Porto Velho – November '05

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Porto Velho is our other main center in Brazil where we are still doing some translation work. As I have noted elsewhere, I used to live there, before moving to Cuiabá in '97, and I still have good memories of the place. In the years since I left, no computer specialist has arrived to live there and take over the job I used to do. As a result, it is necessary for me to make a trip out there 2-3 times per year. This was the first of what will surely be a number of work-related journeys out to the Amazon.

Normally, the trip out is an adventure, consisting of a bus journey of anywhere up to 24 hours or more. This time, however, I was able to take advantage of space on our Porto Velho plane as it returned home after a 100-hour inspection trip. The trip back, on the other hand, was the usual Low Road. Fortunately, the roads are in very good condition at this time, and it only took 21 hours.

While in Porto Velho I was able to accomplish a lot, as well as meet old (and new!) friends. I also had Thanksgiving dinner there.

The Trip Over

As I mentioned, this time I was able to fly over on our small plane. A small plane isn't the same as an airliner, and the trip is longer because it is slower. Nevertheless, I'm not complaining!

We stopped twice on this trip. Originally, the plan was to refuel in the small city of Vilhena. Unfortunately, when we arrived we found that they didn't have any aviation gas! So we took off again and made it to the smaller town of Cacoal, where we found plenty of fuel to take us the rest of the way to Porto Velho.

Loading plane in Cuiabá

Loading the plane prior to takeoff from Cuiabá

Believe it or not, we managed to get all that stuff, plus 4 passengers (including the two pilots) into the plane! The fellow you see near the tail of the plane is Ray Kapteyn, one of our pilots.

Refueling in Cacoal

Refueling in Cacoal

As I mentioned, we did manage to find fuel in Cacoal. This shows a local worker fueling the plane, while Ray sits on the wheel and Paul Kimball, the other pilot, is looking at something.

Approaching Porto Velho

Coming in over Porto Velho

This is a shot of us coming in over Porto Velho. The river is the Madeira River, which empties into the Amazon further downstream. Porto Velho has a population of around 200,000, and is at the highest navigable point on the Madeira River. It was founded as a port (the name means “Old Port” for river traffic that brought cargo upstream.

The Work

My work this trip was fairly general. In addition to removing one network server and transferring all of its functions to another, I had to reconfigure the Internet gateway to allow certain types of traffic that had not been working, as well as help a number of individual members with their individual needs. My nearly two weeks there were barely enough, and when I left I realized that I could have easily stayed another week and found work to do. The regional director was already making up a new list of projects!

Phone/Network Hub building

Porto Velho Phone Building

The small building in the foreground is the phone building. It is important to my work because it is also the hub where all the center fiber optic network cable comes together, as well as the location where the Internet gateway is located. Every visit I find plenty to do in this one small building.

The first building in the background (the one with the same color) is Maintenance, and the blue building beyond it is Aviation. You can also see the center water tower on the right, at the highest point on the center.

PVH Computer Department

Porto Velho Computer Department

This is the local computer department. There are two group machines. When I took this shot, the one on the left had been “taken over” by another computer that I was fixing. People were still coming in to use the one on the right.

When I used to live here, there were two machines in the same locations. These are newer ones; those from my era have long since been decommissioned.

My old office was behind me when I took this picture.

People and Fun

The trip wasn't all work. One of the more enjoyable things was the chance to see old friends—and meet new ones. Thanksgiving Day took place while I was there, and we all met in the main meeting room for a group dinner. There were also several opportunities to visit people in their homes, and on the second Wednesday I was there a number of us went to town to a favorite pizzeria.

Pizza gang

In front of Dom Giovanni's Pizzeria

This is a shot of me and four others who all went out to pizza on Wednesday evening. We weren't the only ones; we met a whole carload of others that went separately! As you can see, I am in the middle. The young woman on the far left is Lisa, a short-term teacher from New York. Next to her is our office secretary. On the right is a short-term couple who came to help with maintenance and aviation.

Going Home

On the way back I took the Low Road, i.e. the bus. This is a voyage that I have done many times, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the road was in the best condition I've ever seen it. The trip only took 21 hours.

Brazilian buses are considerably better than their American counterparts. Seats are more comfortable, and just in general they are more pleasant to ride. This one was no exception. Today, they have a type of bus where the passenger deck is elevated. The front passengers sit directly above the driver. Since I enjoy looking out the window, I always try to get this seat. This time I succeeded.

Looking out bus window

Looking out the front bus window

This is a shot that I took looking out the front of the bus window. We were approaching a bridge over a river at the time.


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