Saturday, December 25, 2010

Visiting a native village

Rui seemed reluctant to take us to the Sao Tome native village.

"There are too many people there from Rio" he explained. The village had been adopted by a Brazilian reality TV show, and so it was filled with workers giving it a makeover. The village visit was on our itinerary, though, and Rui knew that the lodge's guests would complain if they didn't get to see it, so he took us there anyway.

I must admit, it was my least favorite part of my stay in the Amazon, although I did think it was fun to see the TV show producer riding in a speed canoe, with a big camera mounted on a tripod in the front. I also liked seeing the men of the village on the bank of the river, unloading all the building supplies that had been shipped in.

I nodded and greeted the men as we passed, and they smiled and gave me a thumbs up, except for the ones that were too burdened down with a load of bricks on their heads to socialize.

Most of them were barefoot, like this man:

I was interested to see the little briar balls that get stuck in the trees when this area floods.

Here's a close up of one of them:

But I didn't really enjoy visiting the village much, stunk. Literally. We stopped in an area that had several outhouses while Rui showed us the tree that grows the blow darts.

While we were there, a pig escaped from its sty nearby, and Reiner, a kind-hearted German tourist in our group hurried to put the pig back in the sty and close the door, but the pig pushed and pushed until it was free again.

As we walked around the town, we had to avoid the electrical wires that were all over the place. You can see them in the foreground of this photo of the electric company people installing the lines.

They had a generator in one area of the town, and Tony, a German electrical engineer in our group, looked it over and commented on how unsafe it was. They used the generator to power this television, which was blasting music through the town. Here's a little video showing that:

The workers were making good progress, though:

Even when they didn't have exactly the right tools, like a ladder that was tall enough for the job:

After our brief tour of the town, I was ready to leave, but Rui gave us 15 minutes to look around there. There wasn't much to do, except to buy a beer or a sugared soda from the town's little store (the orange building in the photo below), which I couldn't do because of my Mormon faith and my hypoglycemia, respectively.

So, not sure what to do with myself, I just sat down on a bench near some of the townspeople and listened to them chatting in Portuguese.

On the hour-long canoe ride home, I exchanged knock-knock jokes with the little boys in our group. Here are some silly photos of them using leaves as their jungle hats:

And Rui told me about Vasco de Gama, his favorite futbol team named after a famous Portuguese explorer. And we washed our shoes and other things in the river:

But then it began to rain. Hard. So our conversations stopped, and we pulled out our long plastic disposable raincoats. The rain made big puddles in our laps, requiring us to dump them every minute or two. Here are Sabine and Reiner in the rain:

The rain also made beautiful light for taking photos of the canoes along the river as we made our way back to our rooms:

And although I was very wet, I was thankful for the experience.

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