Saturday, January 17, 2009

Amazon 2009: Day Twelve (Friday, January 16)

Today’s video was produced by the team Bota Fogo.

Note: Our internet connection has been so slow for the last two days that we got timed out every time we attempted to post pics, videos, and blog entries. Thanks for your patience. Thus, we are a bit behind as we post these on Saturday night in Brazil. (By the way, the name of the country in which we are working is actually spelled with an “s”: Brasil. Don’t be surprised if we get so used to seeing that “s” instead of a “z” that we seem to be misspelling it here or elsewhere once we return.) Anyway, back to the blog:

Today is Cassidy’s birthday! Even though we had a night away from camp playing pool yesterday, we still looked forward to having a nice dinner out tonight to celebrate that Cassidy has turned 22. Happy birthday, Cass!

In general, we eat in camp for just about every meal. (One exception was the recent lunch on the beach that included the fish with the big teeth. And for those of you who wrote in about our “joke,” those teeth were the REAL teeth of the fish itself. That picture was NOT a prank!) We are all very happy with our food here. We have fresh-squeezed juice from exotic fruits every morning, noon, and night, and nothing that we eat is processed (except for the Coca-Cola that a few people are sneaking in every once in awhile). Our cooks, Dona Maria and Louro, really have managed to tap all of our taste buds pretty well. We’re so happy with our food that we have asked Louro to accompany us on our boat trip so that we don’t have to be away from his cooking.

Our breakfasts usually consist of sliced meats and cheese, bread, juice, and some kind of homemade cake or donut. Sometimes we have eggs. We always have lots of fruit, including watermelon and papaya every day and then other things when they are available at the local market. One of our favorites is called “cupuaçú” (pronounced “coop-oo-wah-SOO”). It and manioc seem to be cooked into something at virtually every meal.

For the big meal of the day, lunch, we have fried chicken or fresh fish, along with beans and rice every day. We have beets or broccoli or squash almost every day. We also have dessert every lunch, whether it is cake, flan, or pudding made from cupuaçú. We also sprinkle everything with this crunchy yellow stuff called “farofa.” It is made from manioc flour and it adds a nice flavor and texture to everything we eat.

Dinner is usually a little lighter, sometimes including leftovers from lunch, sometimes incorporating some new facet like a special new bread or soup. Tonight, however, we went to dinner at one of the nicest restaurants in town in honor of Cassidy’s birthday. We tasted really interesting appetizers made of shrimp and fish, then had entrees that included slow-cooked beef, fish, chicken, or shrimp. We shipped in a chocolate birthday cake for Cass and the restaurant came up with trick candles (two “2s”) that wouldn’t stay blown out no matter how hard she tried. The restaurant owner was really happy to have us and even took our picture to post somewhere to show what a great place his restaurant is.

In general, the place counted as pretty posh compared to everything else we’ve seen in Santarém. We keep exclaiming over the fact that we see almost no one wearing business attire or seeming to worry about perfect hairstyles. There are no luxury cars to speak of and we even learned today that less that 10% of the population owns a car or motorcycle. The people who cook for us (Dona Maria, Louro, and another woman named Leinda) all come to work on the same motorcycle, owned by Louro. He brings Dona Maria to work then goes back to get Leinda.

There is no fancy part of town, according to a cab driver who drove us today. He says that most parts of Santarém are pretty much like the places we’ve already been, but that there is a section that will jump up quickly if the city becomes the capital of the state, as planned.

The section of the city where we work, Liberdade (lee-bair-DODGE-ee), is more rundown than most parts. Few people have telephones, most of them walk wherever they go, and the children with whom we work play games using found objects (like two-liter bottles and sticks for cricket) rather than any store-bought items. When one team handed out stickers to the kids the other day, they went crazy, sticking them all over their clothes and faces and saving some to take home to their siblings or parents.

We’re starting to think that we’d like to stay in touch with the kids after we leave. A few people are thinking of starting up a clothing drive to send some new things their way. We’d also like to get some pictures printed so they can have copies of some of the shots we’ve taken of them and us together. We know that those pictures will be precious to us so we think that they might appreciate them too. We’re not quite ready to think about leaving yet, though, so we’ll put off all of these plans until later.

On to purple bike news: today’s rider of the bicicleta roxa is Katie Leonard! Katie is our unofficial nurse (she’s a nursing student) and she has been very careful about making our first aid kit get to where it belongs every day. When she sat out a stint on the worksite the other day because she was a bit under the weather (she’s fine now), a couple of the rest of us found out what a pain it is to ride a bike with that big fat purple duffle bag on the back. She’s also a great team member all the way around, so we are happy to award her a ride in the purple seat. Congratulations, Katie!

Our pet cat taking a nap.

Alyssandra was excited to help with the work, and Tara was fine with that.

They were fascinated with the technology.

Celebrating Cassidy’s 22nd birthday.

The kids were eager to help us paint the boathouse.

Robert does laundry??? This is questionable.

Boy flying kite at the worksite.

Horses on the side of the road walking outside our camp roaming freely and eating grass.

Birthday Girl, Cassidy blows out her candles…at least tries to because little did she know, Jesse bought trick candles!

The gals with the birthday hats on posing for a picture.

Sophie trying to perfect her hammering.

Marie protecting her face from the harmful paint fumes. Safety first!

Joe and Joey practicing their hammering. They made up a game of who could hit the nail in quicker.
Jaime with the kids fresh out of the Tapajos River.

Day two of painting the boathouse. Cassidy, Sophie, and Shana are doing a great job with the messy blue.

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