Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 65 - Puerto Maldonado, Peru, to Brasileia, Brasil

RobT:  Well, today started out with quite the adventure.  RobC was worried about the river crossing as he had envisioned (or read about) having to put his bike in a canoe to cross the river Madre de Dios.  This apparently was the case not too long ago.  What we found were tiny barges that load up a couple of cars or a few motorcycles.   The trick is riding up the plank onto the barge.  Yours truly headed down the bank for the ramp (note, the planks just pivoted on shore as the barge drifted back and forth in the current), twisted the throttle and hit the plank.  Half way up I either lost my track or the barge moved but found myself riding in the joint between the two planks (second note:  the planks were not attached).  Realizing this and thinking the bike would fall through the crack, I gave it some more gas and managed to get onto the deck of the barge (third note:  the deck is made of wood, therefore, slippery).  I had gained too much speed and grabbed a hand  full of front brake which almost immediately locked up the front tire.  Let go.  Still too fast.  More brake.  By this time my left pannier had munched the white basket of a scooter parked to the side.  (fourth note:  the barge was all but 25 ft in length).  I had visions of riding off the end into the river and there was no gate to hold me back.  Luckily, I came to a stop with about a foot to spare.  Whew!  I can go clean my shorts now ..... RobC had no problems of course, since he saw my antics,he took some extra care to do it right. We had a good laugh about this being the Mother of God river.

Some buildings along the river near the river crossing.

The new suspension bridge across the river which will replace the barges when finished in 2012..

Passenger boats.

One of the larger barges, pushed by a tugboat.

Dirt dock on the other side.

RobC showing me how to properly disembark a barge.

The "Mother of God" barge ... or so it was for me.

Safely on the other side we enjoyed a cold drink here.

This river town reminded RobC of Pucallpa, Peru.

More shots of the river town.

Next was a short ride to the Brazilian border where we were not sure if I could get across as I forgot to obtain a prior visa to entry Brazil.  Canadians, Americans and Aussies need visas, most other countries do not and as RobC was using his Dutch passport, he was safe.  Worst case scenario, we head back 15 km to the Bolivian border and cross there.

We used the Carnet to get the bikes out of Peru, after explaining to the customs agent what and how it was done.  He proceeded to extort beer money from us.  Next, immigration, where the nice girl said there was no way I would be allowed into Brazil without the visa but she did say try to get a transit visa to get to the Bolivian border just inside the Brazilian border, as the one on the Peruvian side, 15 km back, had no control, the road was bad (we didn't see a road) and the crossing is used by narcos ... bottom line, not desirable.

We decided not to check out of Peru in case I didn't make it into Brazil, otherwise, we'd have to check into Peru again.  Seemed like the wise thing to do.  Got to the Brazilian immigration where we were shocked that they were going to let me in.  RobC whispers, "don't say anything about a visa".  I'm waiting on eggshells as they process our passports when I overheard one agent ask another about a visa for Canadians.  "No" was the reply.  Hmmm.  And no fees!!!  Over to customs to get our bikes into the country but we needed photocopies.  I went into the village and after some difficulty manage to procure said copies and head back to the border.   We were now officially in Brazil, but not checked out of Peru, so back we go to take care of that.  We walked into the Peruvian immigration office with the nice lady and the Brazilian immigration agents are sitting in the room!!  Crap.  They are going to renege on my visa, I thought.  We spoke to the immigration lady and now I needed a copy of my Brazilian visa slip for the Peruvian immigration.  Huh?  Off to the village, this time on the Peruvian side, in search of a copy machine.  Meanwhile, RobC is still at the office and overhears the Peruvian agent telling the Brazilian agent that I should not have been allowed into Brazil.  RobC butts in and tells the Peruvian agent that its none of his business what the Brazilians do.  The Brazilian agent was puzzled as to why we even came back to the Peruvian side. Well, we didn't think I would be allowed into Brazil. 

We changed our Peruvian money for Brazilian Reais, bought some (expensive gas) and off we were on the straight, properly asphalted Brazilian roads through what was once a dense jungle,and was now covered with pastures and brahma cows as far as the eye could see.

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