Saturday, January 25, 2014

Here Comes the Rain!

SMC Amazon 2014: Day 18

Our piricaia was excellent, with succulent roasted fish, beef and sausage, as well as tons of vegetables, farofa (an offshoot of farinha) and the kind of flan that they call pudim (pronounced pretty much like “pudding”).  We all ate more than was reasonable and enjoyed the night sky around a big bonfire. 

Our lovely evening, though, gave way to a middle-of-the-night storm that had all of us jumping from our hammocks to secure our things as the crew ran around the decks to drop the tarps to prevent us from getting totally soaked.  The storm was mostly just rain, with some far-off lightning and thunder but without enormous boat-rocking winds. 

The rain continued through breakfast, causing a delay in our entry to our next community: Urucureá.  While we waited for the rain to stop, we made the unusual decision to go “signal fishing,” as we knew that our cellphones had caught a signal just outside the cove where we spent the night.  So, we drove the boat out into a more open spot in the river and tried to make it possible to at least send some texts out to friends and family at home.  We got off a few texts by walking around the boat with our phones in the air but then lost the signal entirely before too much time had passed. 

Still, our signal fishing excursion used up the last of the rain so we could return to the community and walk up into it to meet the greeting committee.  In this community, the greeters were all women who are artisans, mostly of the basket-weaving variety.  We heard a bit about their community and then looked at their wares, acquiring quite a few more items as souvenirs. 

We went up a long rain forest trail to learn more about their community, including how they had established their water system through the help of Saude e Alegría (it provides water for almost every house in the community for less than the equivalent of $5 US per month) and how they got their small computer lab (also from S&A, with four laptops and a wireless hub).  We toured the school and the church, then thanked our guides and said our farewells.  We learned about the next projects that they would like to pursue so we might need to remember them as we plan next January . . .

We decided to nap on the boat for a bit because most of us had very interrupted sleep last night, mostly due to the storm.  We slept hard for an hour or so, then decided to do some more signal fishing before our next excursion this afternoon: more fishing, this time for the elusive piranha!

We have a local piranha-fishing expert who has had good luck catching the fish near dusk in a cove not too far from the community.  His other amazing skill is his ability to play pitch perfect tunes on a leaf, including the complicated (and long!) Brazilian national anthem.  We are on the boat right now trying to send more texts and we are looking forward to our fishing expedition in an hour or so. 

We will tell you more about our fishing expedition as soon as we can and, of course, we will send pictures of our catch whenever we can send data again.  Tonight will be our last night on the boat and then we return to Santarém to revisit our original Brazilian home and hit the town there one more time.  We expect to buy out most of the city’s supply of Brazilian-made Havaianas (flip flop sandals), as we have learned how priceless they are when one is living in the Amazon. 

We will try to fit in another excursion or two as we return to the city so we will write those up too.  Otherwise, we will hit the ground back in the U.S. on Tuesday, after a long night of traveling that starts late Monday night.  Please remember to save the date for our final presentations on Wednesday, February 12, at 7:00 p.m. in Galileo 201 on the Saint Mary’s College campus. 


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  2. The piricaia sounds amazing. Glad to hear everyone enjoyed the tasty food and bonfire! I cannot wait to see pictures of piranha fishing!!

    Havaianas are the best... I have multiple pairs now since my trip to the Amazon. Buy them there since they are a much more reasonable price.

    Wishing this Amazon group safe travels back to us in the Bay Area :)

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