Monday, January 19, 2015

Day Thirteen: The Narrows

Day 13: Monday, January 19 – The Narrows

On the last night of our boat trip we needed a thrill and we got one in the form of a major thunderstorm all around us on the beach where we were docked for the night.  We saw lightning in the distance before we went to sleep and we knew that the rain would come at some point.  When it arrived, it was fierce! 

Lightning struck right on the beach in front of us and we could barely get our side tarps down fast enough to keep from getting soaked.  The thunder was LOUD and the lightning was CLOSE but we knew we were safe so we just rode it out for about thirty minutes.  When it all finally stopped, we were ready to sleep very hard.

We woke up at 7 to eat breakfast as we motored to our last community: Urrucureá.  This community got its act together on native crafts long ago and the work that they do as weavers (mostly baskets, placemats, and coasters) is incredible.  We toured their community and then hit their store, where we found lots of souvenirs (some for YOU, no doubt!). 

Before we even entered the community, we were entertained by a band of tiny playful monkeys that were frolicking in the tall trees where we docked.  We also heard the foreboding sounds of faraway howler monkeys, but we learned that they were more than a kilometer away, despite the volume of the sounds we heard. 

From Urrucureá we motored further to the place where the Arapiuns (the river on which we’ve been living), the Tapajós and the Amazon itself merge.  We floated on all three waters at different times and then entered “the narrows,” where small inlets lead to really tiny communities that are only temporary, as their properties are flooded four months per year. 

The narrows are peppered with very traditional houses, mostly made of thatch and lots of livestock.  There would normally be alligators out but this slightly cool and rainy day apparently sent them into hiding. 

We went to an area called Jari, where a prior SMC group had stopped back in 2002.  They remembered us.  We had one primary pursuit when we stopped in Jari: sloths.  The last group that came got to see sloths up close so we wanted to see if we could do the same. 

The main farmer through whom we had entered Jari before was off in Santarém when we arrived so we spoke to his wife and she gave us a tour of the parts of the forest that are sometimes underwater.  She thought we would find monkeys there but even though we could hear them, we didn’t see them. 

Suddenly, though, as we walked as quietly as we could through the deep forest, our host pointed high up in a tall tree.  It took us awhile to see what she saw but finally we got it in focus and learned that we had found what we came to find: a sloth! 
It very slowly started to climb down the tree and we thought it might grace us with its presence on the ground.  It didn’t.  Still, we noticed that there was another one on the same tree and a couple more on a different tree.  We were satisfied.

We made our way back to the boat and went further into the narrows to see their local church and community center, then turned around and headed back to our #1 Amazon home: Anã. 

We are glad that we got to see some different communities and learn the subtleties of how people go about things in a range of ways.  Still, we love Anã the best and we look forward to our return there.  We still have a lot of work to do . . .

We have an oddly strong cell signal out in the middle of the river today so we hope that we have made it possible for our California blog agent, Bryan Navarro, to post more of our videos.  If it all works, enjoy!

Daily Photos

We took small boats into the thick, narrow waterways of the amazon rainforest in a small community. (photo enhanced)

The canoe ride through the marshy forest left us in awe of the diverse beauty of the Amazon. (photo enhanced)

A modest house sits alongside the Amazon River in a community called Jari.

We docked at an acquaintance’s house, who gave us a tour of the local rainforest. She brought us to a tree that two sloths inhabited. (photo enhanced)

Stray dogs are abundant in Amazonian villages. This one followed us throughout the entire walk in Jari. (photo enhanced)

The remains of large fish carcasses dry in a tree near the woman’s house.

Many households in the region raise their own chickens.

A look at the front of the boat used to take us through the swamps.

A hanging flower plot showing the simplicity of the Amazon. Showing the resourcefulness of the Brasilian community members.

Group photo (minus Shawny) at a spot in the narrows to look for some sloths.


  1. So excited you guys got to see sloths. That's awesome!!!
    I'm enjoying living vicariously through the blog and videos.
    Wishing you all the best!

  2. Enjoying your blog entries so very much! Beautifully written with so many details!

  3. Happy reading the daily blogs and team activities. Way to go SMC DIRT 2015! Looking forward to view more video clips. Proud of you all! In a short period of time, what an accomplishment you have given to the community of Ana. God bless you all!--esantana

  4. MaiMai, so happy to see you on video! Have made three (okay, now five) posts and none have showed up. Crossing my fingers on this one! Really, really enjoying reading about your trip. Hope you are all having the adventure of a lifetime!

  5. Estamos muitos felizes por finalmente ter os videos. Ver todos voces traz de volta muitas memorias para mim en Aracatuba de tantos anos atras.. Mas eu nao vejo ninguem tomando café ee nao ouvir qualquer musica Brasileira quente. Quando e a escolar de Samba e Carnaval? Todos voces olhar fantasticos. Seja bem e voltar em seguranca para nos. Tudo e bom!