Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day Four: Touring the Town

Day Four, Saturday, January 10: Touring the Town

We all succeeded in getting good sleep in our hammock hut.  One of us moved onto an air mattress to try to reduce snoring and a few of us found that our hammocks were truly right on top of each other, but after a lot of sun and a long day, we slept anyway. 

We awoke pretty easily, with the breakfast crew rolling out at 6:30am and the rest going to the gathering space by the kitchen for breakfast at 7:00.   After sampling more fabulous juices and a range of local foods, we started a tour of the community with Dona Odila.  We walked through a forest path and happened on a few houses in the clearings, most surrounded by scrambling chickens and one very lazy dog. 

When we crossed into the central part of the community, we got our first glimpse of the project from last year’s trip: the tree nursery.  The 2014 trip revolved around a reforestation project supported by Saude e Alegría, where we cleared a large parcel of land to become the center of the community’s efforts to restore its hardwoods, its fruit trees and other food-bearing trees.  In addition, that group created planter boxes for use in propagating seeds and in growing vegetables and other food crops.  When the group last year left Anã, the space was a big dirt field with a shade area, some planter boxes, a huge area staked out for a thatched shelter and the home of 10,000 or so just-planted tree seeds. 

When we came to the space this year, it was a lush thriving garden, with almost every area maximized in the ways that we imagined they might be.  The shade area that we constructed and covered is now the home of 10,000 very strong and healthy saplings.  They include mahogany, açaír (known as açaí in the U.S.), coconut, iper (known as ipe in the U.S.), and a number of other fruit and nut trees that won’t sound familiar to U.S. readers.  Those 10,000 saplings need our attention, as we need to transplant all of them into bigger containers to take them to the next level. 

Another shade area is the home of a small community garden, including lettuce, tomatoes, collard greens, onions, cilantro and other local offerings.  The large shelter space now holds a large shelter (imagine that!), which is carefully protected by the thatch that we prepared for eventual installation as a roof. 

The three returners from last year’s trip – Jesse, Shawny and Jenny – were absolutely floored by what they saw.  Shawny got teary-eyed, Jesse kept exclaiming over every item that we encountered and Jenny got chills.  They all experienced great pride and joy, along with happiness for the community that their own stated aspirations are coming to fruition (literally!). 

The newcomers said that they were all very inspired by what they encountered there and now they are even more committed to the series of projects that we will undertake here.  We will do some continuation work on the garden but we will also focus on a number of other areas, including the creation of a print/visual/video visitor’s guide to Anã (which, by the way, is pronounced sort of like uh-NUH). 

In pursuit of information for this second project, we began gathering footage and photos of some of the primary enterprises in the community.  The garden/nursery is one of those enterprises and so is a very fascinating beekeeping project that consists exclusively of stingless bees and their thin, sour honey.  We visited the site where the main bee boxes are (about 130 of them) and got the scoop on all of the ins and outs of beekeeping in the Amazon.  We will tell more about this issue in an upcoming day. 

When we left the beekeeping project, we decided to visit the community soccer field, where tomorrow we will play a men’s game and a women’s game against our Brazilian host community.  Because we have played here before, we know how both games are going to end: in humiliating losses for the U.S. team.  Still, we are going in with open minds, good attitudes and extremely low standards (“If we even get near the goal, let’s count that as success!”).  The whole community will probably come out to see, as will the radio announcers who broadcast full play-by-play and color commentary both onto field and onto the (local) airwaves.  It will be fun.  Yes, fun.  We have to remember that we intend to have fun . . .

Speaking of fun, we got invited to the local honey festival, which turns out to be a very big, very hot, very loud dance in a community slightly upriver from ours.  We showed up ready to shake it and did so as soon as we could get our confidence up.  We learned rather quickly that confidence was not enough, as we also needed more stamina than we could muster.  While we went on and off the dance floor, sometimes stepping outside for a breather, the Brazilians just kept on dancing without seeming to suffer one bit.  We intended to stay until midnight or later but by 11:00pm, we were all too hot and tired to carry on.  We gathered our troops and headed back to the boat, where we are now all looking at the sky off the rail or lounging in our hammocks as we head home. 

Tomorrow we hope to catch a church service in the morning then rest up for our big soccer humiliations in the afternoon.  We’ll let you know . . .

Daily Photos

Some of the tree saplings in the nursery in Anã. They will take only six years to grow in the rainforest.

Last year (2014), Saint Mary’s visited Anã as well. During that trip, they helped the locals clear land for a nursery and built planters that are used for reforestation and food. Upon our return this year, we got a tour on our second day by Viccente the leader of the nursery.

There are many enterprises around Anã. One of them are these stingless bees. On our tour, we got up close and personal with them.

One of the many angels helping us survive in Anã! Oi Mônica! 

A glimpse of a beautiful girl in Anã, laughing at the Americans walking by!

The center of the honey enterprise in Anã, featuring the Manulplano stingless bees. 

Dona Odila is the head council member of Anã. She keeps everything in tip-top shape and runs a tight ship. She makes sure to take good care of us.

Don Dogila, is our group pet. As we work and walk around the pousada, he loyally follows along and shares in our adventures.

Diorlando, one of the many friends we made in Anã, was extremely excited to show us the village’s pet turtles as part of our tour.

Along our walk, a little boy peaks out the window to catch a glimpse of the new visitors. Anã has many groups and individuals come visit around the world to participate in ecotourism.

Soccer is life to Brazilians. Even at the age of 4, this young boy had tremendous power behind his kick. 

Children of Anã playing outside their houses while we walk through the village.

Diorlando is sitting along the rail of the boat on our way to Coroca where we danced the night away celebrating the 10th annual honey festival. Diorlando is loved by all in our group. He tags along all our adventures. As he teaches us Portuguese along the way we teach him English.   

Suzanne playing tic-tac-toe and teaching English to a young girl, Dinara, who joined us for the honey festival.

After a hour and an half trip, we arrived in Coroca for the honey festival. We danced the night away with Brazilians and got to know one another better.  Another boat docked outside Coroca after they dropped off their passengers. About two hundred to three hundred people came out to celebrate.

Carlos and Sydney taking a picture after dancing Carimbo at the Honey Festival! 


1 comment: