SMC Amazon 2014: Day Three
Special note: we continue to have problems with our cellphones and computer access. We are working to improve the situation. Sorry, sorry, sorry!
Our local monkeys got a visit from some other monkey friends this morning. The Portuguese word for these new monkeys hasn't sunk in yet but we think that the English name for them is "howler monkeys." If that's not the name for them, it should be. We can't even describe the sound that was coming from out in the forest behind us but it was awesome. It moved as the monkeys moved -- like a swarm. Eventually it stopped and the monkeys wandered back toward where the noise first started, literally swinging from branches and flying through the air at certain points. We never felt threatened in any way and instead got to be observers of something entirely foreign to us and also quite grand. Nice.
Our main objective for the day was to visit a protected federal forest, which meant we got to go deep into an area very much like all of the fantasies we ever had about the Amazon always looked. This forest, though, is not entirely protected, as it is a site for community cooperation and sustainable use of forest resources. The community participates in the management of the forest and community members are the workers that actually do the manual labor needed to keep things rolling properly.
We heard about their methods and then watched them in action as they removed carefully selected trees using an truly impressive machine and and equally impressive process of collective decision making and task completion. They showed us an area that had been selectively cut in a similar way five years ago and we could not believe the level of regrowth that had occurred after these apparently destructive practices had occurred. Of course, it is the selectivity of the cutting that makes the whole thing turn into a positive experience for the forest and the community, so it was enlightening to see by what logic and processes the decisions are made.
We saw some fabulous birds, spiders and insects and one tiny (harmless) snake. We heard monkeys and some special bird sounds that are unique to this region. We heard that a black panther was seen nearby in recent days but we didn't see any animals like that. Maybe some of our most striking sights were the huge butterflies that flitted around us as we hiked and as we took in different vistas of the forest.
We left the forest happy and then got even happier when we learned that we will actually down to the business of manual labor tomorrow in a community agriculture spot near a local beach town called Alter do Chão. We have been happy to learn about our surroundings but we are workers first and foremost so we want to get on with that part of our trip right away. Saturday, finally!, will be the day . . .
exploiting the trees inside the co-op.
to be rehabilitated by nature during our hike.
back from the Tapajos national forest.