Friday, April 23, 2010

Bob & Weave to Boa Vista, Brasil

Highway 174 from Manaus to Boa Vista was a nightmare. The jungle was so dense on either side of the road that it cast shadows which cloaked the malicious pothe holes. Some of the pothe holes were the size of bathtubs and just as deep. I nailed a couple of them dead on and bottomed out my suspension with the deathly thud. I was keeping my speed under 50km per hr most of the time however a safer speed would have been about 20km per hr.
After about 400 km the jungle began to dissapate and the forest transitioned to Savana. It was here along the roadway that I saw a hockey stick. Luckily the perculiar shape caught my eye and I realized that I had arrived at the Equator. I stopped for a photo and the urge to pee suddenly overcame me. I walked a few meters to the side and urinated on the line dividing north from south. I figured that here was a perfect place to mark my spot and back on the bike I wondered which way my pee would flow.

The majority of the trucks here on the highways are European, consisting of Mercedes, Scandia, and Volkwagon semi`s. As the road was so terribly bombed out with holes, everyone was navigating their rig all over the road in no particular order. Oncoming trucks were in my lane and I was in theirs. Everyone was simply making their way in their respective direction and navigating through the holes in the roadway . Navigating was more important than keeping to your side of the road! Alas, I had double duty to perform while trying to miss holes that would debilitate any motorcycle and at the same time avoid becoming hamburger on the grill of an oncoming truck. Biggest has the right of way down here!

Several pretty ponds and lakes dotted the highway to Boa Vista (God only knows what lives in that black water). The total trip from Manaus to Boa Vista was about 785 km from the dock in Manaus. Along the highway one had to pass through the Waruri Indegenous reserve. The highway along this stretch of road was only open to traffic between 6am-6pm. I was on my bike in a hotel parking lot at 630am and made my way to Boa Vista arriving at 5 pm that evening. Along the way I was treated to several maccaws flying overhead and several Toucans flying by like bullets through the forest.

A good stretch of the highway that shows the shadows which occluded the tretcherous potholes looming in the darkness awaiting a tasty motorcycle to devour.
I had the bike completely loaded at 0555am and walked to the front desk to ask if it was ok for me to start eating 5 minutes early as all the food was prepared and resting on a table in the middle of the dining room buffet style. The guy informed me that it wasn`t ok and that I`d have to wait 5 minutes. I was already sweating buckets and I simply laughed at the guy in an arrogant sort of way that only I could detect. I simply waited until one minute after 6 am and miraculously the door opened to the dining room and the lights were flicked on. I sat down for a gormet breakfast of scrambled eggs that had been cooked hours ago (maybe the night before and a bunch of bread products like pizza pockets and other stuffed paistry`s. I sipped a cup of super sweetened coffee and then decided that enough was enough.
I straddled the bike and off we went towards Boa vista. The highway quickly narrowed after about 100km and I definately realised that I had entered the deep Jungle. The road was terrible and the pothe hole threatened to devour my motorcycle. A few times in the 400km stretch I nailed deep holes which completely bottomed out my suspension and dislodged my speedometer from its mount.
Overhead along the way I happened to see several pairs of blue and beautiful yellow Maccaws flying over head. It was a very pretty and rewarding sight to behold. Several other species of birds were continually cross crossing the road as I made my way through the jungle and Warui indeginous reserve which included my favorite birds: ``Toucans``.
After about 500 km the Jungle began to dissapate and the further I headed from the Amazon the drier it got. At about 200km from Boa Vista the forest cover was replaced by Dry Forest and Savana. Boa Vista was on the Horizon and I arrived at roughly 5 pm. I was looking for accomidations when I decided that I`d pull out my guide book. I rode over to a Yamaha dealer and asked for directions to the hostal I was looking for. The guy simply hopped in his motorcycle and brought me right to the place I was looking for.
The hotel that I checked into (Hotel Monte Libano) was less than half what I paid the night before but smelled like mold and served no breakfast. There were cigarette buts gathered in the drain of the stand up shower and several cigarette butts resting on the window sills. I was in no shape to look for another hotel after 800km of riding so I simply walked around town looking for ice cream, and a good supper. I hunkered down in my rat hole and awoke the next morning for another early start to Santa Elena De Uairen, 18km inside the Venezuela border.

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