It was looking grim. Heron, our French Sound Recordist, has the most wonderful sense of humour. He has kept me in stitches for days. It was looking grim because at this moment his humour had been replaced by a growl that only a Frenchman can growl. All I had done was sink our crew 4x4 up to its axles in sand - having just crossed a river via some bits of wood cunningly disguised as a bridge.
We had an amazing day's filming yesterday. We flew by helicopter over the forest with IBAMA, the Brazilian environment police, looking for evidence of illegal logging activity from the air. Forty minutes after take-off we were staring down at a beautiful tract of pristine rainforest, chequered with large rectangular clearings where illegal loggers had plundered mahogany and other protected hardwoods. Dirt tracks cut gashes through the landscape, leading down to the Xingu River where the logs were shipped out to be milled and planked for export.
Posted from: Logging Camp, Atalaia
Today we were to follow the process of how the loggers move the logs. They always select trees next to the river and once stripped of branches they are sawn into four metre lengths. The next step involved brute force and with Bruce right in there among them, the loggers used thick short braches to lever the log an inch at a time and with one huge effort the log was finally rolled over the edge of the bank and crashed down the slope into the water.
Posted from: Logging Camp nr Atalaia
Today we joined the loggers for some tree felling. It was a long walk into the jungle again and then once a tree was selected it was all hands on deck to clear an area for it to land. The loggers are so confident in their abilities that they prepare for exactly where it will land every time.
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.
Posted from: Atalaia
The first night at the logging camp. Around the hut it’s a mudbath due to heavy rains and now it’s stopped the mozzies are out in force. Bruce has moved well away from the hut to string up his hammock and the rest of us, about 15 in all, are packed under the shelter.
Posted from: Atalaia
One last adjustment to the camera and we swing it out over the water on our 25’ crane to film some passing shots of the boat. We have travelled ahead on a smaller, faster boat in order to rig this and not hold our journey up. The shot works well by having the camera drift across the water and up over a tree as the boat passes. It really captures the landscape that we are passing through in one smooth shot.
Posted from: Parana
Day two of the tickling ceremony and excitement was growing as we followed the group of men down to the riverbank. Bruce was right in among them as they climbed into a canoe. There were already too many people in it but we really wanted this sequence so Pete and I crammed ourselves in and kept filming.
Posted from: Catunga.
Catunga is a weird place. Two years ago a local logger built a road through the forest and roads change things quickly around here. In return for the right to log the forest around Catunga, he built them wooden houses, probably made out of their own wood.
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Bruce Parry, presenter of the BBC's Tribe, travelled the length of the Amazon to film a major new series for BBC Two, shown in autumn 2008. You can relive his journey online through exclusive blogs, video and much more.