced pre-Columbian society, the Marajoara culture, which existed from approximately 400 B.C. to 1600 A.D. The island has been a centre of archaeological exploration and scholarship since the 19th century. Scholars from the 1980s forward have further divided the pre-Columbian period into the Ananatuba phase (ca. 1100 B.C.–ca. 200 B.C.), the Mangueiras phase (ca. 1000 B.C.–ca. 100 A.D.), the Formiga phase (ca. 100 A.D.-400 A.D.), the Marajoará phase (ca. 400 AD-1200 A.D.), and the Aruã phase (1200 A.D.-1500 A.D.).

Marajó had a population of approximately 40,000 people until the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century. The population lived in homes with tamped earth floors and were organized into matrilineal clans. Tasks were divided by sex, age, and skill level. The arrival of the Europeans was catastrophic to the indigenous population of the island; 90% died due to a lack of immunity against European diseases.

In the 1918–1919 outbreak of the Spanish influenza, Marajó was the only major populated area in the world not to have documented any cases of the illness.

The island is also the location of the Roman Catholic Territorial Prelature of Marajó.
Source info Wikipedia

 

Marajo 2ed video Feb 2016

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Click on the photos below to view a higher resolution image.

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Edson Lima: My guide across Marajó Island. He grew up in the Pesqueiro fishing community. His Grandfather lived in an indigenous community in the forest.

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Header photo: The water world of Marajó

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Edson preps the Pack-raft to escort me as I swim across the Rio Canaticu: Marajó

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River house on the Rio Paracuuba Marajo

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A rewarding view after another long day in the jungle: Rio Marituba: Marajó

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One of many selfie shots I have collected: Sao Miguel, Pará

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Part of my route across a tree of rivers.

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Cacao  This amazing-tasting fruit grows on the side of the tree.

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It’s not just animals that have spikes.

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Water world


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