Monday, January 26, 2015

Day Sixteen, Thursday, January 22: The Arrival of the Termites and the Edible Ants

Remember all that rain that has been wrecking our laundry lives?  Turns out that two significant natural phenomena accompany this kind of relentless rain.  One is that huge lines of termites make their way inside of whatever structures they can find and take over as much territory as they can.  They chose our hammock hut last night and it took all of us and all of the staff here to get them under control.  Life in the Amazon.

The morning brought more rain (grrrrrrr) but also the sound of howler monkeys outside our hammock hut.  That sound is like some kind of huge machine going through the forest that could not possibly be an animal of any kind.  Not everyone heard them, as we hadn’t all awoken yet.  None of us managed to see them, as they are usually really far away even when they sound like they are right outside the door. 

We quickly assigned teams so that we could still get some work done even in the rain.  More people than ever got in on the paint job.  We moved down into the dining area to do our first hits on that building.  We worked with the staff to figure out which walls would be which colors and then we made quick work of turning the walls into smooth blocks of a light greenish blue in the serving area and pure bright white for the main kitchen building. 

The hammock hut, by the way, got yet another coat of paint, as the staff were not quite into our wash method and the streaky texture that it produced.  They thought that was what they wanted but once they saw it they changed their minds.  So, we laid another diluted layer of the original color on top of our effect and now it looks pretty good to us and to the staff. 

The painters on the bathroom building also got pretty close to finished, doing final touchups on the salmon color that was designated for that space.  Altogether, things look really pretty sharp, even though at the beginning we wondered why they were motivated to paint everything on the property.  Now we get it.

The non-painters had two primary jobs: 1) in the late morning after the rains let up, they went to the factory site and dropped cement into the trenches for the interior walls of the building and 2) in the afternoon, they ran more oxcart loads of sand to the site. 

Over lunch, our friend Tonico visited and two of the teams shared time with him to videotape interviews about his role in the community and his dreams for Anã’s future.  We were so engrossed with the interview that we almost missed our return to the worksite.  It might have gone on even longer but another big wind whipped up and brought in one more cloudburst before the sun broke through and stayed for the rest of the day. 

Our last five loads of sand brought some innovation into our process, including the old DIRT favorite: the bucket brigade.  There were no actual buckets used in the bucket brigade, as we instead used bags of sand with six deep shovelfuls of sand inside.  At one end of the line, the shoveler filled the bags.  Then the next person hoisted each bag over his/her shoulder and walked it to the next person, who would grab the bag from underneath and walk it to the next.  We handed them off all the way up the hill to the cart.  Each person carried every bag for some period but each person also got to rest a bit between each lift.  It was a little slower but it conserved our energy so that we were more capable of pulling the oxcart when the time came.  Success.

We knocked off early enough to play some twilight volleyball and get in a quick swim.  The sun stayed with us so we even got a few more dry laundry pieces. 

And then we got to the second rain-induced phenomenon: the emergence of the edible ants.  A few days ago when the rain seemed pretty intense, our hosts predicted that the ants would appear in a few days.  Today was the day.  There were little holes that started opening up in the sand with little round brown things poking out.  Those brown things were ant butts.  The chickens started frantically snapping up the ants and so did the humans.  Some of our hosts popped them right into their mouths still alive while others gathered them in bowls with lids and took them home to dry roast them. 

Our friends at the pousada were in the second group and they collected quite a few ants for us.  When it came time for dessert, they brought out bowls of roasted ants for us.  There was much squealing and cringing, but in the end, everyone gave at least one a try.  We thought they tasted kind of nutty and one person said that they were like potato chips.  We don’t think we will make a habit of them, except maybe Ranjay, who was popping them in his mouth like they were popcorn. 

We’re hitting the pillows early tonight, knowing that tomorrow is our last full workday.  We want to finish every last touchup on the paint and get the factory walls as high as they can go.  We will celebrate Jesse’s birthday in the evening, but sleep early to prepare for our big soccer rematch on Saturday.  Sunday we catch a boat back to Santarém and then we fly back to California on Tuesday.  We can’t think about leaving yet, though.  We still have a lot to do before we get on that plane . . .

Daily Photos

An invasive species of termites attempted to enter the SMC DIRT’s sleeping area. Little did they expect that we were prepared with a special termite trashing solution.

The community’s local visitor center, is one of the key attractions in the village. An esteemed guest readily donated paint, which the SMC team gladly pitched in to paint. The colors brighten up the buildings and were warmly regarded by the locals.

The blue equipment on  the wall, is a water filter. Since the community has gotten grants for water filtration, the rate of infant morality has nearly gone become non-existant. 

Many of our groups teams selected one of the locals, Antonio, for their projects. Despite choosing the same person, Antonio, is head of many different projects, namely an organization called MUSA, and is the village’s doctor

Do to the continuous rain, the SMC  DIRT students found refuge for laundry underneath the roof of the pousada.

A pretty tree outside of one of the villagers home. (photo enhanced)

While walking around the village, we stumbled upon kids playing soccer in the local field.

We found huge ants all over the place including inside a hat. They were edible and all of the students ate them, either live or cooked.

A bee plays with the jelly that was left over on the table.

A shot from the beach where we gathered sand to bring to the fish food factory. 

Jenny and Suze being the boi’s moving sand from the beach to the site of the future fish factory.

The man, the myth, the legend. Antonio (Tonico) answering questions for some of our final projects.

Standard Suze.  Let your smile change the world, never let the world change your smile.

Jenny and Marissa lip synching to Taylor Swift while preparing to paint the kitchen wall.

No comments:

Post a Comment