Friday, January 17, 2014

“When was the last time you worked this hard?” -- "Yesterday."

SMC Amazon 2014: Day 9

Special note: We got off the grid here temporarily, but we just found a way to get back on.  Jesse is posting Days 7-9 as a test run.  Let’s hope . . . !

Wow.  Not many of us will ever again in the rest of our lives see a day of work like the one we had this morning.  We got started on the nursery project and had two main groups of workers: the clearers and the loggers.  The clearers had a range of tools, many supplied with handles on the spot by one of our hosts who would cut and strip a branch and install it in a hoe or axe head so quickly it was unbelievable.   The clearers also got a tutorial in machete use and we learned that a few of us are naturals.  We took on about a half acre lot and knocked ourselves out, removing vegetation, cutting small trees and pulling out stumps.  We won’t belabor all of the pieces of the job, but it was tough. 
The second group make a trek out into a protected forest that the locals here share stewardship of, meaning that they are approved to use the resources there for the good of the community.  They had identified some places where appropriate timbers exist to use as posts for the workspace at the tree nursery.  So, some of us hiked out into the forest to bring those trees back in.  Remember that machine that pulled trees around in the video from Day Three?  Today, we were that machine. 
The trials and tribulations of the loggers will never be understood by anyone but them, but let it be clear that the hike was long, the timbers were heavy and the challenge level was high.  Somehow, before lunch, they came out with one major timber and some other really beautiful smaller pieces of wood that had been expertly milled with a chainsaw by our new friend Elton. 
After lunch we discovered the joy and wonder of our favorite Amazon custom: sesta.  Spanish speakers might see a parallel to the word “siesta” here and they would be correct.  After the big meal of the day here, lunch, people rest to digest.  On this day of grueling work, almost all of us hit our hammocks as soon as lunch was over.  A few hit the river to swim instead.  No matter which way we went, we all felt better than we ever would have expected when it was time to get back to work again. 
The clearers absorbed the loggers into their task, teaching them the ways to remove a stubborn palm or to dig up a stump whose tree had burned away long ago.  We worked for several more hours and even we could not believe the transformation that had occurred on that site in just one day of work.
Of course, we hit the river (some in our very dirty clothes) before even heading back to camp.  We gathered for dinner, this time carrying all of our plates, silverware and side dishes down to the beach where our cooks were making fish in a pit that they had dug in the beach.  This mode of preparation is called a “piricáia.”  SMC Amazon 2010 vets might recognize this term . . .

There is much more work to do in this community so we look forward to getting a better feel for the place and how we can fit into it, even if only temporarily.  Thanks for continuing to look for our updates.  We think we know how to keep them coming now . . .


  1. Once again, Team DIRT getting filthy and doing great work. You're all a wonder and an inspiration!

    Diane G.

  2. From the Happy Hollow Gang.

    I can't believe you ate ants. Noelle

    Was there any sauce with the ants? Stephen

    Sounds like you got a lot of work done. (All)