Opening new chapters – rondonia, brazil
“It was pitch-black outside and I stared at the ceiling fan in my little room. I remember waiting for the morning light to shine through my window; finally signaling the beginning of the next day. The light from my nightstand was dim and you could see some distant street lights outside my window. Even, though, the temperatures come down at night, the humidity makes it impossible to sleep. It takes some time to acclimatize.
But the climate was not the only reason I could not sleep. I was excited about tomorrow,” recalls Stefan Kreis.
“At the dawn of the next day, I was to embark on a tour to search for mines of which the locals had told me. These were distant mining operations in an area, even the Portuguese and the Spaniards did not dare to venture into then they first landed on this continent,” describing the night before he ventured into the jungle of the Brazilian state of Rondonia several decades ago.
Located in the northwest of Brazil, Rondonia borders Bolivia, and the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso, Acre, and Amazonas. Characterized by its dense vegetation, the climate is hot and humid throughout the year.
The average temperature is in the mid 20°C (68°F). The humidity is due to the rainfall that occurs every month. Even though June, July, and August are supposed to be the dryer months of the year, the yearly rainfalls still manage an average of ~2000mm a year.
The dawn of the next morning
“Preparing for a journey in this environment is different than preparing for a tour into the mining fields for Black Opal in Australia. The humidity makes it impossible to take any significant amounts of provisions with you. Back then, keeping provisions cold was almost impossible. They would soon be spoiled. I had some crackers, but most importantly, I had enough bottled water with me.
Other than that, I would make a point of having a big breakfast and I would stop at various street vendors. These vendors usually had local food. Vegetables from their own gardens on a grill, or fruits from the surrounding area,” says Stefan.
To get to the potential mining area, Stefan first had to cross the river Rio Madeira. Taking the rented car with him, he drove down to the pier. “Crossing the river is not the same as crossing a river in Europe by ferry. First of all, there is no ferry. It is more like a raft with a steel plate on top of it. A railing does not exist either. Besides, that thing was barely above the river’s surface anyway,” he explains. This circumstance is depicted in the pictures.
The car was placed on the raft and fixated with a stone behind each wheel and the handbrake fastened. The raft could only cross the Rio Madeira when the water was fairly calm, but even with the fairly calm water, one can see in the pictures, that some water of the Rio Madeira would always be spilled onto the raft.
The raft’s departure marked the first important step of an adventurous journey.
[Stefan Kreis standing on the raft with other passengers – Picture by KREIS]
[Passengers on the raft to cross the river Rio Madeira – Picture by KREIS]
[A picture of the raft – Picture by KREIS]