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 . . .
Monday, January 26, 2015
Day Seventeen, Friday, January 23: Happy Birthday, Jesse!
Happy, happy, happy birthday to our beloved friend and
colleague, Jesse!We are very honored to
be with him on this special day and we promise his wife and son that we will
surround him with love all day!
We had a lovely breakfast and then left a skeleton crew to
do touchup and cleanup on paint while the rest hit the beach to move more
cartloads of rocks and sand.Our new
bucket brigade method made everyone feel like things were moving faster (even
though they weren’t) and like we had enough energy to keep going.That second part is important.We quickly did two carts of HUGE rocks and
five carts sand, two of which were supplemented with extra bags of cement.Almost every one of us has served as ox at
some point, which is a point of glory as well as a point of pain.Some of us doubled up on ox duty, always with
two or three people on other parts of the cart providing support.We fantasized about two-axle carts and
attaching the current cart to a motorcycle but all the while we kept lifting
and loading until the job was done.
The rock and sand people moved on to the factory, where
bricklaying was in full swing.Jesse
talked the main mason into giving us some instructions and each of us put at
least one brick in the building.Some of
us found the pressure too much to bear (mostly because we were under the
microscope with all of the members of our own group and all of our Brazilian
co-workers watching every move).A few
people got the hang of it, though, and we completed a couple of rows of bricks
along one wall before lunch.
We went home and found things looking lovely.The staff planned a special birthday lunch
for Jesse out on the beach, including digging a pit and cooking fish, chicken
and sausage on a grill out there.We sat
under the shade of some trees on the beach and enjoyed our lunch until some
clouds started to gather again.We
decided to go back up to the pousada and rescue any dry laundry that was up
there before the rains returned.
Somehow, immediately after lunch, we all got extremely,
dramatically tired at about the same and CRASHED.We slept and slept, way overstaying our usual
nap habits here.When we decided we
needed to get up and go do our last job in the garden, we all struggled
mightily to get out of our hammocks.
Getting up was worth it, though, as we went back to the
garden and planted the last of the saplings in the last of the bags we stuffed
last week.As it turned out, we prepped
and planted 3000 new saplings over the last couple of weeks.After we finished using the bags, we cleared
a space for a new orchard inside the perimeter of the garden.Each of us got a fruit tree (açaí, passion
fruit, and a lot of the fruits that we have eaten while we are here) and
planted it in a place selected especially by our friend Zé.
We each took the responsibility of planting our tree pretty
seriously, as we slowly added compost and ash layers while returning the soil
to the holes we had dug.Some of us
talked or sang to our trees and all of us expressed our hope that the trees
would thrive and provide fruit for the community for years to come.
As each of the students finished planting their trees, Zé
produced two rather large banana tree starts for Shawny and Jesse to
plant.We all stood and watched as these
two biggest trees went in, then gathered together at the planting hut to do a
collective blessing of all of our work here.
Carlos and Suzanne led the group in acknowledging all that
we have done while here.They selected
one of the stuffed bags and passed it around the circle as a sort of
“microphone” and each of us expressed one word that we thought summarized our
experience.We heard lots of words about
growth and transformation and hope, along with expressions of the indescribable.
Zé gave an emotional farewell to us by using the garden as a
metaphor for our work in Brazil.He
talked about how much we had all grown in our time here and how much impact we
have left for decades to come.He was
happy that we were circling back to our first worksite before leaving Anã and
he pointed out that this place was where we had all bonded with each other and
with him.We teared up a bit, hugged a
lot and took loads of pictures.
We then went home for Jesse’s birthday dinner, where we got
the excellent surprise of a visit from Dona Odila, who has been sick in
Santarém for the past few days.She came
and hugged each of us and talked about how sad she was to be away from us.We told her that we have talked and thought
about her every day that she was gone.
We need sleep tonight to be ready for our big soccer games
tomorrow.We have already arranged for
breakfast to be later than usual so we can have as much sleep as possible.We will finish the installation of the water
filter, get as much packing as possible done and then join our local friends at
the soccer field in the afternoon.There
is a cultural celebration at night, for which we are trying to write a simple
song.We’ll let you know . . . Daily Photos
The recent thunderstorm has brought severe rain. This thatch house however, keeps it from coming inside.
One can almost always find two or more insects interacting with each other. In this case, the roach is trying to eat a ball of termites. The end result, was actually the termites sending the roach to its doom.
Could this bug have been the model for Darth Maul?
This dog, named Don Dogila by the group, is exhibiting "saudade," or longing. Her owner, Dona Odila, had been away in Santarém for a couple of weeks in for medical reason.
The guy in the middle, Zé, is one of the main workers of the nursery. Jenny, Marissa, Mackenzie and Suzanne were thrilled to take a picture with the guy that showed so much joy and devotion for the community.
A few people from our group sit in a circle and chat while
waiting for the ox cart to return for a new batch of sand.
A few members of Macacos Chiques interview Bibiano, the man that runs the village's water filter.
Diorlando and Mônica take a picture with Jesse for his
birthday right before cutting his cake.
Once we got into the posada we were surprised to find termites
all over the walls and our bags.
We stumbled upon a cute and friendly kitty walking around
SMC DIRT laying down bricks at the fish factory. Each student got to lay a brick.
The major contributors to the construction of the fish factory, even taking time out of their day to teach us how to help.
The wonderful meal prepared by the kitchen staff on the beach, in celebration of Jesse's birthday!
Team Batatas with Zé after blessing our plants in the tree nursery.
The SMC DIRT team after our last day working in the nursery.