There was a gentle breeze on the raft during the crossing of the river. The cool air was refreshing. “Once the raft had left the docking station, a remarkable silence ensued. Most of the other passengers indulged in the cool breeze of the dawn. Others listened to the birds’ singing. I, as well, indulged in the fresh breeze,” remembers Stefan Kreis. Knowing that a strenuous day lay ahead of him.
After reaching the other side, due to the dense vegetation, nothing of the fresh breeze was to be felt anymore and soon the warm sunlight took away the remainder of the cool. The warm and humid climate started to take over. The quick change in the perceived climate was a little taste of things to come.
Due to the rains of the past couple of days, the road had become a muddy path and unloading the vehicles was difficult. “We could not just drive through this. Our off-road vehicle would have gotten stuck. The mud was simply too deep and I didn’t know if we were to get it out again,” says Stefan Kreis. The weather conditions created circumstances in which the people depended on each other. It contributed to a sense of community. “Everybody was helping to get the car off the raft and another car on it. We started by putting wooden planks on the muddy road and the cars were supposed to drive on them,” explains Stefan Kreis. A circumstance depicted on the pictures to this article.
He continues, “I drove slowly over the planks. One person gave me hand signals to coordinate my direction, whilst others continuously adjusted the planks. It worked quite well, I have to say. Obviously, this was not the first time they had done something like this.”
a balancing act
The closer I was getting to the mining area of Rondonia, the farther away I was from civilization. People were looking out for one-and-another. It was as essential as the creativity and practicality needed to overcome obstacles.
Whilst driving through the jungle we encountered a bridge. It was a structure made of tree trunks. It was an improvised solution to overcome a problematic passage. Due to the lack of modern machinery, the trunks did not align perfectly, which resulted in a big hole right in the middle of the bridge. It created a dangerous situation. Because of the rain, the tree trunks had been slippery and we did not want the car to get stuck in the hole, or worse, fall off the bridge altogether.
“The help you get during such a trip cannot be planed in advance,” says Stefan Kreis. “You have to talk to people and figure it out as you go. Over time, you learn to create solutions with what you have at hand. Therefore it is paramount to stay in an area for a while to explore those possibilities. But most importantly, to get to know the people that live there.”
[Loading the raft – Picture by KREIS]
[Stefan Kreis with locals – Picture by KREIS]
[Crossing a brdige made of tree trunks – Picture by KREIS]