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Sunday, November 5, 2017

On the Rio Negro {AM Trip #15}

10/13/2017 (2 rains)

5ish I awoke. And guess what? IT'S RAINING! It doesn't look good for a river trip in a speed boat. I'm starting to feel like Paul trying to go to Spain. Or Jonah to Tarsus.  I'll have spent 25 days, 4000 reais, 5000km and seen no ribeirinhos. Not even an Indian. I need to find a Lone Ranger episode so I can at least see Tanto! 

Pr. Moíses called. His wife is sick (throat). The boat is fixed (it was the pump) and after he takes her to the hospital for a shot he'll decide if we can risk it. (Ed: A couple of days have passed and now I'm behind again 10/17). 

He said to walk down to the port and meet him at the portão (gate, big door) where you buy fuel. I went to the port and looked at the gas station but I couldn't find a gate.  Then it hit me, he said pontão (pontoon, floating gas station). He's coming in the boat which is why I had to walk. 

This pontão is close to shore with one of those famous board bridges from the bank. Amazonas has some enormous boards - or at least they look that way until you're trying to walk across them with luggage.

I'm glad Michele isn't here because I think here she'd stay. On land. Got gas and oil. 40L R$200 + 24 for oil (10.5gal U$70+7.50).

We first went about a half hour down river to Açaituba#1,6162-79 (Ed: I numbered these on a map, see below.) They are Baré Indians but they live "normal". Baré is also the name of a guarana soft drink brand. Father of current pastor started church. Vila/church is very organized and growing. The "Indian Mission" convinced them they needed an electric guitar and bass. They want a walled church but I think what they have is great. It rained. Kids were playing volleyball when we arrived. Pedal powered seamstress. Cooking farinha (what a pancake griddle!). They have a generator. 

They brought us food (bananas, raw & chips and coffee and farinha. I ate a lot of the chips.) Someone said a child was sick with an earache.  Go, go gadget pharmacy! After a few misses  - "Not that, that's for diaper rash. That's for eyes, you're getting closer." I found the earache medicine - with English instructions. I let someone else put it in. The sick little girl was old enough to have teeth and I didn't want to be known as the nine-fingered missionary.

Pr. Moíses starts saying he can't stay long because he's got church at his house tonight. After about an hour there we went back upstream, but on the other side of the island to Paricatuba#2  Here we stopped at the camp, and shared lunch (hot dogs) with a pregnant cat. An odd plant I'd asked about the first time there showed it's true nature and is a pretty flower.

We headed up the Uneiuxi, past Brother Antonio, past several fishing tour boats, to Tabocal#3 (Baré and Macunadebe Indians). Large community w/ nice school and payphone (that's what I said). Really nice soccer field w/ stands. No work, but "Indian Church" group visits sometimes. A woman had a baby there that had malaria several times. 

After about a 1/2 hour we head back and up the Rio Negro behind the island and past Nazaré#4, Areal#5 (Baniwa Indians, may have a work), and Maricota#6. About here I saw a mountain - Maybe "Misty Peak" (Pico da Neblina, tallest in Brazil) itself. Then we head back toward home on the north side of the island. 

We stopped to swap fuel tanks. The GPS showed us at 5k/h (3m/h) just from the current. Pr. Moíses pointed out Chile#7 (a village, not the country), Piracema#8 and Jutaí9 (right in front of Santa Isabel). Some of the places had signs prohibiting entry (Federal Government restrictions). Not marked on the map below is a community where the Indians stay when they come to town, sort of like a guest house.  I couldn't read that sign. Maybe it says "Beware of low-flying arrows." 

Pr. Moíses dropped me off on shore near the house I was staying at. I wanted to try to talk with Pastor Jaimeson of the Indian Church. Couldn't reach Jaimeson.  Might even find his mission compound. I passed it twice by car. Saw a sign in Portuguese and Angatu (said Ingatu, tribal trade language, also part of the name of one of the fishing tour companies).  Got some river water.  Saw a wild Macaw.  Then found out it was free but belonged to a house!

The not-so-wild Macaw

Walked to Pr. Moíses' house. It wasn't exactly where I thought it was, but I got there with the help of a guy on a bicycle who went just to show me where it was. They had a birthday cake and a snack.  A big guy cleaned up. Must have thought it was tapioca. (I can flog a dead horse with the best of them!) 

Talked to Michele as I walked home, though I had to stop once to break up a girl fight and again to pass buy the noisy generators. 

Dona Marlete wasn't able to wash yesterday with all that was going on. So she only did it today. The pants aren't dry so I'm hanging them up in my room hoping they'll dry faster here. Pack and bed. My legs itch. Must have picked up bugs in the grass when I talked to the man under the house. Still don't know word for chigger. (Ed: I'm not sure of the wash days, but I ended up wearing one pair damp - not that it mattered with all the sweating.)

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