18 students and two faculty members from Saint Mary's College are returning to our SMC home away from home in the Brazilian Amazon for Jan Term 2017. This page helps us to tell our story and -- even more importantly -- helps us to tell the stories of our friends and hosts in the Amazon . . .
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 . . .