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Matt Norman

Log Spinning

Posted from: Loggers’ camp nr Atalaia
The next day it’s up early and into the jungle for a long sweaty walk. It’s pretty tricky as we cross streams and ditches by balancing our way along narrow branches. The Dr has joined us and it’s hysterical as due to his somewhat large size he is supported by two loggers for each crossing in case the branch snaps. He sees the funny side to everything so the atmosphere is great. It’s been raining heavily and has just stopped, so the humidity factor is really cranking up high.

The doctor giggling as he makes a wobbly crossing
The doctor giggling as he makes a wobbly crossing

We are with two loggers, Boto who is 19yrs old and full of mad energy and Raimundo, a gentle yet super-tough older guy. Boto has three very cool star tattoos on his back and is a real Jack the lad. He gets his nickname from the river dolphins called Botos. There is an old Brazilian myth that if a young woman in the village becomes mysteriously pregnant out of marriage then it was caused by a Boto. Our chap goes for crazy parties every time he hits the town after six months of logging, and is very popular with the ladies - hence his nickname.

It’s starting to get dusky and the lads lead us to a bend in the river where we find about 30 floating logs caught in a jam. With no warning Boto pushes through the bushes and dives headfirst in among them and is then straight up onto one, spinning it with his feet to free it. The other logger takes a steadier approach and, making it look easy, tiptoes from one log to another until he also then starts spinning one to free it.

Matt N filming the log spinning
Matt N filming the log spinning

This balancing act is amazing to film and the loggers use a mix of force and delicate control to slowly start moving the logs downstream. They have the skills of a weightlifting ballerina. Dudu whispers that this is especially dangerous as the logs are so heavy that one slip could easily break a leg or worse. Bruce jumps onto the closest log - with quite a wobble he goes for it. Bruce uses a technique of keeping on hopping from one log to another and is doing great until they gesture that he should also help to move them.

This is another matter as it involves delicate spinning of the logs and suddenly Bruce goes flying into the water. The sequence is looking great but Rob is naturally concerned for Bruce as other huge heavy logs are floating downstream around him. Bruce quickly gets back up and Boto is just amazing as he sprints across the logs and dives into the muddy water to swim upstream for more. It’s getting dark now and the loggers are not happy that it’s safe for Bruce to be doing this at night.

The loggers are tied to the elements and whenever there is good rain and the river rises they move the logs downstream as fast as they can before the level drops again. Sometimes they will risk their lives working all night in the dark, jumping from log to log to beat the dropping water level. On the walk back in the dark the jungle comes alive with exotic sounds and we come across a brightly coloured red and black snake sat right in the middle of the path.


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