Final Preparations

Our cash problems are finally sorted after two and a half hours in the bank.

ATIX Logo on the Door of the ToyotaThe boat is very well made – Thank You Peter Herzog of Alegra, Manaus for making such a good job of it! However, we were expecting the canopy to be only over part of the boat; Peter went overboard, and the canopy is more or less full length, which means that the pilot will not have such a good view of the river. We are looking at how to modify it to alleviate this problem –  when we hit the rapids he will need the best view he can get.

We discovered that we need a Firewire cable to connect the video camera to the computer; needless to say there isn’t one in Canarana, but the local IT shop is getting one sent specially from São Paulo. Other than that, the final preparations are going smoothly.

Culuene; Our Launch PointWe went two hours each way by dirt road in a Toyota pick-up, courtesy of the Associação Terra Indígena Xingu (ATIX) to check out the launch point we had selected from Google Earth; apart from the pium (nasty little biting flies) the site is ideal, with easy access to a sandy beach. Sue came back with scores of red blotches on her legs – 79 to be precise – but so far they don’t seem to be itching too much; I wore long trousers.

_asc0451.jpgOn the way back, we photographed soya harvesting. The soya fields make a sad contrast to the natural cerrados which at this time of year is very green and lush, with a riot of variety, where the soya fields are flat and featureless. Our driver, Eloi, told us that the river used to be clear and fresh; since the soya took over it has become cloudy with the sediment washed into it from the denuded fields. You can see the land quite literally disappearing before your eyes.

Soya HarvestingThe sediment is also responsible for the terrible pium amd mosquitoes. The argillaceous sediment is alkaline, transforming the water which used to be too acid for mosquitoes into an ideal breeding ground.

Sue and I are now itching, metaphorically and literally, to get the boat in the water and start the expedition! The days in Canarana are grinding by, as we wait for delivery of the satellite phone, which is coming from the USA via São Paulo. There is still plenty to do, preparing digital maps, modifying the boat, meeting representatives of Indian organisations, but we just can’t wait to get on the river!

© Patrick Cunningham

⇒Next: Kisedje

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