Friday, January 8, 2016

Day Two: Another Day in the CIty

Another Day in the City

January 7, 2016

We started the day at Saúde e Alegria and were thrilled to see the person we know as the great visionary leader of Anã.  Dona Odila Godinho.  Dona Odila gathered the women of the community a few years ago and pointed out that they were the key to the future of Anã.  They formed an organization that is the hub of all community transformation.  Through their group, a fish farm was established that has significantly improved community health.  The women even learned to make their own fish food to reduce the costs of raising their own fish.  And they started writing grants related to community development, some of which funded the guest area where we will live for the next 16 days.  They started an ecotourism endeavor that brings some resources into the community (including us and our labor!).  For these and many other reasons, we have deep love and respect for Dona Odila, her female compatriots, the males who have now joined forces with them and the rest of this dynamic Amazon community. 

We discussed more plans for our visit (plans always subject to change!!!), including the possibility of building a large chicken coop for the benefit of the guesthouse and the surrounding area.  We LOVE this idea, as we are often hungry for eggs in the morning and we imagine that other visitors might feel the same way.  We don’t think that there is a way for us to benefit eggwise from the coop we build this trip, but we like the idea that other future visitors will get to enjoy the fruits of our labors. 

We also spent some time trying to produce creative solutions for needs in the community.  The recent lack of rain that we mentioned in yesterday’s post means that parts of the community garden are suffering.  They would like to use river water to support the garden but getting the water up the steep slopes to the community is a daunting task.  We brainstormed a number of ideas and decided to wait until we get there to formulate any plans.  There are a number of jobs to tackle already so this one might not get top priority, as surely the rains will come soon . . .

After our conversations with Odila, we ran downtown again to get some more things that we will need in the community.  More of us scored Havaianas in our size, which is always a thrill.  Havaianas are those little rubber flipflops that we have all seen everywhere but they are made in Brazil and here they have really cool colors and styles.  They are also much less expensive than they would be in the US.  And, EVERYone here has them.  So we want in on the action.  Almost everyone found what they sought today.

We had to trade in one hammock that unfortunately had a hole in it.  Daniel traded up to a nicer one and Cooper decided to get a new one even though he had brought one from home. 

We also scored some matching soccer shirts, which will be very important to our participation in the ongoing soccer challenge between our host community and us.  We play full men’s games and women’s games, where our main objective is to avoid total humiliation.  We have no illusions that we will win (though we have tied more than once in the past!).  But we know that the minute we arrive in Anã, the questions about scheduling the first soccer matches will begin.  This year we have the actual varsity goalkeeper for the SMC women’s team, as well as several club players who will definitely be able to hold their own against the strong Brazilian team. 

We made more runs to get chicken wire and other hardware related to the chicken coop project and then decided to head to a celebrated local spot to try natural açaí.  This regional fruit has become a curiosity in the US but it is usually in a much different form than the way Brazilians eat it.  Here they have bowls of smashed/pureed dark purple liquid to which consumers add sugar to their taste.  For most of us, our preferred ratio was about 50% açaí to 50% sugar.  For some, even that combo wasn’t sweet enough.  Some of us flipped to fruit push-up-like things in flavors like coconut, corn, and passion fruit.  They were great. 

After a long stay over our fruity treats, we headed home to get organized for our long boat trip tomorrow.  Friday is the day we head upriver to the forest preserve where Anã is located.  We will ride on the community boat, which goes back and forth on Fridays and Sundays.  Three Sundays from now, we will get back on the boat and face the fact that our trip is nearing its end. 

Because we are heading into an area with little electricity and no cellphone or internet connectivity, we are going to have to be creative about timing our blog posts.  Thus, it may be three days (or more) before you next hear from us.  We will keep preparing text, photos/captions and videos for every day and do everything in our power to get it all posted.  As this is the 7th SMC trip to the Amazon, we can predict that problems will arise.  Please bear with us. 

Thanks for reading already.  Especially enjoy our pictures and video for today, as we can’t be sure when we will manage to post more . . . 

Abbey Road—Gaels in Brazil Style.

One of the many boats left beached due to drought conditions.

Steve found Shaq’s cleats at a shop in Santarém.

Cooper enjoying some açaí, but it’s not complete without a little sugar (or a lot… haha). Fun fact: Açaí means the “plant that bleeds” because when you cut open the trunk of the tree it looks as if it is bleeding.
Learning our plans while meeting Dona Odila, the phenomenal matriarch of Anã.

Dona Odila is enthusiastic to see Shawny for the first time in a year at Saúde e Alegria (“Health and Happiness”), a local non-profit in Santarém.

Buying jerseys so the DIRT team looks official when we play Team Ana.

The lovely Josy.

Exploring with Josy, a longtime friend of DIRTies! (She’s the third from the left).

Josy and Suze - Friends for life!

Spending the day in Santarém’s local markets searching for chicken wire to prepare for our projects in Anã.

Meet team Scattered Joy (Alegría Dispersa): Leah, Phil, Suze, Robert, and Annie.    

A woman in Santarém smiling with her eyes.
From holes in hammocks, to forgotten flip-flops, these streets became familiar in a short period of time. 

An end of the day sunset brings out the life in Santarém.


  1. Go Alegría Dispersa! Enjoy the hammocks and the river boat ride! Glad the mosquitos are fewer this year, sorry for the lack of rain, but we are sure it will come! GO DIRT

  2. Day 2: Liked the video and beautiful pics. Everyone seemed having fun at the market and getting their bearing (after a long flight) in Santarem. I am sure Dona Odila was happy to see old and new faces in this trip, especially Shawny.