Monday, January 26, 2015

Day Nineteen, Sunday, January 25: The Return to Santarém

The sense of dread that we had when we went to sleep continued as we woke up.  We just were not ready to take down our hammock hooks for the last time and walk away from Anã.  Our desperate need to finish packing in a hurry helped to alleviate some of the pain that we were feeling.

Everyone got right up and started controlling their own bags and the school bags that were right around them.  In about an hour, things were pretty well in hand.  We gathered around the table for the last time, heard how pleasant it was for four of our guys to sleep outside last night, and then started lugging things down the hill and onto the beach to prepare for the arrival of the boat. 

Just as things were moving smoothly along, a significant glitch arose.  The water purifier that Jesse and Shawny had been installing over the last couple of days sprung a leak in a place that made no sense.  Upon inspection, it was clear that someone had been messing with the system but we didn’t have time to figure out who had done what, as we just needed to make it work again before we left. 

In the frenzy of loading luggage downhill but also running down and bringing select tools back up, it turned out that four people were at the top of the hill at the moment that the boat captain decided he was leaving no matter what.  So, all but those four left on the boat with our Saude e Alegría staffer, Monica, and the other four (Shawny, Jesse, Michael and Stephen) continued to try to troubleshoot the filter.  The plan was to get a speedboat back to town, which would land before the big boat even if they were a full hour behind. 

They went through a series of experiments to work the filter and to make a long story short, finally found the miraculous and somewhat nonsensical combination to get it back to full function.  They let it run for awhile to be sure the fix would hold; it did. 

So, they started to pursue the speedboat option, which apparently wasn’t as easy to secure on a Sunday as it might have been on other days.  After much confusion, our hosts produced a “speedboat,” which looked more like a small fishing boat with an outboard motor.  The Filter Four got in and chased down another big boat that was heading into town, switching boats midriver.  They got within cellphone range of the first boat and worked out all of the details of how everyone was getting back to our place in Santarém.  We were all reunited within about an hour of our arrival in town.

We settled back in to the hostel and hung out the last of our damp laundry from Anã.  The sun made quick work of getting it all fresh and dry.  Meanwhile, our excellent local cook, Louro, and his trusty sidekick Dona Maria were whipping up fresh fish for our dinner. 

As we ate, we learned that one of the local samba schools would be doing a rehearsal for its upcoming Carnival celebration, which meant that there would be a big contained street party in a particular neighborhood of town.  We decided to go join in the fun, even though we were exceptionally tired from our travel day. 

We could walk to the spot from our place so we took a nice stroll through town together to make our way close to the center where the musicians would be practicing.  As soon as we arrived, the band leader realized that we were the Californians that have been there before, so he started regularly prompting cheers for “Santa Maria da California!”  We knew to cheer madly when we heard those words and so did the rest of the crowd, who would often come and teach us dance steps or just get near us to take pictures by us. 

We danced for an hour and a half or so, then took a poll among ourselves to see if we had another thirty minutes in us.  We did.  Right when our last thirty minutes ended, we could see the sky start to cloud up so we started walking out to find cabs to take us home.  Before we got two blocks from the samba school, the rain started. 

We ran for an all-night vegetable stand (yes, no kidding!) and took shelter until we could find some cabs from there.  By the time we got home, we had worked up the perfect level of exhaustion to just fall into our hammocks and sleep late.  We had already arranged for a late breakfast (9:00am!) on Monday so sleep will be our top priority tonight . . .

Daily Photos

Brent and Connor joke around by brushing each other’s teeth in the hostel.

It started pouring after the street festival so we ran and hid under this shelter of a produce store.

We went to a street festival/samba school on our first night in Santarém.

A sad shot of the beach right after saying our goodbyes to the people of Anã.  We were heading back to Santarém on our boat.

A photo of the priceless ancient artifacts that were collected by our friend Aldai.  These artifacts are from a civilization that existed in this very spot thousands of years ago.

The community boat departing from Anã with the group minus Jesse, Stephen, Michael, and Shawny, who stayed behind to help with last minute repairs to the newly installed water filter.

The state of the fish food factory when we left Anã. Prior to our arrival this was nothing but a piece of open land. 

From left to right: Jesse, Edenalda, Dona Odila, Shawny and Diorlando standing in front of the fish food factory before leaving Anã.

From left to right: Stephen, Jesse, Shawny, and Michael holding very, very, very pure water produced by the now functioning filter.

No comments:

Post a Comment