25. September 2018

BR 163: 1’850 Kilometers and 5’000 Truck Encounters

Dusty Drive on the BR 163

In Brazil, around 1.8 million trucks are registered. At least five thousand of them we crossed, overtook or saw them lying on the side of the road of the BR 136. Mostly the drivers travel in pairs, so that they can help each other in case of a breakdown during the long journey. Tire changes are not uncommon with these 26-meter-long vehicles with up to seven axles. Such a truck has 34 (!) wheels.

The road is paved only to a small extent. Often more holes – up to 30 cm deep – can be seen as asphalt. If the route is difficult, e.g. on slopes, the road builders have completely abandoned on asphalt. The surface consists of powdery dust, which is ground even finer every day by thousands of wheels. If you drive in the dusty cloud behind a truck, you don’t see two meters. So you try to overtake it as soon as you have enough visibility. Then you turn on headlights, honk and hope that the truck does not suddenly turn left during the overtaking maneuver. To the honor of the chauffeurs is said that they usually drive considerate and let you even overtake on the right side, if it is not possible on the left. But as soon as one has overtaken this lorry, one stands behind the next – Sisyphus sends his regards!

On the edge of the BR 136 are huge panels advertising for Syngenta or Monsanto. However, we even noticed a billboard for a crematorium. Perhaps an indication that the release of poison is a dangerous thing? This is done mostly with special aircraft spraying the huge fields out of the air.

We were glad when we arrived on 24th September 2018 in Santarém, where the BR 163 ends. We will not drive it a second time! And we have regrets with the drivers who, finally they arrive in Santarém; have to go back the the way!