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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Plane Ride to Manaus {AM Trip #16}


Had breakfast and said bye to Dona (Mrs) Marlete.  She shared some of her burdens and life. She has a habit of pausing after a phrase and saying "é" (here the equivalent of "yeah") and then repeating the last phrase before going on. Some else did the same thing and I wonder if it's a local speech habit, perhaps from Indian influence. 

Another quirk I noticed was the listener repeating the end of the last phrase of the speaker. Overall, however, speech (accent) in the north is not too different from the northeast, perhaps because a large part of the population descends from people from the NE fleeing the droughts. And if they were looking for rain they came to the right place. I felt quite at home. The only difference in speech was in the "s" which some say as "sh". (Pash the toasht, pleash). The laid back, unhurried manner was the same and a certain lack of ambition. Even the food I found similar.

Pastor Moíses cut it kind of close coming to pick me up. While I waited outside for him I talked some to a neighbor. I was surprised when I came out to see Seu (Senhor = Mr.) João's scooter, the man I stayed with, on the sidewalk. I was pretty sure he wasn't up yet so I asked the neighbor if it had "slept" (or should I say "shlept") outside. He said "Yes, every night.  But he takes the key out". 

I had commented earlier to the man under the house that none of the canoe motors had chains or locks. The pastor later explained that João is well known and, more important, there are no roads out of the small town so, where would a scooter thief go? A joy ride maybe?

Outboard motors are another story. It's also a different story on the Solimões River which is like an interstate highway (international). A lot of towns, a lot of traffic, a lot of drug running from Columbia = a lot of crime. In Santa Isabel I remember seeing one window with bars (not one house, just one window) and the Foursquare church across the street didn't even have windows, just holes.

As I said, I was talking to the neighbor while I nervously, because of the time, waited for Pastor Moíses. But the planes were late. There was a fishing group there. Two planes were coming, the Caravan and a 19 passenger turboprop twin Bandeirantes. There were no ticket counters, no staff or salesmen and as the luggage was carted off I tried to follow. When I was stopped, I said I had paid to be on the flight. When he asked me if I had a receipt I got nervous. Idiot me just gave R$500 and my name to someone in a dime store and walked out thinking I had a plane ticket. The man who stopped me said this plane was full and that I must be on the Sunday flight. I said there was no mention of a Sunday flight, and the Tuesday flight (which would have been perfect for me) was full, and that my ride was waiting for me today, the day I paid for a ticket for. 

After some more asking around someone pulled out a cell phone and looked on WhatsApp (a popular social media messaging app here). There I was. They asked me to go on the second plane which was going to the air club.  I said I needed to go to the main airport as that was where my ride was probably already waiting. They let me on the first plane. 

It was only 2/3 full. It was a bouncy, cloudy ride. The high-wing plane would have had better visibility but I saw some rivers and the city of Novo Airão. Once I arrived I had to wait for Pastor Wellington to come from his house. It took awhile because he lives over near the air club. Where the other plane went. The one that didn't have wings blocking the view. Sigh.

We ate a late lunch with a policeman friend who drove to pick me up with the pastor and his family. They bought a roasted tambaqui fish and a chicken. When I stepped into the house I was surprised to see a pile of instruments, mostly string (cello, bass, viola), but also brass and woodwind and a real wooden piano. Where's Greyson when I need him! There's even a daughter his age . . .  

Later I found out Gabriela (Greyson's "friend" from music week) knows Pastor Wellington.  The pastor and I talked most of the afternoon and night. He's very energetic, always rushing and sickly sweet, but sincere. It's obvious he has a really good family relationship. He's very conservative and he, too, struggles with the growing reformed movement. He thinks even in the Northeast, Fiel's (a reformed theology group) influence is waning as many are beginning to see their ulterior motives and the "reformed package". 

I said I wasn't so sure as the "local" seminary just had a big reformation conference. He asked my position and we were both surprised to find we were on the same page. I get so tired of being the odd man out on everything in the region where we are. As the afternoon cooled, the park across the street filled with kids. There is a slum on the canal. Missionary opportunities! I hoped to get my ropes and go out, but wasn't able to.

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