Diary of an emigrant
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
This is great news for Manaus, and is likely to be the biggest thing to happen here since the rubber boom. The Federal government alone is pledged to invest $6bn Euro in the infrastructural improvements required (including a metro system – maybe even broadband internet – maybe even direct flights from Europe!!), and there will be further investment from State, Municipal and of course private funds. Even allowing for the inevitable losses through corruption and cronyism, this is a level of investment which cannot fail to change the face of Manaus forever.
I think it’s fantastic news, and I’m very happy for the people of Manaus. And whilst it is against my nature to speak well of politicans generally, it would be remiss of me not to note that Amazonas State Governor Eduardo Braga and his team did a magnificent job of representing Manaus throughout the bidding process. Global financial crisis? What global financial crisis? Hooray for Manaus! It would of course be rather neat to see Northern Ireland (or Ireland or England or Wales or Scotland – not necessarily in order of preference) play here, but maybe that’s asking too much…
The other cities selected (see map) are Belo Horizonte (Mineirao stadium), Brasilia (Mane Garrincha), Curitiba (Arena da Baixada), Cuiaba (Verdao), Fortaleza (Castelao), Natal (Estrela dos Reis Magos), Porto Alegre (Beira-Rio), Recife-Olinda, (Arena Recife-Olinda), Rio de Janeiro (Maracana), Salvador (Arena da Bahia) and Sao Paulo (Morumbi).
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Amazon Excursion Part I
We set off on day one at 05:30, fully laden with kit, spares and 125 litres of fuel. The 10-day plan was to cover 1000 kilometres of the Amazon and its tributaries as far as Codajas, which lies approximately 275km south west of Manaus on the Solimoes (Satellite image shows planned route for day 1). We were prepared to camp or sleep in the boat if necessary, but had planned a route which would hopefully enable us to overnight at some of the small towns en route – notably Anama, Anori and Codajas itself.
To cut a looong story short, we ended up back-tracking 5km and ‘hanging a left’, from where we prodded and poked our way West, then South, then (worringly) North again, then (equally worringly) Northwest. Assisted by advice from what locals we encountered en route, we finally ended up at the town of Caapiranga at around 12:30. We weren’t lost exactly, but we were certainly ‘directionally challenged’. Every route we tried out of what is quite a major lake system, was blocked by the dreaded capim. We asked the locals and they pointed us this way and that. We faithfully tried this way and that and had to come back and report failure every time. Finally a very nice chap told us that in fact there was only one way through and that he was going in that direction and we could follow him. We decided it was worth a try – in fact we had reached a point where the only other viable options were returning to Manacapuru, now four or more hours away, or sleeping in the boat.
Friday, May 08, 2009
As you can see from the graph, 2009 (green line) looks like matching the highest river levels ever recorded (in 1953, which is the brown line). There are some pretty wild forecasts out there (including one of well over 30 metres), but the general consensus is that levels will peak at or near the 29.69m level of 1953. This being the case, there will be a significant impact on local communities, and in fact various municipal agencies have already declared states of emergency up and down the Solimoes and the Amazon. When we were on our boat trip, we saw where the Solimoes was already overflowing its banks, sending torrents of water into and amongst the trees and – importantly – plantations along the way. In addition, several communities (presumably those built since 1953) consist of dwellings and other buildings well below the 30m mark (and in some idiotic cases, below the 29m mark). The town of Anama, where we stayed on our recent trip, is already reported to be substantially under water, and even the larger town of Anori will be fairly devastated.
The peak level is mid-June, and then the water recedes unfortunately slowly at first (less than a metre in July) and then mercifully quickly (3 to 5 metres in each of the next 2 months), but for those suffering from flooding – basically every community within a wide belt along the 2000km of the Amazon (as much as a million square kilometres, at a rough calculation), there are likely to be significant economic and social consequences to these record levels, placing a heavy burden on local, state, federal, and possibly international aid systems.
Of course river level peaks and troughs are notoriously difficult to predict (2008 was forecast to hit 29m), so there is still a chance that the models are all wrong. For the sake of all those communities, I hope so.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
We've taken some time off from caiman wrestling and exploring to put our basement area in order, so as to be ready for any eventuality(!) As usual, having builders in is a bit stressful, but we’re happy enough with how it’s working out. The first 3 pics are of the area outside the bedroom we built down there last year (which is also being re-vamped at the same time), just after we started (yes- it looked alot worse). It will probably take another week for the work to be completed, but in the meantime, the final photo shows how it’s beginning to take some shape.