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Original Issue

Indoor Adventure A new DVD follows surfers up the Amazon. No, they're not lost--they're stalking a wild river wave

Directed by Bill Heath
HelliVentures Productions

In the opening moments of Pororoca you might think you're
watching a sequel to the horror movie Anaconda as you observe a
crew of explorers head up the Amazon by boat in search of the
title creature, whose name means "big roar" or "big destroyer" in
the ancient language of the Tupi Guarani. The force of nature
being stalked in this case, though, is nothing as ordinary as a
giant snake. The pororoca is a "bore tide" wave that plows up the
Amazon in Brazil once a year, propelled by lunar forces at the
spring equinox. At its peak the wave can reach 13 feet in height
and move at almost 20 miles an hour, churning up mud and snapping
trees at the river's edge. You can hear the wave approaching 15
minutes before it gets to you.

The locals fear the coming of pororoca, but since 1997 small
groups of surfers have gone upriver to meet this wave and get
their ride on. In this film, which follows the quest of four
surfers, three Brazilians and an Australian, you can see what
draws them to this challenge. The pororoca not only provides an
exotic "have you done this?" experience but also offers surfers a
ride they could never find in the ocean, because this wave just
goes and goes. Once the surfers catch pororoca, they can ride it
for up to half an hour, cutting back and forth across its brown
muddy face as it moves downriver. The wave doesn't challenge the
riders the way big surf does, but one surfer still declares
pororoca "the best ride of my life" after spending 20 minutes on
its face. This film is short--at just over 25 minutes a surfer
could watch it in its entirety on a portable DVD player while
riding the wave--but it is worth seeing, if just to get a glimpse
of this rare and unforgettable phenomenon. --Bill Syken