The last four days have been a whirlwind. We have traveled over 1,000 km by bus and car from one end of the Rio Roosevelt to the other. Luckily our Brazilian companions make the travel logistics look easy. They quickly talked a couple of half empty trucks into transporting our canoes down the Tran-Amazon “Highway” and then we all climbed on the first bus headed west. The bus, which we quickly nicknamed the magic bus was headed to the big city for some much needed repair. We ended up having the whole bus to ourselves and convinced the young driver to drive us an extra 200 km to Porto Velho for about $100. The only hitch was that the driver filled the bus floor to ceiling with crates of empty bottles for the final 200 km. He only left 8 seats at the front free for us and we had to cram the isle between our seats with all of our stuff.
We picked up our vehicles and canoe trailer in Porto Velho and spent a morning looking for historic photos and artifacts from the Roosevelt-Rondon Expedition. We found a small museum with a collection of photographs and documents from the expedition, but the curator of the collection was on vacation. Paul and I plan to return to the museum in about 10 days to see the collection.
Last night we were back in Pimenta Bueno at the Hotel Piritiba, where we stayed for several nights before starting our paddle. Luckily this time we have been granted permission by the Cinta Larga to paddle the upper section of the Rio Roosevelt. Our Brazilian teammates worked hard last night and again this morning to try and find someone who would drive us 100 km from Pimenta Bueno to the Baleiza Fazenda (Fazenda means farm in Portugese). In the end they drove us to the headwaters. It took us hours over rough roads to reach the water. After taking a few photos we said goodbye and they drove away, leaving Paul and me alone. It would have been very difficult for us to find a ride to this remote put in without their help. They have a 3,000 km drive to get back to their families. It was really generous of them to drive us all the way to the river.
Like Roosevelt did one 100 years ago, we will camp here before beginning our descent. Looking downstream from this spot I can picture Roosevelt’s canoe disappearing around the first bend into the unknown. Tomorrow we will do the same. We plan to spend about a week paddling the first 130 km of the river to the main Cinta Larga village. Marcello, the Cinta Larga chief who gave us permission to paddle the river, lives in that village. We are really looking forward to meeting Marcello and other members of his community and learning more about the Cinta Larga. We will also be searching for some of Roosevelt’s campsites and documenting the rapids that gave the expedition team so much trouble at the beginning of their journey. Let the adventure continue!