Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day Ten: Saturday, January 16 – Animals!

News from the Illness and Injury List: There IS NO I&I List!  Well, okay, Shawny is still on crutches and/or using a wheelchair, but that’s old news.  No one missed out on our activities today due to illness!  A couple of people slept through lunch, but that was just a precautionary measure to ensure that they didn’t run themselves down too far.  We won’t even name them as we would hate to doom them to become the next victims of the Rota virus.

A few of us went to buy our hammocks for the boat ride this morning and had great success.  We had to make our way through some strangely heavy traffic for Santarém, but that challenge added to our fun.  Neil had a bit less fun than the rest of us because his bike chain broke about halfway into town.  He and his team headed for a bike shop and got it fixed for just over $1 US.  We were all lucky we weren’t with the group that went to town yesterday because they were led by Gary and Schuyler, two of the most maniacal trick riders of all time.

Whoever didn’t go into town went to Georgete and Jaime’s house.  Gary, Matt B., and Jesse, who left early this morning to help Seu João and Jaime lay the new floor in the storefront.  They hand mixed the cement and carried it by the shovel full into the space.  Seu João was the master smoother who leveled the area and made it look more perfect than we thought was possible without complex machinery.

For those not loading cement, the day was full of origami baskets.  Georgete had us make enough baskets to give to all of the kids in her program.  They will eventually be filled with candy or some other treat.  Quincy was an origami machine, cranking out baskets like they were second nature to her.  Marcia was pretty good too, as was Jenn.  During a break from cement work, Matt B. made a few baskets too.  Shawny joined in, having been pushed up the hill to the worksite in a wheelchair by Matt S.

All of us (including our hosts) went back to our place to eat the most traditional Brazilian national dish: feijoada.   Feijoada is mostly made of black beans and lots of salty meats and is served with rice, orange slices, and greens.  Making feijoada is a big commitment, as it needs to stew together for hours and hours to become just right.  Eating it is also a big commitment because it is heavy and it is seen as somewhat of a social event.  Thus, one usually spends a long time eating a lot of food with a big group of people.  Then, everyone naps.

Today, we had special visitors for our Saturday lunch: two Assistant Deans from the local university (on whose grounds we are living this month).  They joined us for lunch and after eating we each introduced ourselves (Ana translated).  They told us about their university and their students and expressed hope that we could form a partnership on some level between their university (the Federal University of Western Pará, or UFOPA, formerly just UFPA) and our College.

After our visitors left, we skipped the traditional post-feijoada nap (also an almost-daily habit for us since we’ve been here) and headed off to a local zoo/preserve that rescues abandoned, endangered, or injured animals.  Some animals are in cages for their own protection and others are just there in the trees or the brush.  Beautiful multi-colored parrots, macaws, and toucans were right above our heads; while some monkeys frolicked in cages, others swung from tree to tree all around us.  We saw several endangered animals and even got to touch two of them: an injured manatee that had been caught in a net somewhere and a baby jaguar (that we would have mislabeled a cheetah due to its spotted coat).  We were a tiny bit disappointed that we missed out on the area where the huge spiders live but we didn’t have time to get there once we arrived in the late-ish afternoon.  Overall, though, we had no regrets – about skipping our nap, about visiting the zoo, about letting Shawny hobble along on crutches with us, and about seeing (and touching) some of the awesome animals that we hope to see in the rain forest next week.

Tomorrow morning we will work with the kids on the beach again but in the afternoon our construction specialists (Seu João and Jaime) are taking the day off.  Thus, we will find something fun to do and let you know what it was.  Thanks for your comments!  We love to see new ones . . .

The Alpha male showing his teeth in aggression, coming at us like a Spider Monkey, after all, he is a Spider Monkey.

Ana and Dani working the hammock guru down to a reasonable price.  Now they’re speaking the language.

This ant home releases a lemony-fresh scent when activated by touch. Talk about your all time scratch and sniff!!

We’re not so different, you and I.

74 Reais = a couple sweet hammocks.

Gary bustin moves on Shawny’s wheelchair.

Beutner workin hard on his kid’s purse.

Adventuring through the rainforest at the zoo.

Petting a baby manatee.

Ciara pets a baby jaguar.

A monkey climbing the fence sticking his tongue out for the camera.

Matt handling the Parrot with a smile.

The baby Jaguar that we all got to pet.

Our family outside the ZooFit entrance.

The snake that was found along our tour.


  1. Hello Amazonites,
    It was great to read that there is no longer an I&I list. Let's hope it stays that way.

    We are sure you are aware of the horrific scene taking place in Haiti right now due to the monumental 7.0 earthquake they experienced last week. Three quarters of the capital city, Port au Prince, is in ruins and more than a quarter of a million people are feared dead. We were watching a news piece about a group of students and professors from Florida's Lynn University that was in Haiti on a service trip, doing similar work to what you are doing in Brazil, when the quake hit. Most of the group just returned to the States, but others are still missing in Haiti. It made us stop and say a prayer of hope for their missing compadres and one of gratitude that you are all safe and well. Continue to enjoy the work you are doing and the experiences you are having. We send our love and pray that God is watching over you.
    Bob and Lenore <3

  2. NFL Playoff update:

    Saints 45 Cardinals 14
    Colts 20 Ravens 3
    Vikings 34 Cowboys 3
    Jets 17 Chargers 14

    Next week...
    NFC Championship Game:
    Old Man Favre and the Vikings
    "Who Dat?" Na'leans Saints

    AFC Championship Game:
    "You'll never make it in the NFL, Mark Sanchez" and the NY Jets
    Future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and the Indy Colts