Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650 ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

Nov. 26th , 2002.-- Leaving Brasil, and heading to Venezuela

Credit to the Amazonas and Brasil

-- Story by Erin --

Sunday, November 24th: After 6 very interesting days riding a wooden ferry boat up the Amazon River, we finally arrive in the famous Amazon city of Manaus at 7 o'clock in the morning.  Immediately the humid air felt to us like a big wet towel draped over our bodies.  Despite its location in the center of the South American continent, Manaus is only 95 meters above sea level and surrounded by dense jungle.  Until the 1970's the only way to reach Manaus was either by river boat or by plane.  And, the road that connects Manaus to the Venezuelan border was just paved this past year!

Manaus is a crucial river cargo port on the Amazon River, transporting goods across the border with it's neighbors.  So, this port was particularly efficient and well equipped.  Getting the bikes off the boat was relatively easy, as there were many hands to help (most hoping for a tip of course).   The floating dock here is unique and crucial to the functioning of cargo transportation on the Amazon.  It floats because the level of the river can change as much as 10 meters in the rainy season.  Despite the floating dock, the cargo deck where are motorcycles were stationed was still significantly below the level of the dock.   Some fancy maneuvering was required by the dock hands and the boat captain to angle the boat away from the dock and with a narrow ramp, reduced the angle of the exit path the bikes needed to take off the boat.  All went well and we didn't have to go swimming after them!

Unfortunately our tourist visas were about to expire and we only got to spend one day in Manaus before riding directly north for the border with Venezuela.  However, we did get to see some of the beautiful old buildings and famous opera house with its mosaic tile roof (reportedly the oldest opera house in South America).

Its nearly 1,000 kilometers to the border, which we covered in two days.  The first day started out well, then went bad just before lunch.   Chris chain decided to jump off the sprockets, which damaged the chain but luckily not the sprockets.  Luckily we had a new chain and the process went smoothly.   Then later that day, Chris' bike shut down for no apparent reason.  Later we discovered it was a blown fuse (related to the ignition switch) which was easy enough to change.  Curiously, my bike had the same problem just a few weeks ago.  These problems reduced our mileage that day and we were not able to make our goal destination of Boa Vista, which is 250 kilometers from the border.  The hightlight of the day however, was crossing the Equator, which is marked by a sadly run-down monument covered in grafitti and a yellow line across the road.  Chris thought it would be great to take some naked photos straddling the line with nothing but his boots on!  Crossing the equator is significant for us because it marks the first time since July of 2000 that we were in the northern hemisphere.

At sunset we stopped at the first town we came upon, Caracari, about 150 kilometers south of Boa Vista.  It was a small riverside village which rarely, if ever, saw foreigners.   Thankfully, though we were able to find a clean hotel with air conditioning and secure parking.

The next day started out well and the scenery began to change into more of a dry savannah landscape with lots of cattle farms.  We also saw some distinctive birds that we hadn't seen since crossing the Pantanal region much further south in Brazil.  Our luck still ran bad, however, and about 30 kilometers before the border, Chris hit a deep pothole at full speed, sending him nearly out of control and off the bike.  He managed to keep it upright though, and his butt in saddle and bring it to a stop to check the damage.  Just after he hit the pothole he saw some kind liquid spraying up from under the bike.  We inspected the substance, smelled it, and felt its consistency.  It seemed like oil but not the kind we put in the engine.   Chris rode back to the pothole on my bike to see if there was oil in the hole (road crews had obviously applied some kind of oily substance inside and around the edge of the potholes).  However he only saw dirty water in the hole.  He got on his bike and tested it's riding ability and discovered his shock had no "dampening" left in it------ ah ha!  That was the problem, the shock had blown a seal and lost all its dampening fluid.  Chris now looked like a human pogo stick going down the road with every littel bump and ripple in road.

Unfortunately we were no where near a city where we could have it looked at by a proper mechanic.  Chris had to ride his bike in that condition all the way to Caracas, Venezuela (some 1,200 kilometers more).


Chris' broken chain


Chris bearing it all on the equator.


Erin making the leap across in more conservative style.


Unique birds of the border with Venezuela.


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