Friday, January 9, 2015

Day Two: The Fish Market and The Plan

Day Two, Thursday, January 8: The Fish Market and the Plan

An early start this morning wasn’t nearly as painful as we expected, as we (almost) all managed our sleep patterns pretty well to recover from the total exhaustion of our redeye flight and convert to our new time zone rather smoothly.  We are still working on adapting to the heat and managing our hydration, but things look like they are going the right direction . . .

We awoke at 6:30 for a 7:30 departure for the fish market on the riverfront.  The market is a huge open space that is partially covered, stuffed full of fruits, meats, strange vegetables and some of the most exotic fish we will ever see in our lives.  The fish are huge and beautiful, with brightly colored scales and (sometimes) crazy looking teeth.  We didn’t see any piranhas out there today but we know they are available and hope to eat them before we leave. 

We knew that there was a guy at the market who can sometimes throw a fish on a string into the water and lure the famous Amazonian pink dolphins to the pier.  As soon as we came into view he started doing his thing, but, alas, no dolphins appeared.  We will return another time to see them (we hope!).

We walked along the river and up into the neighborhood to make our way to our primary community partner for this trip: Saude e Alegría.  Their name means “Health and Happiness” and they are our main point of contact into the community that will soon become our Amazon home: Vila Anã. 

The headquarters of S&A is a lovely little oasis in an urban strip near a super mod (but very rundown) hotel.  It is a landscaped courtyard surrounded by offices that have air conditioning!  Entering the courtyard is glorious enough, but walking into an air-conditioned room is really something special.  We hope to end the trip without an affection for air-conditioning but as we make our adjustment, being cool for an hour or two sounds just fine to us. 

The agency and we gave mutual presentations about our hopes and expectations for our partnership, with all of us identifying our interest in really working TOGETHER as a primary goal.  We talked about our training through our retreats and they told us about some of the projects and areas that have been their recent focus. 

We got a lot of details about the needs in the community and we intend to tell you all about them once we arrive in Anã.  We learned from S&A that the best day for us to go there is tomorrow (Friday) morning, so we have already repacked our things and gotten ready to get on the boat in the morning.  We are very excited. 

Going upriver earlier than expected means that we might have problems with technology, as there is not even electricity there (except some solar power and some personal generators) so expecting wifi or cell signals is really an unreasonable move.  The group that visited Anã last year found some ways to communicate with the outside world and we hope that their sneaky strategies pay off for us too. 

We are very dependent on veterans of prior trips, including Bryan Navarro and Scott Millslagle, who are at the ready when we find a way to send them our text, our pictures or our videos.  We are creating videos every day whether or not we post them and we are eager to share them with all of you as soon as we can.  Many thanks to Bryan and Scott for making it happen!

We know that you want to hear from us and see us, so we will try diligently to report in as often as we can.  Thanks for following us as we head upriver to a world very different from our campus in Moraga . . .

Daily Photos

We spent the morning at the local market in search of fish to feast on for dinner. It’s a tale of the tails!

Some of the fresh fish looked amazing. A majority of the catch isn’t even found in the U.S. If you’re a seafood lover, then you’ve got to come down to the fish market.

A local left their bike all alone while they went in search of fresh cut meats and vegetables at the market. 

During the summer months, the river levels are lower, so some of the boats beach on the sand. The tarps keep out the sun during the hot afternoons. 

We swear this little guy was talking to us. He was later used to attract pink dolphins with no success.

In the marina pier, there were more vendors selling colorful vegetables and fish. There we can see heirloom tomatoes, lemons, cilantro, and a traditional spicy salad dressing sauce that contains malagueta.  

At the marina pier, there’s a plethora of fish to choose from. That that come from the Tapajós and Amazon rivers. Here we have one of the fishermen or vendors carrying his catch of the day. Off of the other side, a local tried to attract the bota rosa (pink dolphins) for us to see. 

While we were at the fish market with Louro, our cook in Santarém, this cat was lounging in the middle of the aisle waiting for scraps. 

A delicious meal of two types of fish, beans, and rice.

Multiple students play chess when the opportunity arises. (photo enhanced)

A fish vendor discusses his inventory. This large striped fish is common in the market. (photo enhanced)

A couple of cats live at the fish market and constantly beg for food from the fishermen who tease them. (photo enhanced)

All the fish caught from the Amazon River in line at the fish market in Santarèm.

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