Quick update on the raft situation:
I tarvelled to the Crepori river, and found it swollen with rapids. This inspired me to start instead at the Jamanxim River, about 90 KM east of Mundico Coelho. I had passed it and it seemed wide and rapid free. So I spent four days there and built this raft:
The work was hard and balsa wood is actually very heavy when it’s in tree form and not made into little airplanes. The trees were about 1km into the jungle, so I had to drag them out using rope and a couple of timber hitches, wade through a swamp, and then float them downriver about 500m.
The locals had warned me about a large waterfall downstream known as “Ao Portão de Inferno” – translated, meaning “the gates of hell.” It is about 20 m (60 feet) high. I figured I would just disassemble the raft before the waterfall, portage it downriver, reassemble it, and continue. I also spoke with a few fisherman who had been down there and they told me of at least 50 smaller waterfalls between the place I was at (Jardim do Ouro) and the place where the Jamanxim flows into the Tapajós. Undeterred, I was determined to tackle the river anyways, and continued building my raft.
After the basics of the craft were completed, I took her out for a test run, and discovered just how unmaneuverable rafts are. If I went down the river, it was likely I would be unable to get out of the river in time to avoid the waterfalls. And so the situation changed, going from”possible death” to “probable death.”
I do love life. So there’s no reason why I shouldn’t just start the adventure further upriver, where there are no rapids or portãos de infernos.
New plan: Start on the Tapajós river in São Luis de Tapajós. Down the Tapajós to Santarém, turn east and ride the Amazon to Macapá. This takes about 250 km off the trip, but adds about 50 years to my life. I figure this to be a fair trade.
In Itaituba now, close by. Busking and selling paintings for some extra cash. To São Luis in a few. Take care.
PS: Also, I put up a new post about my time on the streets of Belém before I went home to the US for a month. Enjoy, and sorry for the delays!