Select the ‘Photographer’ tab at the top of this website to see all the images from the exhibition.
Headed to the Sunday Street market after breakfast. I had a little money and needed to use it carefully to buy some gifts for my homies. The market was cool, so many stalls with beautiful local products. I wish I had a lot more money to be able to buy more, although not sure how much would fit in my case. We spent a couple all morning strolling around shopping and taking a few more photographs, then it was lunch time. We found a nice Italian themed restaurant and relaxed with some good food and very welcome cokes. After lunch some of the team grabbed an ice cream before we all headed back to the hotel to relax and shower before the Church service tonight at 6pm.
Quite a ride for the final quarter of the boat journey home. We seemed to stop and start a lot until the captain finally pulled into the side of the river for a few hours. Once we started up again we definitely hit the roughest waves. Instead of the gentle sway our hammocks were being thrown from side to side. Several of us had support poles next to us and were slamming into them repeatedly. I figured out a way to wrap my toes around one to stop from rocking – it worked but not before my left calf had taken a battering. As night turned into morning, most of us were up and drinking our first coffee around 5:30 am. The scenery kept getting a little more industrial the closer to Manaus we got.
Because the boat was moving all through the night, as with the outward bound journey, I couldn’t hear Mark ‘the Olympic gold medalist for snoring’ for the constant hum of the engine, consequently, a good nights sleep! It appears that however noisy – a constant noise works a treat. I woke around 5:30am and after a quick wash grabbed a coffee and sat and relaxed on the deck, watching the rainforest go by. As we were fighting a very strong current, it made sense to hug the riverbank rather than going in the center where it was strongest. This meant that we were almost touching the scenery on left and later right hand side of the boat. After breakfast the day became one of spotting animals and birds waving at the gradually increasing population and generally grabbing some sun.
So, our last day at the Vila Nova. Despite the discomforts, the visit to these wonderful people has been far too short. After the morning routine we split up so that the majority of the team went to the village center to give some more classes and play more games, while the rest headed to the church construction site. I took my camera and went with the latter in the smaller boat with the intention of walking through the village later to the main group, photographing the scenery as I wandered around.
As we approached the construction all the workers were sitting around, the roof was all up and the guys from the US were late for work… as usual! We weren’t a complete waste of time though because we had brought a big pot of pasta, juice and granola bars – gratefully accepted by all. It looked like the building had come to a standstill. They cut and finished all the wood for the building straight from the rainforest (not Lowes!) and so far hadn’t got around to the flooring. So other than raking the earth and bringing up some pews from the existing church hut, ready for this afternoons dedication, there was nothing more we could do. Before I headed over to see what the rest of the team was up to back in the village hall I gave chief Joao my set of heavy duty work gloves (oh yes, I know who to side with, just in case?)
Same format as previous mornings. I think I actually got some sleep, probably because laboring out in that heat/humidity wiped me out. Up around 5:45-6:00am, breakfast, devotions. Today was going to be the busiest one for the mission team. They had so many things to do ranging from teaching to feeding the villages lunch. Then in the afternoon was a clothes bazar, where clothes were going to be issued as well as a variety of cloth bags filled with items specifically for mothers and adults, and coloring books, toy cars and candy for the kids.
We met the community at the health center again, which seems to be the main gathering place and, as with the previous day, it quickly filled up with kids, young mums and a few older ones. The team decorated the stage, gave out cookies and juice and began teaching classes. As I wandered around the children were a lot more bold than yesterday. I kept feeling a tug on my belt and when I’d look down there would be a dark haired, big eyed child grinning up at me. I would take their photograph and then let them see it in the camera – more giggles!
Up at around 5:30am. This isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds. Out in the rainforest natures lights are literally switched off at 6:30pm with no lighting coming from the village (they have a generator but only out it on occasionally), so we have little choice but to retreat to our boat and call it a day, usually going to bed early – around 9pm. Usual routine of cold shower, breakfast, team doing devotions and me catching up on my post from the day before. Then we took the boat back over to the village and jumped out. We were heading to the main school house first to introduce the team to the community and also to give the kids of the village a cookie and juice, then fluoride treatment and toothbrushes.
I think that maybe the hype about how comfortable sleeping in a hammock is could be a little exaggerated? Certainly my 6’1″, 210lbs found it a little difficult to find that elusive position. Never the less, I did get enough sleep to feel refreshed for day two on the river, plus the cold shower (I can brush my teeth, shower and go to the toilet all at the same time in this boats bathroom 😉 cleared any lingering cobwebs from my head (mentally and physically – lots of spiders on the boat!). When I did wake up through the night it was also because a sound from the riverbank over the engine noise, or the illumination of an isolated village woke me.
Breakfast, including an all important coffee, was excellent, as have all the meals on the boat. My biggest treat was a bowl of Tapioca! Haven’t had it since I was a kid back in England but apparently it’s pretty big here in Brazil. Also, they use a plant called Manioca in and on their food here a lot. It’s actually highly poisonous to start off but all the poison is extracted and then the rest of the plant can be used safely – in this case as a sprinkle on food such as rice, potatoes etc. Then devotion time for the rest of the team before getting ready for the days adventure.