10-Jan-2004 -- This was our very first confluence attempt, and I really didn't know what to expect. The others were all Brazilians, but as a pale Englishman more used to Sussex than Sao Paulo, I wasn't quite sure how hard it was going to be...
The map suggested that the nearest road would take us to within 2 or 3 km from the point, but when the GPS arrow swung past 90 degrees, it was still reading over 6km. However, at the exact closest point there was a wide farm road, running exactly in the right direction, with a sign announcing that visitors were welcome at the Ostrich Farm!
This eventually disappeared in a field with about 4km left to go. Nearby on a side-turning was the farm itself, so we drove down to this and called out for the owners. After some discussion by the Portuguese speakers, it became apparent that they were happy for us to cross their land, but we'd probably cross into the next farm. The owner of this farm was out on his horse, apparently.
We took the car across the field as far as was practical, and set off along the edge of the ostrich farm's land. Soon Alessandra spotted the farmer on his horse in the distance, and we called him over. As they repeated their explanations, I reflected that the farmers in Brazil were a lot friendlier and less suspicious than those in England, and sure enough he waved us on, with the same slightly puzzled expression as the ostrich famers. We strode off with renewed enthusiasm.
After about half a kilometre, however, the field ended at the crest of a rise, and we were faced with an endless wall of corn, higher than head height and with no roads or paths visible anywhere. We stopped for a break and to discuss what to do; I was reluctant to force the others to continue in the extreme heat without an obvious path, so I suggested going along the edge of the corn for 500m, and only giving up if we found nothing in that time.
But Adilson had other ideas, and suddenly plunged straight into the corn to see how hard it was to cross. He called back that it was much easier than it looked, and we scrambled over the fence to join him.
It was indeed less dense than it appeared, but I was dubious that we could do 3.5km of this kind of terrain. Luckily after only 100m or so we emerged into a path obviously used by the heavy machinery; overgrown and soft but easier than the corn. It was initially going across our track, but we could see that it curved around soon, and in fact now we were on the downward slope of the field we could see that there were other similar curving paths regularly through the field, so we could always cross the corn to reach the best path at any point.
We continued along this path for about a kilometre, until it suddenly veered off to the right. I could see a tree a little way along it, and decided to see whether this marked anything useful; sure enough the tree was at the edge of the cornfield, and there was a wide path going exactly in the right direction.
We stayed on this perimiter path for the rest of the trek (and in fact used it as a shorter way back on the return -- if we'd have attempted my 500m side-check we would have found it in the first place!). It meandered from side to side, but always seemed to be going in our favour, taking us closer to the ideal line before straightening out again. And indeed we finally reached the point with just 14 metres showing on the GPS off the side of the path.
I took the pictures from the path, rather than the actual point, because the pictures from the confluence would have been four identical close-ups of corn stalks. After celebrating with the last of our water (note to self: take more water on the next one!) we set off back to the car, happy but tired.
Our first confluence success was only partly diminished by discovering that we had been beaten by someone else by just 10 days...