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I reluctantly agreed after we came to a reasonable financial arrangement, and then I had to retrieve my spare kit stored in Manaus for the other guide and was able at the same time to replace my GPS and Garmin Inreach device. And there we were — suddenly, for the first time on the expedition, I had two guides! Running the entire expedition myself, including accounting, route planning, updating the website, paying the guides and getting them back home, with all the logistical nightmares to overcome, is hard work.
For the first two weeks, almost all the nights were dry, with clear skies. It was scary for various reasons: firstly, there was the very real risk of contact with river pirates who, we were told, pass regularly through the area; then there was the obvious risk of encountering hungry, sharp-toothed, aquatic residents; and finally, there was the possibility of rapid and unpredictable weather changes, causing intense storms with high winds, heavy rain, and very rough water that can overturn large boats.
These events are known locally as maresia. However, luck was on my side on all three legs, and I had very welcome boat support from the local community. So, despite having a stinking cold, I can say I almost enjoyed the swims, especially when a group of river dolphins decided to join us and swam alongside all the way across the largest — 7 kilometre — section of the lake. Also, Erland swam more than half the leg with me, while Jhonatan filmed from the support canoe and looked after the backpacks.
The luxury of having a whole team on the job! This was difficult, if only because I had planned to resupply at these points. We had an unplanned 6 kilometre armed escort out of one of the communities for our own safety after buying food supplies. Our escort was courteously arranged free of charge by the local indigenous reserve manager.
Ominous though this sounds, once again I have to add that all the people we had contact with were unbelievably hospitable, generous and kind, once we had explained my mission. We were even given an empty house to sleep in, at one community. Last but not least, let me talk about falling trees. Well without getting into philosophy or the science of sound-waves, perception and observation …..