Amazon River, Day 23 and 24, Equator Crossing
08 April 2012 | Amazon River, Macapa, Brazil
In two days going downstream we covered the same distance that took us seven days going up, arriving in Macapa, on the Amazon River mouth's north shore, at one in the morning. Being the only one awake I made sure to anchor a few feet south of the equator as such a crossing aboard a sailing vessel without proper ceremony would surely upset Neptune's river counterpart. Knowing that we were in pirate territory (this being the place where the famous sailor Peter Blake was killed by pirates in 2001) I spent the night on guard waking every few minutes to have look for intruders.
Ashore the next morning, Diego and Steve topped up our fresh water supply by jerry jugging water over a mile back to the boat from the tap of a local family we had met, only to later learn that city water supply is the same river water on which we floated. While the boys were busy hauling river water 'back to the river, I was held up with boat formalities at the Policia Federal while a special agent was brought in for our 'special case'. When finally finished the federal agent then offered to drive us around town, warning us of the pirate situation as we drove. He took us to the towering equator monument marking the center of the earth (Macapa is one of only five cities in the world the equator runs through). We jumped, straddled, crisscrossed, skated, and high fived our way back and forth across the imaginary line that separates the hemispheres and the seasons.
Back at the riverfront Steve noticed a dingy making circles out in the river and bringing my attention to it I was excited that maybe another sailboat was here. My excitement soon turned to panic as I noticed the familiar pink outboard of our dingy. Having his skateboard on hand Diego rushed to the scene, but as soon as he yelled out, the eight young pirates who had commandeered our vessel, all jumped out leaving the dingy to float downstream. Yelling again, one brave soul rescued the dingy, bringing it to Diego to face his wrath, which ended up being additional rides in the river making circles. By the time I got there the dingy was full once again, but now with Diego joining in the fun with the kids that would no doubt grow to become real pirates one day.
In Brazil they have the best meat I found anywhere for sailboats. Coming in 4 kilogram logs and costing only 7 bucks the mortadela meat rolls, comes in chicken or pork, can last months at room temperature, and is easily sliced for sandwiches or into chunks to add to any dish. Good cold or fried the food quickly became a Bubbles favorite and we stocked up in Macapa along with farinha and guarana (two other local items hard to find outstide of Brazil).
For the equator crossing party we filled Bubbles with yellow, orange, and pink balloons and took the ceremonial shots. When our latitude hit all zeroes Molly shot a flare into the night sky to mark our crossing from the South hemisphere into the North followed by Steve and I showing Diego how to shotgun beers. Then, just to remind us we were still in the Amazon, we got caught in some river grass. With the tide having turned against us we found ourselves being pushed back up river still 100 miles from the ocean. On our way back to the salty sea the river wasn't going to let us out easy.