Day 289 Vista Alegre, Brazil to Santa Elena, Venezuela

Day 289 Vista Alegre, Brazil to Santa Elena, Venezuela      06/06/11      Mileage: 237

It poured overnight which did not bode well for us as we still had to get across the river. John and I walked 1 block down to the water’s edge and indeed the water had risen at least 2-3 feet from where it was last night. The tienda in which we had dinner last night now had 2 feet of water in it. Several motor canoes had come right up the street so I asked one of the owners if he would be willing to take 3 motorcycles across the river. He agreed and after negotiating a price we had a plan!

Me negotiating with the boat owner…

So, after packing the bikes we rode down the street to where our motor canoe was waiting. We discussed a plan and agreed that John and I would go across first with our bikes, then Ian would come across with his bikes and the gear.

John’s TT and my KLR ready to set sail…

I have to admit it was a bit nerve racking crossing the boiling and swollen river in the rickety underpowered boat. If the boat went over you could kiss the bikes goodbye…not to mention having to literally swim for your life.

Luckily, we made it across OK and I was relieved to have the bikes on dry land. The GPS said it was 2.5 miles across the flooded river that normally is only maybe 100 yards across! We knew we were witnessing an unusually high flood when even the locals, police and fire department were all turning up to see the flood and take pictures.

Our bikes back on dry land with the local police department standing by…

Ian showed up with his bike and the gear about an hour later…and after repacking the bikes we hit the road north towards Venezuela.

Wrestling Ian’s XTZ660 out of the canoe…

Two hours later I had a close encounter with a vulture, and sadly the poor guy didn’t make it. I really felt bad and I hope that doesn’t bring me bad karma.

After riding in the rain for a while we finally arrived at the Venezuela border.

It was around 4:30 in the afternoon and we were told that we needed to buy insurance in Santa Elena wound 10 miles into Venezuela, then return to the border to process the paperwork. Well, we arrived at the insurance place at 4:50pm….and of course they close at 5pm and did not have time to process our insurance. Crap, so, we got a room in town and the insurance and border formalities will have to wait until tomorrow. But for now, we’re all hungry and thirsty for some ice cold beers…..some things never change!

Day 288 Manaus to Vista Alegre, Brazil

Day 288 Manaus to Vista Alegre, Brazil       06/05/11       Mileage: 398

John, Ian and I planned on getting an early start, but you know how that goes. Either way it was nice to be back on the bikes and rolling north with 2 new friends. The first half of the day was uneventful with mile upon mile of dense jungle lining the roadside.

Leaving Manaus…..Caracas, Venezuela….2,250 kilometers to go…

Ian and his Yamaha XTZ660…

Ian with me in his rear view mirror…

Brazil doesn’t make a big deal about the equator…and this graffiti filled monument is all that marks its location. I flew right by and didn’t even see it. Either way…I was back in the northern hemisphere for the first time in 6 months…

We ran into some rain, but nothing too bad….but we did notice that all the rivers were high though, so there has definitely been a lot of rain here lately.

A quick rest stop and map check…

Shortly after we came upon a roadblock where the police said the road was closed due to flooding 10 miles ahead and that we could not proceed. He didn’t know when it would be open…could be days or even weeks! We talked our way past by saying we wanted to go take pictures and have a look for ourselves.

When we got there the road was indeed flooded for at least half a mile….but the locals said it was only knee-deep the whole way across. Score! We can ride that no problem, so we started across.

All was fine until my bike stalled shortly after getting through a deep spot. John was kind enough to walk back and help me push the bike the rest of the way across.

Once on dry land the bike fired up and we were on our way. A few miles down the road we came upon another section, though thankfully not as long or as deep…but again my bike stalled. WTF!

Fortunately, as soon as the bike was back on dry land it fired up….still pretty aggravating though. Back on the road we were pushing hard to make it to Caracarai where we knew there was some food and shelter.

But, right at dusk we were stopped cold in our tracks by a very flooded Rio Branco.

The bikes stopped dead in their tracks by the flooding Rio Branco

Undeterred at first, John and I got off the bikes and started walking across to see how deep and how far the water was. Several hundred yards into thigh deep water…at night, we came to two revelations….one, we still couldn’t see dry land on the other side and two, wouldn’t this be a perfect spot for a big angry caiman to attack two big tasty (if not smelly) bikers? Errrr, should have thought that one through a little more before plunging right into water. Ummmm, first one back to shore get’s to live to see tomorrow!

John and I returning from our little river walk…

Safely back on dry land we discussed our options, which ended up being pitching our tents in one of the locals yards nearby. After getting out of our wet riding gear we went in search of some dinner and found a little tienda that was open. The selection was meager, but a tin of canned meat surprise and some crackers will do just fine. The woman working the tienda was also kind enough to heat up the canned meat on here stove in back. Oh, and she had cold beer…so all is right with the world.

Tin of canned meat and crackers, $4. Six rounds of beer, $22. Dinner in the Amazon jungle with your riding buddies after a great day on the bikes….priceless.

Tomorrow….we have to figure out how to get across that flooded river.

Day 286 – 287 Manaus, Brazil

Day 286 – 287 Manaus, Brazil      06/03-04/11      Mileage: o

The last two days I spent mostly running errands, getting chores done, catching up on email and shaking off a mean hangover. I did spend one afternoon walking around town and did make it a point to see the Teatro Amazones (a grand theater from Manaus’s heyday during the rubber boom) which is an impressive building for sure.


John had to track down an electrical problem with his TT600….fortunatly he’s an electrician in the UK…so he found it pronto…

It’s been two weeks since I’ve done any real riding and tomorrow I’m looking forward to getting back on the bike!