The fun 200 or so km road to Calcoene was easy peezy even with the loaded panniers, my bag and spare tire. I took it really easy and since it had still not rained there was no mud so I made good time. After a relaxed easy night in Calcoene I hit the road to Macapa. This is part of the BR153 and is a fantastic condition so I made very good time on it and had a nice relaxed afternoon in Macapa.
I spent some time riding with a local and even though we never stopped and met we hooted and waved at every corner when I over took him or he overtook me. This carried on for 100kms and it was really fun. He was riding a Honda 250 (I’m not 100% sure of the model), when he finally turned off the BR 153 he waited at the corner and gave me a wave and thumbs up … its’ the little things 🙂
I booked into the Ceta Ecotell just outside of Macapa and it is another great hotel, with chalets and a fantastic restaurant, swimming pool, iguanas and even a resident Coati family of which I saw the dad a few times.
So now my only problem was sorting out the ferry in Santana. I decided I needed to try finding someone who spoke English as the internet is no help when it comes from getting g a ferry from Macapa (Santana) to Belem but has tons of info about getting from Belem to Santana. I went to the hotel restaurant where there were three families eating and asked at one table if any of them spoke English. They said no but asked the next table. The 17 year old son (Leonardo) did speak English and I asked if they knew anything about the ferries from macapa (Santana) to Belem, the next minute we had the whole restaurant on the case and trying to get me some help. They got a phone number for the ferry company or the dock but could not get through SO … WAIT for it
The family with the 17 year old took me the 8kms to the docks and helped me find a boat and get a ticket with a cabin for me and my bike. They gave me the ticket guys name so I could write it down and ask for him if there are any problems tomorrow. They explained that I have paid for everything so if anyone asks for more money I must say no. When they brought me back to the hotel they wouldn’t even let me buy them a drink WOW how fantastic is that, faith in humanity once again.
So both gadget and me were booked on the ferry at 16:00 the next day and I had a cabin which I would have to share but that is no big deal, I’d rather have a cabin than try sleep in a hammock, they are good fun to chill in but I find it impossible to sleep in them, so cabin it is.
So you’d think that everything was sorted and I’d be happy. Hmmm not so fast. I woke up at 3am and had one of those demons in my head again. It was so bad I think I came close to having a panic attach my hands were literary shaking, I was sweating and just terrified. I just keep having this awful feeling about the ferry. This has been going on for a couple of days but this night was horrific. I just cannot figure out why I am like this. I love travelling, I love not knowing what is around the next corner, meeting new people, having new experiences and new challenges. Yes I’d had bad moments like when my bike broke down in the middle of Siberia and yes I got really scared at the time but for a very short time as then my pragmatic side kicks in automatically and I start looking for solutions. So this feeling of fear is not like me and I didn’t know how to get rid of it.
I emailed Joern and we had a good chat which always makes me feel better, he also started his twerking again which always makes me laugh and puts me in a good mood.
I spent the day swimming, blogging and chilling and got to the ferry at 13:45, it departs are 16:00 so I had to be there 2 hours before at 14:00. I was then told it leaves at 17:00. Then I was told it leaves at 18:00. It was now only 14:15 and I was worried about taking a ferry at 18:00 and getting into Belem at night as the ferries are notoriously late and Belem is a pretty dangerous city so I was concerned about getting lost at it and riding around until midnight. I asked the ferry guy about a ferry the next day and he said I could take one at 14:00. I told him I’d think about it and decide if I want to take the 18:00 or 14:00 so came back to the hotel for lunch. I then send Alex a message (a mechanic in Belem who speaks English and is also an adventure biker, he had been recommended to me by a friend) I asked Alex if he knew anyone in Belem who could help me and he put me in contact with Rubem. Who arrived at the hotel about 30 mins after I spoke to Alex.
Rubem and I went to the docks and there discovered that the 16:00 ferry was now only leaving at 19:00 and it could not take motorbikes on it. I should have demanded my money back there and then but didn’t instead I agreed to take the 14:00 the next day. I also met Benoit a French biker who was just starting his trip of one year and had just left French Guiana where he had been working for 2 years. He was just as confused, worried and angry as me but would also take the 14:00 ferry.
Rubem took me back to his house to meet his wife Cristina and two boys Yuri and Yvan. He took us all out to dinner but not before going past the school where Cristina is the principle and fixing a plumbing problem. Rubem Amazonian Rambo (as his friends call him) man of many talents from fixing toilets to helping bikers to flying helicopters for the police. We had a fantastic dinner and it was just a pleasure to spend time with Rubem and his family. I also got to meet another two of his biking buddies Clesio and Gilson, what a nice evening and I can honestly not speaking Portuguese does not mean you have any less fun 🙂
The following day Rubem fetched me at 9am to go see the fort in Macapa Fortaleza de sao Jose. We also went to meet some good friends of his which was great, he knows so many nice people I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself in Macapa. We ended the morning sightseeing with a trip to the equator line. I have to say seeing Macapa with someone who lives there makes such a difference you really see more details of the city.
On Wednesday both Benoit and I arrived at the dock at 12:00 ready to board the boat and leave at 14:00. Hmmmm wishful thinking. We waited and waited and got told the boat will leave at 15:00 then we got told the boat will leave at 16:00 and we’ll board at 15:00, at 15:00 we get told we’ll board in 30 min in 30 mins we are losing out patience. Well to be honest we lost them a long time ago but are now starting to let it show. Finally we get told to take the bikes onto the doc, where a man comes out and says ‘’no moto no moto’’ … WTF, to cut a long and boring story short the boat could not take the bikes as it was a very low boat and they cannot get the bike off it in Belem. Right!!! So how come when they saw the bikes the day before did the book us on this boat? How come they did not tell us at 14:00 no 12:00 that we could not get the bikes on the boat? How come they did not tell Ruben about the earlier boats when he asked? I had seen posters of boats leaving at 10:00 and 11:00 but these guys told us they cannot take bikes. I was furious and called Rubem he came to sort it out.
I had gone to the agent next-door who assured me the 10 & 11 o’clock boats can take bikes. I now demanded my money back. Ruben tried but his hands were tied and he could not get it back but assured us that we were both booked on the 10óclock boat with a cabin and the bikes. They gave us this run around about putting the bikes on the boat that night and even sleeping on the boat but neither of us were having any of that as it is just way to dangerous. Also 24hrs on one of those damn ferries is enough I wasn’t going to do it for longer just for the hell of it.
Rubem very kindly offered to put both Benoit and myself up for the night, wow does this man have no end of generosity how lovely is that. We had a lovely relaxing night at Rubems and saw Clesio and Gilson again and met another of his biking buddies Paul who if from Portugal and it was really nice to meet him. Rubem and his family left for Belem at 3am and so he arranged for Clesio to take us to the docks at 7am to catch the boat at 10am and he did not leave until we are on the boat. How wonderful is that, the friendliness, hospitality and generosity of people just blows me away.
We got to the ferry early and thank goodness Clesio was there, he helped us get the bikes on the boat, ensured we had a cabin and then there was some problem with regards money. I was going to lose it if something went wrong but Clesio just calmly sorted it out. I have to say I just did not trust the Bom Jesus agents at all they were really trying something and I suspect that if Rubem and Clesio were not helping us they would have somehow tried to get a bribe from us. I would highly recommend that no one use these agents if they are crossing the Amazon by ferry.
Finally the 10am ferry left at 11am and arrived in Belem at 13pm the next day 🙂 26 hours of hell … I hate ferries and this one rolled and pitched like anything so I was totally green by the time I put my feet on dry land and what a celebration that was.