Floating in a tropical river, Day 2 of 6: River trip starts

sailor (Ocean & Mountain)

8am in the morning Ruben brings me to his home for breakfast.  Just outside the courtyard is the river bank, the river we are going to float down.

After breakfast, Ruben takes a machete and goes upstream.  Later he floats down the river with a bunch of bamboo sticks.  I go to the town centre for Internet access.  When I come back, the raft is already made.  It's very primitive: 6 big tubes with a bamboo framework.

The whole morning Ruben keeps going here and there to buy something required for the trip: fishing hooks and line; eggs, vegetables, etc.  Although the itinerary said we should leave around 9am, the actual time is 3 hours late, after we finish lunch in town.

There are quite a few sacks on the raft.  My backpack is in a waterproof sack, tied with a rubber stripe.  It also serves as my seat.  My laptop and electronics are in my own waterproof bag, inside a watertight barrel.

When I look at the sands on the beach, there are tiny shining pieces.  They are gold.  I take a picture but seems we cannot really tell from the picture.

Along the river there are many gold mines, big or small.  It's a combination of big machines and labour:  big diggers dig masses of rock, sand and mud from the river bed; trucks take the masses to the top of a steel slide.  While the masses slide down, workers use high pressure water to wash the masses.  The rocks and stones go down the main slide, mixture of water, mud and sand go down through a side slide, and the pieces of gold is collected somewhere. (I don't know exactly how though.)

This kind of mining operation makes the river water very murky.  This murky water flows down along the river, merges into a bigger river, eventually merges into the main Amazon River and goes into the Atlantic Ocean.

Obviously we cannot drink the river water.  Luckily, there are some creeks on the side. We fill such clear water into bottles.  I add water treatment solution into the bottle for drinking.  The other bottles are for cooking.

The river is generally calm.  Still there are quite a few rapids, probably at level one or two.

Currently it's the dry season.  It may be a lot of rain during wet season.  We see a land slide.  When there is too much water, the vegetation is not able to hold the water and the soil, if it's steep.

About the sunset time, we arrive at a village.  This would be the last village we see on the river.  Ruben buys some tomatoes, a pack of cigarrettes, and a bag of coca leaves.  Local people chew coca leaves a lot, as it has some medicinal effects to ease altitude sickness.  But I don't understand why they also do so in low altitude jungle area.  Modern chemistry process extracts and refines something bad from coca leaves.  That's cocaine.

It gets darker and darker.  We find a beach and camp.  Unfortunately not too far away on the other side of the river, there is another gold mining place.  We hear the noise all night because they work day and night, none stop.

2015-9-12 -04:00
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