One hundred years ago President Roosevelt and his exhausted team rounded a bend in the Rio Roosevelt. It was like hundreds of other bends they had rounded, but this time they were greeted by the American and Brazilian flags fluttering in the wind and the sound of guns shots celebrating their arrival. It had been almost two months since they launched their canoes in a tiny stream. Before they started their journey down the Rio Roosevelt, Rondon and Roosevelt split their party into two groups. They sent one group down the Ji-Parana River and were told to wait where the unexplored Rio Castania and Rio Aripuana join to wait for Roosevelt’s team. The team camped at the junction for a month waiting for Roosevelt to arrive.
Yesterday we rounded the same bend that Roosevelt did and found the mouth of the Rio Roosevelt. We were not greeted by waving flags, or gun shots, but we were welcomed by the wonderful staff of the Amazon Roosevelt Lodge. Vadinho, the manager rolled out the red carpet for us and made us feel at home. Soon we were drinking our first ice cold water and showers in a very long time. Then they made a huge dinner for us. After dinner I walked back to the river, knowing that this would be our last night on the river. The air was alive with the sound of insects and monkeys. We have had some challenges along the way. Long portages, rapids, extreme heat, and long days on the water. However, our journey has been a piece of cake compared to Roosevelt’s. Roosevelt’s trip brought him to the brink of death and three men were lost during their long and dangerous journey. Sitting by the water I could imagine the relief and joy Roosevelt and his men must have felt when they saw the flags flying and realized their ordeal was coming to an end.
Several days after reaching the mouth of the river Roosevelt’s party boarded a river boat and quickly traveled down river to Manaus. Like their journey, ours is coming to an abrupt end. This morning we paddled through one final rapid and pulled our canoes up to a dirt road called the Trans-Amazon Highway. After a few hours of waiting we were able to load our canoes and most of our supplies into two trucks. We will take a bus to Porto Vehlo to pick up the canoes and equipment this evening. It will take about 12 hours to travel about 300 miles. Like Roosevelt, we will be back in a big city very soon.
Paul and I will travel to Pimenta Bueno to try and talk with the Cinta Larga and get permission to paddle the headwaters of the Rio Roosevelt. We want to meet the Cinta Larga and learn more about them. Plus, we want to visit more of the places that Roosevelt references in his book. We still have two weeks in Brazil and we hope to retrace more of Roosevelt’s journey. We look forward to sharing the rest of the adventure with you. The rest of our team will head home from Porto Velho. They have been away from their families for almost a month and I think they are all ready to go home. The last few days have been filled with rapids and portages and everyone is tired, but also excited that we have made it to the end of the Rio Roosevelt.