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Raquel Toniolo

The Gold Rush


Posted from: Apui
I have had four hours sleep. I spent the night packing and chatting with Sol: a little bonding session.

I was supposed to have got up at 6.30, but I turned the alarm off for a couple more minutes and was almost late. James called my room at 6.50 as we should be leaving the hotel at 7am - thankfully everything was packed and I had had my shower before I went to bed, so just had to jump in my clothes and run the three blocks of long corridors leading to the reception.

I got there, paid the bill and the rest of the crew were still loading the cars with our 'light' gear - we had 15 pelican cases and some 25 soft bags. Got in the airport, loaded the kit in the plane and took off. We were heading south, to a little town called Apui, located in the Transamazon Highway - a project created by the military government in the mid 60s, which had the ambition of bringing development to the heart of the Amazon. The road was never finished and the development it was supposed to bring only opened the way to destruction, leaving behind immigrants still dreaming of a better life.

We arrived in Apui at 9.30, but the trucks I had arranged to pick us up only turned up an hour later. We drove into town to have lunch and buy some supplies. By 2pm we hit the road towards 'Garimpo do Juma' - an illegal gold mine that has caused the second largest gold rush in Brazil's recent history. We drove on the Transamazon and then onto a smaller dirty track full of potholes, dodgy bridges, and slippery, muddy hills.
We arrived at the banks of river Juma at dusk. Bruce, James, Keith, Zubin and Dudu crossed the river towards the village in a hurry before they lost the light completely. Sol, Dionisio and I stayed behind, paying drivers and trying to get 35 cases into a canoe and then carry it to the hotel.

You may be surprised to hear there is a hotel inside an illegal gold mine in the middle of nowhere, but as you can guess it is not quite a hotel - we arrived to a wooden shack, which had a pharmacy at the left front corner, we met a few people who gathered at the front porch to watch DVDs, and each pair of roommates gathered in their rooms to sort out their stuff. An hour later Keith and Zubin had transformed their bedroom into a tree house.

I'm exhausted of laughing. My first impression is that this shoot is going to be fun.

A tour of the crew's accommodation

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