After a runaround exercise of officials making Chris take paperwork from one office to another and filing flight plans TWICE, we finally find ourselves sitting at the end of the runway in a heavy downpour waiting to take off. We finally took off with our poor little plane being hit hard by the increasingly heavy rain sounding like a tin drum, we continued on an (IFR) route. Basically for those who do not fly an IFR is a route that is followed when ones visibility is reduced to less than 3 miles and less than 1000 foot ceiling.  We are directed to climb to 5000 feet in the clouds, where we crept along avoiding thunderstorms, watching from our windows as the weather became increasingly bleak. We were being bumped around like a cork in the ocean, both not saying much to each other but concentrating on the black clouds ahead. Within minutes we both decided that this looked like a pretty menacing set of clouds ahead and the safest we would be was to divert from our planned IFR route and just skirt around them and diving under them!!  Within minutes of reducing our altitude, it was apparent that 3000 feet was not cutting it. Still extremely bumpy and uncomfortable (I hit my head several times on the ceiling!!!) we had to descend to 700 feet to keep out of the downpour. We looked at alternative airport/airstrips for us to land on en-route if the weather became unsafe, and there were a couple of dirt strips, grass strips, it was much clearer behind us where Amapa airport was, and the worst case scenario there was the sea to land on! After about an hour curling ourselves around thunderstorms, and being shaken like a martini in a cocktail blender with nothing but rainforests and jungle below us, the sky began to look less fearsome. The colour of clouds began to slowly change from dark grey to light grey to finally pale blue. With relief, my teeth stopped chattering and we reverted back to original IFR route. When spotting the airport for our fuel stop to Macapa we both started to laugh and with nervous relief, as we made our way to the airport.

But this was not going to be such an easy fuel stop as we thought, and landing in Macapa was to be yet another ordeal all by itself!!! We knew we had to clear both customs and immigration as this was our first stop into Brazil and refuel. Easy, no problem right? Oh no, when we landed and opened our doors, we were surrounded by a gaggle of officials. At first they smiled and welcomed us to their airport, and they started to quiz us with questions at a shot gun speed such as why have we landed in Macapa? Are we on a commercial trip? Where are our general declaration papers? Are we carrying fruit, meat, guns? People were looking into the airplane and pointing at our luggage. Not being able to speak their language was now going to be a HUGE problem. Luckily one of the women in the group spoke French and Chris being born in Canada and went to school there had a grasp of the French Language. We were informed we were not going to be able to go proceed to Belem as the airport that was being rebuilt and had no static offices to have our paperwork processed!! Finally I was sent into town with a lovely lady called Karla,(Chris was not allowed to come with me into town, because he had shorts on and no trousers,  but wait a minute so do I?) and with a bit of groveling in the government office, paperwork being signed stamped and sent back and forward and help from Daniella (the French speaking lady ) and translating from our new friend Elias in Belem on the telephone we were on our way to Belem!! This simple fuel stop to Macapa was a nightmare stop we didn’t need as were now delayed to Belem and it was going to be dark very soon. One thing I hate is night flying, and although the flight to Belem was just under 2 hours it was over the rainforest and jungle. Here we go!!!!!

Our flight to Belem was pretty, as were flew overlooking the dimmed rainforest with the odd twinkling of camp fires (we assume) along the way. I again, was little a spooked out by the complete darkness rainforests, Chris due to his many thousands of hours experience just took it all in his stride.

 We finally landed in Belem where we were warmly greeted by Elias the representative from Signature,  who had been our translator on the end telephone in Macapa. We finally took a taxi to our hotel where flopped exhausted into our bed.  

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