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Matt Norman

Goodbye to the Amazon

Posted from: Manaus
Am back in Manaus with Laura, Rob and Dudu and it's been quite an adventure. We have left Bruce back in Tabatinga and crossed flights with the other crew in the air so didn't get chance to say 'Hi' and wish them luck.

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Matt Norman

Axe swings in soggy socks

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.

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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.

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Matt Norman

Night in the logging camp

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.

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Matt Norman

It's a long way up

After a long boat ride the river was becoming narrower and Philippe guided us to a small encampment. From here we hiked for 40 minutes into the jungle and arrived at an enormous tree stretching high up through the canopy. This was to be our platform for filming shots of the jungle from above the canopy.

Matt starts his ascent up a tree, complete with kit...

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Matt Norman

Avoiding the stench of feet

Posted from: Near Atalaia, on the river on the way to logging camp

We have resumed our boat journey to the remote logging camp and didn’t quite make it in daylight today so have pulled into the riverbank to sleep the night. Laura has stayed behind in Tabatinga to start transcribing the Matis tapes so it’s a very male affair for this section of filming. The sleeping options are pretty limited with hammocks being tied to every possible place inside of the cramped boat. This isn’t too pleasant as inside it stinks of diesel fumes and it's boiling hot from the lack of ventilation.

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Matt Norman

False alarm

Posted from: Parana
After the log ceremony we recouped back at our portakabin for a break. Pete was feeling a little better but I was feeling terrible with headaches and sneezing. In these types of village locations we have to be especially alert to malaria symptoms so I had this thought in the back of my mind. Luckily there was a small health hut in the village so it was decided that we would all give blood samples for testing. As I was still feeling bad Rob took over shooting duties to film some nice long lens shots around the village while Pete and I lay on the floor of the hut.

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Rob Sullivan

Dropping Like Flies

Posted from: Parana
The extreme environment of the Amazon is taking a heavy toll on the crew. Yesterday our highly talented cameraman Matt Norman tested positive for malaria and had to be evacuated to the nearest town for medical help. Luckily we are just an hour’s boat ride from a remote missionary air strip and we managed to call a plane in very quickly. He is now the fourth person to leave this shoot.

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Matt Norman

Matt evacuated with suspected malaria

The fourth medical evacuation in full swing

Matt Norman

A dangerous diagnosis

Matt prepares for evacuation as he is diagnosed with malaria

Matt Norman

A Time to Dance

The crew join in a dance in the Marubo longhouse

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Matt Norman

Scorching Hot Wax

Posted from: Parana
As I'm writing this I've just broken into a secret stash of dry roasted peanuts that have been traveling in a camera box since Peru. Sat joining me for this mini-feast are three little wide-eyed Marubo kids who are loving this treat as much as I am.

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Matt Norman

Becoming Marubo

Posted from: Parana
The heat was sweltering and an excitement was building around the village as the men and women had separated into two groups and from a distance were making eyes at one another. The groups were about 100 metres apart with the men standing proudly in a line and the women up a slope huddled together and giggling and pointing at the men. Bruce was stood in the middle of the line of men wearing matching white beads and body paint. Pete and I were filming some shots among the women and they were quite flirty and funny.

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Matt Norman

The Bug Game

Posted from: Parana
The Marubo village stands high up on a bank overlooking the river and it’s from there that I’m shooting a time-lapse shot of a stunning sunset expanding over the bend in the river and the jungle beyond.

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Matt Norman

High Shots

Matt sets up the jib - but isn't quite prepared for the audience

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Steve Robinson

Heal the World (I'll tell you later)

Posted from: Andoas.
We're in Andoas at last. It's been a mission to get here, as always. First the oil company agreed we could fly up here on one of their planes. Then they decided we couldn't (we later heard one of their platforms had been peacefully occupied by the Achuar so they didn’t want us around). Then they said we could fly again but then they bumped us off the flight. Eventually we reverted to Plan A, which was the usual option of three days on a boat with a stop-off in the Prison Hotel of San Lorenzo and the usual boat diet of crackers, tinned cheese, frankfurters and tinned peaches.

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Bruce Parry

Boat Politics

Posted from: Somewhere between Andoas and San Lorenzo
It’s great to be off again after our break and cool to meet up with our new team member Pete. He seems like a right laugh and though we all miss Zubin it’s great to have an influx of fresh blood. He’s very experienced and used to this sort of shoot and his dry sense of humor has had me in stitches more than once already. Everyone else seems on great form and we’re all re-energised for the next phase, which includes (as ever) a lot of journeying.

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Matt Norman

Love in a Cold Climate

Posted from: near Wijint

We left the Achuar village of Wijint with not the greatest of send offs, just two small boys waving at us - and they were there to take a pee.

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Zubin Sarosh

The school disco and Matt N's boudoir!

Posted from: Wijint
At the moment I am sitting in our camp in the Achuar village of Wijint, we have been given the use of one of the thatched open-sided houses that are typical here. The roof is about 20 feet high and made of palm leaves with a raised floor made of tree bark, we are in the centre of the village next to the ever present football pitch, which seems to be the centre of most of the communities we have seen here in Peru.

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Matt Norman

Police Raid on Cocaine Lab

Posted from: Palma Pampa
Today we have gained access to film the flip side of the cocaine story in Peru, the fight against the trade in cocaine by the police and army forces, who are in turn supported with US funding.

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Matt Norman

The Coca Pit

Posted from: Louisiana
7.20 am: We walk 10 minutes up through the woods and come to a small clearing with a wooden house. A very poor-looking mum and dad with six scraggly young children greet us. They look somewhat puzzled by our motives and the driver quickly reassures them so it’s happy hand shakes all round.

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Matt Norman

A Surreptitious Journey

Posted from: Louisiana
5.00am: There is a beautiful sunrise and the mist crosses the mountains as Bruce, Luis and myself meet early. We await the possible go-ahead of a filming opportunity with illegal cocaine paste manufacturers. After lots of pacing and phone calls from Luis he finally gives us the thumbs-up. We load a lightweight shooting kit and jump into an unassuming car with local San Francisco number plates.

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Matt Norman

Mealtime and a Machete

Posted from: San Francisco area.
Almu has gone down with dehydration or a tummy bug and is lying on the floor in the dirt next to the tripod. We are looking a sorry sort of bunch in contrast to the young coca-collecting kids, who carry on in the stifling heat without one complaint.

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Matt Norman

Coca Harvest

Posted from: San Francisco area.
We arrived back at the hacienda and I’m now feeling nauseous and dizzy. I take some re-hydration salts as I’m probably suffering from dehydration and crash in my tent. I’m sick most of the night and having not slept I’m still dressed when we leave at 4am in order to travel and film Bruce waking up with the family back at Antonio’s hut.

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Matt Norman

Magic Hour with the Coca Growers

Posted from: Louisiana / San Fransisco
At about 4pm we all meet up and take a 30-minute drive to join up with a family of coca growers. It has been difficult for Luis to find a family who are happy for us to film them, as they are very aware that the growing of coca is controversial and they do not wish to get into trouble with their community.

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Matt Norman

Cloud Coca Land

Posted from: near Louisiana.
We wake early and Matt B, Zubin and I head off in the soft morning light to shoot some establishing shots of the area. We shoot these on the large HD camera with some great shots of the lush green, mountainous landscape. In particular we pick off shots of the many fields growing coca leaves as these will then cut well into to the scenes that we will later shoot.

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Matt Norman

U Can’t Touch This

Posted from: Louisiana
Luis, our multitalented fixer-translator-local producer, has pre-warned us that we should do our utmost to arrive at our destination before dark. This is because the region we are heading for is the primary cocaine producing area of Peru and is pretty much lawless.

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Matt Norman

Journey to the other San Francisco

Posted from: En route to San Francisco
We leave early to hopefully avoid the roadblocks of the strike in a strict three-car convoy and within minutes each vehicle has been separated from the others. Today will be another long day with a 14-hour drive ahead of us. With no sign of barricades we escape the city for another day of careering around hairpin bends with epic drops.

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Matt Norman

On the Bandit Trail

Posted from: Ayacucho.
John, our fixer, is in our vehicle and says that the road ahead is notorious for bandits holding vehicles up at gunpoint. He says there are two roads to Ayacucho and to keep safe we should not take the left fork ahead as that’s where the bandits hide ready for an ambush. We take the right fork - hopefully the bandits don’t try this road for once!

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Matt Norman

Bone shaking all the way to Ayacucho

Posted from: en route to Ayacucho.
So we’ve got the all clear to make our journey into the Red Zone, which means that today will involve another two hour journey in a bumpy vehicle. Today is not Zubin's day as, highly inconveniently, he has the runs - not the best on a long drive like this.

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Matt Norman

Tooth Ache

Posted from: Abancay.
Today the rapids seemed to get even bigger. After lunch we reached one of the biggest, a grade 5+ called 'Tooth Ache', named after a large rock at the bottom that resembled a tooth. This was by far the most dangerous rapid to be tackled so a good recce was carried out first. Our head guide had the perfect spot for me to film from, on a small ledge of rock right opposite the tooth and straight above a mad torrent of foaming water.

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Matt Norman

The Rapid with no Name

Posted from:Tocador.
After an early start and long drive we met up with our white water rafting guides and set out to explore one of the high Peruvian tributaries of the Amazon. This leg is going to be particularly difficult when working with the camera equipment as we need to capture great shots of white water rafting yet not destroy our cameras at the same time.

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Matt Norman

Amazon team enter the Red Zone

Posted from:Machu Puente
In a few days time our journey will take us into the coca growing and cocaine trafficking area of Peru known as the 'Red Zone'. This region is pretty much a no-go area, even to the Peruvian army. This means that a mix of local militia police, members of the Ashaninka community and the drug traffickers control the area.

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Matt Norman

Kayaking and the Day Of The Dead

Posted from:Machu Puente
Today Bruce hit the water for the first time. He was joined by Eric - a local Olympic canoeist for the Peruvian team. He guided Bruce by canoe through the spectacular Tres Canyones while we shot some wide shots as they paddled past Inca ruins. The light out here has a lovely golden warmth so is a gift to shoot in.

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Matt Norman

Peru beat England again

Posted from:Tres Canyones
We finally arrived at Tres Canyones, our destination, yesterday and camped the night with the family. This morning we all said a fond goodbye. While waiting to leave, literally in the middle of nowhere, a young llama herder walked past so I kicked him our football and started to have a kick around with him.

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Matt Norman

Llama herders and Real Madrid

Posted from:On the journey to Angostura
We first met our family of llama herders in the dark. Three nights ago we approached a tiny encampment and there, standing in the gloomy light, were the shadows of the family of llama herders that we've spent the last few days with. They greeted us warmly, gave Bruce presents and invited us into their very cosy stone house.

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Matt Norman

The secret weapon

Posted from:Mismi
After a couple of days walking and acclimatizing we got to the source yesterday. After reaching 5,200 metres we filmed our first shots of Bruce walking through the dramatic high Andes landscape and describing the start of his journey.

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Matt Norman

Arrival in base camp

Posted from:Base camp Mismi
Yesterday our three-vehicle convoy drove higher and higher up into the Andes towards Mount Mismi in search of the source of the Amazon. On route we stopped in a tiny town to refuel and while waiting, Zubin, Matt B, Luis (our driver) and I played football with two small lads of no more than 10 years in age.

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Matt Norman

Travelling from Colca

Travelling through the night

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