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 the village.

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.

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