Friday, January 13, 2017

Day Three: Our Home in the Amazon Rainforest

Friday, January 13, 2017

We hopped up pretty early today (well, most of us, anyway) because we were very excited about getting on a boat and heading to our eventual destination.  We had done a good deal of prepwork last night so that we were ready to hustle our things out the door and make our way to the riverfront.  We turned into a baggage moving machine as we got things out of our hired truck, moved them along the waterfront, walked them down a set of uneven steps and then loaded them onto the boat.  Compared to prior years, our job was pretty easy; still, we think we did exceptionally well. 

Our dear friend Dona Odila (pronounced like oh-GEE-luh) was waiting for us on the boat and the vets from last year had a lovely reunion with her.  She had just come down there to see us, as she is not heading back to Anã until Monday.  We also saw another friend from our past, the now 14-year-old Cristian, whose legs and arms have gotten about twice as long as they used to be, making him a tall and lanky version of the kid we used to know.  He recognized us as quickly as we recognized him, so we got to have a happy homecoming with him right on the boat. 

The trip takes about four hours, so we spread ourselves out over the boat (which was nowhere near as crowded as it has been in the past) and many of us worked on our journals, listened to music, napped or just stared out across the water.  Jesse’s son Gui had never ridden on a boat before his trip up here, so he was particularly excited.  He helped several of us pick up more Portuguese than we had before, as he is a very patient teacher who can handle LOTS of repetition. 

We noticed the veterans from last year all suddenly disappeared to the front of the boat, as they realized that Anã was in sight.  They noticed that the water was much higher than last year.  In fact, it was so high that we pulled the boat right up to the bank instead of stopping way out and ferrying luggage in by boat.  We quickly unloaded our baggage onto the beach, then worked with the locals to transfer it up to the forest path, where a handcart waited for us to fill it then pull it.  The returners were overly excited to push that cart, so the rest of us let them make the first run.  We carried some loads by hand and had everything in the hammock hut (called an “oca”) in only about two trips per person. 

The area is a lush rainforest that is particularly thick and green this year, as there is not a drought like last year.  All of us were crazy with excitement about walking the forest path and finding our way to the opening that revealed the oca, the bathhouse, the pousada (kitchen and dining area) and the new sleeping area, restroom and garden area (!). 

We saw lots of our old friends, especially the ones who work in tourism in the community.  A few weren’t around but will be back in the coming days, so we look forward to reuniting with them as soon as we can.  We met with the tourism group to do introductions all around and to talk about how much it means for us to be here. 

It’s odd to think that we’ve been traveling for four days to get to this exact place and to continue our relationships with the amazing people here.  Even those who have never been here before could immediately see why.  We are DEFinitely in the Amazon now . . .

Zummo and Rachel ready with their hammocks packed and ready to take on Anã.

All the DIRTies packed and loaded after bucket brigading 40 bags down a crickety staircase.  

Spending the next four hours on this boat means journaling, napping in hammocks and taking in the enormity of the river.

Our 10 year-old Portuguese teacher, Gui, taking a break from language lessons. 

Jake sitting out at the stern of the boat, immersing himself in the beauty of Arapiuns. 

Girls in hammocks- Julia, Zummo, and Kim hanging out in their redes (aka hammocks) during the boat trip to Anã. 

Hammock View- Daily journals are more fun in hammocks! Every day we reflect on our experiences in Brasil by journaling (:

Lookout- Secret lookout the returning DIRTies shared with the newcomers. 

Rainforest Path- First line of business: Taking our luggage through the paths of Anã.

Rivers Meet- A closer look at where the Tapajós River and Amazon River meet!

Four-hour boat ride from Santarém to Anã. A good time to reflect, write in our journals, read, and chat. Kim was very excited to finally see and meet the people of Anã.

 Hammocks are very versatile and can be hung in many places, like boats. In the Amazon, hammocks are used instead of a bed. 

 Shawny is hugging Dona Odila, who is one of the senior leaders in the community. Dona Odila works closely with us throughout our projects.

Some of us passing the time on the four-hour boat ride by taking turns taking naps or laying down in the hammocks. 

Because we had so many bags that were heavy, it was more efficient to use a bucket brigade to unload the boat and transfer them to the oca(our new home).

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