Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Day Six: Motorcycles + Mobile Beach + Monster Spiders + Monsoons

Monday, January 11, 2016

Today is a blog-posting day, which means that Shawny and Jesse hopped on the backs of two of the five motorcycles in the community and rode for 25 minutes through the rain forest.  At the end of the ride there is a house that is rarely occupied that we are told belongs to a professor at a nearby university.  He doesn’t have wifi in his house, but his yard happens to catch the signal from a popular beach across the water. 

Jesse has a cellular plan on his iPad so he fires it up and tethers it to Shawny’s computer.  From there, they perform several file transfers to load our text, pictures and videos to one of several possible places where our friend and DIRT comrade Bryan Navarro can access them and connect them to our blog.  Again, huge thanks to him for making this whole way of connecting to our friends and family possible. 

The rest of us (minus Callan and Cooper) went back into bucket brigade mode but instead of moving bricks, this time we were moving sand.  Lots and lots of sand.  The sand will eventually figure into a concrete mixture that will serve as the floor of the new hammock hut at the guest area.  Some of it might also be added to the mixture that smooths the walls around that new hut but we will have to play it by ear to know for sure. 

In any case, the available sand is plentiful, but it is quite heavy and it is not as close to our worksite as we might hope.  So, we had to strategize about whether to take heavy loads up a gentle slope or light loads up a steep slope.  In the end, we tried both and can see the merits (and problems) of each. 

We began in the place that the last two SMC classes have used as a primary sand source.  It is close to the community garden/reforestation area and relatively close to the fish food factory.  It is the shallowest slope up from the water along the bank at Anã.  Overall the rise from the river to the community is about 25 feet.  We organized bucket lines using large sacks to load sand onto the oxcart, which we lined with a tarp.  We would fill the oxcart and send it off to the construction site. While it was gone, we would send up a half full bag, then another half full bag to top off the first one (they are very heavy when they are full).  By the time all of the bags were full at the top, the oxcart was back.  The process of lifting those heavy sacks and dumping them onto the cart took some ingenuity, but we got it.   

Over lunch, we found the hugest spider we have seen yet (bigger than any of our hands) near our bathhouse.  As usual we were screaming and scrambling and the locals were laughing heartily at our reaction to the totally non-threatening creature.  Their calmness about the spider didn’t rub off at all. 

We continued the sand transfer after lunch then called it a day in favor of some beach volleyball with the locals.  While we played and swam, Shawny and Jesse made the executive decision to send Callan into Santarém to see our doctor friend there.  She is fine and has experienced no change; we just want to confirm that our confidence is well-founded.  She and Jesse will leave in the morning on a faster boat than the one we used to get here.  Hopefully they will return the same evening.  If not, they will return the next day. 

Late in the evening, before we finished our media work, the great moment that the community has awaited arrived: it rained.  It’s been more than 100 days (something like 150) since it rained here, so they are eager for things to shift in a new direction. 

Tomorrow is Marlina’s birthday, so we have more than just rain to celebrate!

Carlos on the beach pulling his best piranha impression after discovering a piranha skull in the sand. 

Jules holding some local fish our hosts caught - but from her expression you would think that she was the one that caught it!

After a long day of moving sand, we ended our time with a friendly game of volleyball. More games to come!

Alessandra, Audenira (with their freshly braided hair by Annie) going to the worksite on Auvaír’s motorcycle

The faces behind the hands that make our beautiful food. 

This was about the size of our hands — the Amazon is full of surprises!

You think this thing looks scary? You should’ve seen our faces. 

Our biggest supporters while hauling sand from the beach to the worksite 

Locals and SMC DIRTies work together to move buckets and bags of sand 

Here in Anã, the locals like Zé always have a smile on their face even while working

After a long morning of working, many people take “sestas” (naps), write in their journals, or wash their laundry 

As a team, we are figuring what is the most efficient way to use the ox cart

A beautiful shot of a boat heading down the Amazon river, taken after a long hard day at work. Shortly after, many of us jumped in to cool off and relax!

Robert and Cam on their way to scope out a place to gather sand for the projects back at the posada.

Local community member, Zé, has become very close with us DIRTies in the past few days and continues to inspire us everyday. 


  1. Awesome pictures from day 6. Thanks for posting. Love logging in and seeing more updates of all the hard work and fun you're all having! The spider pictures have left me speechless...YIKES! They look like they could carry off a small child..
    Last but not least...would like to wish our Steve a VERY happy 22nd birthday tomorrow. Enjoy your day...wish we could be there to celebrate with you but I have no doubt the locals will make it another one to remember. Lots of love to you all.

  2. The kids are using their Chromebooks to catch up on your stories and videos. I will let them send their questions to you by email.

  3. Oh my! Those spiders!
    Beautiful pictures tho! Sounds like everyone's having a good time! :)

  4. Great updates on Day 6! Happy to see Carlos holding a piranha skull, that must have been an interesting find and experience. The pictures of the spiders made me cringed. I can just imagine seeing your faces when you saw it crawling in front of you. Be careful out there, DIRTies! Keep up the good work and looking forward to your next blog!

  5. We in the SOLA Dean's Office are enjoying following the Amazon Adventures of Shawny & the Dirties! Could have done without those tarantula photos, though. ;-).