“Waves, two-meters high, are forcing us back. For two hours, we are still in the same location and I can't see Hubert!”- Dawid Andres reports from the Amazon.
A few days ago, the brothers left Manaus and were heading to Belem. And here, the great river prepared an initiation rite for the bikers and their Amazonian vehicles.
Strong winds are nothing surprising in the region between Manaus and Santarem. The gusts produce large waves on the Amazon River that normally calm down after 4 or 5 hours. When I kayaked that stretch of the river, it was usually turbulent between 11 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon. For my sea kayak it did not make much of a difference, if the waves were high or low, but it is not the same for the bikers.
This year brings a lot of weather anomalies, which often are attributed to El Niño. As reported by Dawid and Hubert winds blow all day, creating waves the size rarely seen by the locals. Only huge tankers are on the river; all small vessels do not dare to venture. Even trying to fish is useless according to fishermen, "because of such huge waves!"
- Instead of these waves I would prefer to meet pirates twice a day - Dawid concluded, almost seriously, about their experiences with Amazonian waves.
As long as the bike is not destroyed
When Hubert, who a moment ago was just a few meters from his brother, disappears behind the high waves and does not appear for a long time, Dawid is overwhelmed with grim thoughts. Firstly, Hubert is sick. He has a fever, a powerful headache, swollen eyes and is feeling very weak. He is taking antibiotics, but for the past few days he is struggling with some kind of infection. What if something happened to him; maybe he collapsed while struggling with huge waves? Dawid's imagination, as usual, suggests the most dramatic scenarios.
Secondly, a big question is if the Amazonian bikes will withstand the force? - On the waves it is impossible to pedal. The chain could break with the slightest move. The only option is to sit on the boards and be carried out by the rough waters - Dawid wrote in his texts to me.
The next day, the brothers decided to wait until the evening and pedal at night. If the moon comes out, it should be calm and there will be some light. They are waiting until midnight. It works even better; an all-day rest will be good for Hubert. In addition to the cold, he is still struggling with some ulcer or fungal infection that attacked his foot, which Dawid describes this way: "It is scary to look at, the raw flesh is oozing out of his little toe." Then late in the evening came a downpour. Dark clouds covered the moon completely so they have to wait until morning. They left at 8 in the morning. Again, there were waves; the stronger they are, the more concern there is for the bicycles to withstand them. They do not worry as much for themselves as for their steeds challenged by elements.
- If the bikes are destroyed, how will we reach our goal? -It sounds more like a statement than a question.
Hubert's Promotion to the "brilliant hand"
Well, it happened. When they were approaching the shore, a big wave hit Hubert's bike, easily breaking the drive, as if it was a plastic toy. Fortunately, they were able to replace the broken part. The next day, in the middle of the river, Dawid heard some grinding and crunching, then suddenly ... .. trrrrraaaaach! Now, the drive broke on his bike. Towed by his brother, he reached the shore. What next???
- Now this is the moment for Hubert to shine; he fixes everything, both of our drives. - wrote Dawid. It seems that Hubert is no longer just a handyman; he is the "brilliant hands". He was able to mend whatever was possible under the conditions. As a result, the brothers managed to get to the village of Juruti. From there, they left riding their bicycles on the road in the direction of Santarem. In the city, they will make the necessary improvements and strengthening of their bicycle frames and drives so they could be back on the river as soon as possible!
- Until a few days ago, it was a leisure trip, now the adventure begins - the brothers contemplated their continuing journey. The Atlantic is still more than 1,000 kilometers ahead and it is likely that the Amazon will have some more challenges for them yet! Wishing you bon voyage, Dawid and Hubert!
This story was originally published on pythom.com
Polish brothers, David Andres and Hubert Kisinski, who are attempting to cross South America by bicycle since September 2015, are traveling the Amazon by land and water. On the water, they use an innovative catamaran-like bike to pedal most of the Amazon River. The brothers started the Amazon section at the foot of Mount Mismi, Lake Ticlla Cocha.
During the 1985-86 Amazon Source to Sea Expedition, Piotr Chmielinski became the only member of the 13-person expedition who managed to navigate the Amazon River entirely from Source to Sea, about 4300 miles. Joe Kane completed the entire river by walking the first section of the Apurimac’s white water and finished the rest by kayak and raft. Zbigniew Bzdak and Kate Durrant completed the entire River by walking the first section of the Apurimac’s white water and doing the rest by raft and motor boat. Their adventure is described in the book Running the Amazon by Joe Kane, which is now considered a classic of adventure literature. Check Piotr's Profile on Pythom here.
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Interview: Piotr Chmielinski, Godfather of Amazon Exploration (part 1 of 3)
Piotr Chmielinski: True Source of Amazon River (Interview Part 2 of 3)
Interview: Piotr Chmielinski, 30 years on, Running the Amazon (Part 3 of 3)