Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Get that chicken off the field!"

SMC Amazon 2014 Day 14

We got a “late” start to our day again, with a 7:00 a.m. breakfast rather than a 6:30 one.  We all struggled hard to get our heads out of our hammocks today, but we finally got things going and sent one group out to the rocky coast where we collect stones for our projects.  The rest of us went up to the work site and started building planter boxes and sewing the shade roof over the nursery area.  Things are starting to shape up in such a way that you can really tell what is going on here and what is supposed to happen in the long run.  The place is littered with drying palhas, But everyone here knows what that mess is about so we aren’t worried that things look too disorganized. 

We had lunch and then a very short sesta, as we had to squeeze in a couple more hours of work before prepping for the soccer rematch that is the talk of the town.  Our afternoon work was a bit draining but we knocked off an hour before match time to get ourselves ready for a respectable game.  We busted out some hidden Gatorade powder for our athletes and showed up to the field to find no one there. 

Our arrival, though, changed everything.  People started streaming over and our local friend Marcia even showed up with enough soccer jerseys for all of us to look like a real team.  Marcia agreed to play for us this time and another of our Brazilian friends agreed to be our sub. 

We started with Megan V. as goalkeeper and she made some heroic saves to keep the game scoreless for quite awhile.  The Brazilians eventually snuck one by her though, so Marcia took up goalkeeping.  Our team was hustling madly but not getting scoring opportunities.  We reorganized a bit during halftime and came out ready to score.  And we did. 

There was a mad scramble in the center of the field and lots of us got a foot on the ball but Ali was the one who finally drove it home.  We went nuts.  Actually, so did the locals.  Jesse turned into a frantic rodeo clown running all over the sideline (and sometimes the field) going crazy, chasing dogs and chickens off the field (to little effect). 

Our goal gave us confidence so we started get much closer and getting some more excellent shots on goal (that didn’t go in).  The Brazilians had scored again so we were eager to tie the game.  We got down to the last two minutes and Jesse encouraged our new goalkeeper, Benjamin, to leave the goal and play offense.  This move did not work out in our favor. 

The Brazilians scored not one, but two more goals in the last 1:30 or so, with us not even trying to cover the goal.  Oops.  But we didn’t care.  The celebration was a blast, the radio announcers were going nuts and the community offered us a night of cultural performances as a nod to our good sportsmanship. 

We went home and cleaned up and found our dining hall getting converted to a concert/performance venue.  A big amplifier, several microphones, an electronic keyboard and lots of other instruments and other performance materials showed up.  Musicians were sound-checking and dancers were rehearsing. 

When things got started, Jesse shared emcee duties with our friend Silvanei of Saude e Alegría.  They had Dona Odila tell the legend of the founding of Anã and they had a local music group sing some songs about the community.  They had us a sing a song, which, under pressure, Shawny, Kaylia and Samira agreed to do.  They then taught us to dance carimbó, which is a dance that involves stepping back and forth with your right foot over and over and over and over again until you can barely stand up anymore on your left foot. 

They sang some more songs, had us dance a bit (including dancing with the little kids in attendance) and then they busted out a surprise for us – they had voted on awards for our students!  Each award recipient won a local handicraft as a prize.  Our winners were: The American Ox Award – Dennis; Best Soccer Player – Ali; Best Dishwasher – Hoi; Most Beautiful – Kristina; and Happiest: Samira.  Each winner had to dance carimbó with a local as part of the award process.  It was hilarious. 

After all of the formal thank yous and goodbyes had gone by, they just cranked up the sound system and we all danced.  We got spun in all directions by the locals and the little kids got a kick out of dancing and laughing with us too. 

Tomorrow will be our last day here in this community and we are realizing that we have really settled in and will now miss our hammocks, our hammock hut, our friends here and even the work we’ve been doing.  We will NOT miss the spiders.  Or the gnats. 

We get back on our boat tomorrow and will head out to some other Amazon communities in the small tributaries off of the main rivers that converge here.  We will still be in hammocks on the boat, but we will be spread across two deck.  Our friends Louro and Josy will join us and Jaclyn, too, will be back with us for the boat trip.  We think we can post from “out there” somewhere, so keep watching this space . . .


  1. Dennis 'The American Ox' + Dancing ... LOVE THAT!!
    I'm missing out on so much

    Keep up the great work DIRT crew

  2. Sounds like a busy, wonderful day! Love the description "Jesse turned into a frantic rodeo clown running all over..." Thank you for sharing your adventure with us!!