18 students and two faculty members from Saint Mary's College are returning to our SMC home away from home in the Brazilian Amazon for Jan Term 2017. This page helps us to tell our story and -- even more importantly -- helps us to tell the stories of our friends and hosts in the Amazon . . .
Monday, January 25, 2016
Day Twenty:Tying up Loose Ends
Monday, January 25, 2016
We had a blast at samba school last night.We arrived late and got there just in
time for the major percussion arrangements, which is always the best part of
these evenings.We knew we only
had an hour so we maximized our time by going right to the front and dancing
from the minute we arrived.The
musicians onstage immediately recognized that we were from out of town (not
many tourists here!) and then quickly remembered that we must be those same
Californians from last year and the year before.They called out to us and a big cheer went up through the
crowd.We probably cheered loudest
of all.We were having a fantastic
time but we knew an early morning was ahead of us so we packed it in and headed
home.We slept hard after our long
emotional roller coaster of a day.
This morning we headed out first thing to an animal
hospital/preserve for forest creatures that have been injured or trafficked or
orphaned or whatever.The place is
called ZooFit and it has become a favorite stop of DIRT groups in recent
years.We can safely get really
close to animals and see them play and watch us back.It wasn’t actually open today but they opened it to us
because we have been going there for the last few years.
We started at the manatee tanks and learned a lot about
river manatees and how they differ from saltwater manatees.There are 19 of them under care here,
including a 2.5-month-old one that was a real cutie.We got kind of mesmerized by watching them surface in the
sometimes murky water just enough to get a breath through their nostrils.
We saw lots of different kinds of monkeys, including one
zogzog like the ones that lived outside our oca
in Anã.It just roams freely
around the compound because it was raised by humans as a pet so it is more
comfortable with humans than with its animal peers.It followed us around and made its crazy zogzog sounds while
we were getting a tour.We loved
There were lots of other monkeys too, and some big cats
(pumas), some alligators (including one that was about 14 feet long!), a boa
constrictor, some beautiful birds (including parrots and macaws) and some other
weird animals that we don’t even have names for in English.We were especially into the monkeys and
found ourselves talking to them through their cages, making eye contact and
really believing that we were connecting to them in some weird way.
We bid farewell to the animals and to our friendly guides
and headed into the city to do some shopping.We made two stops (TWO!) to get machetes, because we wiped
out one store’s supply before we accumulated our 25 or so big knives.They are not yet sharpened but we still
looked like maniacs carrying that many blades through the streets.Some of us got leather sheaths for them
so we really looked like serious machete users.
We then headed home for lunch and quickly turned it around
for more shopping.We got lots of
local souvenirs, some soccer jerseys, and more Havaianas (sandals).Then we hit one of our most popular
stops of all: a self service ice cream store.We piled on flavor after flavor, compared and sampled them
all, then got some more.In all we
had 5.5 kilos of ice cream, which computes to about 12 pounds.There were 22 of us eating, but that’s
still a lot to consume!
We came home from there and started a mad push to get
everything packed and finish all of our pictures and videos up to this
point.We hope to get everything
posted so that you can catch up with our adventures as we travel back to California.We have a long layover in Manaus and we
are going to visit an authentic churrascaria,
which is a meat-lover’s paradise.(They have things for vegetarians too!)If we get a chance we will post from there but sometimes it
is difficult to get a signal so we might fail in that endeavor.If we get stranded like we did last
year (for almost two days!) we will let you know.
It’s hard to imagine that we will be on our way out of
Brazil tomorrow, as we have grown accustomed to the heat, the sounds, the bugs,
the language, the music, the personalities and each other.But we know we will be able to remind
each other of all that we have experienced together, especially because we will
hole up in a computer lab for the first three days that we are home to finish
our final projects.
You may have trouble recognizing us when you see us.We are all really tan.We have really dirty feet and somewhat
smelly laundry.Our standards for
what counts as an appropriate bathroom have really slipped.We are used to the feeling of sunscreen
melting off our faces all day every day.We’ve been eating a lot of flan.Some of us have lost weight due to the rigorous schedule and healthy
diet we’ve been maintaining.Some
of us haven’t.We don’t really
depend on our cellphones the way we used to.We have Portuguese words at the front of our minds now and
they come out of our mouths as sensible responses to everyday situations.
We’ll try not to be obnoxious, but we have had a wonderful
month here together and we are going to miss it dearly.Please be patient with us.Even after we have landed in the US, it
may take us awhile before we are all the way back in California.Part of our hearts, lots of our tears
and a good bit of our labor have been left in the deepest Amazon.We will move on soon, but we’re not in
a hurry . . .
Still, we promise that we look forward to
seeing you and telling you even more!
Here are some zoguezogue videos for your entertainment. Imagine waking up in a hammock to this sound:
Our new monkey friend (a ZogueZogue) listening in on the Manatee presentation. Originally a house pet, this monkey roams around the him brave enough to approach our group.
A wild, angry hawk caught looking upon the SMC DIRTies.
These silly monkeys (Macaco Prego’s) may look cute and cuddly but they are extremely smart and will out wit you. Although healthy, these monkeys will not be released into the Amazon until further studies are done to ensure that they will be safe in the wild.
Although these macaw’s have majestic colors, these feisty birds kept trying to nibble at our toes.
A majestic puma striking a pose while we visit her home. This is one of the four family members living in the cage at the animal hospital/preserve.