Stories

 

Brazil, Amazonia


From February 27th to April 9th, 2014

As we reached Ilhabela, an island located 4 hours away from Sao Paulo, Marcello welcomed us at his guest house "Posada Ayurus". Marcello has many projects which he develops through his institute "Instituto Dharma". Rafael, specializes in agronomy, handles various projects, including helping communities creating organic garden. Gabriela is a marine biologist and has several projects for the study and protection of the fauna and flora around the island. Over the two weeks we spent on Ilhabela, we helped them in taking pictures of fish, crustaceans and corals around the islet "Ilha das Cabras". Each species was then identified and listed in a database. To make people aware of the rich ecosystem in this area, I edited a short video which will be attached to a 300 signatures petition and several support letters. The file will be submitted to the municipality of Ilhabela to preserve this area by creating the first Municipal Marine Park of Brazil. Click here to watch the video

    

This year the carnival was late in the season and this was the opportunity for us to live THE Carnival of Brazil. Each samba school has a parade with its own theme, costumes and a song sung live with a group of percussionists. Each school is rated on the quality of the costumes, the music, the drums, the choreography and the speed at which they parade. On Ilhabela, it was a miniature carnival where people gather to feast, drink and dance in the street.

We left the island and accompanied Marcello and his combi Anette for the journey "Alegria sobre Rodas. The idea is to stop in different communities and show some short movies in order to make them discover other cultures and environments. The children of the Rio Silveiras Guarani community had sparkling eyes while viewing their native Amazonian counterpart doing their traditional dance.

    

In Curitiba, we left Marcello and joined the Bombinha's peninsula by bus. A few years ago, we met Delia & Mauro in Uruguay, and visited them a few weeks later in Bombinha. We even made a trip to Rio de Janeiro together. If we were very touched by their hospitality at the time, they one more time outdid themselves. They landed us their holiday apartment at Cuatro Ilhas beach. Since we last met, their lives took a new turn as they adopted two sisters aged 7 and 9. The apartment therefore gave us the opportunity to spend time with them without unbalancing their organization. It was also an opportunity to meet again our friend Toco, who had joined us in Peru and Bolivia. He landed us his bike for two weeks, giving us the freedom to move on the peninsula. He took us on boat trips, snorkeling and wakeboarding. We especially enjoyed stand-up paddling around the Porto Belo Island. This sport consists of paddling while standing on a large board. It was perfect for exploring the coves and do some exercise. Another warm thanks to all of you for making this stay a real holiday !

    

After two weeks we met Marcello at the airport in Sao Paulo and flew together to Manaus, in Amazonia and were welcomed by Denise and Peter, a longtime friendship with Marcello. In September 2014, a group of twenty students from a musical university in German will give several concerts in different communities around Río Negro. As Marcello is in charge of organizing this intercultural meeting, we met Christian, musician and manager of the music section of the university, as well as Thomas, musician and writer. We accompany them in various meetings in the communities and at the office of the Secretary of Culture of Manaus.

Manaus is a city of 1.9 million inhabitants in the middle of Amazonia. Not connected by road, the city is accessible by air or river. The Rio Negro, which has a coca-cola color, takes its source in Colombia. The Rio Solimoes, which has a milk chocolate color, takes its source in Peru. The two rivers meet in Manaus and form the Amazon River. A boat trip to the "Meeting of the Waters" allowed us to notice the color difference.

    

We then reached the small town of Novo Airão along the Rio Negro, 180 kilometers upstream from Manaus. Marcello bought a piece of land 15 minutes away by boat. His project is to create a free university offering a course of social entrepreneurship, aspiring to teach a new vision of the world by developing solidarity, creativity, criticism, predicting results and developing solutions. Click here for more information

The pink dolphins which inhabit the rivers of the Amazon are in danger of extinction. A legend saying that the dolphin becomes a man and fertilize women continues to be passed on from generation to generation. For people living along rivers, the dolphin is both a prey and a competitor and inspires mistrust. If the number of fish has declining in the Amazon, it is the fault of dolphins and not because of overfishing and pollution. Despite regulations and prohibitions, they continue to be poached and end up being fishing baits.

Years ago, Marilda and her daughters began feeding the dolphins which occasionally came near the shore. Today, twelve wild Botos (pink river dolphin) are showing up from time to time for easy diner. Without regular routine, some will come a few consecutive days and then disappear for a while. I am not enthusiastic about feeding wild animals to observe them but this method as attracted tourists, which come to admire the dolphins. This is a way to change their reputation and to make people realize they can also be a source of income while alive. At a public meeting, several parties agreed to educate future generations and I will be helping the Instituto Dharma in the production of a short movie which will be presented in the surrounding communities. We spent several hours in the water filming dolphins in the dark water of the Rio Negro. The visibility being reduced to about one meter, it was surprising to feel them touching our legs without always seeing them.

    

Peter and his dog Boris joined us in Novo Airão by boat for the weekend. In April, the Rio Negro was almost at its maximum level. Beaches had disappeared and forests were completely flooded. A boat ride through the Anavilhanas National Park, the second largest river archipelago in the world, with approximately 400 islands, immersed us in Amazonia, where only birdsong interfered with absolute silence. The visual immensity and acoustic emptiness made me lose my bearings. The feeling of being embraced by nature gave me the chills.

    

This stay in Brazil demonstrated that even if we are from "developed" countries, we still have much to learn about human relationship. During the 40 days spent in Brazil, we did not sleep once at the hotel. We were hosted by Marcello on Ilhabela and by Delia & Mauro in Bombinha, all friends we met during our trip in South America. We were also hosted by Denise & Peter in Manaus and Sonia in Novo Airão, all friends of Marcello which we met for the first time. We were also invited by Cecilia & Matias in Sao Paulo, an Argentinean couple we briefly met on Ilhabela. They picked us up at the airport at 5:30 am, despite the morning traffic jam. They even left us their bedroom to sleep on the couch. We were once again amazed and very touched by their generosity.

Click here to read the following story about our experience with monkeys in India.

See the album "Brazil - March-April 2014"