Saturday, January 24, 2009
Amazon 2009: Day Sixteen (Tuesday, January 20)
Today’s slideshow was produced by the team Bota Fogo. (Still to come....)
We have returned from our boat trip and we are all intact! (Well, actually, we have lots of mosquito bites and lots of band-aids for a number of reasons, but we are NOT complaining). We’ll move backwards a bit to catch our readers up on all that has happened since we last wrote. By the way, because of our inability to charge our technology on the boat, we reduced our load by producing slideshows this week instead of videos. Today’s presentation by Bota Fogo preceded the boat trip, but they had to finish things later so we had them do a slide show too.
The group called Bota Fogo (named after a soccer team in Rio) got up very early this morning to join Jesse, our boat captain (Rionaldo), and our cook both on the boat and at camp (Louro) to purchase all of the food that we needed to move around out on the river for four days straight. Because we were to visit rather primitive communities, we knew that we could not acquire any extra goods along the way (there are no Safeways there), so we had to really be on top of things. The group went to a local market to buy fish and produce and then went to a large grocery store to get everything else. Among other fascinating purchases, they bought two fish that (combined) weighed 45 pounds.
Once they finished with the purchases of food for the boat, Bota Fogo and the team called As Onças both had some time to do some quick shopping, with their priority being the purchase of hammocks to use as beds on the boat. The riverfront is lined with boats that are strung with hammocks and such boats are the main mode of transportation between Santarém and other river towns. We were excited to join into this tradition and everyone got a big kick out of selecting his or her hammock and then bargaining over the price with the market vendors.
The other two teams, Dar Um Jeito and Paz, went straight to the worksite where they accomplished a huge amount of labor, far beyond what seemed possible for one morning. They hung the roof over the new deck, they installed a custom gate on the opening of the deck, and they finished painting everything on the deck and building. We thought there would be some finishwork to do after this morning’s shift, but these two strong teams (along with the hard work of the other two teams the evening before) guaranteed that there is no unfinished business on the job we set out to do.
In the afternoon, we followed up on an invitation from the local university to present some of our work to an audience there. Each team had selected photos and/or video to present and Jesse helped to translate things so that we could communicate with the sizable audience that showed up (maybe 50 people?). The audience was kind and attentive and their questions at the end indicated to us just how important U.S. foreign policy is to other parts of the world. We answered questions about the international interest in the Amazon, the state of the world under U.S. President George W. Bush, and the future prospects of the new U.S. President, Barack Obama, whose inauguration many of the audience members had just watched. (We, unfortunately, missed the inauguration because we couldn’t get access to a TV with the proper channel.)
After our speaking gig, we hit the basketball courts again and generated quite a bit of enthusiasm once more. A few people from the university even joined us down at the courts to see what was going on. We won a game and lost a game, again because of the refs’ tendency to call any physical contact a foul. Throughout the game, like most evenings here, there was lightning flashing in the sky out in the distance. This time, though, the clouds started looking a little more ominous close to us, so we all started gathering up our things and heading into cabs for rides home. The downpour that hit simultaneous to our departure was awesome. Never have we seen rain that was so . . . WET.
The streets started to flood and some cabs couldn’t make it down the lane where we stay. Some of us had to walk in through knee deep water, one of us lost a flip-flop forever (Shana), and all of us have a story of a tropical storm that we will never forget. Once we all got home we organized for our river trip, hoping that the weather would break soon.
As mentioned already, our purple biker today was Alec Tappin.
A Santarem license plate.
The poster put up advertising our presentation at the university.
Laundry drying in the side yard of a house.
A man selling fish on the street in Santarem.
Chickens that we saw on a porch on our walk through Santarem after our presentation at the university.
Sophie took a beautiful picture of the clouds, shortly before a monsoon-like storm.
Team Dar Um Jeito speaking to Santarem college students about their experiences thus far during the trip.
Joe helping Chris get the last pieces of wood on the veranda while the final touches are being applied.
Looking through the newly painted latis boards, we get a shot of the ladies finishing up the painting on the veranda.
Precious moments with the local children.
Nonverbal communication has become key for Lucas in communicating with us.
Walking through town.
The beautiful clouds of the storm that we later got stuck in. Looks can be deceiving. Later that evening, we were waste high in rain water, trying to get home.
We finally finished the construction on the boat house!