There have been a very few times in my life when time seemed to slow, if not stand still, and this was one. I could see the car headed for us broad side, in slow motion, too late to brake, to late for our acceleration to help. Neither the driver or us even considered involving the police: He because he was Brazilian and has known all his life to distrust them, and we because we had been warned not to involve police in anything, not even an injury accident.
I hurried Bob along, holding my oversized chocolate cookie, as the stranger called out “I won’t hurt you!” Suddenly, Bob turned sharply and defensively and soon learned the man was just asking for food. He gave over some of his cookie and the man thanked him. Now I know why we haven’t understood people who we thought were asking for money. I’ve been trying to figure out how people can afford to eat here and now I feel really bad that we’ve been ignoring them.
We finally had a great day on the bike, from Boa Vista to Bom Fin on the border with Guyana. I’d always thought all of Amazonian Brazil was jungle, or rather cut down jungle, second growth, but the north is wet savannah, much like the Gulf Country of Queensland, Australia. We saw more birds in one day of 130 kilometers here than we have seen in the entire trip so far, all but one or two new to our “life list.” There were stops every 30 to 40 kilometers with roadhouses, also much like Australia but closer, where we got much needed cold drinks to add to our load of water. It is very hot and humid here just north of the Equator, and we were soaking wet most of the time. Our final stop was nearly an hour so we could cool down to a reasonable level before going on.
The Amazon River here is deep enough to accommodate ocean going ships, and they crowd the port along with the upriver barcos (many sizes and configurations) that we traveled on. We’re not exactly sure of the source of all this economic activity in the mid-Amazon, but it is no longer virgin rainforest; rather, it’s small farms and second growth timber. There is oil exploration, but it is not visible from the river