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Going down the Amazon River
in 1998


It was already September when I got back to Montreal from a tour of China and the ex-soviet countries in 1997. I had a lot of new photos to scan for my site so I stayed home and was here to experience the terrible ice storm that hit southern Quebec and eastern Ontario in January.

Some say that the "once in a century" climatic freak was caused by the "El Niño" phenomena. Freezing rain that turned to ice on contact fell almost without interruption for twelve consecutive days. Everything became heavily coated with ice. Trees suffered as overloaded branches fell on cars, houses and power lines, blocking streets and highways. Up to ten centimeters of ice accumulated on the 735 kilovolt transmission lines feeding cities and towns. Hundreds of steel towers crumpled under the weight and 1300 000 households (more than 3 million people), were deprived of the life-blood of modern times, electricity. It was a national catastrophe. Hundreds of schools were turned into emergency shelters and the army was called out to help with survival gear. Linesmen from the neighbouring provinces and states came to help rebuild the network and finally things came back to normal after a hectic month. I was lucky to have been cut off for only a few hours and only three times.

When the excitement was over, I still had time to fulfill the old dream going down the Amazon River to see the exuberant vegetation of our planet's largest rain forest. As I had spoken very little Spanish since my six month tour of South America 4 years ago, I did three weeks of Spanish immersion in Quito before exposing myself to Brazilian Portuguese as a precaution against mixing those two similar idioms.

The map traces my journey through Ecuador, Peru,  Colombia  and Brazil.

I had initially planned to make my way from Quito to Iquitos by bus to enjoy a few stops along the way but "El Niño" had been on the rampage here as well. Towns had been flooded, roads were damaged and bridges were out all along the coast of Ecuador and Peru. I had no alternative but to fly from Quito to Lima and on to Iquitos. I took a fast launch down the Marañon-Amazonas from Iquitos to Tabatinga and Leticia on the Peru - Brazil - Colombia border, a slow boat down the Solimoes-Amazonas to Manaus and flew back to Quito after doing 1 800 km on the river. A few words and 117 photos tell the story...



I continue developing this site for the pleasure of sharing the joys of discovery with you. Meeting wonderful people of all skin colours, ethnic origins and beliefs has inspired me to set up the Humanist Foundation of Quebec to promote critical thinking and intercultural tolerance.

You may download and use the globetrotter's photos provided you mention "Photo by Bernard Cloutier" with a link to this site below each photo. High resolution versions can be acquired from our agent



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