Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Day Nineteen: Our last morning in Anã

 Day Nineteen: Sunday, January 29, 2017

We had decided to get up at 6:00am, but it started raining at 5:47.  So, we waited an extra 15 minutes, then rousted out to start the onerous process of packing.  We’ve gotten really good at making our hammocks do what we need for them to do, whether it’s finding our specific hook in the dark in the night or winding up our hammocks to pack them up and take them home.  We were all sad to realize that this was our last wakeup from this particular pole in this particular place with this particular group of people, but we still have several days together to adjust to the idea of leaving Brazil. 

We trickled out for breakfast and found several of our local friends arriving too. The tears started early, as did the long hugs and the multiple “obrigado/as,” which is “thank you” in Portuguese.  Auvair brought us some honey to take home and Ivanette from the kitchen made each of us a little heart, saying that all of their hearts are going with us. 

We struggled to get the last few things to go into bags and also to organize the huge amount of stuff that we are leaving behind, including lots of clothes and shoes, all of our work gloves and safety glasses, and several random items that we thought they might find useful.  We were careful not to leave behind things like used batteries, as we know that the waste disposal methods in Anã are not up to dealing with that kind of refuse. 

And then we started the herculean task of getting our luggage down the path, across the beach and onto the boat.  When we were almost finished, it started to rain pretty hard.  We decided that the sky was crying as hard as we were. 

We had arranged to meet Vicente and Madalena at the chicken coop at 9:30, along with Junio, so he could show off the new sign.  We hurried up there almost on time and we were all a MESS.  Almost everyone was crying.  We were all clinging to one or more of our local friends, either holding hands and walking arm in arm.  We all expressed gratitude to each other for all that we have experienced together and stood in a circle, holding hands, while Dona Odila said a prayer for us all. 

She prayed for the spirit of our unity to spread across the world and for our joy and happiness to become a way of life for everyone around us.  She wished us a good journey and then we headed for the boat. 

We’ve had lots of sad goodbyes in this community, but this one was probably the most emotional of all. We were sobbing, the community members were sobbing, the sky was sobbing.  No one could make the move to walk up the ramp and get on the boat, as that would mean that we were leaving and we don’t know when we will return. 

Shawny and Jesse finally gave a message of love and appreciation for all of us and then made us get on the boat.  As soon as we all were on, the rain began to pour even harder.  It helped us to tear ourselves away from the railing and seek shelter under the tarps that line the sides of the boat when it rains.  People continued to cry and hug while on the boat but we eventually pulled out computers and got back to work. 

Instead of going directly back to Santarém, we headed to a lovely beach town called Alter do Chão first.  Even though it was pouring rain when we left, we knew that there is a little shopping area there that could occupy us if the beach itself wasn’t appealing.  We found a restaurant that could seat us all and feasted on beef, fish, chicken, rice, mashed potatoes, sausage, salad and more.  Some of us even drank Fanta orange, which seemed strangely exotic at the moment. 

The skies cleared so we decided to go check out the beach, which is accessed by little rowboats that cost 5 reais (a little less than $2) to cross with four people. The sand there is very deep and somewhat coarse and the water has a little more debris in it (leaves and sticks and things, not trash) than the water in Anã.  The beach is considered one of the most beautiful in Brazil, but we were kind of snobby about it not matching up to “our” beach on the Arapiuns.  It was still beautiful and calming, except for the people who rode the banana boat, which is one of those long floats that is dragged behind a boat with the sole purpose of throwing the people who are riding it off.  Eight of us gave it a shot and got dumped into the river numerous times in our ten-minute ride. 

Those of us who didn’t ride the banana boat got fresh coconuts to drink from and sampled some banana chips from a vendor walking the beach.  Some of us swam, some of us didn’t.  We lingered for only a short time then made our way back to the hostel in Santarém where we first stayed.  We re-established our sleeping spaces but felt a bit strange to have so much room between us. 

We decided to make a late night visit to a samba school preparing for Carnival.  It’s essentially a street concert that is pretty tame but very fun, with lots of Brazilians offering to teach us how to dance properly once they saw how dorky we looked dancing the way we usually do.  We heard a couple of popular local bands and then the bateria, which is a drum line that typifies the Carnival sound.  We danced with our friends Josy (from Santarém) and Zé and Sibele from Anã.  We also met lots of new friends, even if only to dance for one song.  The performers remembered us from last year and yelled “California!!” from the stage several times.  We went nuts. 

It’s been a long day of crazy transitions.  Going from teary goodbyes to a low-key resort to an urban environment to a street party can really be jarring.  And fun. Tomorrow we’re going to start the process of collecting souvenirs (and gifts!  For you?).  We are on the hunt for machetes, more hammocks, more Havaianas, and los of other things.  We have some other sites to see too, so we will continue to keep you posted . . .

Looking out one last time at the beautiful Rio Arapiuns.

After a heart felt morning of goodbyes, we boated to Alter De Chão to experience a tourist-y area of the Amazon.

In order to reach the island in the middle of the river, we all took a boat taxi to cross the 200-yard stretch. 

After a night of celebration, we thanked the community of Anã for welcoming us into their homes and teaching us what it means to work as a united group.  We will miss them dearly.

Find your beach J

With all the blood, sweat, and tears, the chicken coop project has come to a completion. We were honored with this mural signifying our partnership in this project. Love is the foundation of all, epitomized in this chicken coop.

After spending two weeks in Anã we have all gotten close to the locals. Kim made a strong connection with Junio, and on our last day many tears were shed over our goodbyes.

We will forever have a piece of their hearts, and we undoubtedly left a piece of ours.

Welcome to Alter de Chaõ! We spent the time having lunch at a local restaurant, shopping for fast glasses, hanging out on the beach and riding a banana boat.

These boats carried us across the river to Alter do Chao where we swam. 

Saying bye is harder than hammering nails into jacaranda wood or lugging 3 tons of sand across the beach. Thank you for everything, Anã.

Annie and Cabs saying their final goodbye to our partner and now best friend, Junio who worked with us for the past week.

 “In partnership, with love UPO & SMC DIRT” The sign on the chicken coop we finished with our friends in Anã.

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