A Leaky Beginning

May 23, 2006
Day 237
Remanso to Versalles Canoe Trip Day 4

Picture of us.

We are about to start our journey.

The canoe was moved to the town's jetty for us early this morning. We paid for it, loaded up all our supplies, and took off. Remanso was a nice town for us to visit. By the time we left, everyone knew the crazy gringos who were going to canoe for a week to get to the party. I imagine we'll be seeing a lot of the townsfolk in Versalles.

Almost as soon as we left, the boat started leaking pretty severely. We stopped at Cafetal, the tiny town just down the river from Remanso, to try to get it taken care of. A few guys sitting near the jetty laughed at us and told us that they'd help. One guy pulled out a mallet and what appeared to be a handful of horsehair and started pounding it into a crack. At first, it looked like he was making it worse, but eventually, the leak slowed to a manageable rate. We'll just have to bail every hour or so I guess. I hope the canoe doesn't sink because we'll be totally screwed if it does. Assuming we can swim through the strong current of the piranha-infested waters to the shore, we'll still have to deal with tigers, tarantulas, anacondas, malaria-carrying mosquitoes, inch-long poisonous ants, and who knows what else.

We saw almost no people the entire day. Somehow, we figured the river would be fairly populated like the Rio Paraguay was, but that wasn't the case. We also thought we'd find beaches for camping, but the river was high, so there was nothing but thick jungle on both sides.

Navigation was also more difficult than expected. Everyone we asked said that getting down the river was straightforward, but that couldn't have been further from the truth. At least once per hour, we approached an island or an oxbow. We had to make a decision of which way to go using only a map of the entire country that didn't show the river in any discernible detail. I think we wasted a few hours by making bad decisions, but there wasn't any way to avoid them. In the end, we'll get to Versalles eventually as long as we keep moving downstream.

About an hour before dark we got lucky. On the Brazilian side of the Itenez, we spotted Lana Jeiras. It appeared to be just a few houses, but we figured we should make sure it was OK with someone if we camped there first. We were greeted by Claudio, a friendly man who spoke good Spanish. Not only was it OK for us to camp there, but Gabriel was able to sleep on the floor in a guest house for free because he didn't have a tent.

While we were cooking dinner, Claudio came out and gave us some catfish to throw on the fire. We had a delicious feast. Later, we had a coffee and a chat with Claudio. The hospitality he gave us was a great introduction on my first night in Brazil. Hopefully, that will continue down the river because most of the towns are on the Brazilian side.

The photo album for this entry is here.

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