I n   B r a z i l :   O n   L o c a t i o n

Now for the fun part, the final mile—OK, 60 kilometers, by boat to our satellite uplink location, at the Ariau Amazon Towers, an ecotourist lodge on the Rio Negro, north of Manaus. (You can read more about it and see pictures in Ann Devereaux’s Travel Logs on the Web.)

Once more, nearly 50 crates of gear, some almost 300 pounds (150 kgs.) get lugged on board a double-decker boat. And we’re off, across the smooth, dark waters of the Rio Negro. All of us marvel once more at just how wide the river is... and remember this is just one of a 1000 or more that together make up the Amazon system.

At the Ariau, it’s hand-haul once more... with no carts to help. And this really does deserve some images in the videos. (In fact, you can see this process in Program 2.) First the satellite gear gets transferred from the big boat to 2 smaller motor canoes: there are some nervous moments as we try to figure out just how much weight a canoe (satellite dishes in canoes, after all, are not everyday problems, even for rocket scientists!) like this can handle. Then down a narrow side channel, through rafts of vegetation, and back to the heliport which we know will be sturdy enough for the dish, with a clear view of ACTS off there in the north west sky. The canoe sidles up beside a wooden walkway. This had been dry land last time we were here, on the location scout. Though weird weather associated with El Nino has made this a very dry “wet season” there’s still enough flooding to make our job a little easier. We can float a few hundred meters closer to where we need to be.

The hotel staff, our satellite crew, even producers—everyone pitches in: heavy boxes get carefully pushed, pulled and even carried, balanced on heads (as if in a 1950s National Geographic documentary!) up narrow wooden stairs. The transfer from Cleveland has involved truck and plane, bus and boat, canoe and now human muscle—oh, and don’t forget a lot of brain power to coordinate this complex network. But now, it’s done. By the evening of March 19th. the satellite dish is sitting in the middle of the heli-pad, ready for days of cabling, and tests and checkout.

We’re nearly ready!!!

Geoff’s Journals In Brazil: On Location    1     2     3