After rushing through Venezuela I finally made it to Brazil. Here my hitchhiking trip actually started. Upcoming a story from my journal.
Friday, January 9th 2015, 10:15pm
I am at the city boundary of Mucajai, northern Brazil. It’s dark and I am wearing the equipment I use for Hitchhiking at Night. The gas station on the opposite side of the road is very busy. Loud pop music booms through the streets. I have headache. The music is horrible. The headlights are blinding. I didn’t sleep last night. I wait for 2.5 hours, some cars stop but I don’t get a ride. A migraine is knocking. I decide to walk away into the dark, away from the lights and the music.
The odor of rotten meat is in the air. I find two roadkills. On the next morning I will be taking pictures of them deciding to start a photo-series about roadkill. I am looking for a place to sleep. Left of me I see a wall, behind it a cemetery. There are many nice graves, also mausoleum with windows and doors. I could sleep in one of them… but it felt too impious to me. I find a small stone bench and lie down. Heavy sleep overcomes me.
Saturday, January 10th 2015, 05:41am
Sunrise at the cemetery. Brushing teeth besides the road. No car is stopping. Welcome to Brazil. I decide to walk.
Finally, a car stops. Two hours and 48 minutes to get my first ride. It’s hard. We drive 10 minutes until the next village.
Waiting for another 59 minutes until the second car stops for me. Brazil is flattering me. 15 minutes to the next village. I vote for breakfast and buy water, coffee, stuffed buns and a piece of cake.
Waiting in Caracarai. Since 1 hour and 40 minutes. Sweet midday sun, no shadow. I eat an ice-cream. A Mercedes truck stops. The drivers name is Grafite and he is going to Manaus, 650km ahead. Yeah man! Joy is driving me crazy, I want to scream. Adrenalin rushes through my body. It’s the best kick while hitchhiking if you work for so long to get a ride and receive it in the end. It’s addictive.
Sunday, January 11th 2015, 08:49am
Manaus. Full of euphoria. Conquered Venezuela-Manaus quickly. But no time to lose, a long way is ahead of me. It’s pouring with rain. Somewhere within the city I drop out of the truck. I take a bus to the harbour to get information about ferries. The lady tells me that the ferry is leaving in 20 minutes. 20 minutes. Yeah man! Keep the pace up! I run to the pier, fully soaked in rain as I arrive. Who cares, main point getting to Uruguay. I don’t have enough money at the ferry, use some US-Dollars, pay a little more. Whatever. Soon we’re leaving. I have the ticket in my pocket. Again, Adrenalin. And then I missed my ferry! Time for the next Adrenaline kick. This time a very special one. Crazy travels.
Tuesday, January 13th 2015, 05:40pm
The ferry arrives. Sanatrem! I am really satisfied and start searching for my street, fighting unwaveringly through the departing masses.
I take a break, eat something and feel joyful. For me it’s important to head strengthened into the night. I hope to keep up the speed that I had until here.
End of the pause. Chocolate milk as aperitiv. Onwards!
My driver has an old Pick-Up. He turns into a side road explaining me that he has to do some business with some friends. As we stop we receive a heartwarming welcome, the whole family dining. Still, I am satisfied. There is coffee, life is beautiful. We take two more young guys and head for a construction site. I suppose one of them is building a house here. We unload some metal parts, everybody is happy that I have a head lamp to lighten the scene. Then we head back onto the road.
Friday, January 14th 2015, 00:20am
Belterra. Here I have to wait for 4 hours. There is no traffic anymore. Maybe I should sleep to fill up my energy. At least I did 100km that night. Better than nothing.
There was that sign right before. Rio de Janeiro – 4000km. I start to laugh. Insanity and skepticism enter. Insanity smiles mischievous and starts to talk to the main mission. There is Alkohol, the mood is relaxed. Certainty speaks its word of command. Everybody back to work, we net to get to Uruguay.
I am getting up. A wonderful 90 minutes to my first ride. Dammed north of Brazil. Hitchhiking is hard in here.
I sit inside a small Fiat. We stop the second time already. Engine overheated. Refilling water. Hoping to get the indicator down. He is driving like crazy. We will go down until Ruropolis, onto the Br 230, also known as Transamazonica.
Several parts of the road are not tarred. A dusty road covered in amazonian soil. There are extremely malicious and deep road holes. The road is completely straight, radiating the feeling of eternity. I am delighted. Every hill we master with our rickety subcompact shows new surprises and panoramas. I take a picture of the dirty windshield. Aesthetics of the road.
“Transamazonica is easy to hitch“, said my friend Keith – I am thinking of this sentence the whole 1.5 hours while waiting for the next car. The position is good, directly behind a road bump.
Behind me some vultures fight over some leftovers. I can’t recognize what it was once. Maybe a rabbit or something similar. A group of 10 to 15 birds are dragging around a piece of meat trying to get their share. Suddenly the dog appears.
I have had situations like that pretty often in Brazil. Vultures are always indicating dead meat. The dog knows that. It becomes kind of a parasite. The vultures are still fighting devotedly for a mouth full until the dog enters the ring, jumps into the group of birds scaring them away 2 meters finally standing in front of its lunch. He obviously has fun. The dog doesn’t look aggressive or evil, rather silly and jolly. He is the featherbrained, shining king in the mass of those malformed birds, that every now and then try to tackle the carcass until the dog jumps at them again and scaring them off for good. As dumb and lucky as dogs are sometimes. I am amused.
Until now I had 4 rides. My waiting times: 91 minutes, 20 minutes, 105 minutes and 50 minutes. I recall Keiths´ sentence once again. Three minutes later a small Volvo truck stops. I jump onto the loading platform without any idea where they are going. We start. Upcoming is probably the best ride of my life on one of the most beautiful roads that I ever rode on.
The transamazonica is firstly a muddy track, in the best case dusty and while and after rain impossible to drive on. The road crosses a mountainous area. Like a German cart track, twice plought through, stuffed with big stones and covered in red, dusty soil. When raining it’s a big slide without water. Every hill becomes a fight. Traffic jams. You can watch huge and super modern tour busses fighting in every possible way through the rough terrain. There are busses everywhere. That pays off, especially when your own car is stuck and has to be pushed forward. By 15-20 people.
It was always a single vehicle going up the mountain, everyone else had to wait watching the spectacle. People laugh and joke, smoke and stare. Whenever a car is stuck the standard procedure starts. First you let them try again. After some time you accept that they are stuck.
Meanwhile, the people came out of the bus the bus. Nobody wants it but everybody knows what has to be done. Slowly the mob is moving. Very slowly, still in hope to see the spinning wheels grabbin hold and push the car forward. The first ones start to help, they push, press, shake and pull. Several not so motivated ones stand around figuring that they will have to help anyway. Teamwork in the mud. The car slides slowly towards the trench. People start screaming. The unfamiliar bus tourists brace themselves against the muddy truck with their still clean clothes. Somehow the truck manages to get up the hill. We continue.
We had to push three times on our 5 hour long journey. But that was only the top of the iceberg. The whole ride was pure agony. Even as a passenger it was very exhausting. I was sitting under the sky on the loading platform trying to keep holding on tight while I was shaken from left to right and up to down by the road. Road holes, dodging, rocks, mud, dust and always this ongoing, relentless shaking and jarring. At some point we stopped. I buy a huge piece of chocolate cake, coffee and water. It was the best cake I ever had in my life.
I enjoy the ride. Around us flat rain forest, sunset. We take two women with us on our way, on the most dusty part of the road. As they jumped off they were covered in grey powder and maybe doubted their decision to take that ride. But I myself was in even worse condition. My beard showed its strength as dust collector.
After five hours on the Transamazonica. Yeah, I was really done. Five hours on the Transamazonica are no cakewalk.
The cruise is over, it’s dark already. I rest for a little and let the experience sink into me. I really want to continue but as I looked into a mirror I figured that I need a shower, instantly. I take a shower and have dinner, enjoy a beer (660ml) and am back on the road at 9:01pm.
In front of me there are still 550km on the Transamazonica until Maraba. A big bus passes me. The night bus to Maraba. But I don’t flag it down, I let it go. Suddenly that bus stops, puts in reverse gear and signals that I should jump on. A night ride to Maraba. For real? I don’t believe it. Again Adrenalin. Insanity and Euphoria are hugging each other in tears. “Faster, faster, faster, to Uruguay!”, they scream. I jump in. We start. In front of me the worst fucking night on my whole journey…