The group separates.
I go one way, from the coast of Brazil to the coast of Peru, transporting the bikes and the van. The rest of the group goes on to explore Columbia and Ecuador. Definitely not the ideal situation, but it had to be done this way. The troubles and dangers and the crazy political upheaval in Venezuela have, unfortunately, put a stop to our scheduled itinerary through that beautiful country.
It was quite hectic to start with in Manaus, Brazil where we all separated. The barge bringing the van was 2 days late, so the local helpers and I only had hours to spare to unload and load the vehicles on the next boat that was leaving at 12 noon that same day. Plenty of stress a it all happened at the speed of Amazonia time. The boat went from Manaus to Tabatinga, Brazil, seven days and six nights.
While on the boat, “Diamante” we have reached the midway point of this massive 360 tour.
It was day 64 of the 128 day journey and it hit me like a shot when I thought of what an epic adventure and experience this really is. An experience like this is not for the faint of heart, only reserved for the true explorer and adventurer, just like the group that we are here. Expect the unexpected.
The group meets again in Tabatinga, just for the day, to transfer all bikes and the van across 2 borders. This is where Brazil, Columbia and Peru meet. I think Felix and Sayda and I, crossed borders in Columbia and Brazil about six times that day. There is no real border, just some red pylon cones telling you that you are now in a different country. The important thing that we needed to get done was the paper work for the vehicles, as well as getting our passports stamped in and out of these three countries, to keep it all legal, so we can continue on our merry way to three other countries.
The group flies to Bogota to continue on the scheduled route from there, through Columbia, and into Ecuador, and then onto Peru. The vehicles and I leave on the boat to Iquitos, Peru, deep in the Amazon jungle. Iquitos is only accessible by boat or by plane, there are no roads. Sayda, our most talented operations manager from Cusco, Peru was there with me all of the way, to help with transfers and sort out a ton of paperwork. She rarely sleeps! We had a short time in Iquitos to get organized, and then it was on to Yarimaguas on another boat. This would turn out to be a journey the entire length of the Amazon for me. I believe the last time that this was done was in the 1400s when the original explorers came from Portugal, but I could be wrong.
In Yarimaguas the vehicles and I were back to land! Now we had to put the bikes on local truck transport to Tarapoto. Sayda and I would follow in the van. In Tarapoto, we organized the transfer from the local truck to a professional moving company, and had the bikes transported to the end point in Mancora District. We continued on in the van to Bagua, then to Piura, to meet the transport vehicle and then again, non stop, to Mancora. A very long day it was, From 8am to about 1:30 am the next day, until everything was set, bikes and van stored securely. Sleep was instant that late night.
My total time in the Amazon, and jungle, and on water was from April 10 to May 06, before I was on land again and traveling with van and bikes. That is 26 days.
The bikes and van are now safe and sound in secure parking. Sayda is back with her family in Cusco. Five boats, 3 trucks, 6 ports later, the bikes await the reunion of their riders arriving from Ecuador. Oh it will be such an emotional occasion.
We will have been separated from the 19th of April to the 18th May.
More to come…