Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Day Twenty: Tourists for a Day

 Day Twenty: Monday, January 30, 2017

Being in the city feels weird.  Not hurrying off to the worksite and swinging sledgehammers feels weird.  Not hearing roosters cock-a-doodle-dooing feels weird.  But we are coping by doing what other travelers do: shopping, eating, seeing the sites.

We started the day with a souvenir run, including several machete stores plus places to get hammocks, Havaianas and traditional souvenirs like bracelets and baskets and – because we are in the Amazon – blowdarts. It takes FOREVER for us to make our selections and check out, so we used a lot of patience to make sure everyone gets what they want. 

As noted above, it’s strange to focus on what we “want,” as we have not been focusing on our desires for most of the last three weeks.  And in a certain way, we still are not focusing on ourselves, as we are mostly buying gifts for other people. Still, it’s a shift of perspective.

We went to the hostel for lunch, which was Louro’s fabulous fried chicken.  Then we hustled back into the van to go to a local tourist attraction called Belterra.  It’s a little town founded by Henry Ford in the early 20th century (1930s or so?) to capitalize on the rubber boom.  He laid out a town that looks very Midwestern, including the way the churches are laid out on the square and the presence of red fire hydrants (otherwise unseen in this entire country).  He also built houses that literally have white picket fences and front porches, both of which are totally alien in the rest of Brazil.  Many of the houses still stand, though some have clearly been rebuilt with a nod to the original style, as the wood-based construction wouldn’t likely hold up against Amazon humidity and termites.  It’s quaint and odd to see this strange little place that seems like it was airlifted in and dropped on the landscape. 

From there we went down a long dirt road to a lovely beach, complete with cabanas (and a cabana boy) to give us the total Brazilian beach experience, minus the crowds.  Because we showed up late in the afternoon, we barely had to share the beach at all, but we still got to swim and enjoy snacks of stingray “fingers,” little fried fish of the type that we caught from our boat on the boat trip, pachoca (pulverized peanut powder with a little bit of sugar and salt) and french fries.  We lounged around until dusk and then headed back home to treat our many insect bites (the city is worse than the “wild” was for us on this front). 

We called a quick meeting to invite our last two inductees into the Order of the Purple Bike.  We realized that once we inducted one of the last two, the other one becomes obvious so there is no need to wait.  So, Kevin and Nate joined the Order.  Kevin (Manga) has been the person who by far complained the least of anyone among us.  It’s not that the rest of us were whiners, but everyone had something to rail about somewhere along the line.  Not Kevin.  He even got some of the horrible jobs (due to his height) that meant he had to spend the whole day with his arms above his head, hammering staples or painting or whatever had to be done high up above most of our heads.  He was also our first patient who had a bicho do pe (kind of like a botfly), which is a little insect that burrows into the foot and makes a little bump that must be excised to keep the pest from hatching and laying eggs. Manga handled the whole situation quite well and has healed nicely.  Several people weighed in with tributes to him and expressed their sincere appreciation for his contributions to our group.

And our final entrant into the order is Natinho/Nate!  Nate is a standout in a number of ways, including just his pure physical size and how he stands head and shoulders above most of us and even more of the Brazilians around us.  He also has a way of showing fascination that is magnetic for all of us and our hosts.  He eagerly followed the pig through its various states of being on Saturday, reflecting on the significance of what he saw in very deep and meaningful ways.  He was always out front on all of the jobs, especially the ones that involved actual heavy lifting.  The Brazilians turned to him early and often for every need, seeing him as the superhero that many of his t-shirts communicate him to be.  Along with bringing strength to our group, he brings warmth and kindness, both of which we seek to show in abundance in everything we do. 

Yay, Nate and Kevin!!

We passed by this sign on the way to the Henry Ford Town and found it interesting to see the distances of the main cities in Brasil.

 This house is in a town developed by Henry Ford during the Rubber Boom. It is very rare to see a porch and a picket fence in Brasil. This is one of two towns that have this style of housing.

Zummo chooses which machetes she’ll buy with many options in color and size. There was much excitement to purchase them for family and friends. And ourselves of course.

We went to a restaurant called Pindobal, where we had snacks near the river. After we finished swimming, Aldrich, Eddie, Jake, and Zummo were able to participate in a game of pool on the house. Aldrich accidentally hits the eight ball in a pocket, resulting in a Jake and Zummo win.

We all found lots of fascinating souvenirs and gifts in the Muraquita gift shop.

It took everybody over 30 minutes to realize that this was a knock-off Adidas brand named Adibas.

After a long day of shopping for crafts, we relaxed at a beach on the Tapajós River.

Replica of the Liberty Bell located in an American-styled town in the middle of the Amazon.

Taking a gander of the church in Henry Ford’s rubber-powered town.

Lots of fun getting crafts for friends and family!    

The design of this town was influenced by Henry Ford, his goal was to help Americans who were working in this town to feel more at home by replicating white picket fences, fire hydrants, and liberty bell which is pictured here.

During the early 1900’ s when the rubber boom was at its peak workers would hack at the trunk of the tree as gravity pulls a rubber making liquid that is used to make rubber.

Sippin' on a coconut: as a special treat after a rewarding month of work, we enjoyed fresh coconuts along the beach.

As one can imagine, this is the ultimate souvenir shop with beautiful handcrafted pottery, jewelry, blow darts, and other trinkets.

Under the cabana: after a long day of souvenir shopping our group spent the afternoon under cabanas, eating stingray, and swimming in the river.

1 comment:

  1. These last posts have been so beautiful! The warmth and love among your group is so evident...Hold on to it! Glad to hear that Nate used both his strong muscles and his tremendous heart to help strengthen the group. Your posts made us both laugh and cry...We love reading these posts! Thank you all for doing all that you are doing and for sharing these experiences with us. xo