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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Santa Isabel - Day 1 {AM Trip #13}


     At last the long night is slowly driven off by the rays of hope for a better day. The sun begins to peek over the glassy water churned to foam by the propellers, revealing a misty jungle.  The aft deck is so noisy the crew uses ear plugs. I watch the shore as they prepare breakfast, including a large stack of tapioca. Eventually they shoo us back to our seats to be called in order. When I finally get my turn, the pigs at the front have cleaned it out - especially the tapioca. 

     After breakfast I went back for more pictures but got run off. I couldn't see through my window

(which was on wrong side anyway). 

I tried to shoot through open window across front of boat but even that was ordered closed. The glimpses I got showed a changing landscape. Santa Isabel is considered a transition point from the flat rockless (mostly) terrain to hilly with falls and rapids. It was the prettiest place I visited. I even saw 2 mountains! The highest point in Brazil (Misty Peak, 9800ft+) is in this "county" of 24,000 sq mi.  Though it's only 110 mi straight through the jungle, 'you can't get there from here'. Physically, the access would be through the next county - if the government would let you go. It's in an ecological and an Indian reserve. 

Sorry if 'Indian' offends you.  I realize they aren't from India. I also realize they aren't any more native to America than you are. They just got here before you - but not first. When most of them got here there was already somebody else here before them whom they pushed off, killed or assimilated. Pre-Colombian might be a better term, but that would be abbreviated PC, and we can't have that, now, can we.

 At Santa Isabel, the missionary, Jaimeson, waited for me while I looked for my suitcase.  Just as I found it Pastor Moisés arrived. Since my contact was with him first, I went with Moisés. He's leaving next Friday for São Paulo for 3 months to visit some of his supporting churches. His wife is from SI (one way to be sure your wife can live on the mission field) and he has family in, so he put me with a church family (João e Marlete). Really nice house. In the afternoon we went out on the mouth of what they call the Eunixi river(on the map it's Uneiuxi (oo-nay-oo-she…maybe?!?!) It's native for "Name-that's-hard-to-say." 

We went to Brother Antonio's house.  He's got a nice place and even a small generator. I'm still enamored with the transparent, black water.
 While we waited for the others to come for the service, Pastor Moisés noticed he forgot his Bible. I handed him mine from my stuffed boy scout pack (be prepared). After a bit he asked "Do you only have this one?"

When I answered in the affirmative he handed it back and said "You're going to need it since you're preaching." I thought through a sequence of passages/verses and ended up with Nicodemus. I even managed 3 or 4 symmetrical  points on why New Birth is important. But I'll spare you. 

After, there was a snack which included bananas, of course. 

 We were 4 adults and 3 children in his 7m (22ft) aluminum speed boat with a 25hp outboard. We managed just over 40k/h (25m/h) and he burned about 8L (qt) which cost him close to R$50 (U$15). That may only be an hour or two for you but here it's 10 hours minimum wage. It adds up. There's one group he visits on rare occasions that he said costs R$2000 for the trip. Pr. M. had said something a couple of times about the boat stopping by itself. He had just repaired the engine but it didn't quite seem like that was what he was talking about. Sure enough, it wouldn't start.  I know little about outboards and often the owner knows his own vehicle better than the mechanic so I just sat in the sun and toasted quietly. 

Finally the mechanic side got the best of me and I suggested "maybe we should paddle over there and get out of the sun" (I am, after all, a shade tree mechanic). He didn't have a single tool, so he asked someone to run up to the house and get a spark plug wrench. Before it was over, the wrench was dropped in the river (a boy easily retrieved it), returned the wrench, re-borrowed the wrench, and broke a file trying to turn the wrench. Finally he just sent word he was taking it with us back to town. The engine seems to keep flooding the bottom cylinder at low speed. Going back he stopped to pick up mangoes and show me the camp/church at Paricatuba.

 There are some picturesque houses with white beach landings and treed, grassy lawns. Many are mowed by cows. We had to serpentine around and through rapids. We passed a sand dredge that really is a sand dredge (though I'm told they still find some gold).

 Pr. M. informed me I'd have night service too. Didn't go too well. Too long. Too dry. After church met a large man who was on same boat. He, too, complained about trip. Said the only good part was the big stack of tapioca that he ate… 

I'm having a hard time keeping time straight. It's a different time zone and the buttons to reset watch don't work. I once got mugged and the thief wouldn't take my watch, didn't want it. (True story).  Actually my watch, it's parts of 3 watches, but it keeps good time…in one time zone. Internet was bad in Barcelos, here it's basically non-existent. Phone shows 2G but nothing comes or goes. I was told that something fried and the telephone compnay won't fix it. Talked to M. Went to bed.
Manaus - Barcelos - Santa Isabel

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