Day 276 – Belem and Amazon Riverboat Day 1

Day 276 – Belem and Amazon Riverboat Day 1      05/24/11       Mileage: Local miles

After packing the bikes and checking out we headed to the port to hopefully get the bikes loaded onto the boat that will take the three of us up the Amazon River to Manaus. We have to load the bikes when the river tide is high so the dock and the boat cargo deck are close enough together….if the water is too low it’s very difficult or impossible to do. The dock is a chaotic place and with the language barrier it’s hard to get accurate answers. We are again told a different time and to come back in 4 hours….frustrating. So instead we headed for Alex’s motorcycle shop called Moto Mania a few kilometers away….something we were going to do anyway.

We hung around the shop for a while and did a little work on John’s bike to stop an oil leak. With that done we said goodbye and thanks to Alex who has been a great host and made our stay in Belem infinitely more enjoyable and fun. On the way back we grabbed a quick burger and then it was back to the dock. Riding out on the dock into the chaotic scene, people were waving at me but I wasn’t quite getting what they wanted (read ignoring what they wanted)… I continued riding slowly up the pier and pulled off to the side near the boat. Well, a fellow in a black shirt with a gun comes storming up the pier yelling and seems to be pretty upset with me. After we “exchanged” some words he stormed off back down the pier. A dock worker standing nearby pointed at the guy and said he was military police, then made the universal sign for a gun with his hand and pointed it at me and said bang. He was trying to say that that guy could or would shoot me. Oh well, what’s done is done….and right now getting the bikes on the boat was the number one concern.

The tide of the river was still not exactly right after all that and the boat cargo deck was some 4 ft. lower than the dock. A ramp wouldn’t work because the bikes were too tall now to clear the opening into the boat.

The only way now was to hand the bikes down which was something we were trying to avoid, as it requires hiring dock hands which adds a layer of BS to the process. At first they wanted more than 30 Reals for each bike, so we told them it was too much and started to load the bikes ourselves…and in the end we did get some help and paid only 5 Reals per bike….which is what Alex said was a fair rate.

In this video, we loaded Ian’s Yamaha Tenere first followed by my KLR….



Once the bikes were onboard and safely stowed for the trip up river, we stashed our bags and went to the top deck to see about some beers….which we enjoyed while taking in the frenzy of activity on the docks and the now darkened skyline of the city.

She was checking our tickets…high heals in a cargo hold, sure why not!

Those carts are stacked with cases of beer…at least we won’t run out!

 Looking back at the city lights of Belem…

Shortly after 11pm…almost 5 hours late, our boat, the Ciudad de Santarem II, pushed away from the dock and headed up river…we were finally on our way up the Amazon…

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