|ACTS Comes Down To Earth
The PTK crew would be housed around one floor of the rustic but comfortable Tower 6, and so the personal bags, like those of the other visitors, were sent up the stairs from the dock to the reception area for check in. The earth station, however, was given a royal welcome.
As the large riverboat pulled up to the lodges dock on the Ariau River, a flock of large canoes surrounded it to be loaded with the myriad crates and cases. These canoes made their way through the rainforest along a tiny stream that led along to the back of the lodge, which faces out toward the main channel of the Rio Negro. This is where the helipad was located, perched up on its stilts above the flooded forest like the rest of the buildings and walkways.
Since the helipad sat a good 20 ft up above the waters below, each case had to be hauled out of the canoe onto a narrow wooden walkway and then hoisted up a precarious set of steps to the upper level. After lugging these boxes across two continents, the newcomers were amazed to see good-natured Ariau workmen casually perch the large containers on one shoulder to carry them! The antenna dish and its support equipment would remain on the helipad; the rest of the cases went over a short walkway to Tower 4, where only hours before, workmen had sealed off one of the mosquito-netted guest rooms and installed a large capacity air-conditioner. The intricate electronics of the earth station, including telephone, audio and video equipment, would be cocooned in here, as isolated from the heat, humidity, and bugs as if it were in the finest office building in Manaus. Given the steamy, muggy, all-pervasive heat of the surrounding lowlands, its no wonder that our crew would find at least half a dozen reasons a day to go supervise the activities going on in the glorious coolness of the earth station room!
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