March/April 2013

TSJ Feature: Brazil's Angling Buffet

Story by Keith Sutton

April 8, 2004

One might think a hackneyed old fisherman like me would have no trouble sleeping after a 60-hour journey from Arkansas to the far-flung Rio Xingu in Brazil. Such is not the case. It is 2 a.m., yet my eyes are wide open, focused on the thatched ceiling of my room in the remote Belo Monte Lodge.

My adventure started three days ago, with a marathon flight schedule: Little Rock to Atlanta to Miami to São Paulo, Brazil, to Campo Grande to Cuiabá to Brasilia to Belém to Altamira.

At 7 a.m. on April 7, my final flight lands in Altamira, a sultry city of 60,000 three degrees south of the equator in the Brazilian state of Pará. Rain soaks me as I dash across the tarmac into the airport, but I am unaware rain has been falling in record amounts. As a result, the last leg of my 4,600-mile journey – a mere 40-mile drive from Altamira to the lodge – will be the most grueling by far.

When the rain subsides at 4 p.m., my Portuguese-speaking host, Claudomiro Gomes, the mayor of Altamira and owner of Belo Monte Lodge, throws my gear in his two-wheel-drive pickup, laughs as he indicates I should buckle my seat belt and stomps the accelerator. We blaze through the city, barreling around corners, running over dogs and nearly sideswiping several pedestrians. The pace doesn’t slow until we reach the city’s edge where high waters of the Rio Xingu inundate the highway.

I gasp as Claudomiro drives into water midway up the truck doors, but somehow we cross without stalling. I rejoice as we continue on paved road, but soon the asphalt ends. Before us lies a path of red earth bulldozed through deforested jungle – the Trans-Amazonian Highway, or Transamazonica. Within sight, a bus, six transport trucks and several cars are buried to the axles in mud.

“Aguentar!” Claudomiro shouts. “Hold on!” I shut my eyes and grab the seat with my ass cheeks as he punches the accelerator.

Four hours later, having been stuck and pushed from the mud by good Samaritans no less than 15 times, covered head to toe in slimy red earth, soaked by rain, we turn off the “highway” onto a rutted trail. The truck’s wiper blades slather mud across the windshield as we slide eight miles through the jungle to a point where the Xingu’s waters are too high for further travel. Here we are met by a horseman.

Share |
TSJ Subscriptions
TSJ Past Articles
Want every article in full?

Buy a one-year subscription of 6 issues for $19.95 or purchase a two-year subscription of 12 issues for $36.95.Call 866-719-0966 or order online.

Buy a subscription online now >
TSJ Features
Texas Sporting Journal - Bavarian Rhapsody
Bavarian Rhapsody
Story by Magnus Pelz

Traditional driven hunts for Russian boar.

Read article >
Texas Sporting Journal - The Real Laguna Madre
The Real Laguna Madre
Story by Mike Leggett

Fishing off the beaten path.

Read article >
Texas Sporting Journal - Canada's River of Steel
Canada's River of Steel
Story by Joe Doggett

Chasing trophy steelhead on the Kispiox.

Read article >
TSJ Series
Texas Sporting Journal - Caveat Emptor
Caveat Emptor
Story by Jameson Parker

Read article >
Texas Sporting Journal - Leupold BX-4 McKinley
Leupold BX-4 McKinley
Story by Jeff Copeland

Read article >
Texas Sporting Journal - Drink Texas
Drink Texas
Story by Nathan Jones

Read article >
Texas Sporting Journal - Purpose, Product & Placement
Purpose, Product & Placement
Story by Steve Baxter

Read article >