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José Renato, geologist, thirty-five years old, is sent on a field-trip to the scrublands of the Sertão, a semi-arid isolated region in the Northeast of Brazil. The goal of his survey is to assess possible routes for a water canal from the region's only voluminous river. For many of the region's inhabitants, the canal will be a lifeline, the chance of a future and source of hope. But for those living on the canal's direct course, it means only requisitions, departure and loss. Many of the properties through which José Renato passes will be flooded; many of the people and families will be relocated. As the field-trip progresses, we sense that José Renato has something in common with the places he visits: emptiness, a sense of abandonment and isolation. Little by little, we discover that he too has been abandoned by his partner. The desolation of the landscape seems to echo in José Renato, making the trip increasingly difficult. His geological research is slowly pervaded by a sensation of groundlessness, an incessant pining for his ex-wife and a yearning to go home. But he decides to press ahead, to continue the trip, in the hope that the crossing can somehow transmute his feelings. Like an astronaut who has traveled in outer space or a sailor who has crossed the oceans, nothing will ever be the same for José.

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