Monday, January 19, 2009

Amazon 2009: Day Fifteen (Monday, January 19)

Today’s video was produced by the team As Onças.

Our morning began with a pouring rainstorm beating on our roofs even before we awoke. We called a thirty-minute delay and stayed in bed, then realized that the sky was clearing so it was time to get up to go to work. All of us went to the worksite this morning because we had construction work to finish and we had the kids to teach and entertain.

Our slightly late arrival meant that the kids were very antsy once we got there. They were so eager for us to appear that we could easily get them to gather around and repeat some lessons from other days, use our new “English phrases” flash cards, and then get them running around all over the sand without much persuasion.

At the same time, a smaller group of us separated off and helped our construction supervisor, Seu João, build a framework to drop roof tiling over the new deck. Once this new roof is installed, the kids will be able to gather outside but still out of the sun. Perfect!

The construction practices here have us all pretty stumped, as virtually every wood joint is accompanied by a hand-hewn notch. That is, every time two boards come together, they take this 19th-century-looking tool that is sort of a backwards-curved hatchet or something like that and they knock a divot out of it to make the two boards fit together like Lincoln Logs. Our new power saw doesn’t help all that much in this task, so we are all learning to use the strange new/old tool, along with chisels and hammers to make things go the way our hosts want them to go. Chris Verrips, our SMC-based construction expert, is pretty fascinated with it all. He’s taught João a thing or two, but he has learned much more than he has taught.

Along with today’s construction work, we needed to keep on painting to get this building looking as nice as it can before we leave. A small crew kept working its way around the building for the umpteenth time, as the paint really soaks into the wood and there is apparently no such thing as primer up here. The got a solid next coat all over the white part before we hurried off at lunch time to catch ourselves on Brazilian TV!

We hustled up to Georgete and Jaime’s house, where they had placed a TV in their entryway for us all to see. We all packed in there on the floor and eagerly awaited our big debut. When we first arrived, we were all sitting up and leaning forward, laughing and talking and trying to keep track of the news as it unfolded. As time went by, we began to lean back, then slump down, then lie down, then fall asleep as a full 56 minutes went by before our story hit. We all popped back to life and oohed and ahhed over the pictures they showed, but we really couldn’t tell what they were saying about us. By the time it ended about 4 minutes later, we were so tired and hungry that we just hurried back to camp to eat lunch (really great fried whole small fish) and we didn’t even talk about the TV program again. We still haven’t gotten the web address at which some of you might be able to watch it, but if we do, we will post it here.

After lunch most of us skipped siestas to get back to work. Two teams were sent into town to buy their hammocks for our upcoming boat trip and to do other shopping and errands that they need to do before we leave. The rest of us hit the worksite HARD and got more done in a four- (or so) hour period that we imagined possible. When we finally knocked off, it was almost dark and a rainstorm seemed to be bearing down on us (though it never caught us). Once we got back to camp, we realized that we had spent more energy than we actually possessed and that we were all REALLY tired, even though we were content with our accomplishments.

The work group came back and admired the new hammocks that the shoppers bought, along with some of the souvenirs and gifts that they had found. In the morning, the groups will trade places and today’s shoppers will work and the workers will shop. Even with these breaks, it seems likely that we will complete the parts of the job that we expected to finish before we leave on the boat.

We’ll tell more about our upcoming boat trip tomorrow, then we will “go dark” for a few days while we are incommunicado in the Amazon.

Our Purple Biker for today is: Marie Cacciatore! Based on how much she is doing for our group, we could easily have her ride the purple bike everyday. Marie is a fabulous contributor to everyone’s experience here. For today, though, it seemed clear that Marie is our most transformed group member of this trip. She has blossomed as our top visualist (not including Marcia) due to her excellent photography and her impressive art skills. She is also a great support person who is an informal therapist to many people along the way. Further, she has shown how gutsy she is on a number of occasions, most notably when she became our power saw expert a couple of days ago. We’ll all be interested to see if people back home notice a difference when she returns. For today, though, we’ll just let her enjoy the purple bike. Congratulations, Marie!

Work hard and play hard!

Making progress on the porch.

Margeaux teaches one of the children English.

Domiciano and Cassidy take a fall after spinning around in circles.

The kids are always enthusiastic to help with the painting whenever they can.

Diana found a grasshopper!

Shana uses the homemade flashcards to teach one of our youngest students English.

Seu Joao, perched atop the latticework, preparing the posts for the roof.

Finishing touches on the house.

Seu Joao measuring out the next balance beam for the roof extension.

kids enjoying a cooling snack during a hot day.

Josialda taught us some of her karate skills.

Enjoying downtime in between games and construction.

Dar Um Jeito relaxes in our newly purchased hammocks that we will use on the boat trip.


Gaby said...

marie!! your the purple bike rider :) congratulations! have fun in the amazon

Anonymous said...

mmp - that's not a tatoo on your wrist is it??? Casanova