Sunday, September 4, 2011

sweatbox riding through jesuit mission country

first i should say that I'm very glad I have new kick ass motorcross boots, new jacket with shoulder/elbow/back protection, and a new beefed up helmet, but man, riding through 32 degree heat on the edge of the Amazon, really sucks. when you're going fast enough into some warm blasts of oncoming wind, it's ok, but as soon as you stop - bam, the sweat starts trickling down and creating a mini portable steamroom.

In full kit - trying to smile. stopping is worse as there's NO wind to at least dry some of the beading sweat

Blown palm trees in the rolling landscape

The bell tower (entirely out of wood) outside the church in Concepcion

for 3 days we've been riding through rolling agruictulral lands graced with windswept palmtrees, dry, dusty towns teeming with motorbikes (that frequenty run out of fuel) and visiting two old Jesuit Mission towns - Concepcion and San Javier. It's an interesting combination, the Jesuits (according to my Lonely Planet) had quite a good go at integrating and combing the western and indigenous cultures; they taught a lot of woodworking skills which is very evident in the beautiful carved mission churches, streching collandes and courtyard design for houses. music was also very important, and addition to setting up instrument making workshops they instilled music education (admittedly a western one) which is still evident today with children learning violins and other string instruments. In Ascension I walked past a school with a group of early teen boys practicing violins! Every 5 mins or so groups of girls would stop and walk in interupting and joking around with them - I wonder whether it is 'cool' to play an instrument here? I also got to play :) and makes me realise how much I wish I had my violin around to strum out some tunes on.

This is HALF of the motorbike line waiting for fuel ... most are carrying 10L gallons after 3 days without fuel

we've been trying to get a bit of a routiine of leaving early and stopping in the mid afternoon to explore the town and relax. it's tempting to have a relaxing morning; breakfast, sleeping in, but thankfully it's actually too hot to sleep past about 7am. Riding between 8-12pm is infinitely more comfortable than 12=4pm, and It's also nce to feel that you've got somewhere by 11am. lunch is usually snacking, and once arriving, de-peeling and jumping in the shower, it's either time to cook or seek out some delicious fried meat, fried vegetables, fried rice or fried something to fill the tummy.
I'm very small but resting after trying to climb up the frame.
actually on the way here we passed through a town called Okinawa - yes the same as the Japanese island - after WW2 some Japanese families came and settled north of Santa Cruz, creating Okinawa I, Okinawa II and Okinawa III. Inventive huh! They are still a very Japanese culture today as well - and the best thing for me? we came across a store with japanese and koren foods, including wakame (dried seaweed), somen (silky noodles), an pan (bread with red bean paste - my mother loves this for breakfast), yokan (sweet red bean paste), kare-gohan (curry rice), okaki (rice crackers) and well all sorts of delights. Pretty damn fine, and what this means is that tonight, instead of the usual local or camping fare, we had somen noodles with vegetables. Total treat - not just for the different flavours, but for me, something that reminded me of home.
Tucking into somen (japanese noodles)
we're averaging about 230kms a day, and yesterday we did about 250kms to Trinidad. Once a year they do quite a lot of burning off to clear/renew agricultural lands, and so we ended up riding through a lot of smoke. We also had some nice stops and side visits - one to a swamp/lake, and other we happened to pass one of the animal refuge parks of Inti Wari Yasi - and got to see some toucans! (and lots of foreginer volunteers).
Typical house on the way to Trinidad - with thatched palm tree women roof

Laguna Corazon - now we're getting into the jungle!

Riding through haze of the smoke from the yearly burning off
The route yesterday is starting to feel more lush and jungle-like - we're now in Trinidad looking for a boat to take us upstream into the jungle proper - and also meeting up with Jennifer - a girl who we met at the Arbole de Piedra who is working for an aid organisation for clean water installation and education. It's definitely hot and stifling here - am I going to survive the jungle I wonder?

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