Saturday, January 17, 2015
Day Ten: Bon Voyage
Day Ten, Friday, January 16: Bon Voyage
We are not finished with our time in Anã, but we are taking a short breather as we head out on a chartered boat to visit some other local communities. Other guests had booked the guesthouse at Anã so we agreed to vacate for the weekend. Because we intended to take a boat trip anyway, things worked out perfectly.
Our boat is a lovely 3-story one with two bathrooms, a kitchen, several decks to occupy for sightseeing and lots of hooks for hammocks. We sleep in hammocks on the boat, usually while parked at beautiful river beaches or in gorgeous coves ringed by mango trees.
We first made our way to a lovely sandbar in the river that is called Ponta Grande. It wasn’t an official stop on our tour but because Shawny, Jesse and Jenny had been there before, we asked to take a swim there before moving on. The sandbar is a huge peninsula that stretches far out into the river. We can park the boat on one side, swim on the other and then walk way out into the center of the river in strangely shallow water because of the sandbar.
We frolicked at Ponta Grande for quite awhile and then moved on to our actual destination for the day: another beach called Caracarai. It is also a beautiful little cove with a peninsula that juts out into the river. This one is much deeper on one side and can be a site where stingrays would be. Needless to say, we didn’t swim there.
We didn’t see any stingrays but we DID see a lot of little shiny fish that our Brazilian friends said were great to eat. So, they got out a couple of hooks, tied on some fishing line, and started doing “research” on how to actually catch these clever little buggers. We tried cornmeal and white bread and wheat bread and cheese. We tried dropping the bait all the way to the bottom, resting it on the surface and dangling it at different distances between the top and the bottom. We even tried singing to the fish and for a moment thought that they were especially attracted to bluegrass. But we caught so few fish that we realized every one of them was the product of pure dumb luck. Whenever we caught one it was a major event, with tons of cheering and celebrating each time we outsmarted a fish.
We added our ten or so new little fishies to the menu for tonight’s piricaia, a traditional sandpit fish roast on the beach. We already had some huge tambaqui to prepare over the embers so Louro (who has rejoined us as our cook, along with his sidekick Dona Maria) fried up the new ones and we each got to have at least half of one. The tambaqui was exquisite, with all of our non-fish-eaters saying it was one of the greatest foods they have ever tasted.
We then started a big bonfire and gathered around it to hear the mythohistory of Anã, complete with enchanted trees, spirit gods, possessed women and at least one shaman. One group had gone out while the rest of us were packing for the boat to hear the stories of the community’s origins and record them for use in our upcoming projects. Jesse passed the stories along over the campfire and one by one we straggled in, strung up our hammocks, and found a way to sleep.
We talked about how there aren’t a whole lot of meals we will ever eat that we will remember for the rest of our lives. But we all agreed that this was one of those kinds of nights . . .
Our first overnight destination on the boat trip, where we ate dinner and sat around a bonfire.
Our delicious barbecued-fish meal on the sandbar in Caracarai. (photo enhanced)
The Anaue docked on a sandbar, named Ponta Grande, that stretches out into the middle of the Arapuins River. (photo enhanced)
Brittany and Jillian fishing off the side of the boat.
Our Captain and Co-Captain gathering wood for our bon fire.